Central Park: Stable mate

STABLE MATE

In May I ran a picture in this column of Pepper, a dapple-grey, Percheron draft horse that visits seniors in care and retirement homes in Vancouver and across the Lower Mainland as part of the Gentle Giant Visitor Program.

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That picture was submitted by Gerry O'Neil, owner of Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours, who had just launched the Gentle Giant program.

Last Thursday, Courier photographer Dan Toulgoet had the opportunity to see the program in action first hand when he dropped into the Villa Carital seniors home on Penticton Street, where Pepper was charming a small crowd of seniors and young students. I wanted to see for myself the kind of wonderful response I hear these horses receive from the seniors who interact with them, but I was at We Day with 18,000 screaming youth, Shaquille O'Neal and Mikhail Gorbachev.

That's a combination you don't see every day.

When I initially mentioned the new Gentle Giant program in this column, I asked O'Neil the obvious question, what happens if they poop? He assured me it's a rare occurrence.

ALWAYS RUNNING

I have got to give sex-trade worker and activist Jamie Lee Hamilton credit for being possibly the most determined hopeful on this city's political landscape-ever.

Despite failed attempts in numerous past elections, Hamilton has again declared her intentions to run for municipal office, this time for park board. Shortly after resigning from the Green Party earlier this fall, Hamilton announced she'll seek election under the newly formed political party, the Independent Democratic Electoral Alliance. Not to be confused with the Tunisia-based Independent Democratic Alliance headed by Abdelfattah Mourou.

Hamilton's platform includes stressing the need for an independent park board with full control over its public assets, taxation and borrowing power. Hamilton also wants to ensure that recreation resources are evenly distributed to every community across the city and that public parks remain public.

ALL YOU CAN WHEAT

In June, I wrote about city council approving a $5,000 grant to the Environmental Youth Alliance Society for a project called Lawns to Loaves, through which 30 Vancouver homeowners would replace their grass lawns with wheat.

That decision has become somewhat of an election issue with NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton mocking Vision Vancouver Mayor and (mayoral candidate) Gregor Robertson for not only promoting wheat growing but also approving backyard chickens.

Politics aside, the Environmental Youth Alliance Society is ready to celebrate its wheat harvest and is hosting a Lawns to Loaves celebration this Saturday, Oct. 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Ecopavilion at Strathcona Community Garden.

The day begins with coffee at 10 a.m., which is always a good thing, followed by a slide show featuring the Lawns to Loaves project. Rye 101 begins at noon, while pizza preparation and, better yet, tasting, takes place at 1 p.m. The pizza dough will be made from the group's freshly milled flour and wood-fired in a drum oven supplied by Terra Breads.

Other highlights throughout the day include old-style threshing, milling by the Flour Peddler and his bicycle-powered flower mill, and scarecrow making with urban straw, which will no doubt make the scarecrows more hip and cynical than their cousins made from country straw.

For more photos of Pepper and Gerry, click HERE.

sthomas@vancourier.com

Twitter: @sthomas10

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