To browse sections of this website more easily, please use the link buttons on the right hand side of the page. When you finish an article, use your Control Home buttons to go back to the menu to select your next article. CGL knows that some articles are very long and browsing is not as efficient as it could be. A website that gives two lines of an article and then a "Read More" button that opens the full article requires Java Script software. We are on a limited budget and cannot afford the Internet upgrade cost at this time. We appreciate your patience and extra effort with this.
Content Note: from time to time there will be an item on the News page that advocates a particular organization. Community Gardens London is neither incorporated, nor a registered charity. The web maintainer, Maureen Temme, tries to include good programs and ideas on these pages. If she is biased, she tries to be biased on the side of good and health. She is a long-time organic gardener and advocate for organics.
"The ... roles of soils often go unnoticed. Soils don’t have a voice, and few people speak out for them. They are our silent ally in food production."
José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General
Each year the United Nations declares a "Year of ..." This year, 2015, is the Year of Soils.
Healthy, living soils are important to all the critters in our environment, to our food supply, to easing climate change effects, to water management, and to our survival. The list of partners involved in Year of Soils activities notes the "big guys": the "secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification", "Governments", the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, and that it is all within a "framework of the Global Soil Partnership".
The true keepers of soil health, however, are the people who are regenerating natural and farm areas, and the holders of small acreages who, worldwide, farm most lands and feed their families and communities. In Canada, our farms are generally large, raising a single type of crop or animal. Even what we term small operations - family owned and/or organic farms - can be large at 20 acres in comparison to the land worked by someone in the Phillipines or India. Hurrah for all those keepers!
Declaring 2015 the UN International Year of Soils marks a recognition that all of us, including governments policy-makers, need to recognize that healthy soils underpin our world.
To find out more about the UN International Year of Soils, visit: http://www.fao.org/soils-2015/en/
Posted Dec. 2/14 article below is from Common Dreams, here; thanks to Organic Consumer site for posting it, alerting CGL webkeeper. Originally published Tuesday, November 25, 2014, Common Dreams, Andrea Germanos, staff writer
Over 100 scientists and researchers have urged a [U.S.] federal task force to take immediate action on bee-harming pesticides.
In a letter (pdf ) dated Monday and sent to U.S. Department of Agriculture head Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy, the scientists write that documented bee declines "are not sustainable," and stress that the pollinators play a crucial role "in our agricultural system and economies."
Beekeepers in the nation have been hit with average losses of nearly 30 percent for the past eight years, they write to Vilsack and McCarthy, who lead the months-old Pollinator Health Task Force.
Protecting the pollinators, they write, means listening to a body of scientific evidence that links a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics, with lethal and sub-lethal harm to bees.
Neonics are persistent and systemic, the experts write, creating multiple paths of exposure, including from dust, pollen, or water droplets from treated plants, for bees to the pesticides.
The letter references a global analysis based on 800 peer-reviewed reports called the Worldwide Integrated Assessment of the Impact of Systemic Pesticides on Biodiversity and Ecosystems (WIA), which focused on neonics and found "clear evidence" that they posed threats to bees. In addition to studies linking neonics to harm to bees, the scientists note in the letter, research has also pointed to questionable efficacy of neonics on crop yields and production.
"The President’s Task Force should listen to the body of science that links pesticides to bee harm and bee declines," stated letter signatory Jim Frazier, PhD, an emeritus entomology professor at Pennsylvania State University and commercial beekeeper advisor who specializes in chemical ecology.
"These systemic pesticides are not only lethal to pollinators, but at low doses can disrupt critical brain functions and reduce their immunity—leaving them susceptible to common pathogens. The weight of the scientific evidence certainly incriminates neonicotinoids," he added.
Based on the threats neonics pose, the letter outlines three recommendations the scientists say the task force should prioritize: placing a moratorium on use of neonics; suspending registrations on neonics until the EPA completes its review which won't happen before 2018; and increasing investment into looking for non-pesticide alternatives to neonics.
Further, the letter states,
the White House Task Force should recommend incentives for farmers to create healthy pollinator habitats in the form of diversified, pesticide-free landscapes as an alternative to our current system of intensive monoculture. Such landscapes support natural enemies also, and thus provide an alternative to pesticides. Maintaining high-quality habitats around farms aids in promoting pollinator richness and diversity.
Thriving populations of beneficial insects result in a healthier and more resilient crop as well as benefiting the larger ecosystem.
'The scientists' letter was timed to meet the deadline the Pollinator Health Task Force set for public comments following two "public listening sessions" this month.
Check this site: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/pollinator/meeting-reg.htm
From here there are links to Ontario's new Pollinator Health paper and information about the Public Consultation sessions. Read it carefully. It's a start, and there's much that you might want to add!
You may comment until January 25, 2015 via the email above.
There are public input sessions around the province, too.
Register through the site above for the session in London, Ontario or another of the locales by Dec. 4.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Lamplighter Inn, 591 Wellington Road, London, ON
Pollinator Health: A Proposal for Enhancing Pollinator Health and Reducing the Use of Neonicotinoid Pesticides in Ontario session in London. the paper is here: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/pollinator/discuss-paper.pdf
CGL webkeeper comment, posted December 2/14:
Environment groups seem to agree: Ontario's Pollinator Health Proposal deserves attention, and can go further
The Ontario Beekeepers Association press release supports Ontario's commitment to reduce the acreage planted using neonicotinoid-coated seeds by 80% by 2017. Tibor Szabo, OBA president, points out that "There is overwhelming science pointing to the overuse of neonicotinoid pesticides as the central issue for bee health" and that is shows the government's "recognition that the prophylactic use of neonicotinoid-coted seed on Ontario's corn and soy crops is unwarranted".
Ontario Beekeepers Association: www.ontariobee.com
National Farmers Union: http://www.nfu.com
In its November 25/14 press release (http://www.nfu.ca/story/nfu-applauds-ontario-government%E2%80%99s-application-precautionary-principle-neonicotinoid-use), NFU's vice president (policy) Ann Slater says "... It is heartening to see a government put the interest of our environment and our food sovereignty first by invoking the precautionary principle in setting regulations designed to address the impact neonicotinoid insecticides have on domestic and wild pollinators" and to see the government take into account "a wide range of scientific studies" and not just those supplied by seed and chemical companies. The NFU urges the widest possible range of interested parties to read the Ontarioreport thoroughly and comment by the January 25th deadline. For the report and to comment: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/pollinator/meeting-reg.htm
Pollination Guelph says "Reducing the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on corn and soybean crops is an important step but much more is needed to be done." Its November 25/14 press release also notes that "while the scale may be smaller, there are many other crops and organizations, such as golf courses and the horticultural industry, which also use the pesticides and would not be covered [under] the regulation as it is currently proposed."
Pollination Guelph's press release: Pollination Guelph: http://www.pollinationguelph.ca
Friends of the Earth Canada (http://www.foecanada.org) says that Ontario is bold to be the first province or state in North American to say it will "phase down the use of neonicotinoids", a "systemic neurotoxin pesticide" It also referred to the Gardeners Beware 2014 report, published by FOE earlier in 2014.
CGL webkeeper notes that Gardeners Beware 2014 reported that over half the plants sent for testing at an accredited USDA lab had neonicotinoid residue. It underscored that consumers must continue to not buy plants treated with neonics, and must be assertive with nurseries. We must tell suppliers to not bring in such plants and that plants treated with neonics (and other pesticices) must be labelled. This is a consumer issue akin to food labelling.
CGL webkeeper believes that the Ontario Pollinator Health (proposed) plan has good intentions and that it recognizes that sound science has proven neonicotinoid insecticides are harmful to pollinators. However, she believes that the report falls short in important ways:
- It does not say specifically what actions it will take to carry out all aspects of its pollinator health plan. It notes four stressors on pollinator health, but does not say what it will do about them:
(a) decreased pollinator habitat and nutrition
(b) pesticide exposure
(c) climate change and weather
(d) diseases, pests, and genetics
- It narrows its focus from all types of pollinators to bees, specifically honeybees. (Wild bees very often provide more pollination services than managed bees.)
- It concentrates on regulations to do with neonicotinoid delivery by seed coatings, and does not mention foliar sprays or soil drenches. Nor does it mention the effects on pollinators of the overall pesticide load used in contemporary agriculture.
- It does not mention the widespread use of neonicotinoid insecticides in greenhouse/nursery operations. Urban gardeners buy plants with the intention of having healthy, pollinator-safe gardens and when we don't know what's on the plants we cannot have safe gardens.
Check this site for the Ontario Pollinator Health strategy report and for information on how to comment, and comment: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/pollinator/meeting-reg.htm
Press release from Ontario Beekeepers Association, Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Today the Government of Ontario released a groundbreaking goal of 80% reduction in the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed by 2017, as well as reducing the over-winter honeybee mortality rate to 15% by 2020. New rules on the use of neonicotinoids are expected to be in place by July 1, 2015, in time for the 2016 agricultural planting season.
Following is the Media Release distributed by OBA this morning. We encourage beekeepers to review the government's discussion paper and provide comments and response to PollinatorHealth@Ontario.ca. If you'd like, you can cc or write to OBA directly at email@example.com. The Government's media release can be found here.
Milton, ON. The Ontario Beekeepers' Association (OBA) supports today's announcement by the Government of Ontario, which commits to an 80% reduction in the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed by 2017. "Today the government has shown bold leadership, unique in North America, in moving decisively and measurably to significantly limit the use of these toxic chemicals," says Tibor Szabo, President of the OBA. "The OBA appreciates the government's recognition that the prophylactic use of neonicotinoid-coated seed on Ontario's corn and soy crops is unwarranted and unacceptable."
The acute decline in population of bees in Ontario is tied to the widespread use of neonicotinoids on corn, soy and winter wheat. Claims for bee kills in Ontario due to the application of neonicotinoids have been confirmed by Health Canada for both 2012 and 2013. In spring of 2014, Ontario reported 58% overwinter losses, over three times the average of all other Canadian provinces. "The Province's goal to reduce the over-winter honey bee mortality rate to 15% by 2020 will bring the industry back to the pre-neonicotinoid average winter loss and will support a thriving sustainable beekeeping industry going forward."
"There is overwhelming science pointing to the overuse of neonicotinoid pesticides as the central issue for bee health," says Szabo, "The widespread use of seed treatments on vast acreages of field crops has not only put the health of critical pollinators at risk, it has also discouraged farmers from using more pollinator friendly practices like Integrated Pest Management. We look forward to working with farmers and farm organizations toward achieving these goals to the benefit of agriculture, bees and the environment."
The Ontario Beekeepers' Association represents the interests of the approximately 3100 beekeepers in Ontario, managing over 100,000 hives.
Dr. Laurence Packer spoke about the importance of wild bees to our food system and environment, threats to them, and how we can encourage them in our gardens. He made it clear that neonicotinoid insecticides are a hazard, and a significant factor in the decline of wild bees (along with habitat loss). Dr. Packer's book Keeping the Bees is available in bookstores and is in the library. His website hosts a lot of information about bees, including a bee identification resource and image bank. Check out Bugsrus at http://www.yorku.ca/bugsrus/
Margo Does sang her song Message from the Bees, with lyrics that are eloquent and accurate to the serious situation they and we face.
A panel of five answered questions about the Plight of the Pollinators, speaking about what we and the municipality can do: keep on making ourselves and the politicians aware.
Maureen Temme, CGL webkeeper, would like to thank the Advisory Committee on Envirornment - especially Diane Szoller and Gabor Sass - for their work making this event happen. Thanks to Margo Does and Celeste Lemire for bringing forward the idea of making London a pollinator sanctuary, which led to the forum. Thanks to fellow-panelists for their informed and varied perspectives and information: Chris Hiemstra of Clovermead; Linda MacDougall, London ecologist planner; Brian Gilvesy of YU Ranch; Laurence Packer ; and moderator Brian Branfireun of Western.
These people, and the members of the audience who care and came out, make the work worthwhile and inspire the next steps.
In a sea of agricultural lands, urban areas can act as a refuge, or as an eco-sensitive zone, to protect pollinators. Sanctuaries are often the only hope we have of stopping many threatened species from becoming extinct. If the City of London was designated as a Pollinator Sanctuary in its Official Plan - The London Plan policies, by-laws and programs would support this designation.
The recommendations below are actions the city could take in order to help the plight of pollinators. They were developed by the Pollinator Sanctuary working group of Advisory Committee on Environment. They were presented to London's Planning and Environment Committee in late August 2014, and comment to support them has been made to the London Plan.
1. Identify London as a Pollinator Sanctuary in the City’s Official Plan.
2. Include explicit language throughout the London Plan that references the importance of creating suitable habitat for pollinators on private and public lands as well as reducing pesticide pressures.
3. Modify City bylaws concerning property standards, streets, trees and parks to reflect the city’s proposed status as a Pollinator Sanctuary.
4.Create a Natural Heritage Master Plan which should have an extensive section not just about protecting but also on restoring and creating pollinator habitat across the city.
5.Provide more forage and habitat areas around the city (including park lands,backyards, rooftops, boulevards), increase the amount of meadow space, and support the creation of habitat corridors between forage areas. Plant more native and pollinator friendly plants such as milkweed.
6. Collaborate with the City’s many organization and business contacts to encourage planting and development of biodiverse areas on their properties, with special emphasis on native plants.
7. The City of London can ensure that plants used in its own gardens are purchased from local suppliers who are not using neonicotinoid insecticides. The City can encourage or require its affiliated schools, libraries and community centres to use locally grown, neonicotinoid free plants.
8. Leading by example, London will encourage community organizations, businesses, and institutes of higher education to plant diverse, locally grown, neonicotinoid free plants.
9. Inform and encourage gardeners to purchase organic plant starts or grow their plants from untreated seeds for their vegetable and flower gardens. Encourage garden centers that do not use treated seeds to publicize this advantage.
10. Encourage further collaboration between City staff, neighbouring conservation authorities, municipalities and agricultural associations to develop programs which encourage plant diversity and native plants as well as the creation of corridors for pollinator movement.
If you would like a copy of the full presentation that went to P&E, please email CGL webkeeper at firstname.lastname@example.org
posted to CGL November 20, 2014
Mind bogglingly great idea!
Check it on youtube: here
The Pollinator Pathway is over a mile x 12 feet wide ... plant filled space with a majority of native plants, to encourage pollinating insects and to join up two areas of Seattle that might otherwise be bare of plants and be a food desert for pollinators. It is the work of Sarah Bergmann, in partnership with designers, planners, and scientists. After 6 years of testing and research, they are piloting a Certification Program to ensure the ecological and design integrity of new projects in other places.
posted to CGL News Nov 20/14
"Conscientious farmers need to do a better job of explaining their proven, cutting-edge methods"
This is the message in Joel Salatin's newest post in the Dec14/Jan15 issue of Mother Earth News.
"If I denounce genetically modified organisms (GMOs), I'm naive and anti-science. If I disagree with a food-safety policy that criminalizes an artisan who sells homemade yogurt to a friend at church, I'm an anarchist."
Salatin says that healthful food producers and environmentalists have to develop and use better language to explain and promote what we do. When we denounce something, we have to spend time and energy defending against the corporate cries against us.
Our time and energy is better used in promoting what we know to be better. Find new language to say why we are for something, use it with all the media-savvy we can, and get on with it.
What lexicon works? Salatin says "It has to be big enough, innovative enough, sacred enough to capture the hearts of all types of people"
We have to get away from the corporate/media promoted idea that we want to go "back" to old farming techniques or, in the case of environment issues, to non-technologic times.
Acknowledge that people don't want to go "back". Even as we find ourselves media'd and consumer'd out - is it Christmas yet? - most of us don't want to be thought out of date. And frankly, we don't want to do all the labour we associate with "old-fashioned".
Food production systems are even more amazing than we ever realized, and deserve respect and care.
We can promote that what's newest is based firmly on the literal groundwork of generations of gardeners, farmers, and environmentalists. And yes, this is all based on good science and its practical applications can give food producers a living wage.
Salatin suggests we tell people that we want "integrated food and farming rather than segregated". Then we can speak enthusiastically about how the new farming understands the interactions between soil microbiology and animal and plant health, and both embraces and innovates technologies that save time and extend seasons. .
He goes on to explain about "food systems that caress rather than conquer" and "healing rather than hurting", and that up-to-date farmers don't use Grandpa's methods. We take his (or Grandma's!) best practices and upgrade them with environmentally sound and practical technologies and ideas.
And he reassures us that "getting a reaction is what we need to do, because it means people are paying attention".
Altogether, a great read.
Note: New-Fashioned Food Systemis not online yet because it is in the current issue, so a purchase of this excellent magazine or a trip to the library may be in order. A visit to Mother Earth News website is always interesting and useful. It posts articles from back issues, and its website carries articles on-line only and has blogs and forums about important topics like raising chickens, food, and homesteading (lots of great things even for urbanites). Several of Joel Salatin's books are in the London Public library and his Poly Face Farm website is: www.polyfacefarms.com/
Posted November 15/14 ... item written by By Lauren Roberts, Program Assistant, National Engagement, for Evergreen Foundation
For the northern British Columbia community of Hazelton, located on Gitxsan First Nation Territory, local fruits and vegetables can be hard to come by. Due to its remote location the steps involved in bringing non-local nutritious foods to the community are often energy-intensive and expensive.
This is where the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition (SWCC) Recycled Energy Garden Project comes in, where approximately one year ago, a greenhouse was constructed on a flat unused roof located above the Skeena Bakery and the Cleaners Laundromat.
... “At our open house in June, we had over 200 people come out to tour the Greenhouse and to sample our “solar chili” made with greenhouse tomatoes in our solar-cooker that the group built themselves!” exclaimed Greg Horne, Skeena Energy Solutions Coordinator. The 15 beds of the greenhouse are filled with a variety of vegetables including: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, corn, zucchini, and squash, among many others. During the 2014 growing season, a core group of 6 male volunteers helped with the upkeep and maintenance of the garden, though, at times, the greenhouse saw as many as 20 participants. As a result, those involved have developed skills in carpentry, garden maintenance, and food production. A secondary outcome found as a result of the project was a sense of pride, ownership and accomplishment among volunteers. In addition, men developed a healthy and friendly relationship with others involved in the project. As one garden volunteer indicated, “I’ve never really felt a part of something before. It feels so good to be a part of this.”
