A familiar face and presence for more than two decades, John Diemer has served in significant leadership capacities for the Friends of Lemoine Point practically from the moment he was drafted into the organization.
From the early 2000s, he was a member of the executive, including a lengthy, lauded, and successful tenure as the organization’s president. Humble and soft-spoken, his dedication, work ethic and sense of purpose speaks volumes, and has been quietly affirming and inspirational to his fellow Friends, and to the staff of Cataraqui Conservation – solidifying and enhancing the importance of the partnership between the two organizations.
His experience and knowledge of the property, including the development and continued nurturing and sustainability of the Native Plant Nursery, has been invaluable. During his tenure, Diemer has seen the nursery and accompanying plant sales become a staple of the calendar for many gardening and landscaping enthusiasts. Each Wednesday morning, a committed crew of fellow enthusiasts work, rain or shine, throughout the entire year, on various tasks associated with the maintenance and upkeep of the nursery.
More specifically, John has been the lead organizer of the annual garlic mustard and dog strangling vine removal team at Lemoine Point Conservation Area for many years.
As well, he and the Friends have become valuable resources (both as volunteer labour and as gardening/plant experts) for Cataraqui Conservation’s Forestry Co-ordinator Rick Knapton and his various stewardship programs operating out of the Lemoine Point Conservation Area, including the Authority’s participation in the 50 Million Tree Program, the Climate Change Research Project, the Parasitoid Wasp Program (to combat the invasive Emerald Ash Borer), and much more.
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Friends of Lemoine Point, we present our chat with John Diemer, who talks about how and why he came to become such an integral part of the organization:
Q: How did you first come to discover Lemoine Point Conservation Area and the Friends of Lemoine Point?
JD: I had recently moved to Kingston, and I was just checking out the city. One day when I was out, I just happened upon the south end of the city, at Lemoine Point and thought, ‘wow this is great.’ I was still almost totally new to Kingston and just happened to end up there just because of the way the road ends all of a sudden.
And I remember thinking, ‘this is unbelievable; they have such a lovely place almost right in the middle of the city.’ So I guess I started going there regularly and I noticed that you could sign up as a member, so I signed up as a member. That happened pretty quickly after I discovered the place.
Q: At what point did you decide to take on a leadership position with the Friends?
JD: After I had been a member for a little while, I got a phone call and the lady mentioned to me that they were doing some volunteer work at Lemoine Point to kind of count the number of people and dogs that visit, and they needed some volunteers, and asked if I would be willing to help.
And she told me what it was - that you would sit in your car for two hours at a time and count dogs and people. So it was kind of a weird thing to be asking but I said I will go along, and I did that for a good part of that summer along with some other volunteers.
And while I was doing that one day, a nice gentleman came up to me and wanted to talk about what I was doing, and it turns out he was the president of the Friends of Lemoine Point. So, we talked a bit more about that and at some point, I sent him my results, and then another person from the board contacted me about those results.
So, in the end those two asked if I would like to meet them for a coffee. They said they had all this data over two years and didn’t know what to do with it and wondered if I would help. And I don’t know why they asked me, I must have left some kind of impression that I knew what I was doing or whatever. At any rate, it ended up seeing them giving me all the data and I put together a report that they were just totally enamored with, and as a result they nominated me for the board [of the Friends of Lemoine Point]. So I joined the board in I think it was 2001.
Q: What do you see as the mission of the Friends of Lemoine Point?
JD: It’s to work with Cataraqui Conservation to do what we can to help preserve Lemoine Point for future generations.
Q: What have you enjoyed most about your involvement with the Friends?
JD: What I enjoyed most was being able to contribute, at least a little bit, to some kind of conservation of Lemoine. Of course, I was president for many years, I wouldn’t say leading it, but certainly coordinating it and kind of guiding it, and dealing with all kinds of issues and projects that were involved with our working with the Cataraqui Conservation, and doing whatever we were trying to do – that’s what I have enjoyed most.
So it was just the joy of being part of a group that was working to conserve something that was really worthwhile to us and to the city. And that’s still the case. I am still on the board, and it always has been a great group of people to be around and always has been.
Q: Why is Lemoine Point Conservation Area so special, and so important?
JD: It is a large piece of land with lots of natural areas, including a large, forested area and various fields and grasslands that is just a great place to walk through, to enjoy, to see the natural habitats of birds and animals and plant life – it’s just nice to be able to be a part of nature within the city.