Catherine McLean Freelance Writer

Sustainable farming goes back to the future

Published November 19, 2014 in

Ancient agriculture techniques can play a crucial new role in food security, says sustainable agriculture expert Parviz Koohafkan.

Not so long ago, China’s 2,000-year-old system of cultivating rice and fish together on small family farms was on the verge of becoming obsolete. The introduction of pesticides and fertilizers was killing off the fish, while new hybrid varieties of rice were proving less resistant than their traditional counterparts in the fields.

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The upside of doing business in former East Germany

Published October 21, 2014 in The Globe and Mail

When Future Electronics Inc. decided to move its European logistics centre from Britain to the heart of the continent, it chose an empty field in the eastern German city of Leipzig.

The Canadian company is one of many that have expanded to Leipzig in recent years, drawn by its central location, new infrastructure, skilled work force and low salaries.

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Great expectations for scholarship Angolans

Published October 1, 2014 in

Among the intake of students at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) this semester is a unique group from Angola. These young adults fought tough competition to secure places on a course billed to make them decision-makers back home.

More than 700 people applied for the new “Future Leaders of Angola” scholarship programme and 46 were chosen to travel from Angola to the Swiss city of Winterthur to attend the sixth-month course in finance and asset management.

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Mushroom picking 'more complex' than expected

Published September 8, 2014 in The Local

The cold, wet summer may have been a disappointment for swimmers or hikers, but it has turned out to be a blessing for mushroom pickers.

Swiss newspapers have run stories about this summer’s fungi bounty, featuring photos of children with mushrooms bigger than their heads.

Police in the canton of Graubünden last month confiscated100 kilograms of mushrooms as overly eager pickers exceeded their daily quota.

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Help wanted in search for more prehistoric icemen

Published June 23, 2014 in

If you find a set of keys or wallet, you’re likely to be a good citizen and hand them in to a lost and found bureau. But what do you do if you stumble upon a 5,000-year-old leather handbag while on a walking holiday in the Swiss Alps?

Leandra Naef has the answer. The fresh-faced archaeologist is the brains behind a new project called kAltes Eis (cOld ice). Her plan is to search for perfectly preserved artefacts trapped beneath ice patches in canton Graubünden’s mountains.

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Gritty district turns into Zurich's trendiest spot

Published April 18, 2014 in The Local

Zurich’s Kreis 5 may be the antithesis of the idyllic Switzerland shown in tourist brochures, but that uniqueness is proving a draw for tourists and residents alike.

The once abandoned industrial quarter has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent decades, helping revamp the image of Switzerland’s largest city from conservative and sleepy to trendy and modern.

Lonely Planet named Zurich one of its top 10 cities this year, assuring visitors that the locals really do know how to party, including in Kreis 5’s after-dark hotspots.

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Border towns feel squeeze from trucks and shoppers

Published April 17, 2014 in

Turn a corner in the village of Koblenz and you’ll see cars and ten-wheeler trucks backed up waiting to enter or exit Germany, blocking the idyllic view of the Rhine River. It’s one of many Swiss border towns struggling to cope with growing traffic.

A combination of transport trucks, commuting workers from abroad and Swiss shopping tourists is creating headaches for the authorities, not to mention citizens, in these towns.

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CSeries jet delays aren't the only late product launch hurting Bombardier

Published February 14, 2014 in Canadian Business

You might expect a nation renowned for its timepieces to be a stickler for punctuality. You would be right: perhaps nowhere is Montreal-based Bombardier Inc. facing more customer blowback for delays in the delivery of its next-generation vehicles than Switzerland.

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Swiss officials wrap up probe into Canadian skier's death

Published February 5, 2014 in The Globe and Mail

Swiss authorities have closed a lengthy investigation into the death of Canadian athlete Nik Zoricic in a crash during the ski cross World Cup finals nearly two years ago in the Bernese Alps, Christof Scheurer, spokesman for the attorney-general’s office of the canton of Bern, confirmed this week.

The investigation ruled there was no third-party involvement, and that there was no breach of duty of care in the fatal skiing accident.

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Swiss grapple with pros and cons of immigration

Published January 14, 2014 in The Local

Swiss politician Martin Suter doesn’t have to look far to see the drawbacks from a European Union agreement that has permitted thousands of Germans, French and other Europeans to settle in Switzerland.
Whether it’s trains crammed with commuters, families struggling to find a place to live, or older Swiss failing to find work, Suter, a politician for the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), believes the blame can be laid at the feet of the newcomers.

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