4-H Impact Felt In Peel

By Ryan Métivier

4-H was on full display throughout Peel Region in 2016, including the many barn quilts that 4-H members created that made their way all over the region. The Barn Quilt project was new to Peel 4-H Association in 2016. A barn quilt is an eight-foot square (and larger) painted replica of fabric quilt blocks installed on barns. Barn quilts draw attention to Canada’s rural landscapes, timber frame and family farms.

These barn quilts were created by 17 members (who made two each) between the ages of 10 and 20 years old and were on display at Caledon Town Hall, fall fairs, the Caledon library, the Alton Mill Art Gallery, at the Farm Conference at Palgrave Equestrian Park, along a main road in Brampton creating a Barn Quilt Trail and also to be included at the Canada 150 exhibit at the Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives in 2017. The club was run again in the summer and remaining boards were offered to senior members. Achievement programs were held in both April and September where members explained what their quilts represented in their life.

After deciding to run this project, leader Carol Williams came across the opportunity to apply for a grant through proceeds from the Caledon Councillor’s Community Golf Tournament. Priority was given to organizations that would present a unique opportunity to showcase the Town of Caledon. Peel 4-H Association received funding at the completion of the project for the full amount of their proposed budget.

“Our members loved this project and many are eager to do it again,” says Williams. “Once again members gained self-confidence in themselves using new equipment and techniques and participating in the Achievement Program.”

The project gained praise in the community with responses including, “I didn’t know there was a youth group with so many members in our community,” to “what a great way to celebrate our heritage.” Peel 4-H Association inspired other community groups to apply for the Canada 150 grant so more barn quilts can be painted and the Ontario Barn Quilt Trail has also contacted Peel 4-H about their project.

One of the brightest lights in Peel 4-H Association shone on Julie French during 2016. One of 4-H Ontario’s Ambassadors for the past year, Julie represented Peel and the 4-H program across the province. The year saw her attend Discovery Days in Regions 1, 2, and 4, the Ontario 4-H Foundation Golf-West Tournament, Ambassador Sponsor Tour and UPI Charity Golf Tournament. Julie’s biggest highlight though likely came at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair where she attended the TD Canadian 4-H Dairy Classic. After showing in the dairy club for eight years, she qualified to represent her association in Toronto. While there, Julie had the honour of exhibiting the Grand Champion Calf – Quality Solomon Lust; an experience she said still seems surreal.

“This year’s Royal was such a humbling experience beyond anything I could have ever imagined,” she says. “It makes me truly realize the value of the 4-H program and all it has to offer. Hard work, patience and teamwork are all valuable lessons that 4-H teaches members.”

Success at The Royal didn’t end there though, as Peel’s team consisting of Julie, Jamie Laidlaw, Allison French, Robert Matson, Nicole French, as well as coaches Tom and Heather French claimed first place in the Provincial Go For The Gold Competition.