The SWCC hopes that the greenhouse will soon be able to produce food year round with the installation of a heat recovery system. The heat recovery system, which they plan to have up and running by the spring of 2015, will be made up of a number of recycled materials such as car radiators, a furnace fan, and air ducts. During the day, the system will pull warm air out of the greenhouse to heat the DIY water tank that will be placed in the crawlspace under the building. At night, the opposite will occur; warm air from the water tank will be pushed back into the greenhouse to keep it warm and to prepare the tank for the following cycle. The system will also capture excess heat from the bakery and Laundromat below to heat the greenhouse during the winter months. In the long-term, SWCC hopes that the heat recovery system will allow them to produce healthy, local food year-round to replace costly “end of the line” produce from the grocery store.
Upper: the greenhouse before with 15 empty beds (photo: Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition); Lower: the greenhouse after with thriving vegetables (photo: Yet Klare)
The SWCC’s Recycled Energy Garden project, a component of the Skeena Energy Solutions Program and funded in part by the Walmart Evergreen Green Grants program, aims to bring fresh, local produce to the community of New Hazelton in a way that is both educational and sustainable. The SWCC’s goals with this garden project are: to produce healthy, sustainable food, to engage community members (men in particular, who have few opportunities in the community to be a part of programs that foster healthy living), to increase resiliency and to address the issue of food insecurity in the region.
CGL thanks to City Farmer for posting this inspiring, "can do" project!
The draft strategic plan for London Ontario's community gardens program has been posted on the City website: here
If you want to comment on it, you have until November 30, 2014.
Submit your comments to the manager of Neighbourhoods programs, Cheryl Smith, manager for Community Partnerships and Funding at email@example.com
note: This website, Community Gardens London, is not in any way involved in the management of London's community gardens program.s
Posted October 30/14 ... and without reading the Draft S.R. thoroughly yet. Usually, CGL webkeeper Maureen does not write such a long note as below. Community Gardens London website has nothing to do with the management of London's community gardens. The Community Gardens London name came about in 2009 when she and others spoke with City staff to encourage a review of London's community gardens program. The website came online Feb. 14, 2011.
To gather data/opinion for the Draft strategic report:
a) there was a survey of gardeners done in November/December 2014
b) also, several focus groups were held, the last being held April 1, 2014.
This means it took 8 months for this strategic report to come out.
The data/information from the 2013 survey was not released in any type of summary form. Summaries of focus group ideas were not published by the City or the coordinating agency for the gardens (London Community Resource Centre), except for one set of notes ( urged to do so by the webkeeper of the Community Gardens London website).
The budget for London's community gardens program is not covered in the Draft Strategic Report, altho' it is a positive to see that "adequate" funding is proposed.
The cost to hire the services of Pathways Consulting to do the work leading to the Strategic Plan is not part of the regular budget that London's community gardens program works with.
In answer to CGL webkeeper's questions about how much the consultancy cost, Cheryl Smith, manager of Community Partnerships and Funding for London, said in an October 2014 email to Maureen Temme, webkeeper for Community Gardens London website:
"We have a budget in our administrative lines that is specifically for consulting services – we have to follow Purchasing Guidelines and account for this professional and consulting fees through this budget line – therefore it is very accountable and follows the directions set out by Council. Funding for organizations and programs is through my funding lines and follows its own lines of accountability and structure through granting agreements and service plans and reporting."
It is perhaps an optimistic show of the City's support of its community gardens program that the cost for a strategic planning process has not taken funds given for the seasonal support of the program.
It remains a concern of the CGL webkeeper that no budget/expenses for the program have been published on either the City website or on the website of the agency contracted to manage London's community gardens program (London Community Resource Centre), since the LCRC took on its new contract to manage the program in 2012 (ie three years now). Monies spent do have to be accounted for to the Manager of Community Partnerships and Funding. However, public accountability and availability of figures allow for the positives of a program to be shown. When dealing with community members and city councillors who might wonder why a community gardens program should be funded by the City, it is not good "optics" to not publish budget information.
Smith anticipates that the final stratetic report for London's community gardens program, incorporating comments, will be brought forward to (one of the standing committees of Council) in the spring of 2015.
Alison Benjamin, Guardian News, theguardian.com, Tuesday 28 October 2014 - article here
First Great British Bee Count reveals allotments make the best bee habitats. Allotments produced more bee sightings than parks, gardens and the countryside over the 12-week summer count
The first Great British Bee Count logged 830,000 bee sightings in June-August with most being spotted in allotments. Photograph: Alamy
Allotments are the best habitat for bees according to the results of the first Great British Bee Count this summer.
More bees were seen on allotments than on any other habitat including parks, gardens, and the countryside during the 12-week bee count from June to August.
More than 23,000 people across the UK took part in the count using a smartphone app to log their sightings of 830,000 bees.
An average of 12 bees per count were spotted on allotments compared to 10 in the countryside, eight in gardens, seven in parks and only four on roadside verges.
Bumblebees were the most frequently seen type of bee in all regions with 304,857 sightings including common species such as the buff-tailed bumblebee, garden bumblebee and white-tailed bumblebees.
Honeybees were the second most-seen bee with 193,837 sightings. Of these, 42% were in rural areas, 30% in suburbs and 28% in towns and cities. The ginger-tufted tree bumblebee, which is often found nesting in bird boxes, was the third most identified bee with 69,369 sightings. It only arrived in southern England from mainland Europe in 2001, but the survey shows it has now spread throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Great British Bee Count was developed by charities Friends of the Earth and Buglife and retailer, B&Q, with the aim of providing annual comparable data and trends that will give a broader picture of bee health. Bee experts believe the mild winter, warm spring and long summer created good weather conditions for bees to thrive this year.
Just one in 10 honeybee hives perished in 2014 according to the British Beekeepers’ Association survey earlier this year, compared to more than a third dying out during the winter of 2012/13. However, experts say that floods earlier this year will have affected ground-nesting bumblebees, so the 2015 bee count could see a drop in numbers.
Scientists warn that British bees are in serious decline with 71 of our wild bee species under threat and more than 20 already extinct. Loss of habitat and forage are the main problems facing wild bees. Since the second world, 97% of the UK’s wild flower-rich grasslands have been wiped out due to modern farming practices and urban development. Bee’s pollination services are currently worth £600m annually to the UK agricultural economy.
Dave Goulson, professor of biology at Sussex University and author of A Sting in the Tale said: “This year’s Great British Bee Count highlights the importance of allotments in providing essential habitat for the bees that pollinate all those tasty home-grown fruit and veg – and shows that parks and road verges could be a lot better for bees, with less mowing and more wildflowers.”
The survey findings echo the early results of a three-year urban pollinators project across 12 cities in the UK which suggest that allotments provide particularly good habitats. Jane Memmott, professor of ecology at Bristol University, who is leading the project, says: “I thought allotments would be OK, but they are looking really good. I think bees like the fact that there is a little corner with thistles in, and the onions and carrots bolt occasionally and they are often wildlife friendly, planted with flowers that are good for bees.”
The government is expected to launch a national pollinator strategy this autumn to help protect bees and other pollinators. In the meantime it has issued a call for action urging people to grow more flowers, shrubs and trees throughout the year, create more nesting areas and to consider alternatives to using pesticides.
Paul de Zylva, Friends of the Earth’s senior nature campaigner, said: “It’s great that so many people are making allotments and gardens bee-friendly but we need to ensure rural areas and towns are also habitat-rich so bees can move freely.
He urged the government to support farmers to cut pesticide use and create more bee-friendly habitats when new houses, shops and offices are built.
“The national pollinator strategy must tackle all the threats bee face, especially from pesticides and a lack of habitat on farms and new developments,” said de Zylva.
CGL webkeeper's note: The Globe and Mail's B.C. edition is publishing an 8-part series on food security in Canada. I don't know what all the topics will be, and will try to keep up with posting links to this series. Newspaper series often are great sources of summaries to issues within a topic (combined with a reader's own questioning mind).
Part 1. Without national strategy, local food producers struggle to stem Canada’s growing hunger problem
This article is the introduction to Globe B.C.’s eight-part weekly series on food security in Canada
by Wendy Stueck, Vancouver — The Globe and Mail, Wednesday, Oct. 08 2014,
Part 2. A third of global food supply is wasted
MARLENE HABIB, Special to The Globe and Mail, Tuesday, Oct. 14 2014
The challenge to York region is to grow 2,015 new food gardens by the year 2015. Community organization Seeds For Change has partnered with the York Region Food Network to create healthier neighbourhoods through school and community gardens... both making and taking the challenge.
Founded in 2010 by Lynne Koss and her daughter Marissa, Seeds for Change makes positive change first in local backyards and communities.
As the article by Sustain Ontario says:
"Together with their dedicated garden coordinators, steering committee, volunteers and supporters, they work to contribute to the sustainability of suburban communities in York Region by providing students and community members with hands-on education through planting, growing, harvesting, celebrating and sharing locally-grown food in school grounds and under-utilized spaces. (Underutilized spaces include windowsills, balconies, backyards, rooftops, places of work or worship, or schools/community gardens.)
By providing accessible programming for children, youth and adults, Seeds for Change empowers people to cultivate a sense of connection and appreciation for the environment. Through physical activity, meaningful and practical education, as well as critical life skills development, the aim is to help York Region residents get outside and become healthier as they teach people to take better care of themselves."
[The program finds funding from many sources, including asking each each garden to cover 30% of its own cost] – "this includes covering materials such as cedar for raised beds, soil, compost, plants/seeds, workshop expenses, human resources-garden coordinators, school liaison, etc. The rest of their funds are raised from local businesses, companies’ foundations, major provincial and national organizations such as the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Heart & Stroke Foundation, as well as government funding opportunities, collaborating with other like-minded organizations, participating municipalities’ environmental/green funds, and partnerships with L’Arche Daybreak in making retail items to sell at fairs/festivals and through their website."sustainontario.com/tag/edible-education-profiles
Posted October 4 2014. Bees, birds may suffer long-term consequences from common pesticides
CBC News item and CBC's Quirks and Quarks have just given some excellent coverage to recent research into long-term and subtle effects of neonicotinoid insecticides on bees, other insects and birds. (Oct. 4/14 show)
Reporter Alanna Mitchell interviewed Canadian ecotoxicologist Christy Morrissey about her findings: persistence of neonic residue in prairie pothole areas within and away from agriculture fields; possible interactions between insect deaths and bird population reductions. Mitchell also interviewed professor Nigel Raine on his work with bumblebees that showed their foraging ability is impaired after exposure to neonics: “And that impact only gets worse over time," he says.
The 23 minute Quirks and Quarks show is well crafted to bring out many aspects of the neonics story, and emphasizes the interconnections between water, insects and birds.
For an easy-to-follow summary of issues, and clear reasons to be concerned about neonicotinoids' effects, tune in to this Quirks and Quarks show here: http://www.cbc.ca/quirks/
CGL webkeeper Maureen thanks Ms. Mitchell and Q&Q host Bob McDonald for their work on this!
posted Sept. 29, 2014
The community garden at St. Andrew's Memorial Anglican Church has had a successful year! Some of the garden's 14 plots are rented for the season to people in the neighbourhood; others are tended by St. Andrew's volunteers and the volunteers from St. Paul's Daily Bread Food bank. Overall, 1,200 pounds of produce were harvested for the Daily Bread Food bank this season from volunteers' efforts.
The garden also has pollinator-attracting plants ... good for the bees, butterflies and joy level of gardeners and passers-by!
The London Community News published an article about the gardens in its Sept. 21/14 edition of the News, and it can be read in full here
St. Andrew's Memorial community garden was set up with assistance from London's SPARKS! grants, LondonSOUP, and with advice from the London Community Resource Centre.
Questions about the Church's gardens and how to set up such a community-enhancing project are welcome.
If you are interested in making a donation to the garden project or having a fruit tree dedicated in someone’s name, please contact the parish
St. Paul's Daily Bread's program: www.dailybreadlondon.ca
Biggest science fair project ever? UK children count bumblebees on lavender.
Almost 30,000 schoolchildren from 400 schools across the UK counted bumbles on lavender plants as part of the Big Bumblebee Discovery (http://jointhepod.org/campaigns/campaign/31).
Complete article is on the BBC News site: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29122851
Urban bumblebees are concentrated on scarce floral resources
The study result showed that a patch of lavender in a city centre attracted more bees per plant than a patch in the country. Also that more bumblebees visited lavender plants that were near other floral plants.
While acknowledging that rural areas often more overall "floral resources" Dr. Helen Roy says that the study shows that bees come to the flowers available to them in urban areas and it suggests that planting more flowers in cities will help boost bumblebee populations.
"... [this suggests] we can create an oasis within cities," said Dr. Roy, co-leader of the project with Dr. Michael Pocock of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, which is part of the UK's National Environment Research Council.
Such urban oases could be planted with a wide range of plants: plants with bee-accessible, flowering stalks or umbels, and plants that bloom successively through three seasons.
The study is surely an example of coordination, good outdoor science education and an incredible undertaking by the students and their teachers. The data is going to be analyzed, compiled and submitted for publication.
"I think treating citizen science data in exactly the same way [as other scientific research] is really important... for recognising the value of those who got involved with the project, but also recognising the value of citizen science as a whole," Dr Pocock said. This study is just one of a series that will get over 100,000 school children participating in science projects.
Planting more flowers in cities can help boost bumblebee numbers
CGL webkeeper thanks City Farmer for its post of the full article.
Groups tell UN Climate Summit to include small farms - the key to reversing climate change and feeding world
To UN: Small Farms Key to Reversing Climate Change, Feeding World
North Dakota Ag Connection - USAgNet - Sept. 12/2014
Fair World Project (FWP), a campaign of the Organic Consumers Association, the nation's largest network of green and ethical consumers, and The Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers' Organizations (CLAC), the largest network of fair trade farmers in Latin America, have joined together to call on the United Nations to put small farmers at the forefront of the upcoming climate change summit in New York. United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has convened a climate summit in New York for Sept. 23; however, absent from both the UN, media and government discourse on climate change is the critical and hopeful message that small-scale organic farmers and pastoralists can cool the planet and feed the world.
"There are over 500 million smallholder family farms in the world," said Ryan Zinn, political director of Fair World Project. "Recent reports have demonstrated that small farmers, practicing organic and agro-ecological farming practices not only feed the majority of the world with less than one quarter of global farmland, but are actively sequestering carbon with ecological farming practices."
Industrial agriculture is a primary driver in the generation of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), accounting for an estimated 40-50% of total emissions. Industrial agriculture practices, including Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), large-scale monocultures, overuse and abuse of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, fossil fuel intensive transportation, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), among others, all generate significant amounts of greenhouse gases, and further perpetuate an inequitable and unhealthy food system.
However, small farmers and pastoralists could sequester significant amounts of carbon dioxide emissions and reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices. In fact, recent studies demonstrate that small farmers already feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland, while protecting biodiversity, reducing rural vulnerability and actively sequestering CO2. Though small farmers are, by and large, more efficient producers than industrial farms, small-scale farms and farmers are rapidly disappearing, while mega farms are increasing in size and number and generating increasing amounts of greenhouse gases.
"There is no need for high tech solutions or expensive strategies, nor is it necessary to compromise agricultural or forest lands owned by rural, forest or indigenous communities, under risky carbon market schemes, such as REDD+, which are ineffective for real mitigation and threaten ecosystems, livelihoods, land and territorial sovereignty. We need political will to support and safeguard small farmers," said Yvette Aguilar, climate change expert of The Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers' Organizations (CLAC). "Rebuilding local food economies, advancing a global campaign for food sovereignty and supporting 'Fair Trade' are critical steps in addressing climate change and feeding a growing global population."
Small farmers and pastoralists are endangered--vulnerable to unfair trade agreements, collapsing financial markets, the global push of agri-fuels, the current privatization of rural economies via extractive megaprojects, land grabs, the unfettered expansion of financial speculation of the food market, and the privatization of genetic resources, among other threats. Prevailing policies and practices in trade, land use, energy use, and patent law contribute to climate change and jeopardize the ability of sustainable, small-scale farmers to stay on their land. Small-scale farmers must be the cornerstone of any global strategy to address climate change and hunger.
According to the United Nations, the growing global population will require an increase of 70 % more food production by 2050. This can only be addressed by shifting current industrial agricultural practices to diversified food systems focused on food security and agroecology. Fortifying and safeguarding small-scale farmers is the best remedy to address rural unemployment and poverty through participatory and decentralized approaches to managed resources like land and water. A combination of public policies, education efforts and market initiatives will be needed to address climate change and the challenges facing small-scale farmers and the planet. The UN recognizes that many initiatives like fair trade have positive impacts for rural communities and natural resource management. The Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers' Organizations (CLAC), the largest network of fair trade farmers in Latin America, is fighting every day to defend family and small-scale agriculture in order to guarantee a more inclusive and equitable rural development.
"2014 is the UN International Year of Family Farming," Zinn noted. "Addressing the climate crisis requires that we confront the industrial agriculture food system and put small farmers in the driver seat. The time for swift action is now."
CGL thanks the Organic Consumers website - http://www.organicconsumers.org/ - for mentioning this article, and staff at the North Dakota Ag Connection website - http://www.northdakotaagconnection.com/story-national.php?Id=2025 - for writing the article.
Posted Friday, August 29/14
Could London, Ontario be a sanctuary for pollinators like bees, moths, butterflies, and the myriad other insects that provide us with food, beauty and the wide variety of plants that make a flourishing ecosystem?
Members of a working group of the Advisory Committee on Environment presented recommendations to the Planning and Environment standing committee of London city council on Tuesday, Aug. 26.
The recommendation was that staff look at the recommendations, and get together with members of the ACE Pollinator Sanctuary working group to talk about how it fits with London's proposed new official plan, and report back to the P&E committee.
In answer to Councillor Hubert's request for comment on the Pollinator Sanctuary proposal/recommendations, both John Fleming (Managing Director, Planning department) and Andrew MacPherson (Manager, environmental and parks planning) spoke about the importance of the pollinator topic, and that there was a fit between city programs and the sanctuary idea. Councillor Bryant commented about her concern for Monarch butterflies, Coun. Polhill (P&E chair) said that he couldn't recall the last time he'd seen a Monarch.
