Stitched Together ♥ with love (Quilt # 3)

Take a break away with us! Breakaway is a ladies group that meets Thursday mornings between 9:15-11:00 am from February 10 and until April 7 (we did not meeting March 17th-March break) at Cornerstone Church. There are many different activities to choose from. This year I chose to participate in a group called "Stitched Together ♥ with love" and we're making rag blankets using donated denim and flannel to be distributed by AIDS Niagara. Here are some of the pics for Quilt # 3. You can also check out Quilt # 1 and Quilt # 2 on my blog.

The top is laid out.
The bottom is laid out.

Sewing is well under way
Getting ready to sew.
Sewing and snipping the last seams under the watchful eye
of our co-ordinator, Diane.

cancer sucks!

Shari (Emmalee's Mom) and I went to Bible School together back in the day.

Cancer takes its toll but recovery continues
By Greg Vandermeulen
29 March 2011

Music is Emmalee's one escape from
the difficulties of cancer treatment.
RIDGEVILLE - Six months after their three-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a Ridgeville family is doing everything they can to keep their hopes up and their thoughts positive.

Emmalee Chubaty's story was first told in the Nov. 4, 2010 edition of The Red River Valley Echo.

Her mother Shari Chubaty explained how the diagnosis came as a result of a fall after Emmalee was jumping on her bed. She told of the issues that started with the blood transfusion in Winnipeg, and the pain that followed. Emmalee began an aggressive chemo treatment, and the family struggled to cope as father Wayne remained at their Ridgeville home, and their young son stayed with friends.

Six months later, there is hope, but there is still a very rough road for this young family.

Shari said her daughter has come to the end of the intensive chemo. After blood counts get to a certain level she starts maintenance, which involves a two year period, of a blood test every three weeks, and a spinal tap and chemo treatment every 12.

"She will still have to take oral medication at home every day, including an antibiotic to prevent infection, low dose chemotherapy and low dose steroids, but we'll get to be home," she said.

Emmalee has been home several times but has spent the last six weeks in hospital. Her brother James is staying with relatives in Regina.

With the exception of one scary incident that saw Emmalee end up with falling counts, fever and infection, Shari said her daughter's treatment has gone well.

But cancer brings some scary realities, especially for a three-year-old. "She lost her hair one night, all within eight hours," Shari said. "That really scared her, and took a long time for her to adjust to."

As hard as it is for Shari and Wayne to watch their daughter fight the disease, Shari said it becomes tougher when they see how their formerly outgoing little girl is dealing with it.

"The worst of all of it, is the emotional damage for Emmalee," she said. "Being three, we've never been able to explain to her fully what was going on and why."

Even the best efforts of Cancer Care's life skills therapist hasn't helped.

In fact Shari said they have to literally force her child to take the necessary treatment. "Every time they had to access her port in her chest for chemo, we would have to pin her down as she kicked and screamed, cried and told me she was 'a good girl today'," she said. "Those are the days it broke my heart to see her go through it."

Shari said it's tough to see the girl who was once so outgoing, turned into someone who is scared of everything.

Emmalee has yet to walk again as well. Sessions with the physiotherapist have helped, and Shari said although her daughter cries when her boundaries are pushed, she very quickly wants to go back again.

"We've been told and we've seen what a long process it can be, and we know it may take years for her to be able to walk and run as normal again," she said.

But Emmalee has some great things to look forward to. Shari said the Rainbow Society has offered her a wish of going to Disney World, enjoying a princess makeover and meeting Cinderella. She'll also go to Sea World, likely in fall.

She's also been asked to appear in a Ronald McDonald House fashion show in May, and Shari is cautiously optimistic.

"We'll see how much of all this she'll be able to handle by then," she said.

Despite her fear of the chemo, Emmalee has become a star among the nurses. Shari said she'll tell them "nope, not today, get out" when they come for tests, but she willingly holds out her finger for blood tests, although she'll cry at the same time.

"I'm so relieved and completely overjoyed that the worst of this is hopefully over," Shari said, noting it is possible the cancer could return. "We're far from done we know, but maybe now we can get back to being some sort of family, and allow her to be some sort of normal three-year-old."

The impact on the family will never be entirely removed, and Shari said her perspective has changed dramatically.

"You definitely develop a new list of priorities with cancer," she said. "The other day, I was behind a mom with two kids in a checkout line, and she was getting extremely frustrated with the bugging and whining they were doing. I felt like saying 'hug them'. Give them whatever they want. I would give anything to be in your shoes."

