December 14, 2021
A true leaves fan
Canadian Museum of Nature honours Ken Jewett with lifetime achievement award
BY BILL TREMBLAY
At age 65, Ken Jewett decided to hand the reins of his business, Marsan Foods, to his sons, Graeme and James.
Marsan Foods recorded impressive growth since Jewett started the business in 1969. The company was born in the Jewett family kitchen, and has grown to become a supplier of frozen prepared meals, soups and sauces for restaurants, health care facilities and the airline sector.
Although he stepped away from Marsan Foods, Jewitt wasn’t ready to retire. Instead, he turned his attention to the diminishing sugar maple tree population in Ontario. Jewett had noticed the native maple trees that once lined rural Ontario roads and farm laneways were in decline.
So, in 2002, Jewett, a resident of Mulmur, Ont., officially launched Maple Leaves Forever (MLF), a charitable foundation that advocates for and supports the planting of native Canadian maple trees.
“The maple tree, the maple leaf, maple syrup, it’s part of our whole Canadian heritage,” Jewett said. “I saw native maple trees disappearing and being replaced by cultivars and invasive species. I’ve made a pledge to try and stop this, and to help farmers and landowners plant native maples along their roadsides and laneways.”
This fall, the Canadian Museum of Nature honoured Jewett with its 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award.
“These awards are taking place at a time when the pandemic is reminding us how much we need a responsible connection to nature for our health and well-being,” said Meg Beckel, president and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature and chair/ex-officio member of the awards selection jury.
As part of the museum’s Nature Inspiration Awards, the lifetime achievement honour recognizes leadership through innovative projects that connect Canadians with the natural world. Jewett received the award for dedicating his life and personal finances to the planting of native maple trees across Canada.
Through MLF, Jewett has provided more than $2.5 million to individuals and groups for planting initiatives and to promote environmental education on the importance of native Canadian maple trees.
Under Jewett’s leadership, MLF created a Thank You Rebate program for rural landowners to help plant native maples. The program provides a rebate of up to 25 per cent for purchases of 10 to 50 native maples planted on rural roadsides.
By working with seed collectors and nurseries, MLF ensures a supply of certified, native, seed zone specific sugar, red and silver maple seedlings are available to be grown into saplings and trees.
Today, MLF has helped plant about 130,000 native maples throughout Ontario in partnership with 22 nurseries and several municipalities. The trees represent more than 2,000 km of maple-lined roadways and laneways.
Furthermore, Maple Leaves Forever partners with several like-minded organizations, including Ontario Envirothon, GrandTrees Climate Change Solutions, Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign and One Bench One Tree.
Most recently, MLF partnered with Highway of Heroes Campaign to support the planting of 175 native maple trees at the Afghanistan Repatriation Memorial in Trenton. Ont.
For more information on Maple Leaves Forever, visit mapleleavesforever.ca.