It is standard procedure that senior staff become involved and comment on proposals/recommendations from the advisory committees. Diane Szoller, chair of Advisory Committee on Environment, confirmed that the committee's positive reaction takes us to the next step in City Hall process.
A meeting time has been set with the City staff and working group members. Getting this conversation underway had actually been initiated prior to the presentation, thanks to Margo Does, one of the initiators of the Pollinator Sanctuary idea.
It is timely that both the City's new official plan and London's new urban forest plan are in the works. Pollinators and all aspects of environmental health are involved with these.
London Free Press coverage of the meeting and the topic brought forward many aspects of the pollinator decline issue. Thanks to reporter N. de Bono and photographer M. Hansen.
Participants in the Pollinator Sanctuary working group of Advisory Committee on Environment are:
- London citizens Margo Does and Celeste Lemire, who initiated the Pollinator Sanctuary idea
- ACE members: Gabor Sass, Diane Szoller (chair), Colin Baird, Tariq Khan , Natalie St. Amour
- London citizens Narcise Datura, Maureen Temme, Nina Zitani
Community Gardens London sends thanks to all Pollinator Sanctuary working group members, Planning and Environment Committee, and City staff. Also a thank you to Bea Olivastri, director of Friends of the Earth Canada for a letter of support.
This is certainly a positive spur to the work going forward on this, both with London City and in the community!
If you are interested in finding out more about this please email firstname.lastname@example.org
This report prepared by Maureen Temme, webkeeper Community Gardens London and member of the ACE Pollinator Sanctuary working group.
Ten Pollination Gardens at Anglican Churches in Southwestern Ontario were begun or augmented this year with a special purpose of feeding the bees - encouraging pollinators by planting especially appealing plants. Plants in the gardens are being identified so congregants and passersby can take their inspiration to a nursery to purchase plants too. Each church is developing other programs or events which involve the Pollination Garden. St. John the Evangelist in London, for example, has volunteers doing a "bee count" so they understand better just how many pollinators are visiting the garden.
Check the wonderful photos and info on the facebook page of this Gardens4Bees project.
The projects hadfinancial contribution from The Julia Hunter Fund*, with coordination with the Diocese of Huron's EnviroAction Committee. The idea, vision and work of Murray Hunter got the Pollination Garden project "into" the ground. CGL sends thanks and to him and everyone involved.
The beginning! Pollination Garden, this spring, at St. Aidan's Anglican Church London, Ont.
People in several cities receive the beauty of these gardens and their educational benefits:
Cambridge, Ontario: St. James Anglican Church
Windsor: All Saints Anglican Church
Clinton: St. Paul’s Anglican Church
Seaforth: St. Thomas Anglican Church
London: St. Andrew Memorial, St. John the Evangelist, The Church of the Transfiguration and Huron Church Camp
More bee-related events will be happening at Bee Fest, October 4th , 2014 (Feast of St. Francis) at Banting House in London. (details to come). Three of these churches will receive an award of excellence based on design, education and community development at Bee Fest .
The Julia Hunter Fund, an endowed fund at the London Community Foundation, (www.lcr.on.ca ) supports public gardens based on the criteria of design, education and community development. Email: email@example.com
Pollination Garden at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in London, Ont. 2014 funding assistance from Julia Hunter Fund. http://stjohnslondon.ca/pollination-garden/
note: this is an opinion piece by CGL webkeeper Maureen, who is so disgusted she can barely think straight.
Straight to hell. Or reincarnation as something that will have a very difficult life.
CP Rail executives and the hired contractors who are destroying community garden plots in the Arbutus corridor in Vancouver - garden plots that provide food for low-income families - have certainly set their paths to a bad fate.
It's a money dispute between CP and the City of Vancouver, with no compromise to even allow for harvest.
For mean spirit, heartless, inhuman, power-mad, nasty, petty behaviour ... just think CP Rail. E. Hunter Harrison, CEO.
One can never track down emails for a CEO ... but send a note to Breanne Feigel, Media Tel.: 403-589-6949
24/7 Media Pager: 855-242-3674
Mention that the story doesn't play well.
Intuitively ... yes. We feel the difference in physical and mental well-being when around green roofs, well-treed parks and streets, and our gardens.
Now, the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment has granted funds to monitor temperature and humidity on two St. Paul farms over the span of two years to see if urban farming can be added to the list of "heat island" remedies. See article here.
If the results are as expected, there'd be a health bonus besides fresh, local vegetables and jobs, when agriculture is right within the city.A previous study found that Minneapolis and St. Paul were an average of 3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than surrounding lands.
Thanks to City Farmer website for this item! Posted on CGL July 22/14
Posted on CGL July 22/14
CGL reminds you regularly to check the City Farmer website for a world of articles about urban agriculture.
Recent posts includes a 1943 letter sent by Groucho Marx talking about his Victory Garden, and the good sleep he'd been getting after eating an unusual leaf, how art and gardens are cropping up in Manhatten, and - more seriously - how CP Rail is playing politics against the community gardens that are along one of its unused corridors in Vancouver.
Check the City Farmer website to find the series about this issue. Write some letters!
Jennifer and Tim of All Sorts Acre, near Guelph are moving to a larger farm.
For more information please go to:
From their email notice saying the All Sorts Acre property is for sale:
If you are looking to have a life closer to nature, but don't want to give up all the benefits of the city, then this place is for you. Picture yourself on a peri-urban homestead just outside of Guelph, Ontario. The gardens feature over 10 different types of fruit trees and shrubs, two different types of nuts, a number of perennial edible plants, and lots of mature trees. There are three outbuildings suitable for chickens, livestock, or garden storage. The newly re-roofed detached 1 1/2 storey garage would make a great workshop or teaching space. Visitors often comment that, like an old farmstead, the house is just comfortable to be in. Sheltered from winter winds and shaded from the summer sun, this well insulated older house is inexpensive to heat and cool. Water from the metal roof currently feeds in to rain barrels which overflow in to swales along the edge of the gardens, reducing the need to water. The three season sun room and covered porch provide a comfortable outdoor space to sit and enjoy the wildlife that also make their home here. Some of the work has been done, but like any homestead, it is ever evolving. There is still lots of room to give both the house and gardens your own personal touch. There's lots of potential here for the right person.
We have spent 7 years here on our 1.18 acres and have enjoyed our stay very much. For most of our time here we have had a small flock of sheep. We have fallen in love with raising sheep and are selling so that we can expand our flock on a larger farm property.
update posted July 8/14 (The CGL webkeeper has had a rotten cold for over a week)
(1) Globe and Mail reported announcement by Ontario Agriculture minister Leal that there'll be discussion and action on neonics.
(2) Ontario Grain Farmers aren't happy and released a statement.
(3) More coverege on CBC news.
(4) And an item in Tuesday June 8 London Free Press about the Friends of the Earth report on neonic use in horticulture, Gardeners Beware 2014. Thanks Hank Daniszerski!
(1) Pesticide linked to bee deaths to be restricted in Ontario
Eric Atkins The Globe and Mail, Sunday, July 6/14 http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/pesticide-linked-to-bee-deaths-to-be-restricted-in-ontario/article19480431/?cmpid=rss1&click=sf_globe
(2) Grain Farmers of Ontario React to the Government’s Plan to Restrict Pesticide Use
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
(3) Ontario looking to restrict use of bee-killing pesticides
Province to consult with agriculture and could move by 2015
By Susan Noakes, CBC News Jul 07, 2014 3:18 PM http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/ontario-looking-to-restrict-use-of-bee-killing-pesticides-1.2698957
(4) Suspected bee-killer found in plants here. Hank Daniszewski for London Free Press, July 8, 2014 http://www.lfpress.com/2014/07/07/friends-of-the-earth-tested-flowering-plants-for-residue-of-the-pesticide-neonicotinoids
posted on CGL Friday, June 27, 2014
Home Depot (HD) of U.S. and Canada announced on June 26 that it "will require all of our live goods suppliers to label plants that they have treated with Neonicitinoids by fourth quarter 2014"
Friends of the Earth and other organizations have been urging Home Depot for over a year to have their suppliers not use neonicotinoid insecticides at any time. Home Depot website notes that HD has also been "in communication with the EPA, insecticide industry and our suppliers for many months to understand the science and monitor the research." and that " We are encouraged and support the White House’s Pollinator Health Task Force. We want and encourage those doing scientific research to provide us with data on the effects to Honey Bee’s from Neonicitinoids used on our plants."
CGL webkeeper Maureen's comment. Home Depot's commitment to label plants is a good start. It must continue beyond that, however
Certainly labelling of plants should include any and all herbicides, insecticides and other pesticides used in the production greenhouses.
Further, The Home Depot home page statement (1) says "We want and encourage those doing scientific research to provide us with data on the effects to Honey Bee’s from Neonicitinoids used on our plants."
The item carried by Reuters news (2) phrases this idea a bit differently:
"Atlanta-based Home Depot, the world's largest home improvement retailer, is requiring its suppliers to start such labeling by the fourth quarter of this year, said Ron Jarvis, the company's vice president of merchandising/sustainability. Home Depot is also running tests in several states to see if suppliers can eliminate neonics in their plant production without hurting plant health, he said."
Adequate evidence exists to show that neonicotinoids should not be used: they harm pollinator and ecosystem health. New tests run by Home Depot are not needed. The "if" in the above statement leaves a door open for Home Depot/HD suppliers to continue using neonicotinoids if they say they cannot find substitutes or do not need to remove them.
Individuals and organizations concerned about ecosystem health must monitor how Home Depot practices shift.
(1) Home Depot statement on its home page - posted - June 26, 2014
(2) Reuters News item - U.S. retailers look to limit pesticides to help honeybees
By Carey Gillam Reuters Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:36pm EDT
Gardeners Beware! Bee-killing pesticides found in "bee-friendly" plants purchased at garden centres across the U.S. and Canada
Gardeners Beware 2014 report by Friends of the Earth and Pesticide Research Institute
A new study released today by Friends of the Earth Canada shows that over 60 percent of "bee-friendly" home garden plants sold at garden centres have been pre-treated with neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been shown to harm and kill bees.
The report focus is on neonicotinoids in the horticulture industry. It confirms that gardeners who want to plant pollinator friendly, healthy gardens simply cannot do so from plants purchased at the standard retail greenhouses and big plant centres.
Of the Canada/U.S. total of 71 plants tested, 36 tested positive for neonicotinoids at an accredited USDA laboratory. Of the 36 positives, 15 of them - 40% - had 2 or more neonics present. Concentrations of the various neonicotinoids present ranged greatly from lethal-to-bees-on-contact/oral dose levels to "sublethal" levels which cumulate over time and exposure to impair such things as motor and memory, fertility, and foraging efficiency.
Friends of the Earth Canada's press release is here: http://foecanada.org/en/2014/06/gardeners-beware-2014/
The Gardeners Beware 2014 report is a joint undertaking of Friends of the Earth in Canada, Friends of the Earth U.S., and Pesticide Research Institute.
As a CGL reader, you are probably already aware of the serious immediate and chronic consequences of the neonicotinoid insecticides. Gardeners Beware 2014 It goes through the important issues concerning neonicotinoid insecticides, gives all testing information and sample results, has suggestions for individuals, governments, and retailers, and has a big resource list.
Please check out the press release, the Gardeners Beware 2014 report in summary or in full, and send information over your networks.
Send letters to the editors of whichever local newspapers you choose, phone in to a radio station, write a blog, give a talk, write whichever level of government and party you choose.
Send a letter of support to whichever organization you know is trying to get neonicotinoids banned.
Pick a nursery or plant retail outlet and ask questions of its manager and/or staff.
Please sign the Friends of the Earth Canada PETITION if you have not done so: http://foecanada.org/en/takeaction/home-garden-petition/
Those of you keeping closest tabs on the neonic issue will be aware that a new meta-analysis of 800 peer-reviewed studies was released yesterday (June 24/14) by the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides - a group of global, independent scientists - and confirms neonicotinoids are a key factor in bee declines and are harming beneficial organisms essential to functional ecosystems and food production, including soil microbes, butterflies, earthworms, reptiles, and birds. The Task Force called for immediate regulatory action to restrict neonicotinoids.
posted June 25/14 -11:15 a.m.
by Maureen Temme
webkeeper: Community Gardens London
Gardeners Beware 2014 report: http://www.foe.org/news/news-releases/2014-06-new-tests-find-bee-killing-pesticides-in-51-percent-of-bee-friendly-plants
Friends of the Earth Canada: http://foecanada.org/en/
and the report on its site: http://foecanada.org/en/2014/06/gardeners-beware-2014/
Friends of the Earth Canada Bee Cause site: http://foecanada.org/en/environmental-justice/the-bee-cause/
Friends of the Earth Canada petition to stop neonic plant sales: http://foecanada.org/en/takeaction/home-garden-petition/
Friends of the Earth U.S. http://www.foe.org/beeaction
Pesticide Research Institute: https://www.pesticideresearch.com/site/
Task Force on Systemic Pesticides and the report: http://www.tfsp.info/
Friends of the Earth's Bee Action site has posted a short video that explains why neonicotinoid insecticides are harmful, and how FOE did its 2014 survey of their use in the horticulture industry.
It doesn't make the results any easier to take, however the visuals help ease us into understanding.
posted June 25, 2014
Strengthening the case against neonicotinoid insecticides ... a new meta-analysis of 800 peer-reviewed studies was released yesterday (June 24/14) by the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides - a group of global, independent scientists - and confirms neonicotinoids are a key factor in bee declines and are harming beneficial organisms essential to functional ecosystems and food production, including soil microbes, butterflies, earthworms, reptiles, and birds. The Task Force called for immediate regulatory action to restrict neonicotinoids.
Task Force on Systemic Pesticides was established independently by international scientists to set about a systematic meta-analysis of all the available scientific studies of the effects of systemic pesticides on biodiversity and ecosystem services with a focus on pollinators and other non-target species.
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hidden Bee Killers? Neonicotinoids in our garden plants!
A must watch video! http://www.linktv.org/video/9549/hidden-bee-killers
Posted Monday, June 23, 2014
Are nursery plants killing bees? Dr. Susan Kegley of the Pesticide Research Institute explains that 54% of nursery plants sampled in Friends of the Earth's 2013 pilot survey in the US contain neonicotinoid pesticides at levels that can harm or kill bees and other pollinators. Neonicotinoids are currently found in granular and soil drench treatments for "bee friendly" garden plants like roses and other plants attractive to pollinators without labels that would indicate their toxicity to insects such as bees, butterflies and ladybugs. Many plants sold in nurseries and garden stores across the United States are pre-treated with neonicotinoids. Introduced in the mid 1990s, neonicotinoids are the most widely used class of pesticides in the world. Studies show that these systemic pesticides, which are taken up through the roots and leaves and distributed throughout an entire plant, are toxic to bees even at low doses. They are commonly used in agriculture, landscaping and home gardening.
Don't just keep reading! Go to the video! http://www.linktv.org/video/9549/hidden-bee-killers
Posted June 20, 2014 by webkeeper Maureen Temme
Prince Edward County Council has taken a look at issues concerning bee health and neonicotoinoid insecticides.
Resolutions from the Prince Edward County Council minutes of May 27/14 follow.
Now therefore be it resolved that:
1. We call on the provincial and federal governments to declare a moratorium surrounding the use of Neonicotinoid crop treatments, as soon as possible, pending further study;
2. We support the Health Canada requirement*, and we urge local farmers to utilize the new commercially available seed lubricants during the 2014 planting season when using seed coated in Neonicotinoid crop treatments, if appropriate, to their farm equipment;
3. The County show local leadership in this regard by discontinuing use of Neonicotinoid products on municipal property immediately;
4. The County consider creating funding for the inclusion of the planting of bee and butterfly friendly spaces on appropriate County property in the 2015 budget;
5 This resolution be circulated to other municipalities through the Association of Municipalities of ONtairo, to request their support on this serious issue, and further;
6. This resolution be forwarded to The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, The Honourable Gerry Ritz, Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Federal Minister of Health, Federal MP Daryl Kramp, Federal Opposition Members at this time, and the Premier of Ontario, Provincial Minister of Agriculture and local Provincial MPP immediately after the Provincial Election.
7. Until such time as a moratorium is enacted where an agronomic assessment shows particular fields to be at minimal risk of damage from soil insects, we urge farmers to order seed not treated with insecticide for the 2015 growing season, and we urge seed companies to make adequate supplies available.
* Maureen's comment: this would be the January 2014 requirement that Bayer fluency agent be used along with N'd seed coating (and I'm pretty sure the requirement came through the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, not Health Canada ... but I'll check)
I could argue that there is some wishy-washyness in the phrases like "pending further study", "if appropriate", and "consider creating" ... however, it really is a huge thing for a Council to have considered issues concerning neonicotinoid insecticides at all. I'm absolutely impressed that Council addressed some of the details like seed coating and impressed even more by its resolve to bring its actions to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and to send letters to all the people letters will go to. And, of course, to look at practices on its owned lands.
Page 5 of the minutes have the "whereas"es that led to these resolutions (which are amended from the originals that came to the meeting on May 27). Obviously, this topic came to Prince Edward County Council through committee and must have been spurred by some serious citizen conversations.
It is not a ban or a moratorium. However, the Council made some important statements, seems committed to actions, and is showing initiative at the most important political action level.
Prince Edward County Council and (no doubt) citizens have done important work here. Let's hope other places follow.
received Tuesday, June 10/14 in reply to the June 9/14 inquiry
Good Morning Maureen
We have posted this information on our city website – please feel free to share with your networks.
LONDON COMMUNITY GARDENS STRATEGIC PLAN UPDATE
We have now concluded the community engagement process related to the development of the London Community Gardens (LCG) Strategic Plan. The first draft of the Strategic Plan is being developed and community consultation on this draft Plan will happen this summer. The first stage of consultation on the draft document will be conducted via on-line and paper-based methods. Once the feedback has been received from that stage, the plan will be updated and will be presented to the community in a public process. That consultation will likely take place in October 2014.
Thank you for your participation to date in this important process and we look forward to your future involvement.
This information can be found at:
As we had discussed at the past focus groups, we are looking to bring the strategic plan for London Community Gardens Program to our new city council either later this year or early in 2015.