Support has come from all corners for the family. The community of Emerson has helped out, but it has spread much wider than that.

Shari said her sister-in-law had sent an email to a friend in the U.S. about making Emmalee a hat for when she lost her hair.

"It 'went viral' as she called it, and pretty soon, we had boxes of notes for Emms, gifts, and hats of all shapes, types and designs, pouring in from all over the world," Shari said. "The last time I counted, there was 78 hats, four quilts and so many pictures and cards and gifts sent from families and other young children, I can't count."

Shari said daycares have gotten together to draw pictures and make cards, something that has lifted Emmalee's spirits.

"She absolutely loves to open the boxes and see each one," she said. "No matter what kind of day or week she had, coming home to those hats perked her up."

Shari said the family can't wait to get home and let Emmalee get back to being a kid and not a "kid with cancer".

Stitched Together ♥ with love (Quilt # 2)

Take a break away with us! Breakaway is a ladies group that meets Thursday mornings between 9:15-11:00 am from February 10 and until April 7 (we did not meeting March 17th-March break) at Cornerstone Church. There are many different activities to choose from. This year I chose to participate in a group called "Stitched Together ♥ with love" and we're making rag blankets using donated denim and flannel to be distributed by AIDS Niagara. Here are some of the pics for Quilt # 2. You can also check out Quilt # 1 and Quilt # 3 on my blog.

The bottom is laid out.
The top is laid out.


and then it's all done and we're ready to move on to the next project :)

that's my family!!!!!

Growing forward
NOTL couple wins 2011 Outstanding Youth Farmer Award

By Melinda Cheevers
Reporter from the Niagara This Week

Growing forward. Wes Wiens and his wife Briar (not pictured)
were recently named 2011 Ontario Outstanding Young Farmers.
The couple are grapevine propagators operating
Gemmrich W. Nursery in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Sometimes, you don’t realize how far you’ve come until you take the time to pause and look back.

For Niagara-on-the-Lake farmer Wes Wiens, being nominated for the 2011 Outstanding Young Farmer Award, provided him just that chance.

“It’s funny, I’ve never really had the time to reflect back on the challenges we’ve faced or how far we’ve come, I was always just looking forward,” he said. “So it’s been nice to take the time to look back.”

Wiens and his wife Briar are grapevine propagators operating Gemmrich W. Nursery on Line 5. Within the last five years, production at the nursery has almost doubled from 800,000 vines grafted in 2006 to 1,400,000 vines in 2010.

On March 11, the couple was chosen from a group of six farmers from across Ontario as Outstanding Young Farmers of 2011. They took home the award from an awards ceremony held in Ajax, Ont.

Wes said it was an honour just to be nominated, let alone taking home the title.

“We really didn’t expect it,” he said.

The Wiens were nominated by the Grape Growers of Ontario. Wes said once they were nominated, the lengthy application process began. The couple was required to write a 15-page essay about the company, the challenges they have faced and looking forward to the future. Wes said once they were shortlisted, they had to develop a presentation for the awards ceremony in Ajax.

Wes comes from a family of grape and tender fruit farmers. Growing up he learned the value of hard work and knew innovation was a key to success in the agricultural industry. When he was approached by Martin Gemmrich, a third generation propagator of grapevines who operated the Line 5 nursery in Niagara-on-the-Lake and asked Wes to buy the business from him, Wes said he had to consider the proposal. He eventually decided to go for it, with Gemmrich as his partner at first. Under Gemmrich’s tutelage, he learned the propagation business.

Now, using a mix of old techniques learned from his mentor and new technology, the future of the business is looking brighter than ever. It currently has 60 per cent of the market share in the Canadian grape vine industry. Wes said they are exploring GPS mapping for the vineyard and soil sampling as future services.

Wes is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day responsibilities of the nursery while Briar plays a different role. In addition to caring for the couple’s children, she also helps to organize employee events.

At the awards ceremony, the couple were given two trophies, a banner to hang in their office and a painting depicting the various aspects of Ontario’s agriculture industry.

