Well, let me just say, sometimes you have to forget that first date, and agree to a second. From time to time, you'll be pleasantly surprised, and I was - in spades.
Our guide gave us the quick and dirty about why the peat industry was working so hard to develop programs to help restore bogs. They had come under attack because of their ruinous harvesting practices. As you may know, a peat bog is a living ecosystem. And it takes one century to make 5-10 cm (2-4") of peat moss. Definitely something to think about when you're filling your plastic pots with growing mix. Even with the massive wealth of peat bogs in Canada - 113 million hectares - destroying an ecosystem is indefensible. So the Quebec Peat Moss Producers Association, Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association together with Laval University began to examine methods to restore these bogs post-harvest.
So here were were on a lovely Sunday evening - (as were all the employees of various competing peat companies and university researchers - pressed into service) - to learn how it all works.
We were divided into 4 groups to visit each of the 4 stations - #1 harvesting; #2 restoration techniques; #3 a natural donor site & #4 restoration results.
Here we are in the harvesting area. To the right is the vacuum machine that goes up and down the field after the peat has been cut and left to dry for a few days.
Our able guides explaining it all.
#2 After harvesting, the dome shaped field is flattened and berms are built to help retain the water. Plant fragments are harvested from a near-by donor site and are spread on the field and covered with shredded straw to protect them.
Very shortly you can see the new little bits of growing Sphagnum.
Donna Balzer acting as our perfect hand-peat model.
This is an area that has been restored - jumping ahead to #4. Restored meaning that the land and plants "will eventually lead back to naturally functioning peat accumulating ecosystems". (Peatland Ecology Research Group)
It is amazing the variety of plants.
The cotton grass looks so pretty in the early evening light.
And then it was over to #3 the donor site. As soon as we saw what was growing beneath our feet, I don't think anyone was listening to the scientist - it was all about trying to get a photo in the fast-fading light:
They really do look like they're from another planet:
Definitely not enough light now, so our guides had our full attention. Over $5MM in research has been spent since 2003 on bog restoration, and another $2MM has been committed through 2018. Money well spent on this $152MM Canadian business that employees 3000 people directly and indirectly, but ultimately for the health of the planet at large.
And so, our date was just half-done - we were off to restaurant for music and a lovely dinner. The only downside of the evening was dining with peat-feet. Fortunately the light was low, the floors were linoleum, and we'd be on the bus before they brought out the brooms to clean up. A great evening all in all.