Thanks and have a great day!
and here's the June 9/14 inquiry Maureen made
From: Community Gardens London [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Sunday, June 08, 2014 11:43 PM
To: Smith, Cheryl
Cc: Anne Becker; Robyn Harvey; Chris Downing
Subject: Where are survey results and strategic plan for London's community gardens program?
Where are the survey results from the surveys done in November and December 2013, of community gardeners and of non-gardeners? The results have not appeared on the LCRC website or Facebook page, or been sent out by Pathways Consulting/other to participants..
What's the progress of the strategic planning process for London Ontario's community gardens program? Focus groups were held in October and November 2013, and the most recent were March and April (1st) 2014.
I look forward to hearing from you.
webkeeper: Community Gardens London
“Every breath we take is because of a tree’s ability to create oxygen. No other organism or invention can do what the tree does. Trees are entirely unique in our galaxy, quite possibly the universe –so with every breath you take, thank a tree. We want you to plant trees and fix your forests. We need your help to do this and on the journey, I will tell you why. The story is the ancient secret of the forest. We will unfold this secret with science. We will all go on the greatest adventure of our lives. And we will come home to a different understanding of ourselves when we realize the importance of the forest. You will never look at a tree in the same way again. Trust me in this.”
– Diana Beresford-Kroeger
Several years ago, Diana Beresford Kroeger was the speaker for the Thames Talbot Land Trust's annual series. The Trust has someone wonderful every year.
Beresford Kroeger really took my thinking to another level, telling stories of trees and how they save the world and us. She lives up near Ottawa, on land that must be beautiful and magic and a haven for trees and plants of all sorts.
I've read several of Beresford Kroeger's books - The Global Forest and Arboretum America. Now, I've just discovered that she has a website and blog. There's also a documentary about her and the movement, 10 Trees That Can Save the World, dedicated to help this "Canadian environmental visionary ...to educate 7 billion people about the trees outside their doors". The movement "seeks to create a motivated community of global citizens who will replant the world’s forests and continue to raise awareness and support for the importance of trees in our lives".
As the website says about the documentary,
"The documentary follows Diana Beresford-Kroeger, and her husband, Christian Kroeger, as they tour some of the earth’s last, great forests, from Japan, Ireland, Germany, to the United States and Canada, meeting many of the world’s most ancient trees and educating people about their history and legacy – a history and legacy that is deeply entwined with our grand and benevolent neighbours, the trees.
"From Winnipeg, Canada, which holds the largest population of American Elms anywhere in the world, to the sacred sakaki and cedar forests of Japan, the walnut and redwood trees of America and the great boreal forest of Canada, Diana tells us amazing stories of how trees protect and feed the planet, producing pheromones and oxygen, filtering our air and water of toxins and sequestering carbon. Like a keystone in the boreal forest, the green of the modified chloroplasts hold up the world.
Diana knows the science and the magic of what the trees hold within. She will tell you that trees have a larger genome than humans; that they talk to each other and they emit subsonic sound to attract migrating animals, birds and insects, and that they contain medicines that heal what we suffer from. She knows we must begin to value them for what they are: incredible banks of untapped answers to the diverse man-made problems of our world.
This is a call to action, the time to engage is now. More than three billion of us no longer move with the rhythms of nature. We no longer know what a seed is, what to do with it, how to keep it, how to grow it, or even where our food comes from, beyond super markets. This film will make visible – the invisible. Much of what trees do in our world we cannot see or hear. There are only a few direct associations we make with trees. Yet because trees exist, we are here.
Diane Beresford Kroeger's books are in the London library system.
To see a preview of the documentary, go to the Diana's Journey website: http://dianasjourney.com/#fwslider
posted June 9, 2014
Monarch Butterfly breeding are grounds disappearing as Round-up is sprayed on genetically modified corn and soy crops along the U.S. migration route kills milkweed, essential food for Monarch larvae.
This is just the latest report to confirm that the combination of genetic modification of crops and RoundUp is deadly. This time, deadly to Monarch Butterflies, which need to lay their eggs on milkweed plants so the larvae have food.
CBC News reported June 5 that Monarch butterfly decline linked to spread of GM crops.
Researchers from the University of Guelph have been going through reports and studies, and they conclude that loss of milkweed plants - the only food for Monarch larvae - along the U.S. migration route is the biggest threat to the Monarch butterflies.
Their work augments a recent World Wildlife Fund report Monarch Population Hits Lowest Point in More Than 20 Years that gives an overview of Monarch population decrease due to less food, illegal logging and extreme weather conditions
Monarch numbers are given by the area taken up by their breeding ground. The chart below (poor resolution) shows that the area more usually ranged between 5 and 10 hectares. The 2012/13 season counted only 1.39 hectares.
And the 2013/14 season had the Monarch's cover at only 0.67 hectares.
This is nothing short of the devastation of a species.
See the Monarch Joint Venture for the latest info.
Even the NATO leaders realized at their February meeting that there's a problem of milkweed loss caused by agricultural monocropping practices. Obama, Harper and Peña Nieto said that to create a tri-national working group for the conservation of the monarch butterfly. “We have agreed to conserve the monarch butterfly as an emblematic species of North America which unites our three countries”,
source: CBC news item: Monarch butterfly numbers drop to new lows
b y Daniel Schwartz,Sep 25, 2013
While we wait to see what the U.S., Canadian and Mexican leaders actually do ... or what any agriculture organization does ...
Plant milkweed - from seed or from an organic source.
note: Be extremely careful about "bee and pollinator -friendly" plants sold from places like Home Depot, truck outlets in mall parking lots, and even nurseries that grow their own plants. They may be contaminated with neonicotinoid insecticides that are used in greenhouses, particularly large scale operations.
Ontario Beekeepers Association press release - May 28, 2014
Milton, ON, May 28, 2014. The Ontario Beekeepers’ Association has surveyed each of the four major parties running in this year’s provincial election for their plan to solve Ontario’s current bee health crisis.
In 2012 and 2013, over 14,000 hives were lost to bee kills linked to the indiscriminate use of neonicotinoid pesticides by Health Canada. Last year, nearly 99% of the 2.2 million acres of corn in Ontario were treated with neonicotinoids, even though the Ontario Ministry of Food and Agriculture crop specialists indicate that only 10% to 20% of acreage needs pest protection.
The OBA has released a revised position on neonicotinoids and bee health. The new position calls for a moratorium on the sale of neonicotinoid treated seeds but offers the option for farmers to apply for one-time use if they can a demonstrate, through an approved soil test or monitoring program, a problem that requires neonicotinoid-treated seeds. This position is consistent with that adopted by the National Farmers Union.
Two questions were asked via email to the leaders of the Ontario PC, Ontario Liberal, Ontario NDP and Green Party of Ontario:
1) Ontario's beekeeping industry has suffered through the loss of thousands of hives in both 2012 and 2013 that Health Canada has confirmed were the result of exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides in soy and corn planting. Should you be elected to lead the Government of Ontario, would you support the Ontario Beekeepers' Association's call for an immediate moratorium on the sale of the neonicotinoid treated seeds that are killing our bees?
2) Ontario is suffering a serious decline in the population of the insect pollinators we rely on for our locally grown foods as the result of the indiscriminate use of neonicotinoid pesticides. Health Canada and other studies have shown significant amounts of persistent neonicotinoid pesticides in water and soil samples across Ontario. If elected, will your party declare this an urgent environmental problem?
As of this writing the OBA has received responses from three parties. Following are excerpts of their position. The complete responses can be found at ontariobee.com/neonics.
From Kathleen Wynne, leader of the Ontario Liberal Party:
1) “The Ontario Liberals are committed to working with the agricultural and beekeeping sectors to (1) ensure full and equitable access to non-neonicotinoid treated seed for growers, and (2) establish a system that allows for targeted use of neonicotinoids only in production areas or production circumstances where these pesticides are actually shown to be required.”
2) “The OBA proposal to hold a targeted forum to develop recommendations and identify a pollinator health roadmap is one that a Liberal government would identify as a priority action to be undertaken within the first six weeks of being elected.”
From Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario:
1) “The Green Party of Ontario proposes a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides until scientific evidence can conclusively determine that there is another cause for bee kills. The Green Party believes the precautionary principle should be applied to threats to our food system.”
2) “We firmly believe that the provincial and federal governments should not put our food supply and our local economy at risk by failing to protect insect pollinators.”
From Tim Hudak, leader of the Progressive Conservative party of Ontario:
“We appreciate the opportunity to listen to your priorities for Ontario. We share your commitment to Ontario’s future and believe that with more and better jobs, we can do what’s necessary to bring about the change Ontario needs.”
The OBA has yet to hear from the NDP Ontario Party.
“We are heartened by the response from Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne. She understands the issue and is committed to a science-based solution that balances the needs of farmers with the survival of bees and native pollinators. If implemented, this approach could reduce the amount of neonicotinoid treated seed by 80% or more.” said OBA president Dan Davidson. “We are also grateful to the Green Party for their continued commitment to this issue.”
The NFU in Ontario has adopted a similar position to the OBA on neonicotinoids and bee health. Both organizations have been working together on a solution that benefits bees and beekeepers while maintaining the economic viability of farming.
“The NFU is pleased that the Liberal Party of Ontario is prepared to make untreated seed the default option and would only allow the targeted use of treated seed in limited circumstances, and that the Ontario Green Party supports a moratorium. As farmers, we will work with the OBA to ensure the next Ontario government takes concrete action to protect Ontario's native pollinators, bees and beekeepers,” said Karen Eatwell, Ontario President, National Farmers Union.
For further information: www.ontariobee.com/neonics
Julie White OBA, 647-988-5942
Karen Eatwell, NFU, 519-232-410
Posted May 30/14
"The Seed Explorer is your window into Canadian seed security. Learn where to find your favourite seeds, discover new varieties that grow well in your area, and explore the diversity of Canada's seed movement."
From the enews:
"Seeds of Diversity and the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security are excited to announce the newest online tool for learning about Canada's seed diversity. Introducing the Seed Explorer! www.seeds.ca/explorer
"During our thirty years as a seed saving organization, we have collected thousands of records about seed sources, variety characteristics, plant descriptions, historical uses, and the origins of your favourite seed varieties. We're collecting more information all the time, as members document the plants in their gardens and send us their observations. Even the annual Member Seed Directory, with its 3000+ seed varieties listed by members every year, is a trove of information about the flavours, colours, days to maturity, and uses of your favourite seeds and plants.
"We're all about openness, so we want the world to be able to see all this great information. But how to present it all in a clear, sensible, and interesting way?
"... Start by searching for your favourite seed variety. Or your favourite seed company. Type your town or city and see what comes up. If it's in our databases somewhere, you'll see what we have, and then you can explore related information from that point. Just a word of caution. If you're into seeds the way we are, you might not be able to stop clicking for hours. Bring a snack with you.
"And check back later in the summer. We've only loaded about 25% of our records so far, and lots more information is yet to come. Member comments from Seed Directories of the 1990s and 2000s, historical descriptions from 19th century seed catalogues, links to soil profiles and climate databases, crop characteristics from the Germplasm Resources Information Network, collection data from the Canadian and U.S. government seed banks... it's all linkable so we'll link it up for you.
"Have fun Exploring!"
Harvard study shows neonicotionoids are devastating colonies by triggering colony collapse disorder
Damian Carrington, The Guardian online news, theguardian.com, Friday 9 May 2014
Scientists found bees from six of the 12 neonicotinoid-treated colonies had left their hives and died. Photograph: Rex Features
The mysterious vanishing of honeybees from hives can be directly linked to insectcide use, according to new research from Harvard University(http://www.bulletinofinsectology.org/pdfarticles/vol67-2014-125-130lu.pdf). The scientists showed that exposure to two neonicotinoids, the world's most widely used class of insecticide, lead to half the colonies studied dying, while none of the untreated colonies saw their beesdisappear.
"We demonstrated that neonicotinoids are highly likely to be responsible for triggering 'colony collapse disorder' in honeybee hives that were healthy prior to the arrival of winter," said Chensheng Lu, an expert on environmental exposure biology at Harvard School of Public Health and who led the work.
The loss of honeybees in many countries in the last decade has caused widespread concern because about three-quarters of the world's food crops require pollination. The decline has been linked to loss of habitat, disease and pesticide use. In December 2013, the European Union banned the use of three neonicotinoids for two years.(http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/apr/29/bee-harming-pesticides-banned-europe)
In the new Harvard study, published in the Bulletin of Insectology, the scientists studied the health of 18 bee colonies in three locations in central Massachusetts from October 2012 till April 2013. At each location, two colonies were treated with realistic doses of imidacloprid, two with clothianidin, and two were untreated control hives.
"Bees from six of the 12 neonicotinoid-treated colonies had abandoned their hives and were eventually dead with symptoms resembling CCD," the team wrote. "However, we observed a complete opposite phenomenon in the control colonies." Only one control colony was lost, the result of infection by the parasitic fungus Nosema and in this case the dead bees remained in the hive.
Previously, scientists had suggested that neonicotinoids can lead to CCD by damaging the immune systems of bees, making them more vulnerable to parasites and disease. However, the new research (http://www.theguardian.com/education/research) undermines this theory by finding that all the colonies had near-identical levels of pathogen infestation.
"It is striking and perplexing to observe the empty neonicotinoid-treated colonies because honey bees normally do not abandon their hives during the winter," the scientists wrote. "This observation may suggest the impairment of honey bee neurological functions, specifically memory, cognition, or behaviour, as the results from the chronic sub-lethal neonicotinoid exposure." Earlier research showed neonicotinoid exposure can damage the renowned ability of bees to navigate home (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/mar/29/crop-pesticides-honeybee-decline) .
The new research follows similar previous work by the same group (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2012/apr/11/bees-pesticides-decline-colony-collapse) and comparison of the two studies shows that cold winters appear to exacerbate the effects of neonicotinoids on the bees. In the cold winter of 2010-11, 94% of the insecticide-exposed colonies suffered CCD compared to 50% in the new study.
"Sudden deaths of entire honey bee colonies is a persistent concern in North America," said Paul de Zylva, Friends of the Earth's senior nature campaigner. "Comprehensive research into the role pesticides (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/pesticides) play in bee decline is urgently required – including how they may compound other pressures, such as a lack of food and loss of habitat." Lu agreed: "Future research could help elucidate the biological mechanism that is responsible for linking sub-lethal neonicotinoid exposures to CCD. Hopefully we can reverse the continuing trend of honeybee loss."
In April, a landmark European study revealed the UK is suffering one of the worst rates of honeybee colony deaths (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/07/britain-honey-bee-colony-deaths-worst-europe-study) in Europe. "The UK government [which opposed the EU's neonicotinoid ban] has accepted the need for a national action plan to reverse bee and pollinator decline," said de Zylva. "But its draft plan is dangerously complacent on pesticides(http://www.theguardian.com/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2014/mar/06/uks-plan-bee-relies-on-chemical-companies-to-assess-pesticide-risk), placing far too much trust in chemical firms and flawed procedures."
Thanks to local members of the National Farmers Union and the Central Library for screening a wonderful film the other evening: Symphony of the Soil. This documentary is a beautifully crafted web of plant and soil science, amazing photography from microscopic to vistas of wonderful plants, interviews with so many great gardeners and soil lovers one can't keep track, the most amazing watercolour animation, and - most important - some hope for soil, the planet and ourselves.
The website http://www.symphonyofthesoil.com/ tells about the film and people involved in its making, and shows some clips.
NATIONAL FARMERS UNION – MIDDLESEX LOCAL http://www.nfuontario.ca/
Karen Eatwell, President Middlesex Local 519-232-4105
The National Farmers Union (NFU) is a direct-membership, non-partisan national farm organization. Founded in 1969, and with roots going back more than a century, the NFU represents family farms across Ontario and across Canada. The NFU works towards the development of economic and social policies that will maintain family farms as the primary food-producers in Canada.
posted May 7 2014
Community gardening in London takes different forms. Last week it was great to read the Londoner's spotlight on the community garden at St. Andrew Memorial Anglican Church. Garden plots are leased by people who live in the neighbourhood. Produce from four plots will be donated to programs of St. Andrew's own Fellowship Centre and the Daily Bread Food Bank. Gardener Helder de Freitas grows in two of these plots, one is gardened by St. Andrew's volunteers and another will be gardened by volunteers from St. Paul’s Social Services.
The popular gardens are on land adjacent to the church and Nancy Barwick, a church volunteer mentioned that all the plots are spoken for, but there is a waiting list.
The Londoner article can be read at: Building community gardens
by Jill Ellis-Worthington, Monday, April 28, 2014
St. Andrew Memorial Anglican Church website is: http://standrewmemorial.org/
Information about The Daily Bread's food bank program: www.dailybreadlondon.ca
Posted Wednesday, April 30/14
For many gardeners, impatiens are a handy solution to shady areas that need some colour and perking up. Please be aware that greenhouse grown impatiens may not last long in your garden this year, and may introduce spores that will go after future plantings of the most familiar types of impatiens (see below).
The April 30/14 London Free Press carried an article about Impatiens Downy Mildew: Impatiens in Southwestern Ontario Have Been Attacked by a Mildew .
An article on the University of Minnesota Extension Services website explains more about Impatiens Downy Mildew (Plasmopara obducens) which is not a true fungus apparently, but is a water mold of the Oomycota line. The U. Minnesota article is here: http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/flowers/managing-impatiens-downy-mildew-in-landscape/
No matter lineage, this is going to kill off your impatiens ... at least, that's the alert for greenhouse grown plants. There's no note about if you've grown your own from seed ... altho' given that spores last for some years and the Plasmopara obducens is specific to Impatiens walleriana and I. balsamina, chances are that these two Impatiens should stay out of your garden.
Neither article states whether Impatiens Downy Mildew spreads to other plants. From brief online research, it seems that mildews can be quite plant specific, so, perhaps it doesn't transfer. The other side of things is that there are many types of mildews which affect garden plants. Using a range of garden practices which develop healthy soil, plant spacing to allow air flow, keeping an eye on things every day are all worthwhile practices. Perhaps you want to try some actively aerated compost tea in your garden this year; an introduction to this idea is: http://www.communitygardenslondon.ca/gardensolutions.html#Composttea
Posted April 26, 2014
OTTAWA – On April 8th, NDP Agriculture and Agri-Food Critic Malcolm Allen introduced a Private Member’s Bill to establish National Garden Day. The Welland MP’s bill would designate the Friday before Father’s Day of each year as National Garden Day.