For more information about the Ontario Outstanding Young Farmer Award, visit For more information about Gemmrich W. Nurseries visit

Local couple win Ontario’s Young Farmer of the Year Award
New technology in an industry steeped in tradition helped earn the award

By Penny Coles
Reporter from the Niagara Advance

Wes and Briar will represent Ontario
at the National competition being held
in Brandon, Manitoba where
they will compete for the title of
Canada's Outstanding Young Farmer.
A Niagara-on-the-Lake couple have been named Ontario's outstanding young farmers of the year, chosen from a group of six provincial finalists that exemplify and demonstrate innovation and progress in agriculture.

Wes and Briar Wiens, nominated by the Grape Growers of Ontario, attended an awards ceremony held in Ajax recently, where each finalist gave a presentation about their business to the judging committee and about 200 people at the event.

Wiens says he was proud to be nominated for the award—and winning it was a huge honour.

He grew up working in first his grandfather's NOTL vineyards, then alongside his father and uncle. He has done everything from hoeing weeds to helping with the grape harvest, he says. Now he has gone back to the beginning of the grape cycle, grafting and selling grape vines to growers across the country.

About eight years ago he and his wife decided to buy an existing operation, Gemmrich Nursery on Line 5. The previous owner, Martin Gemmrich, stayed on as a mentor for a couple of years, but since then, Wiens has applied his knowledge of modern technology to an industry steeped in tradition.

It's his industry-leading innovations that helped win the award.

"Any business owner that is going to have success has to look at all the tools at your disposal and apply them to their industry. One of those tools is new technology," says Wiens.

The last eight years have been quite a journey, he says, beginning with learning the business. Keeping up with changing government regulations came next, and then the Ontario market took a bit of a nose dive—not just in agriculture but in most industries. That forced him to focus on out-of-province sales, which gave him an opportunity to attract new markets, first in BC, now in the eastern provinces, and to increase his market share to about 60 per cent—all the while using research and technology at their Line 5 nursery to raise the quality of the product.

And it has worked—the nursery grafted more than 1.4 million vines last year, almost doubling the number from 800,000 in 2006.

They also provide services such as potted vines, custom grafting and brokering imported vines.

Wes, 34, and Briar, 33, are proud parents of four aged from just 15 months to eight years old, so Briar's role is of necessity mostly one of support. But although she may not have much free time to spend at the nursery, "we're in this together, whether she's here everyday or not," says Wes.

There is some traveling involved to more established wine regions around the world in the name of research, and fortunately they are able to do most of that together, he says.

Wes and Briar will represent Ontario at the National competition being held in Brandon, Manitoba where they will compete for the title of Canada's Outstanding Young Farmer.

Grape Vine Propagators named as
2011 Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmers

released by

“When you do something, you do it to the best of your ability, and whatever is done in the present, will have an effect on the future.” Those words sum up the philosophy of Wes and Briar Wiens, the 2011 Ontario Outstanding Young Farmers. The Wiens', of Gemmrich W. Nursery in Niagara-on-the-Lake received their award at a banquet held in Ajax on Friday March 11. The Wiens' will represent Ontario at the national OYF event to be held later this year in Brandon, MB.

Nominated by the Grape Growers of Ontario, Wes Wiens was born and raised on a grape and tender fruit farm in Niagara-on-the-Lake and learned two important lessons early on in life - that agricultural success is built on innovation and adaptation, and that agricultural survival is attained through commitment and stamina. He feels that “both of these life lessons have helped me become one of Canada’s leading grapevine propagators.”

As one of Canada’s leading propagators, Gemmrich W. Nurseries (, named after Wes’s mentor and former partner, Martin Gemmrich, a 3rd generation propagator of grapevines, has been able to benefit from steady market share gains. Within the last 5 years, the nursery’s production has almost doubled to respond to customer demand.

Commitment to quality supersedes all other aspects of management practices at Wes and Briar’s nursery. They add value to operation by providing services such as producing potted vines, doing custom grafting and brokering for imported vines. They are also affiliated directly with another family operation which provides custom planting, trellising and harvesting services, making them a one-stop operation. In the future they would like to add vineyard GPS mapping, soil sampling, viticultural consulting, missing vine counting and over-grafting to their list of services.

The Wiens' find that keeping up with new developments in the industry is challenging, as there is no educational institution that deals specifically with viticulture propagation. Due to this they and their management team have traveled to more established wine regions around the world in order to learn more about their practices and technological advancements. Wes has also made it a priority to focus their own research and development program and conducts joint research projects with various educational institutions including the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, Brock University and Niagara College.

