Art Meets Conservation at Couple's Grey County Farm

Grey County artists and self professed "tree huggers" Jim H. Louie and Judy Lowry are Trees Ontario's latest Green Leaders. The couple planted nearly 45,000 new trees on part of their 135-acre property through the government of Ontario's 50 Million Tree Program. (CNW Group/Trees Ontario)

Trees Ontario's Latest Green Leaders are life-long environmental stewards

WILLIAMSFORD, ON, Feb. 27, 2014 /CNW/ - Jim H. Louie and Judy Lowry's 135-acre Grey County property is a quick study when it comes to revealing the couple's two passions: art and trees.

Their farm, located just south of Owen Sound, is surrounded by an assortment of young and old native tree species, some of which border picturesque trails. Also on display are colourful, beautifully-crafted sculptures and pottery - on and around their approximately 600-square foot art studio, situated just behind the couple's home.

Art aside, Dave Taylor, an associate registered professional forester and friend, confirms: "they're tree huggers!"

Taylor, who also owns forestry consulting firm Lands & Forests Consulting in Elmwood, recently nominated Louie and Lowry as Trees Ontario's latest Green Leaders. The designation is part of the government of Ontario's 50 Million Tree Program, which provides subsidies and practical assistance through local planting agencies.

The Green Leaders program recognizes private landowners who've made a considerable contribution toward enhancing the province's forest cover. Coincidentally, Louie works part-time at Lands & Forests Consulting and actually planted most of the 45,000 trees recently added to the property himself. "He didn't have to go far into work," laughed Taylor.

"It's always been a dream of ours to plant the whole property," explained Lowry, who says the planting was also done as a "legacy" for her late father who was a forester. In fact, her father helped write the Woodlot Improvement Act Program, which the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) developed with the expertise of foresters to help guide landowners when managing their woodlots. "We did it because we knew we were doing something good," said Lowry. "I remember my dad helped me write a speech on conservation back when I was in public school - that's how I learned if you cut down so many trees, you're supposed to replace them."

Interestingly, the couple participated in a similar MNR program back in 1989 and had 17 acres planted in an area that now forms a lofty forest just behind their home. They also both have tree planting experience that dates back to 1990 when Lowry's brother owned a landscaping business and they assisted him with some of his tree planting contracts.

"I would like to commend these individuals for their exceptional commitment to protecting the environment," said David Orazietti, Minister of Natural Resources. "By planting trees, they are helping to protect the environment, fight climate change and providing wildlife habitat."

"It's encouraging to see such life-long stewards of the land continue giving back to the environment," noted Rob Keen, CEO of Trees Ontario. "I want to congratulate Jim and Judy on their numerous conservation efforts over the years; they have truly earned the title of 'Green Leaders.'"

The couple, who originally met at George Brown College in Toronto where they worked as ceramic teachers, bought the property back in 1986. They renovated the space that now acts as their art studio so that it included high ceilings for heightened light exposure. It's also split into "her half and my half," laughed Louie, referring to the partial wall that separates the two work spaces.

Louie's work ranges from suspended dragonfly sculptures to colourful Chinese-inspired statues that sit Buddha-like at about three feet. He even created a sculpture piece that mimics a tree bark with a tree etching on it. Meanwhile, Lowry, who is also a poet, has amassed a large collection of poignant silhouette abstract paintings that vibrantly adorn the walls on her "side."

One of the many ways the couple's shared love of trees is enjoyed is through the many hiking trails that now exist on the property. "My dad gave me instructions on how many needles are in a red pine and white pine," recalled Lowry. "I can't remember but it doesn't matter because the important thing is that the trees are growing!"

For more information about the 50 Million Tree Program and other tree planting programs, as well as local tree planting workshops, visit: http://www.treesontario.ca/programs/#50MILL

About 50 Million Tree Program (50MTP)

Trees Ontario administers the Ontario government's 50 Million Tree Program, part of the United Nations Billion Tree Campaign. The United Nations' goal is to plant one billion trees worldwide each year. Ontario is committed to plant 50 million trees by 2025.

The goals of the program are to sequester carbon, enhance and diversify southern Ontario's landscape, increase the capacity to withstand climate change, and increase wildlife habitat. The 50 Million Tree Program is designed to significantly reduce the costs to landowners of large-scale tree planting and thereby increase the number of trees planted across the province.

About Trees Ontario

Trees Ontario is a not-for-profit organization committed to the re-greening of Ontario through tree planting efforts on rural lands and in urban areas. Since 2004, Trees Ontario and its 80 provincial partners have planted more than 18 million trees across the province. 

SOURCE Trees Ontario

Image with caption: "Grey County artists and self professed "tree huggers" Jim H. Louie and Judy Lowry are Trees Ontario's latest Green Leaders. The couple planted nearly 45,000 new trees on part of their 135-acre property through the government of Ontario's 50 Million Tree Program. (CNW Group/Trees Ontario)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140227_C8051_PHOTO_EN_37319.jpg

For further information:

For more information, photos or to arrange an interview please contact: 

Shelley McKay
Director of Communications & Development
Trees Ontario
144 Front Street West, Suite 700
Toronto, ON, M5J 2L7
e: smckay@treesontario.ca
p: 416-646-1193 ext. 232

Ann-Marie Colacino
Communications Officer
Trees Ontario
144 Front Street West, Suite 700
Toronto, ON, M5J 2L7 
e: acolacino@treesontario.ca 
p: 416-646-1193 ext. 234