“National Garden Day would be an opportunity for gardening enthusiasts, families and schools to share their knowledge and passion for gardening and the outdoors,” said Allen. “Canadians could enjoy their home gardens or favourite community garden, visit their local garden centre or travel to other communities.”
Supported by Canada’s Garden Council and other stakeholder groups, a National Garden Day would promote environmental stewardship, while also educating Canadians on the importance of public and private gardens, and on the health and well-being benefits of gardens.
“As an MP from the beautiful Niagara region, I am proud to recognize Canada’s long-standing garden heritage,” said Allen. “A National Garden Day would celebrate the many national and international innovations of the Canadian horticultural industry.”
Posted April 20/14
A couple of years ago I (CGL webkeeper Maureen) I was doing some research into urban agriculture, and I needed a definition (or several) to pass along to someone.
The one I liked best was from RUAF - Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security - an organization based in the Netherlands. RUAF works and researches on topics such as food security, resilient urban food systems, and productive reuse of waste and waste water. I liked that RUAF said that urban agriculture is "integrated into the urban economic and ecological system ... embedded in ... the urban ecosystem." (full definition is below)
At the time I didn't explore the RUAF website to any extent. So ... rather late! ... I've discovered that RUAF has been publishing a monthly urban agriculture journal for almost 2 1/2 years and it can be downloaded for free !! There are some really interesting themes over the issues. The latest issue is on Climate Change and Urban Agricultu ... and, no surprise, urban agriculture will be important in developing our resilience in the face of global warming.
Hope you find the RUAF site useful!
RUAF's explantion of urban agriculture
"Urban agriculture can be defined shortly as the growing of plants and the raising of animals within and around cities."
"The most striking feature of urban agriculture, which distinguishes it from rural agriculture, is that it is integrated into the urban economic and ecological system: urban agriculture is embedded in - and interacting with - the urban ecosystem. Such linkages include the use of urban residents as labourers, use of typical urban resources (like organic waste as compost and urban wastewater for irrigation), direct links with urban consumers, direct impacts on urban ecology (positive and negative), being part of the urban food system, competing for land with other urban functions, being influenced by urban policies and plans, etc. Urban agriculture is not a relic of the past that will fade away (urban agriculture increases when the city grows) nor brought to the city by rural immigrants that will lose their rural habits over time. It is an integral part of the urban system.
from Holland-based RUAF Foundation (Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security)
quoted in Urban Agriculture: ideas and designs for the new food revolution. By David Tracey. New Society Publishers. October 2011. London Public Library 635 Tra.
posted April 6, 2014
Ya gotta take a look at the video here! Hope you enjoy it!
The text below is the accompanying article, which I've shamelessly stolen from the Permaculture website. Thanks to them! and note there are two other, related videos at the bottom of the resource list.
Creating a Productive No-Dig Garden in under a Year
Maddy Harland for Permaculture magazine/website:
Thursday, 6th March 2014
Charles Dowding is the master of No Dig gardening. Tim and I were lucky enough to visit him in late autumn and not only enjoy learning how he gardens (he is a dedicated experimenter), we also got to eat an entire three course meal from the garden in November. It was delicious.
We were so inspired that when Charles told us about this new video, we wanted to share it with you. Here Charles shows us around his new vegetable garden which is less than a year old. It is beautifully abundant and diverse and was all created on old pasture. He proves you can create an edible paradise in under a year.
The grass was never weeded or dug out, instead, Charles laid down year old cow manure and then old carpet on top.
Remarkably, within just a few months, Charles was able to begin planting and sowing, and has grown an amazing amount of food all summer and autumn, weed-free.
Charles explains his continual experiments with no dig against dig and the yields from different composts.
Once you've seen the amazing results Charles has obtained in such a short period of time, you'll never look back!
For more on no-dig read Charles Dowding's Organic Gardening - The Natural No-Dig Way for a special price of £12.95
Also from Charles Dowding: How to Grow Winter Vegetables for a special price of £12.95
And Salad Leaves For All the Seasons
Posted April 4/14
The Senate has been holding hearings into the importance of bees and bee health in the production of honey, food and seed in Canada. This week, witnesses to the committee were:
Gwen Barlee, Policy Director (Wilderness Committee)
John Bennett, National Campaign Director (Sierra Club Canada)
Kimberley Fellows, Pollination Outreach Coordinator (Pollination Canada)
Dr. Dave Shutler, Professor, Department of Biology (Acadia University)
Brent Ash, Owner/Operator (Ash Apiaries)
Peter Awram, Owner/Operator (Honeyview Farm)
You can get copies of the transcripts of their comments from the clerk of the senate, Kevin Pittman, at firstname.lastname@example.org . Translated transcripts are posted after 2-3 weeks. The ones you get right away - the next day! - are in the language used during the hearing.
A short video giving overview about some steps that can be taken to ease the effects of climate change (http://vimeo.com/89725715) may be a way in to reading more of the report, for those of you, who, like the webkeeper of this CGL site, have a near panic attack even thinking about the full report. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change website is: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/
Garden! Be the level of activist you are able to be. Find the environment issue you care about and feel comfortable working on.
Written by Maureen Temme, webkeeper, Community Gardens London and posted March 30, 2014
London's Community Gardens Program (Lcgp) has evolved with the luxury of financial support from the City of London - in actual dollars and "in-kind" services (e.g. woodchips delivered from a City tree removal down the block). The City has for the most part handled things like water supply, insurance, fencing, and tillage of plots. This has been of benefit to the gardens. City staff and Council support London's community gardens program. In April 2011, City Council endorsed a forward-thinking review of the program. Overall City management is in place, whether or not garden locations have a gardener-led management group. If funding/support suddenly was cut, however, communication and organization gaps at the gardener level in most of the individual gardens would probably lead to a lot of disorganization and probably the dissolution of some gardens because the gardens are not managed by a committee of gardeners. Figuring out how to have individual garden leadership and more autonomy within the individual gardens is important and should begin this gardening season.
Lcgp is going through a strategic planning process. This began in the fall of 2013 with two focus groups. Community Gardens London posted notes.
Notes from the 3rd focus group - on the topic of whether/how gardens could/should be gardener led is posted in two parts: conversations specific to the topic, and other things discussed. These notes are written by M. Temme, coordinator of this CGL website.
Community Gardens London does not manage London's community gardens program.
notes - Focus Group #3 - Could gardens in London's community gardens program be managed by gardeners?
part of Strategic Planning Process for London's Community Gardens Program, held Tuesday, March 25/14
In attendance: - 10 people who garden;
- Anne Becker, facilitator (partner in Pathways Consulting, which is handling the strategic planning work)
these notes, written up by M. Temme, webkeeper, CommunityGardensLondon, are from her notes of what people said. They are organized into sections ... not in order people spoke. Errors of understanding are hers
SOME GENERAL TOPICS
One person described the garden she'd been with in Edmonton:
- managed by the gardeners ... so all gardens are different in some ways
- gardens were allotment gardens, with a fee, similar to here ... altho' the garden plots were a bit smaller.
- The city of Edmonton did not manage the gardens; it gave one-time start-up money of $2000 for a new garden.
- Gardens were initiated by groups or neighbourhoods - communities of some type.
- The group would have to have a plan, including how it would manage the garden ... so it decided its own governance and committees for such things as social events, plot allocation, communication.
- everyone at the garden had each others contact information
- Part of the expectation of memberhip in the garden was that you'd spend time on one of the committees
- sign in system, so it was known that the work go done
- gave ownership of the space as a whole
- fun was included! social events beginning, middle and end of season, including children's activities, ugliest fruit or largest zucchine contests
- there were communal plots - with food going to [agency] for distribution
- sometimes people got burnt out from their work
Gardeners managing gardens - or not?
- Becker said that from the survey and focus groups, some people want a coordinating committee ... and others don't care.
- Becker said that people in the survey are one batch of commenters and people who come out to these focus groups are another, smaller group.
- attendee commented that "You can't rely entirely on volunteers". This underscores that existing City financial support and coordination is a positive ... but doesn't address what would happen if funding/support was withdrawn.
A main garden committee role is to help everyone have a good experience!
- to welcome new-to- the-garden and new-to-gardening people
- this establishes communication right away and connects up new-to-gardening people especially with any help/garden buddy needed
- help people succeed
What possible functions need to be done?
- taking care of finances, social events, plot allocation, communication, pricing out equipment
- social events can be awkward if someone's got a path full of weeds
- garden leaders need to learn skills of handling conflict
- suggestion of what to say to two gardeners with complaints about each other: "You're adults work it out"
- gardeners need to have contact information for all other gardeners at their locale
- there does need to be a "go-to" person in the garden ... someone who has stepped up to be the lead or contact or whatever s/he gets called
- sharing information would be faster through a small group than having to go through central coordinating agency
- communication between garden council and gardeners - alerts everyone to problems and celebrations
- making it known that different gardens have different expectations - so even people on a waiting list know
Pro-active on plot abandonment
- garden leaders ask people "how's it going" and might be able to solve something before it's a problem
Enforcing rules or guidelines - one of the more difficult things
- one attendee said that things in a garden generally sort themselves out
- it is handling the few remaining problems which take time and energy
- there are guidelines in place via the City's overseeing of the community gardens ...
- how would a gardener-run oversight group handle problems and enforce sanctions, or establish rules particular to their garden?
- possible problems: if a plot seems to be abandoned this needs to be confirmed and the plot re-assigned; if paths by a garden are full of weeds that trip people
Communication/participaton with neighbourhood and beyond
- education and goodwill, getting donations and volunteers, joint celebrations
- is more direct if there's a gardener-led management
- one attendee had been in a garden where part of fee was growing/contributing food to food bank ... another person said neighbours may come and pick food if they need it (there's been conversation with neighbours)
- gardening in public parks and passers by - need signs to tell them
- we're renting for the summer - gardens are viewed all years
handling theft (Maureen put this in, altho' it wasn't talked about)
- this is an ongoing garden problem ... ties in to communication between gardeners, communication with City and police, signage, teaching people how to leave alone or confront someone, what community inclusion is needed
Is participation in management of the garden a requirement for being able to garden?
- at this time, no
- that requirement is more common in gardens which are community-formed, not City-sponsored ... where, from the start, guidelines and management have been determined by a citizen group
- a garden currently on City land, which developed a gardener-led management, would - over time - probably have to do some negotiating with the City to evolve independence
How could a gardener-led garden go about increasing its garden size? (number of plots)
- there would be more immediate and direct conversations with the resource centre or parks department where the garden is
- the example of Carling Heights garden was given ... there is space for more garden plots ... but who asks if more can be put in?
More effective liaison with the agencies and community resources/businesses that help get things done, and done more quickly
- e.g. Blackfriars garden has connected with "Adopt A Park" - which gives gardeners autonomy to call, and gets them acquainted with who to call about wood chips, trees, and other things that need doing.
- e.g. Carling Heights seems to have space for more garden plots ... gardener-leaders could have immediate and direct conversations with the resource centre and correct City departments to negotiate more plots.
- e.g. individual gardens need different things and have different ideas on garden style - water catchment, composting, naturalization, replacement hoses, a message board, eating place. These require getting permission, raising funds, finding donors, recruiting volunteers
PLANNING and EVALUATION
- how to do things can be figured out, suitable to people's skills and the garden
- gardener-led group doesn't need to be big
- the garden is evaluated by its gardener-led group and gardeners each year ... then change or keep on with how things are done (this is something beyond the ongoing problem-solvin, seasonal events and celebrations)
- part of the evaluation is to figure out the approximate amount of time that being on a committee takes - this is helpful information for a new person becoming involved
- individual garden management lets plans be made for the situation specific to the garden ... plan for good things, plan ahead to avert possible problems
Do any insurance issues change if a garden location within the City system is managed by its gardeners?
- this would need to be checked
- individual garden level is where information can be gathered about expenses, donations, plots used or left. All this goes into a yearly report/celebrations of Lcgp ... helping to clarify and justify City expenditure
Garden tasks and responsibilties
- attendee suggested using garden Lcgp guidelines to set these ... some things already written could be turned over to volunteers, other things stay with City, some stay with coordinating agency or new paid garden organizer.
Focus Group #3 - Overall topic was discussion of gardener-led community gardens
part of Strategic Planning Process for London's Community Gardens Program - Tuesday, March 25/14, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
These points came up other than garden management committees
These notes, written up by M. Temme, webkeeper, CommunityGardensLondon, are from her notes of what people said. They are organized into sections ... not in order people spoke. Errors of understanding are hers
- 10 people who garden, most garden at one of London's community gardens
- Anne Becker, facilitator (partner in Pathways Consulting, which is handling the strategic planning work)
Posting information from Survey done in Nov/Dec 2013
A survey about London's community gardens program (Lcgp) was taken during November and December 2013, with slightly different questions for gardeners within Lcgp than for other interested people. Asked why the results had not been posted on either the City website or on the website of the coordinating agency for the gardens, the facilitator said she would talk to the "City folks and there's no reason we can't post the info."
Garden mentor / initiator
It was suggested strongly by several people that funding needs to be allotted for a person whose job is to be general garden mentor, and who gets in touch with community organizations, resource centres, neighbourhood associations, and businesses to encourage new gardens and help communities set up gardens. As one attendee said, "these things don't just happen".
Record keeping and accountability of London's community gardens program
- The number of gardens in Lcgp and number of garden plots (gardeners) has decreased.
- Plot abandonment seems to be up, altho' no numbers are kept, and there is no follow-up with people who leave their gardens so there is no record of why.
- The London Community Gardens Program Review charged the coordinating agency with developing a Friends of the Community Gardens volunteer support group of gardeners and Londoners, which was to have regular reports. The City request for proposal to become coordinating agency was based on this, meaning a coordinating agency should have had a plan in place for this.
- A Friends groups has not been formed with regular reports given. No year-end report of Lcgp garden activities and/or budget has been published on either the coordinating agency's or City websites for the 2012 or 2013 garden season.
- attendee expressed concern that this lack of transparency could cause problems for the future of London's community gardens program
Buddy system - this will be April 1/14 focus group meeting topic
- some help for new gardeners from current gardeners
- does such a system automatically occur?
- what formality - communication and education - would make this successful?
- attendee asked, if the "entryway to a garden was through the gardeners" what would things be like?
(M's note: lovely phrasing!!)
- Becker asked what intention is behind the mentoring system
- Some people are uncomfortable asking for help.
-Would a system that pairs up new [meaning inexperienced] gardeners be a gentle help to those people and lead to a more successful garden overall?
A garden for every neighbourhood
- Becker mentioned that this idea has come up at focus groups and in the survey, and that to work it requires a combination of government, non-profits, neighbourhoods
- Becker mentioned that a system left [just] to community/neighbourhoods may find people won't commit
- there are politics that emerge too
- cultural differences affect the gardening and garden set up
Garden models mentioned ... (including websites Maureen looked up after the meeting)
- PetersonGarden project - pop-up victory gardens in Chicago - there are weekly events - being run by - collaborative between City and landowners ... this could even be done on temporary sites
WWII History of Chicago's Victory Gardens: http://theyarden.com/chicago-victory-gardens-101-2/
The Peterson Garden project: http://www.petersongarden.org and also http://wecangrowit.org/?p=44
YouTube video about the Peterson Garden project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CUXRVCWbJA
- Sustainable Food Edmonton is the go-to organization for community gardens in Edmonton: http://sustainablefoodedmonton.org/programs/community-gardens/
- attendee described her experience at an Edmonton community garden ... this is included in the focus group notes for gardener led gardens
The overdue report (http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/beehealthworkinggroupreport.pdf) by the Ontario Bee Health Working Group (http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/beehealthworkinggroup.htm) was published on March 19/14. It does not recommend a moratorium on neonicotinoid pesticides.
Neonicotinoids are systemic insecticides that last for a year or more while travelling through soil/water courses. They kills bees, and/or affects their ability to forage, fly, locate themselves and reproduce; they also have bad effects on other pollinators, arthropods and birds
"The recently released Ontario Bee Health Working Group Report is another case of "corporate profits trumping ecological needs," according to National Farmers Union (NFU) Vice President of Policy and Ontario farmer, Ann Slater.
... "This approach will allow chemical and seed companies to continue to sell farmers seed treated with neonicotinoid insecticides but will do little to protect bees or our natural and agricultural ecosystems."
"The report is a missed opportunity to promote the use of more ecological farm practices such as complex crop rotations, as well as to show a real commitment to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices, which recommends that pesticides be used only when there is a demonstrated pest problem instead of as routine practice," states Slater."
It goes on to say that the National Farmers Union is "glad to see Minister of Agriculture and Food, Hon. Kathleen Wynne's commitment to establish a new Ontario Pollinator Health Working Group with an expanded focus beyond bees. “This indicates some understanding on the part of Premier Wynne that the implications of neonicotinoids have broader ecological implications,” said Eatwell. “I encourage the Premier to give a greater role to ecological and organic farmers along with bee keepers in the new working group and to limit the involvement of Syngenta, Bayer CropScience and organizations representing multinational chemical and seed companies. This new group must be able to recommend actions that put the health of pollinators and our natural and agricultural ecosystems first.” (said NFU vice president for Policy, Karen Eatwell)
CGL encourages you to read the OBHWG report and write your comments to Agriculture Minister / Premier Wynne to say whatever you need to say about this issue. This may be done directly through the Premier's website: http://correspondence.premier.gov.on.ca/en/feedback/default.aspx or email email@example.com or via the Ministry of Agriculture firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 416-326-3074
with definitely send a copy to the National Farmers Union, via Karen Eatwell, NFU Acting Region 3 (Ontario) Coordinator, 519-232-4105, email@example.com
and if you want to bother, a copy to the Debra Sikora, head of the Ontario Bee Health Working Group (OMAFRA)" <Debra.Sikora@ontario.ca>
Over the last while, CGL webkeeper Maureen has been reading and/or writing about threats to pollinators, neonicotinoid pesticides, and a host of other threats to seed security and food sovereignty.
More than ever we need to be learning about organic and eco-agricultural growing, and supporting organizations like Canadian Organic Growers, Canada's longest established, charitable organics organization. Its mission is "To lead local and national communities towards sustainable organic stewardship of land, food and fibre while respecting nature, upholding social justice and protecting natural resources".