Wes has also been a director for the Grape Growers of Ontario, a member of the Canadian Grapevine Certification Network and the American Society of Enology and Viticulture. The whole family, including their four children, Kaityn (8), Berlin (6), Rowan (4) and Addisyn (1) are heavily involved with their Community Church, and with regional minor hockey and baseball teams.

The Wiens' were chosen from a group of six farmers including Paul and Kelly Brooks (Brooks Farms, Uxbridge), Ed and Julie Danen, (Danzel Holsteins, Shakespeare), Ian and Vicki Mayberry (Mayberry Hill Farms, Ingersoll), Jason Verkaik (Carron Farms, Bradford) and John and Maxine Zekveld (Zekveld’s Garden Market, Wyoming). Market garden farmers, John and Maxine Zekveld from Wyoming received runner-up recognition. For information on all of the finalists, visit the Ontario OYF website at

Winners of the award are chosen based on career progress; environmental and safety practices, crop and livestock production history; financial and management practices and contributions to society. The judges, Jim Glenn (OOYF winner in 1986), Terry Daynard (retired from Ontario Corn Producers and the University of Guelph), and Marlene Werry (Durham Region Economic Development Officer) chose the Wiens' in part due to their industry leading innovations and commitment to their product quality and customer service.

Over 200 people, including the Honourable John Wilkinson, Ontario Minister of the Environment, and Maria Van Bommel, Parliamentary Assistant to the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, were on hand at the awards banquet to celebrate with all of the finalists. For the first time, food items from past OYF winners, and finalists were showcased in the delicious local food menu.

Eadie Steele, Co-chair of the 2011 event noted that “Spending time with such imaginative and successful young farmers reminds us all that farming is a rewarding occupation and we need to keep that in mind more as we deal with our daily challenges. The Ontario finalists showed the diversity of Ontario agriculture too, representing the dairy, horticultural, wine, goat, cropping and agri-tourism sectors.”

Celebrating 31 years of identifying great agricultural successes, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmer’s program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year. The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer CropScience and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and supported nationally by AdFarm and Canadian Farm Business Management Council.

The 2011 Ontario event was sponsored by Pioneer Hi-Bred Limited, TD Canada Trust, Syngenta, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Better Farming, Ontario Farm Fresh and GROWMARK.

Signs of Spring... or lessons in patience?

Yup, it's March 21. You know what that means... it's officially springtime, right?

We've been eagerly anticipating the sight of a robin or two, scouring the ground for signs of little bits of green starting to pop up and scanning the trees to see if the buds are starting to swell. The feeling of joy when the last of the white patches of snow on the lawn finally disappears. The "official" change of outerwear from a winter coat to a raincoat, winter boots to rubber boots and exchanging mittens, scarf and a winter hat for an umbrella. Mm hmm... spring is on it's way!!

Well, in Niagara Region, March 21 has another significant meaning... if you're a local you know exactly what I mean when I say "the bridges are open" and you get that same sinking feeling that I do when I first hear those words. For those of you who aren't local, let me explain...

"The Welland Canal is one of the world's greatest man made wonders. Although not as well known as the ancient Egyptian pyramids or as famous as its neighbouring natural wonder Niagara Falls, the Welland Canal can be best described as simply amazing.

The Welland Canal is important because of its ability to move ships full of cargo up and down the Niagara Escarpment and therefore contribute to the economic growth and development of Canada and the United States. Approximately 40,000,000 metric tonnes of cargo is carried through the Welland Canal annually by over 3,000 ocean and lake vessels. What makes the Welland Canal fascinating is how it moves these ships up and down the escarpment. The canal utilizes its most abundant resource - water, combined with the Earth's gravity to lift and lower ships in a watertight chamber called a lock. It is an example of brilliant, yet simple innovative engineering.

The transportation of goods is not the Welland Canal's only purpose. The canal's founding father William Hamilton Merritt originally conceived the idea for a canal as a way of providing a consistent source of water for the area's local mills. Today that purpose still holds true with the canal's water being a major resource for industry in Niagara, serving steel mills, ship builders, paper mills and automobile parts manufactures.

The canal also serves the people of Niagara indirectly, by providing water for their everyday use. The canal water is even used to generate electricity at a small local power plant. One of the most overlooked benefits of the Welland Canal is the recreational pleasure it provides to all who visit and use its connecting lakes, waterways and surrounding trails. The canal area is full of activity with people ship gazing, fishing, hiking and boating all summer long."