From the home page just now, I immediately went to reread an article about seed security in Canada by the brilliant Kim Delaney of Hawthorn farm (talked with her at Seedy Saturday and bought lots of seeds). And then went on to:
- a reminder that membership in COG brings library borrowing privileges!!
- information about organic farming, certification, and courses
- several more articles, and learned ... about organic oats
It doesn't cost a lot to become a member of COG. All your donations support its advocacy of organic agriculture and its environmental benefits. And when your donation is over $21 you get real paper copies of its journal, that you can carry around the house and read and keep forever on a shelf and refer back to. (hey, I'm a paper person!)
COG " has been promoting the health and environmental benefits of organic agricultural practices since it established in 1975. COG is connected through eleven regional Chapters, four affiliated organizations, and to the international organic community through membership in the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements(IFOAM). In addition to our many contributions to the organic movement in Canada, COG also holds the most comprehensive collection of resources on organic food and farming in Canada. This includes more than 1500 books in our public (and free) lending library, a quarterly Canadian Organic Grower Magazine (published since 1978) and COG’s own books and guides on organic growing in Canada, which can be found in agricultural classrooms across North America"
Posted March 11, 2014
Two focus groups have already been held, and a survey done. Now, ideas are wanted on two topics: management of individual gardens by its gardeners and buddy-to-buddy systems for new gardeners
Focus Group 1: Tuesday, March 25, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Kinsmen Arena, 20 Granville Street, London
Focus Gruop 2: Tuesday, April 1, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Kinsmen Arena, 20 Granville Street, London
Please participate, whether you have already participated in the planning process so far or not.*
To help the consultant/coordinating agency prepare for each focus group, it is useful if you RSVP if you will be attending one of the focus groups to Eventbrite or call 519-661-5336 (London's Community and Partnerships office). You probably won't be turned away if you just show up.
The text below, explaining the process, was noticed by CGL webkeeper on the City of London website here. As of March 12/14 it is not posted on the website of the agency which coordinates London's community gardening program, LCRC.
Here's the text - in blue - from the City website:
"JOIN THE CONVERSATION: WE NEED YOUR INPUT!
COMMUNITY GARDENS FOCUS GROUPS
"As part of our ongoing commitment to promoting and sustaining London’s community garden program, we are in the process of developing our London Community Gardens Strategic Plan.
"We have completed two community based focus groups, as well as a large-scale community survey about London Community Gardens. Based on the feedback from the focus groups and survey, we would like to hold two additional focus groups, with an emphasis on two distinct topics. Anne Becker from Pathways Consulting Group will facilitate both focus groups.
There is interest in developing a Community Garden model whereby an individual Community Garden would be governed and managed by a group of volunteers from that specific garden.
"Focus group questions:
What outcomes would we want to achieve if we put this volunteer model in place?
What would be required and what would we need to do in order to achieve these outcomes?
How would we measure progress and success?
There is interest in developing a Buddy-to-Buddy mentoring program to support new gardeners who have plots in a Community Garden:
"Focus Group Questions:
What outcomes would we want to achieve if we put a mentoring program into place?
What would be required and what would we need to do in order to achieve these outcomes?
How would we measure progress and success?
"If you are interested in participating in one of these focus groups, it is important that you are currently a Community Gardener at a London community garden. Secondly, we hope to have balanced representation from all community gardens so that the input is representative of a wide range of views and ideas." end of text
London's Community gardens program is part of the City of London's Neighbourhoods programs. City staffer Paula de Freitas can direct your questions on the program to the right senior staff - 519-661-5336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*CGL webkeeper note: Altho' this strategic planning process is nominally for London's community gardens program, that program exists within the context of neighbourhoods and has implications far beyond just this one program. Ideas as to that whole need to be brought forward.
posted March 11 2014 - Hurray!
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) has posted notice that it will remove milkweed from Ontario's noxious weed list, the Weed Control Act.
Notice was posted on the Environmental Registry February 28/14. The reasons for this, as posted, include this text:
The presence of common milkweed on lands that are not being actively farmed would be considered a low to negligible risk to activities on nearby agricultural or horticultural lands. Farmers can take proper management steps on their own lands to reduce the threat that common milkweed can pose to grazing livestock. Since milkweed spp. was added to the Schedule of Noxious Weeds initially, there has been an expansion in the number of management options available to farmers to address common milkweed on lands that are actively farmed
OMAF also comments that the current listing includes all milkweed - Asclepias spp (species) - a term that takes in the kinds of slow to spread milkweed we plant in our flower gardens, and "which includes many individual species, including four-leaved milkweed (a species at risk in Ontario) and other species in the Asclepias genus that are not considered a threat to agriculture or horticulture in Ontario."
Milkweed Asclepias syriaca - the common roadside milkweed - is no longer common! Changes in agricultural practice in Canada and the United States - particularly the widespread use of glyphosate herbicides (Roundup) that kill off everything except genetically modifed corn, soy, or cotton planted in huge monocrops along Monarch butterfly flight paths - have contributed to what can only be called a crash and a crisis in the Monarch population. The current count of Monarchs in their Mexican home is only .67 hectares area, down and down and down from the more common count of 7 hectares and above to 19 hectares.
For gardeners and envirnomentalists these days, everything we read is telling us to:
- plant milkweed in our home gardens
- encourage milkweed planting in available urban spaces through any organization we are involved in
- encourage our city parks and councils to increase butterfly gardens, naturalized areas that include milkweeds
- encourage any organization involved in farming to promote hedgerow and wildflower spaces for milkweed and other pollinator-friendly plants.
Orange flowering Butterfly Weed - Asclepias tuberosa - is a perennial and can be grown from seed or purchased as small plants; there are hybrids which have other coloured flowers.
An Ontario's native milkweed is Swamp Milkweed - Asclepias incarnata - which has a wonderful pink flower; it does want its soil home to stay moist.
The four-leaved milkweed - Asclepias quadrifolia - is at risk, and mentioned here. Are there any plantswomen/men propagating this in a sustainable way?
Here in London, Ontario - CGL webkeeper Maureen inquired about milkweed and the proposed change, and received a reply from a senior staff person at the City's bylaw department. Here is her reply:
"I too am awaiting the decision of OMAF as to the proposed removal of Milkweed from the NWA list. In London we have been very fortunate in the fact that we have not had to use the authority of the NWA in connection to a complaint of weeds affecting crops. The weed complaints we receive each year (and there are many) are handled through the Yard & Lot Maintenance By-law and instead of weed species the by-law addresses all weeds that exceed 8” in height.
"Although Milkweed has been designated as a noxious weed for many years, it has been our policy to allow plants in a tended garden and this practice will continue. If a property was to be unmaintained and milkweed was permitted to grow wildly all over the property, on a complaint we would still have to address the yard maintenance issue (including the Milkweed) as the plant would still be classed as a weed exceeding 8” in height.
"The removal of Milkweed will make a difference when an individual applies to Council for the approval of a Naturalized area. As part of that process Council cannot consider a plan that incorporates the presence of any noxious weed (as per the Act). If Milkweed is removed from the list and individual would now be able to include Milkweed in the plan."
posted March 10, 2014
The Make Way for Monarchs website welcomes America’s - and Canada's - "rural and urban communities, faith-based communities, college and university campuses, community gardens and botanical gardens, as well as non-profits of all kinds to join ... in a day of action and contemplation for imperiled pollinators from dusk on April 13th (Palm Sunday) to dusk on April 14th (Rachel Carson’s death anniversary)".
Make Way for Monarchs: http://makewayformonarchs.org/i/archives/695
CGL webkeeper has posted this FYI. If you and your church or spiritual group are moved to organize an event around this idea, please let us know. We would be happy to post an invitation to it, or post your summary as a news item. The The Make Way for Monarchs website came to our attention March 10/14 via Mother Earth News email.
posted March 10, 2014
The Old East Village (London, Ont) Gardeners are challenging us to:
* raise enough seeds to cover all vacant spaces
* help beautify and pollinate vacant land
* support native flora and fauna
They are looking for:
* Native wildflower seeds
* Funds to purchase seeds
Find out more about their project on the Old East Village Hub facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OEVHub or the blog: http://www.oevhub.wordpress.com
email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
An article about the Old East Village Hub is in Beat Magazine: http://www.thebeatmagazine.ca/index.php/featured-posts/1976-the-hub-comes-to-old-east-village
London's Council of Canadians is asking for help organizing an Earth Day Parade. Ideas, volunteers and creativity sought for April 22, 2014!
"Imagine floats, bicycles, props, masks, costumed marchers, revelers, music, drumming, celebrating our Mother Gaia. Freedom of Sppech Marchers - any group with a message about human beings and their relationship to our plantet - from celebratory to ironic humour. Email email@example.com." and website www.londoncouncilofcanadians.ca
Saturday, March 22, 2014 1:15 to 3:00 p.m.
Central Library, 251 Dundas Street, London
Recent closures of food manufacturing plants throughout Ontario provoke us to consider how food can affect the "health" of whole communities, not just individuals. But what are the social forces driving these closures inthe first place? Are there alternatives? Speakers from a variety of backgrounds offer incisive responses to these questions. (Each session will be followed by an open-forum discussion)
Seed Security in Canada: Aabir Dey, Everdale Farms
Food and Inequality: local food systems in the global economy: Chris Stroud, local food activist
Organized Labour and Industrial Food Production: Patrick Blaney, BCTGM Union Local 154-G
*This is the afternoon session of From Private Troubles to public Issues: a workshop on community and society, organized by the graduate students of Public Sociology @ Western. The morning session topic is Sexual Identity and Gendered Violence.
Food Not Lawns London Canada has made arrangement with two tree nurseries so that you will have no delivery charges on fruit or nut trees ordered and pre-paid. FNL has also arranged with the London Food Cooperative to be the pick-up place for these orders (you do the pick up, on May 9/14). And FNL also encourages you to register those new trees with ReForest London's Million Tree Challenge.
Full information about this project is on the Food Not Lawns website and contact FNL for information or if you have questions.
When: May 9th, 2014 from 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Location: London Food Co-Operative Store at 621 Princess Ave.
This is the day to pick up the fruit or nut tree you have pre-ordered/paid for from Silver Creek Nursery and Whiffle Tree Farm and Nursery, and directed them to deliver it to the London Food Co-operative store.
Food Not Lawns London Canada collaborated with the nurseries to have them waive delivery changes.
Information about this at: Food Not Lawns or the News item on CGL
Don't forget! When you get your tree, register it with ReForest London's Million Tree Challenge
posted March 7, 2014
London's Advisory Committee on Environment listened with interest on Wednesday, March 5 to two related presentations:
Celeste L., a member of Food Not Lawns, encouraged ACE to find ways to assist in the movement to make London, Ontario a Pollinator Sanctuary, meaning "that all the land within the boundaries of the City of London would act as a refuge, or eco-sensitive one, to protect pollinators. Sanctuaries are often the only hope we have os topping many threatened species from becoming extinct." She went on to explain the importance of urban environments in preserving biodiverse corridors. Celeste had worked on this proposal with Margo D., who was unable to attend.
CGL webkeeper, Maureen Temme, also made a presentation - on the less joyous side - about the deadly effects of neonicotinoid insecticides on not just pollinators like honeybees, but on other pollinators and birds.
It was such a lift to hear Celeste and Margo's thoughtful and detailed proposal!
It was also a great lift to have so many questions from ACE, and ACE has formed a subcommittee to continue the conversation with us about the pollinator sanctuary idea. ACE member Gabor Sas has signed on.
Work by community members to increase biodiversity in our City remains the essential underpinning to a pollinator sanctuary.
We will keep you posted on all fronts.
Thank you Food Tank for celebrating International Women's Day - March 8 - by letting us know about 25 women around the world who are involved in food security.
Women: intelligent, caring, working members of our communities!
The full article gives information about all the women's achievements. Here are the names and affiliations.
Rebecca Adamson—Founder and President of First Peoples Worldwide
Rucha Chitnis—South Asia Program Director of Women’s Earth Alliance
Ertharin Cousin—Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Programme
Grace Foster-Reid—Managing Director of Ecofarms, a community-based business in Jamaica that produces honey products from her family’s farm.
Stephanie Hanson—Director of Policy and Outreach at One Acre Fund.
Wenonah Hauter—Executive Director of Food & Water Watch
Heather Hilleren—Hilleren is the Founder and CEO of Local Dirt
Saru Jayaraman—founded Restaurant Opportunities Centers United
Sarah Kalloch—runs Oxfam’s Sisters on the Planet program
Nancy Karanja—professor of soil ecology and Director of the Microbial Resource Centre at the University of Nairobi
Joan Karling—Secretary General of Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP
Myrna Cunningham Kain—International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) special ambassador from Latin America
Anna Lappe—co-founder of the Small Planet Institute
Federica Marra—founder of Manna From Our Roofs, organization for youth
Kathleen Merrigan—currently Executive Director of the Sustainability Institute at George Washington University.
Anuradha Mittal—co-director of Food First Institute for Food and Development Policy
Sithembile Ndema Mwamakamba—Programme Manager with the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN),
Mariam Ouattara - from Cote d’Ivoire, Ouattara founded Slow Food Chigata
Esther Penunia-Banzuela—Secretary General of the Asian Farmers’ Association
Claire Quenum—General Secretary of the African Network on the Right to Food Sara
Scherr—Scherr is the Founder and President of Ecoagriculture Partners
Michele Simon public health lawyer
Kanthi Wijekoon is founder of theThe Rural Women’s Front in Sri Lanka
Sarah Small is a Research Associate for Food Tank who put together the list. CGL figured she should be on it!
and from Food Tank's accompanying email:
" ... all over the world, there are innovative women inspiring ... business women, mothers, teachers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs, changing the food system through creating better working conditions, securing land rights, becoming leaders in their community, and more.
“ 'In many developing countries, women are the backbone of the economy. Yet women farmers do not have equal access to resources and this significantly limits their potential in enhancing productivity,' said Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
"And in many countries, while women are responsible for the majority of food production, they are also more likely to suffer from hunger in food shortages. According to Oxfam International, women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, but only earn 10 percent of the income.
"According to the World Food Programme, providing women farmers access to the same resources as men could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 100-150 million people. And when women earn more, they invest more in the health of their families."
posted Feb 24 2014
You do have to be a member of Seeds of Diversity Canada to be able to get full information about what there is to swap.
That said, with 1400 members and thousands of seeds ... check out the Seeds of Diversity website and think on it!
Seeds of Diversity Canada is a Canadian charitable organization dedicated to the conservation, documentation and use of public-domain, non-hybrid plants of Canadian significance. They have a lot of projects on the go and are partners with USC Canada in the Bauta Family Initiative in Seed Security and have a connection to Pollination Canada. The website also keeps a list of Seedy Saturday events (London has one March 8 at Carling Heights)
posted Feb 17 2014
Food Not Lawns London Canada can help you figure out how to turn your backyard into a pollinator friendly garden, growing lots of good food. Planning begins soon for such an undertaking; blitzes when the weather's right on April and May weekends.FNL will help you coordinate your efforts with your friends and volunteers.
Garden blitzes are great ways to have some fun and strengthen your personal community. Food Not Lawns London is encouraging hopeful home gardeners, as well as community group or neighbourhood ideas in these blitzes.
In preparation? Planning. There'll be a Garden Workshop on Saturday, Feb. 22, from 1-4 p.m. at East Village Arts Collective, 757 Dundas Street, London. Suggested donation is $20-$50 for the workshop (arrangements could be made for low income)
Great article in the Feb 13 Londoner about this program!
Thanks to Tad Hargrave of Marketing for Hippies for sending out this video, which manages to give a laugh to those of us who are appalled with what the lable 'Natural' can cover on the worst of foods. Put out by Only Organic www.onlyorganic.org Note: there's a link to Hargraves first, then click for the video.
posted Feb 17/14
Marianne Schonning is an organic dairy farmer in Sweden - and a board member of the International Foundation for Organic Agriculture, IFOAM www.ifoam.org
Schonning has farmed organically for over 30 years, always changing and learning. She speaks to the dynamic between ethos and organic farming as a business.
Watch for the cat at the very beginning! And her cows are absolutely beautiful!
A Pollinator Sanctuary project is underway by Volunteers from Food Not Lawns London Canada and Council of Canadians London Branch. Part of this work is to find out which nurseries and plant supply places in London are selling plants raised in places that used neonicotonoid insecticides on them.
February 11, 2014, 5:00 p.m. and February 13, 2014
Can be heard over the internet - see the committee pages from the link below
Room 2, Victoria Building, 140 Wellington Street, Ottawa
The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry has been hearing presentations into the importance of bees and bee health in the production of honey, food and seed in Canada
The speakers - "witnesses" - are listed below, and it's certain that they will be speaking about neonicotinoid pesticides in parts of their presentations and answers to Senate questions:
February 11/14 - 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Jean-Pierre Chapleau, Beekeeper, Co-Director of the Health folder bees/pesticides (Fédération des apiculteurs du Québec)
Dan Davidson, President (Ontario Beekeepers Association) - unable to attend, which is really too bad because OBA has strong anti-Neonicinoid stance
Jake Berg, President (Saskatchewan Beekeepers' Association)
Allan Campbell, President (Manitoba Beekeepers' Association)
Kevin Nixon, Alberta Delegate to Canadian Honey Council (Alberta Beekeepers Commission)
The speakers for the February 13, 5:00-7:00 p.m. hearings are:
D'Arcy Hilgartner, director, Grain Growers of Canada
Todd Hames, President, Canadian Canola Growers Association
Curtis Rempel, Vice-President of Crop Production and Innovation, Canola Council of Canada.
Mark Wales, Member of Board of Directors Canadian Federation of Agriculture
There have been previous hearings, and I think there will be something later than Feb. 11. Information is on the Senate Agriculture and Forestry Committee home page: http://www.parl.gc.ca/sencommitteebusiness/CommitteeHome.aspx?parl=41&ses=2&Language=E&comm_id=2
CGL webkeeper Maureen listened to the Feb. 4/14 broadcast. It is a very different thing to listen to live broadcast and get the feel of what people are saying, and even more interesting to hear the questions people are asked and get a feel for what the members of the Senate committee are or not familiar with on this topic.
Transcripts of proceedings in their original languages are available by request quickly. It takes some time for translations to be prepared, however. When the transcripts are translated they are on the website. Nicole Raymond is the administrative assistant to the Senate Agriculture and Forestry Committee and sent CGL webkeeper the latest untranslated transcript in the turn-around time. Like any administrative assistant she probably knows all sorts of things and can answer questions about the committee. Nicole.Raymond@sen.parl.gc.ca
The website says to contact the clerk, but you could email Ms. Raymond to request transcripts or requesting the not-yet-translated ones. Information about transcripts is on:
“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don't they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”
Ray Bradbury, science fiction writer, from Dandelion Wine
The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century. The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the world's food, over 70 are pollinated by bees. Human beings have fabricated the illustion that in the 21st century they have technological prowess to be independent of nature. Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less dependent on nature's services in a world of close to seven billion people."
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, referring to March 2011 report Global Bee Colony Disorders and other Threats to Insect Pollinators
“Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
But I have to say with all honesty, when I am in the bee yard outside observing ..., and I hear the buzzing of the bees, that is for me a greater experience than the Nobel Prize."
Karl von Frisch, who shared the 1973 Nobel with Konrad Lorenz and Niko Tinbergen, quoted in Candace Savage, Bees: nature's little wonders
What bees ask of us is simple: a world free from poisons and other stressors, with places where they can next and a sweet, season-long supply of flowering plants. In return, they offer to teach us their deepest lesson yet. Much as a honeybee belongs to her colony, so we human beings belong to the living community of the Earth. The wild lies all around us and we draw it in like breath. Our lives are indivisible from the lives of insects.
Candace Savage, Bees: nature's little wonders, p. 109
"If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left. No more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man."
So how does a worker bee know what to do when? For an individual engaged with tasks within the hive, ... she sees a job that needs to be done and that she is ale to perform, and then she gets busy and does it.
from Karl von Frisch's observations ... Candace Savage, Bees: nature's little wonders, p. 107
"I think any of the pesticides the bees bring back to the beehive is hurting the bees"
entomologist Eric Mussen, when asked if imidiacloprid is the entire problem underlying Colony Collapse Disorder
" Clothianidin is "highly toxic to honeybees on an acute contact basis"
United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2003
[it went on to suugest that chronic exposure could lead to effects on the larvae and reproductive effects in the queens (which has been found)]
And from Rachel Carson, in Silent Spring, ch. Earth's Green Mantle. Houghton Mifflin, Book Club Edition, 1962
... Of some 70 species of shrubs and vines that are typical roadside species in the eastern states alone, about 65 are important to wildlife as food.
Such vegetation is also the habitat of wild bees and other pollinating insects. Man is more dependent on these wild pollinators than he usually realizes. ... Some agicultural species of wild bees take part in the pollination of cultivated crops - 100 species visiting the flowers of alfalfa alone. Without insect pollination, most of the soil-holding and soil-enriching plants of uncultivated areas would die out, with far-reaching consequences to the ecology of the whole region. Many herbs, shrubs, and trees of forests and range depend on native insects and range stock would find little food. Now clean cultivation and the chemical destruction of hedgerows and weeds are eliminating the last sanctuaries of these pollinating insects and breaking the threads that bind life to life.
These insects, so essential to our agriculture and indeed to our landscape as we know it, deserve something better from us than the senseless destruction of their habitat. Honeybees and wild bees depend heavily on such "weeds" as goldenrod, mustard, and dandelions for pollen that serves as the food of their young. Vetch furnishes essential spring forage for bees before the alfalfa is in bloom, tiding them over this early season so that they are ready to pollinate the alfalfa. In the fall they depend on goldenrod at a season when no other food is available, to stock up for the winter. By the precise and delicate timing that is nature's own, the emergence of one species of wild bees takes place on the very day of the opening of the willow blossoms. There is no dearth of men who understand these things, but these are not the men who order the wholesale dranching of the landscape with chemicals.
And where are the men who supposedly understand the value of proper habitate for the preservation of wildlife? Too many of them are to be found defending herbicides as "harmless" to wildlife because they are thought to be less toxic than insecticides. Therefore, it is said, no harm is done. But as the herbicides rain down on forest and field, on marsh and rangeland, they are bringing about marked changes and even permanent destruction of wildlife habitate. To destroy the homes and food of wildlife is perhaps worse in the long run than direct killing.
The irony of this all-out chemical assault on roadsides and utility rights-of-way is twofold. It is perpetuating the problem it seeks to correct, for as experience has clearly shown, the blanket application of herbicides does not permanently control roadside "brush" and the spraying has to be repeated year after year. And as a further irony, we persist in doing this despite the fact that a perfectly sound method of selective spraying is known, which can achieve long-term vegetational control and eliminate repeated spraying in most types of vegetation.
Closing Federal Libraries, by Prof. Sean Kheraj of York U's history department, has just been posted in the NiCHE series of Canadian Environmental History Podcasts. http://niche-canada.org/2014/02/03/natures-past-episode-41-closing-federal-library/
(this is an audio broadcast only)
Kheraj speaks with Dr. Andrew Nikiforuk, and then with a panel of environmental historians about what information might be lost to historians, environmental researchers, businesses and social planners ... as well as the ethical situation involved in taking information away
The introduction points out that over a dozen libraries have closed at "Parks Canada, Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Foreign Affairs, Citizenship and Immigration, Human Resources and Skills Development, the National Capital Commission, Intergovernmental Affairs, Public Works and Government Services, Canada Revenue Agency, Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, and Canadian Heritage."
And in December 2013, 7 of the 11 Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries were closed. Thousands of documents and records have been thrown out ... what the federal government calls downsizing. Staff and professors at or involved with the libraries have taken material home.
This audio and others are at: http://niche-canada.org/naturespast
NiCHE - Network in Canadian History and Environment - http://niche-canada.org/ - has a really neat website where there are all sorts of hstory articles about environment science topics. NiCHE's educators and researchers want us to know the intersection of past with current environmental sciences ... and see the past as the base from which we can make comparison and plan for the future. And the articles are really neat, and varied in topic!
Here's sample of what you'll come to from scrolling down url: http://niche-canada.org/category/the-otter/
The Canadian Forestry Corps during WWI
The Future of Farming
How Hurricane Sandy prompted a look at a 50 year old erosion control strategy.
And the Sea Gave Up Her Dead - in 1913 when severe storms blew in debris to Goderich from several maritime tragedies.
This CGL webkeeper was unlucky enough to have a bad history teacher in high school (a very long time ago) and has missed a lot on connections! I'll be making an effort to think about the past and how it relates to the present and future environment issues we are facing.
Thanks NICHE, thanks Sean Kheraj, Alan MacEachern and other contributors to NiCHE.
Alan MacEachern, Associate Professor & Graduate Chair, Department of History is overseeing the transfer of over 140 years of meteorological records from to Western University's archive. This has been a 6-year collaboration to just transfer the material, and the wizards at Western's Archive will be digitizing records, and - more important - making them available to researchers by the summer.
Moving this collection of old, fragile material to a place with controlled temperature and humidity will preserve it for current and future research. Part of the collection is "250 volumes of journals, observations, letterbooks, and correspondence related to Canadian meteorological and climatological history, and spanning the 1820s to the 1960s." Schools kept weather records from the 1840s, an early Canadian start to the "citizen science" that continues to this day.
This material will be of interest to researchers on climate change, geography, environment, agriculture, and just about anything you can think up!
An article on the NiCHE website, Environment Canada Archival Collection Coming to Western, tells the story about the history of weather data collection and the effort Dr. MacEachern took to get this material safely to Western. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations and thank you to everyone involved in this project!!
CGL's favourite website, City Farmer, keeps posting interesting innovations in urban agriculture and community gardens, worldwide.
Video! East African's urban families fight food shortages with city gardens. posted Jan. 29/14
Organic Urban Farming in South Africa. posted Jan. 29/14
In contrast to Canada's Federal system, which shut down all our prison farms despite huge protests ... Dartmoor Prison UK has set up gardens to aid in rehabilitation of its prisoners' mind, body, spirit and practical abilities. posted January 28/14
Gardening with children in schools is nothing new ... see the 1914 thesis on the benefits of Agriculture for Urban Children (a Jan. 25/14 entry)
Notes on new books: The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects and Backyard Foraging: 65 famililar plants you didn't know you could eat
posted January 21, 2014 ---- Maureen, webkeeper for Community Gardens London, notes that her agreement with former Prime Minister Joe Clark's comment that you have to be at the table to participate in making decisions, and that people need information to make decisions, is part of her decision to post the GRO1000 grant notice.
Grant applications for the Scotts Miracle-Gro GRO1000 Grassroots grants program for 2014 for community gardens are being accepted by Scotts Canada Limited. www.grogood.com/GiveBackToGro/GRO1000/Canada
The deadline for application submission is February 17, 2014. Recipients are contacted in April.
Details on the GRO1000 Gardens and Green Spaces Program: www.grogood.com/GiveBackToGro/GRO1000/Canada.
After some background research, Maureen, Community Gardens London webkeeper notes that:
Scotts Canada anticipates awarding 8 cash/in-kind grants in Canada. An individual grant could be worth up to $1,500; this amount combines dollar value and "in-kind" service (donated products from Scotts).
Scotts Miracle-Gro international oversees the GRO1000 program. The international program will give out a total 1000 grants to community gardens over an 8 year period 2011 through 2018, throughout three geographic regions with a population total of over 1.2 Billion people (Canada, the United States and Europe).
Scotts Canada partners with Communities in Bloom, Plant-a-row/Grow-a-row, and Nutrients for Life (an undertaking of the Canadian synthetic fertilizer industry) to offer the GRO1000 grant program.
Scotts is Monsanto's distributor of Roundup herbicide at the "consumer" level, which seems to mean its urban/around the house applications. Roundup is the main herbicide used agriculturally in conjunction with Monsanto's genetically modified seed. http://thescottsmiraclegrocompany.com/aboutus/our_business.html
posted January 21/14
Much coverage has been given to Neonicotinoid pesticides' bad effects on honeybees. Sadly, their effects are much, much broader. The Impact of the Nation's Most Widely Used Insecticides on Birds(http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/releases/130319.html) was commissioned by the American Bird Conservancy (http://www.abcbirds.org/) and delivered in late March 2013 by Cynthia Palmer of the Conservancy and Dr. Pierre Mineau of Carleton University. Disturbing content, important and well referenced.
http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/toxins/Neonic_FINAL.pdf takes you right to the pdf of the report
Posted January 19, 2014 - written by Maureen, webkeeper
There is a new local newspaper in London, Ontario: The London Yodeller. Publisher is Barry Wells, who does the website AltLondon. Editor is Herman Goodden. Available in print or online, the newspaper features articles by mostly local authors, mostly entertainment topics with some local and local political items. There are also "opinion" pieces.
One "opinion" writer is Paula Adamick, former London Ontario resident, who has not lived in London, Ontario for the last 15 years (she lives in England). She writes many articles for a journal, Catholic Insight. Her direction of opinion seems to be far right to Tea Party. Her feature in January 16/14 Yodeller, Climate Change Collapse, says, basically, that climate change is bunk and a cause taken up by gullible and unintelligent people.
Adamick's article was a great inpiration to the webkeeper of CGL to reread material in her file on climate change, to think about the influential power and responsibility of writers, and to make sure she (Maureen) attends a talk by Professor Gordon McBean.
Climate Change: weird weather is the new normal is one presentation in the Nature in the City series put together by Nature London. It wll be on Tuesday, January 28, 7:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 251 Dundas Street. Prof. McBean will be talking about the science behind climate change and expectations for our future. He works with the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, Western University and is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, members of which, collectively, won a Nobel Prize for their work, in 2008.
Maureen looks forward to a full house at Professor McBean's talk.
note: A person involved with The London Yodeller said that the editor would consider opinion pieces by writers who are "progressive" in thinking.
Posted January 15/14
Most amazing, stop-in-your-tracks item just came in on the Grist enews : the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change' latest report as 19 watercolour-illustrated haikus.
Written and illustrated by Dr. Greg Johnson, an oceanographer by profession, well ... see for yourself how much meaning there is in simplicity of word and line.
Thank you Dr. Johnson and thanks to Anne at the Sightline Daily site for posting.
words and text by Dr. Greg Johnson.
Posted January 12, 2014 - updated January 21
Food Tank, a food "think tank" project, compiled a list of 101 organizations worldwide that are involved in Food projects, advocacy, security, and sovereignty. They sent it out. People emailed them more resources! If you browse through and have another to add, drop 'em a line! Great resources, and thought-provoking.
Here's the first 101: http://foodtank.org/news/2014/01/one-hundred-one-organizations-to-watch-in-20141
from CBC website just this morning, January 6/14 - great to see this getting into mainstream media article
Geoff Leo, CBC News Posted: Jan 06, 2014 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/pesticide-contaminating-prairie-wetlands-scientist-1.2482082
posted January 4/14 by Maureen Temme, webkeeper CGL ... comments here are Maureen's opinion
Thanks to Margo Does for twice bringing information about the hazards to honeybees from neonicotinoid pesticides to London City Council's Agricultural Advisory Committee. And thanks for the push she gave me to to pull together resource material on the topic, and clarify which report is which.
Neonicotinoid pesticides are a systemic pesticide, meaning they travel to all parts of a plant once they've entered via leaves or roots. Neonicotinoid pesticides are a neurotoxin to bees; this has been known for some time and product labels state this. Adult bees take in the pesticide through pollen, nectar, or water from plants or soil. They are either killed outright or their location/tracking ability is diminished, or their immune system harmed; Neonicotinoids in nectar is fed to the bee larvae and kills them right away or causes their immune system to weaken. Death is sooner, or later.
At the Agricultural Advisory Committee meeting of September 18/13, Tracey Baute, entomologist with OMAFRA, described the immediate and cumulative - deadly - effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on honeybees. She said that studies show neonicotinoids are overused; also, OMAFRA was starting an education campaign to encourage fungicide-only treated seed.
Following Baute's presentation, and a presentation by Margo Does, there was discussion by AAC members. They voted against recommending that Planning and Environment Committee (their parent committee) address the need to bar neonicotinoid pesticide use inside London's boundaries. AAC suggested P&EC comment could wait until the Ontario Bee Health Working Group report was published.
As it turns out, the Ontario Bee Health Working Group report probably won't be out until the spring. Neonicotinoids will be used during the 2014 planting season and will continue to kill honeybees and pollinators inside and outside London's boundaries.
At the December 18/13 meeting of AAC, an update on reports concerning honeybee health and neonicotinoid pesticides was given by Margo Does and Maureen Temme.
At the September AAC meeting, no one present knew that the (Federal) Pest Management Regulatory Agency interim report had come out Sept. 13/13. Evaluation of Canadian Bee Mortalities in 2012 related to neonicotinoid pesticides made this key statement:
"... current agricultural practices related to the use of neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed are not sustainable."
By December 18/13, the PMRA 90 day period for public input on the report had ended. The Ontario Bee Health Working Group made no comment on the PMRA interim report.
The Ontario Beekeepers Association, however, - whose members observe bee death and whose livelihoods are directly affected by bee deaths - made recommendations augmenting the PMRA report and stated:
"without clear evidence that neonicotinoid pesticides are safe over the long-term for non-target species, the use of neonicotinoids should be removed from use on field crops."
In other words, the Ontario Beekeepers Association said that neonicotinoid pesticide use must stop.
(from OBA response to PMRA, document sent by OBA rep Dec. 12/13... not on website yet ... but I'll send a copy - email@example.com )
The National Farmers Union (NFU) also responded to the PMRA interim report on neonicotinoid pesticides. In its report, Action to Protect Bees from Exposure to Neonicotinoid Pesticides, the NFU joined the Ontario Beekeepers Association in underscoring that leading statement in the PMRA interim report concerning neonicotinoid pesticides and honeybee deaths: "... current agricultural practices related to the use of neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed are not sustainable”.
NFU went on to tell the PMRA clearly that the PMRA recommendations did not reinforce its own key statement.
The National Farmers Union is committed to the protection of biodiversity and advocates for agricultural practices that are in all ways sustainable and built on the principles of food sovereignty. In keeping with this, it recommended:
- a five-year moratorium on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in all forms on all field crops
- more long term studies of neonicotinoids' effects on honeybees, other pollinators, and other invertebrates and vertebrates
- a serious look into the effects of combined pesticides on pollinators and other critters, in both immediate and sub-lethal and cumulative amounts
The NFU paper gives an explanation of how neonicotinoids work in simple language. What could be more clear - and serious - than to know that neonicotinoid pesticides don't just kill bees and other pollinators outright, but cause insects' nervous systems to "malfunction continuously and irreversibly" and to be told that even one kernal of neonicotinoid treated corn can cause reproductive abnormalities in birds?
The NFU comment also emphasised that:
- neonicotinoids and their break-down components (metabolites) leach into water in soil and watercourses and and are themselves harmful
- the use of neonicotinoids on all crops - instead of on insect-infested crops - has already resulted in pesticide resistant strains of pests (and there will be more)
- overuse of neonicotinoids adds to the stressors already on honeybees and other critters (loss of biodiverse habitate, climate change, predators increasing due to insects weakened immune systems)
- long term, ecosystem research is needed.
The NFU recommended a moratorium on neonicotinoids as the best use of the "precautionary principle" - not waiting until every study is in before taking common sense action for ecosystem health.
In statements that Margo Does and Maureen Temme took to the Agricultural Advisory Committee, we asked that it make its own statement about the need for a moratorium on neonicotinoid pesticides, urge the Planning and Environment Committee to do the same, and that both committees begin to look at how pesticides are used inside London's boundaries and how their effects on all inhabitants of its ecosystems will be kept healthy.
We urged London's Agricultural Advisory Committee to work with precautionary principle and:
- recommend Planning and Environment Committee find ways to protect London bees and pollinating insects from deadly neonicotinoid pesticide sprays, seed coatings and run-off into water and soil.
- communicate with farmers in London's Agriculture-zoned areas to find out what sprays they are using and to encourage and/or regulate the use of neonicotinoid pesticides
- figure out how our municipality can work with farmers outside the London boundary to create a buffer zone to protect London's bees and pollinating insects from neonicotinoids sprayed on farms
- encourage in every way possible farmers inside and outside London's boundaries to plant biodiverse, successive bloom areas that encourage all sorts of bees and pollinating insects
The Agricultural Advisory Committee did not discuss the issue of neonicotinoid pesticides and pollinator health, or put our comments into any statement for its members to even vote on.