Ugh... boring!! And, while it may all be true, the Welland Canal is also a source of frustration for many, many drivers. Most of the time, if you want to go somewhere, you know approximately how long it takes to get there and so you leave home to get to where ever you're going. Not so with the Welland Canal in the way. You never know when you'll be "caught at the bridge". So there are now 2 options, you leave, the time you normally would, and just hope the bridge isn't up, or you leave 20 minutes before you have to "just in case" and arrive everywhere early - unless the bridge IS up, then you'll be on-time (or late if there's another boat coming).

Some drivers, instead of just waiting it out, try to "bridge hop" and quickly turn around and speed their way to the next bridge. This method may or may not allow you to cross over quickly because that bridge may also be up. I am not always one of those "bridge hopping" drivers, but that may be because I've often encountered 3 bridges up in a row which means I've not only wasted that time, but also the gas

Yup, the only time this isn't a factor is from December 21 to March 21 when the Welland Canal is closed.

A Prayer in Spring

Robert Frost (1915)

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.


Ok, so the orchards aren't white with blossoms and I haven't heard the buzzing of bees yet, but here's a sure sign that spring is on it's way...

Snowdrops are starting to bloom.
Tulips are starting to pop up.
Close up of a Snowdrop.
Daffodils are sprouting.

Hyacinths are beginning to show their
Crocuses are adding splashes of colour.

Stitched Together ♥ with love (Quilt # 1)

Take a break away with us! Breakaway is a ladies group that meets Thursday mornings between 9:15-11:00 am from February 10 and until April 7 (we did not meeting March 17th-March break) at Cornerstone Church. There are many different activities to choose from. This year I chose to participate in a group called "Stitched Together ♥ with love" and we're making rag blankets using donated denim and flannel to be distributed by AIDS Niagara. Here are some of the pics for Quilt # 1. You can also check out Quilt # 2 and Quilt # 3 on my blog.

Laying out the top.
Laying out the top.

The top is all laid out.
The bottom is all laid out.

Getting started on the sewing, pinning
and snipping for the first quilt.
We're getting this one ready for a boy
whose life has been touched by AIDS.
Isolde is pinning on the last rows as
Rachel frantically sewing so that
we can display the quilt to the
whole group of ladies.

And lots and lots of sewing!
I think the other end of the
quilt is still coming out of
Rachel's machine while
Isolde is already sewing!!

that's my niece!

So proud of my niece!! She earned 5th place (out of 9 skaters) at her very first competition today!!

Young NOTL skaters come home with medals

released in the Niagara Advance
NOTL Skating Club sent 21 skaters to the
Futures - East Invitational Skating Competition
held recently at Six Nations, and had 12 return with medals.
31 March 2011

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Skating Club sent 21 young skaters to the Futures - East Invitational Skating Competition held March 5 and 6 in Six Nations to compete against more than 400 skaters, and had 12 girls return with medals.

These are the skaters' results:
Cierra Perron, STARSkate Pre-Preliminary – first
Jeniah Wiens, Pre-Preliminary A Limited Group 9 – first
Anya Heaven, Pre-Preliminary A Limited Group 10 – second
Mackenzie Graba, Pre-Preliminary A Limited Group 6 – third
Alyssa Hunter, Pre-Preliminary B Limited Group 3 – third
Rachael Hunter, CanSkate Group 10 – third
Angelina Maniatis, Pre-Preliminary A Limited Group 1 – third
Kyra Marotta, Pre-Preliminary A Limited Group 2 – third
Julianna Mihelic, CanSkate Group 14 – third
Kaitlyn Ostromecki, CanSkate Group 12 – third
Avery Royer, CanSkate Group 5 – third
Felicia Scaringi, STARSkate Preliminary – third
Antonia Martin – CanSkate Group 15 – fourth
Madison MacLean – Pre-Preliminary A Limited Group 3 – fifth
Taylor McLachlan – STARSkate Pre-Preliminary – fifth
Kaityn Wiens – CanSkate Group 7 – fifth
Abby Johnstone, Pre-Preliminary B Limited Group 4 – sixth
Annelise Perron – STARSkate Preliminary – sixth
Lexie Madsen – STARSkate Preliminary – seventh
Alexa Ostrowski – Preliminary B Group 4 – seventh
Claudia Selimi – CanSkate Group 15 – eighth.