The experience left me ... fiesty, and with many questions about how the AAC might be augmented over the next year to begin to expand its work to fit its broad mandate. There is much that could be done through this advisory committee.
At this time, I think that efforts toward stopping the use of neonicotonoid pesticides should be by participating in public education, and by participating in campaigns by organizations such as the National Farmers Union, EcoJustice, or Sierra Club.
In my opinion, effort to take the topic above this advisory committee level would not be time well spent. As we are able, we should monitor what happens at London's City Council this year on topics important to us; and, as we can tolerate, get involved in campaigning for a candidate we want to see elected on October 27/14.]
For another comment on the Dec. 18/13 AAC meeting, S. Franke, who attended the December 18/13 AAC meeting posted meeting notes on the Food Not Lawns London Canada website (see the December 19 post), sure gets my praise for the speed and passion in the post
posted Jan. 4/14
Part of the celebration launch of the International Year of Family Farming IYFF-2014 is the review Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth.
Published by the World Rural Forum(WRF) and the Regional Program Fida Mercosur, it seeks to promote and support processes on five continents that represent a "paradigm shift in the concept of rural development and poverty alleviation."
Álvaro Ramos, coordinator of the Regional Program Fida Mercosur, states that this paradigm shift is based on two critical assumptions:
1. family farming is not a synonym of rural poverty and
2. family farming is part of the solution to the problems derived from poverty in rural areas.
Jose María Zeberio, executive secretary of the WRF, highlights the importance of celebrating the IYFF-2014 and emphasises that "family farming has found space in the agenda of many institutions and associations and has become a reference for those who have been striving for better public policies for the rural population. The challenge and the obligation now, during IYFF-2014, will be to promote public policies and practices that support the development and the future of family farming worldwide, and the work of so many men and women farmers, peasants, artisan fishers, pastoralists and indigenous communities."
Available for download in Spanish, Portuguese, French and English, this publication includes valuable principles, reflections and experiences related to family farming in Latin America, Africa and Asia. With the collaboration of the Asian Farmers' Association (AFA), the Latin American Integration Association (Aladi), the African Institute for Economic and Social Development (Inades), the Brazilian Ministery for Agrarian Development and the Uruguayan Ministery of Foreign Affairs.
The International Year of Family Farming IYFF-2014 was officially launched on Nov. 22, during an event at the United Nations' headquarters in New York. This official act highlighted the potential of Family Farming in the fight against Hunger and Poverty, and became a song of praise and recognition for more than 2,000 millions of women and men family farmers, smallholders, artisanal fishers, pastoralists, landless peasants and indigenous communities in the world.
posted January 1/14
Yet again, Michael Levenston of City Farmer has made a great "Must see!" selection. Thanks Michael, and Happy New Year!
Gardeners in South Wales locales of Bridgend, Vale of Glamorgan and Torfaen speak about how they set up their community gardens, give advice on some of the technicals, and show the pure joy to individuals and community strength that develops as gardens go in. An organization called the Community Foodie Project (http://www.communityfoodie.co.uk), sponsored by the Rural Development Plan for Wales and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, has people available to go into a community and guide it through the process of setting up its community garden. Both community organization and paperwork get covered in this.
With great film of the gardens, and many garden events, gardeners tell us that a community garden takes committed people, time and effort, and that the rewards are many, and often beyond those expencted.
It is also important that many of the gardens are developing Community Supported Agriculture programs and other social enterprise (income generating) projects.
Absolutely a must see. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did! look for the December 28/13 entry on http://www.cityfarmer.info (I didn't find a direct link from the Community Foodie site ... but it is worth a good look 'round for the various garden projects).
from its website:
Community Foodie is a project to identity, develop and support community food growing in the rural areas of The Vale of Glamorgan, Bridgend and Torfaen. The project is supported by the Rural Development Plan for Wales, which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Its key aim is to strengthen communities by increasing the amount of produce grown and consumed locally.
In addition to this it aims to introduce valuable skills, support healthy lifestyles and bring people of all ages together, whilst raising awareness of the wider beneficial impacts of growing locally produced food.
Here at CGL, it blows us away to realize that such a project is supported at the national level! Wow!
posted on CGL Dec. 6/13
" ...we are part of something bigger ... we are a piece of a jigsaw ... increasingly, we’re pieces of jigsaws in many people’s communities ... If you eat, you’re in, it’s as simple as that ... [it's about] creating a sense that I can do this, and I am part of something that is a better world, and from that other things follow."
Pam Warhurst, of Incredible Edible Todmorden
Pam Warhurst of Incredible Edible Todmorden has been interviewed by Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement, on the topics of austerity, food banks, local food, the Transition movement, and the abilities we have to contribute to our communities and future.
For some inspiration, please listen to the Skype interview. http://www.transitionnetwork.org/blogs/rob-hopkins/2013-11/pam-warhurst-food-banks-are-first-response-not-final-response
The enthusiasm and reality of Warhurst's voice lets you understand the possibilities of what she's talking about
Hopkins or an assistant has been generous with time and made a text transcript, which is a helpful reference. Nothing beats hearing their voices and nuance tho'!
An earlier talk by Pam Warhurst, her TED Talk about the Incredible Edible Todmorden project is found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KmKoj4RSZw&feature=youtu.be It is as inspiring to listen to for the 6th time as the first.
Transition Network: www.transitionnetwork.org
A petition is being circulated by local Ontario small farmers who produce organic chicken. It is requesting changes to the number of chickens they may raise, from a very small number to a larger number so they can meet demend. The number is nowhere near that of the large-scale, industrial producers. The petition will be sent to the Chicken Farmers of Ontario and various interested agriculture organizations and politicians, to get the quota changed.
Field Gate Organics in Covent Garden Market supplied a link to an explanation and petition: http://www.coventmarket.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/chicken-farmers-petition.pdf
The simplest thing if you have questions might be to contact Dan Murphy of Field Gate Organics in Covent Garden Market in London. Drop down to the store and sign the petition there, or phone. Website not included here because CGL couldn't connect to it at time of this post.
CGL note: Over years, changing regulations in many aspects of agriculture have made it easy for the "big guys" and more difficult for small holder farmers. Small holder farmers are more often using organic methods of agriculture and humane ways of raising animals. Small holder farmers are our local growers, innovators, and showing the way forward for healthy, local eating.
posted Dec. 6/13
The London Community Foundation has awarded over $150,000 to a new Poverty Research project to be undertaken by the London Food Bank and the Sisters of St. Joseph.
A short video about this project is on the London Community Foundation website: http://www.lcf.on.ca/news/general-news/london-community-foundation-grants-over-500000-community
From the LCF site: The Poverty Research "will assemble research on poverty and inform governments and the public about findings to improve local policy response. The Poverty Research Centre will be unique in London as it will focus on the gathering of research, data, and information within its three areas of focus: mental health, food security and employment. The Centre will engage in “living research” in the community in order to capture the condition and input of those with lived experience so that the work of the Centre will be directly relevant to London and the impact of these issues on our community."
Congratulations to these partners, other grants recipients - Goodwill and Extreme Clean - and to the LCF Community Vitality grants program.
Changes to and reasons behind the LCF granting program are also outlined on the page.
posted on CGL November 20/13
CGL received an email inviting people to participate in a survey, to help with the strategic planning for London's community gardens program. The following italicized text is from that email.
COMMUNITY GARDENS SURVEY
As part of the City of London’s commitment to our CommunityGardens program, the City of London is conducting a planning process to develop a CommunityGardens Strategic Plan. In addition to focus groups and roundtable discussions, we are seeking input into the strategic plan through a survey process.
As residents of London, Ontario, we are interested in your comments, ideas and feedback. Accordingly, we have provided two surveys:
1. A survey for residents who are currently Community Garden gardeners (i.e. rent a plot in a LondonCommunityGarden)
2. A survey for residents who are not Community Garden gardeners at
Please choose the survey that is right for you and simply follow the instructions. The deadline for survey completion is December 31st 2013.
If you have questions or you would like to receive a paper version of the survey, please email or call us at 519-661-5336.
CGL note: the cover note to this information stated that London has 14 community gardens located on City of London municipally owned land, with over 500 gardeners are active within the gardens.
These numbers are new! There used to be 20 gardens, then 17; and 600 gardeners. ???
posted Nov. 20/13
London's community gardens program is going through a strategic planning process. The notes from the second focus group are available, written up by Maureen, webkeeper for this site.
please email firstname.lastname@example.org for the notes
They are pages long! I am having trouble putting them into a "click-button-for-read-more" format. Sorry for this inconvenience!
posted November 16/13
Applications for the 2014 SPARKS! Neighbourhood Matching Funds are being accepted from November 13, 2013 to January 31, 2014. This could get your group up to $5,000 to really make your project happen!
“Wonderful things happen when people, ideas and opportunities connect. Last year, 11 projects were funded, supporting the creative ideas and passions of nine neighbourhoods. Some of the exciting projects included a gazebo in Blackfriar’s CommunityGarden, community picnics and celebrations in SoHo, Carling and East London, a reading garden at the Beacock Library and a Scarecrow Festival in Old East Village.”
Lynne Livingstone, Managing Director of Neighbourhood, Children and Fire Services.
The City of London’s SPARKS! Neighbourhood Matching Fund is a community grant that provides funding to improve and enhance neighbourhoods. The fund was created to support neighbourhood-driven projects aligned with London’s Strengthening Neighbourhoods Strategy.
Funds for SPARKS! are provided through the City of London’s Neighbourhood, Children and Fire Services Division, with a total of $50,000 to allocate in 2014.
Get together with neighbours and an exciting idea. The online SPARKS information gives suggestions for planning. If your group is not a registered charity or other "official" group, find such a group in your community to affiliate with and you may apply for the grant. "How to" is explained on the SPARKS pages. A really important aspect of these grants is that you need not have any actual money on hand to apply; volunteer hours are assigned a per hour figure that goes towards your group's contribution to the grant.
posted Monday, Nov. 18/13 ... infor taken from a Media release received from Sierra Club of Canada, dated Nov. 15 - http://www.sierraclub.ca/
In September, the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency confirmed that neonicotinoid pesticides are killing bees. Public comment on this report is open until December 12. See News item below or PMRA interim report.
In November, the agriculture industry trade association, CropLife, named Federal Conservative member of parliament Ted Menzies as its new President and CEO. CropLife has been front and centre fighting against organizations which would like to see a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides.
As the Sierra Club press release says,
Because of dangerously weak federal ethics and lobbying rules, Mr. Menzies is allowed to become President and CEO of a federally regulated company that lobbies the federal government regularly. Mr. Menzies should be very aware that there are two ethics rules that apply to him in his new job. Under section 33 of the Conflict of Interest Act, he is prohibited form acting in any way that takes 'improper advantage' of his time as a Cabinet minister, and subsection 34 (2) prohibits him from giving 'advice to his or her client, business associate or employer using infromation that was obtained in his or her capaciity as a public office holder and is not available to the public.
Whether or not Mr. Menzies 'technically' does any lobbying, his position as President and CEO of CropLife clearly opens government doors and provides valuable insight on the internal working of the Harper government.
"Are we supposed to believe Mr. Menzies will lock himself in his new office and not take calls or check his email," said Mr. [John] Bennett [National Campaign Director, Sierra Club of Canada]
Maureen, webkeeper for CGL, suggests you write John Bennett at Executive.Director@sierraclub.ca or perhaps the politician of your choice on this situation.
posted Nov. 8, 2013
The Ontario Local Food Act (Bill 36) was passed in the Ontario Legislature on November 6/13. It will come into effect* sometime in Spring 2014.
According to the Act, its purposes are:
1. To foster successful and resilient local food economies and systems throughout Ontario.
2. To increase awareness of local food in Ontario, including the diversity of local food.
3. To encourage the development of new markets for local food.
According to the Act, the definition of "local" means:
(a) food produced or harvested in Ontario, including forest or freshwater food, and
(b) subject to any limitations in the regulations, food and beverages made in Ontario if they include ingredients produced or harvested in Ontario; (“aliments locaux”)
This bill was o.k.'d by all parties in the Legislature. There were several public input/comment periods along the way through the various drafts of the bill.
Ontario's first Local Food Week will be Monday June 2/14 through June 8. (*CGL note ... subject to the government setting the date for the bill to come into effect)
The same week in June is Canadian Environment Week; United Nations World Environment day is June 5.
The week prior to Canadian Thanksgiving is Ontario Agriculture Week.
United Nations declared World Food Day is October 16 each year.
... lots to celebrate
The full Ontario Local Food Act (Bill 36) may be read here: http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&BillID=2754
posted Nov. 5/13
Thanks to Deb Van Brenk's LFPress article for bringing to our attention that the Pesticide Management Regulatory Authority's (PMRA) interim report on neonicotinoid pesticides and honeybee deaths was out.
Yet to come on the critical subject of neonicotinoid pesticides' effects on honeybees is the report of the Ontario Bee Health Working Group, which is expected by the end of November.
Van Brenk used real numbers when she mentioned the number of beehives lost that were actually reported to the PMRA (5,800 in 2012 and 6,600 in 2013 springs). The PMRA report's text listed bee yard locales, which gives a smaller number (altho' the hive numbers appeared in the report's tables).
The PMRA interim report repeated information from its earlier Bee mortality and corn planting report that "An evaluation of ... 2012 incidents lead to the conclusion that planting of corn seeds treated with neonicotinoids contributed to the majority of the bee moratlities that occurred in corn growing regions of Ontario and Quebe in Spring 2012, with the likely route of exposure being insecticide contaminated dust generated during the planting of treated corn seed."
Despite the initial PMRA recommendations being put in place, there were greater number of hive losses in spring of 2013.
The interim report concludes that "current agricultural practices related to the use of neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed are not sustainable. The PMRA intends to implement additional protective measures for corn and soybean production."
At only 6 pages, it's worth taking a look at the PMRA document:
Make your comment to PMRA: "Notice of Intent on September 13, 2013 outlining action to protect bees from exposure to Neonicotinoid pesticides with a closing date for public comment of December 12, 2013."
So get your comments in.
And note that there are other players, and critiques on this topic and the reports, and a huge number of papers.
Pesticide link to bee deaths pits farmers, beekeepers / LFPress: http://www.lfpress.com/2013/10/30/pesticide-link-to-bee-deaths-pits-farmers-beekeepers
Evaluation of Canadian Bee Moratalities in 2012 related to neonicotinoid pesticides, Interim PMRA report, Sept. 26/13: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/alt_formats/pdf/pubs/pest/_fact-fiche/bee_mortality-mortalite_abeille-eng.pdf
Evaluation of Canadian Bee Mortalities Coinciding with Spring Planting of Corn 2012, May 2013 (this has 113 pages!): http://www.honeycouncil.ca/images2/pdfs/Evaluation-of-Canadian-Bee-Mortalities-English.pdf
Check this out! The Environmental Hansard - http://envirohansard.ca/ is an easy-to-use collection of all House of Commons discussions and debates about Canada’s environment. It is put together by the Ecojustice Clinic at the University of Ottawa. You can browse by topic, read summaries of things, browse debates ... all sorts of useful and interesting things!
*** London Soup Project needs volunteers and supporters ***
Your help is needed to carry London Soup's success into New Year success in 2014.
Meet. Persuade. Discuss. Vote. Eat. In the heart of Canada's London
To plan and deliver a quality LondonSOUP volunteers are needed to help with event logistics/management, facilities, promotion, and sponsorship. Help in the kitchen, or help with promotion ... you choose!
London SOUP will be meeting to discuss its next activity very soon.
Gary Zavitz is a most active London SOUPstir. Please check them out at: Canada: www.londonsoup.ca
Blog: http://londonsoup.wordpress.com Like Us On Facebook: London SOUP Tweet Us On Twitter: @LondonSOUP
International Soup website: http://sundaysoup.org/london-soup
from a London SOUP email: "The London SOUPstirs would like to thank supporters for the successful completion of LondonSOUP 2 at Saffron's Restaurant, FanshaweCollege on October 10. They were buoyed by the constructive, positive feedback and will include it into the planning of our future events."
The project idea selected for a $1,000 award from London SOUP's sustainable partner, the London Community Foundation, was a community garden project, an "outreach project of St Andrew Memorial Anglican Church" community "which offers garden plots to area residence regardless of church affiliation or denomination at little to no cost." The garden, begun in 2011, allows people to be active, grow pesticide free food, befriend other gardeners and enjoy the outdoors. Church volunteers grow fresh vegetables for the Fellowship Centre, the Anglican Church’s daily soup kitchen run out of St Paul’s Cathedral ... over 200 pounds of food this season!
St. Andrew Memorial Anglican Church: 55 Foxbar Road, 434-5281, http://standrewmemorial.org/
Rev. Marty Levesque gave the the successful pitch for the community garden project. Congratulations to Rev. Levesque and everyone involved with this important community project! http://standrewmemorial.org/news/st-andrew-memorial-wins-grant/
Posted Oct 30/13 - On Saturday, October 26 - evening! - about 150 people got together to hear a panel speak on Moving Beyond Sustainability in Agriculture - Why Regenerative Agriculture?
Before proceeding further, think about that.
150 people in a room ... on a Saturday evening ... not for a party or a film ...
... they were there to listen to a talk about healing land and developing food-producing ecosystems that not only sustain themselves but augment themselves as living soil develops..
This was radical, in every meaning of the word.
The three speakers were Darren Dohery of Australia, Tony Weis, from London, Ontario, and Mark Shepard of Wisconsin.
There are references online to the work of Darren Doherty (regenerative agriculture) and Mark Shepard (restoration agriculture), including items on youtube, and various website. Both farmers are certified permaculture design specialists and their work is underlain by those ideas and augments them with useful ideas from many fields. Some references to them, to Tony Weis and his work, and to some starter information are below. (more notes will be added soon)
Both Shepard and Doherty care deeply about the land they care for on their own farms. They also care deeply about their families and the families and communities of the farmers they consult with/for in their regions and, particularly in Doherty's case, internationally. They state clearly that current fossil-fuel based, monocropping is a failure to land and to people. We need to have healthy food systems that sustain the earth and sustain the people whose work supports them. And we need to change at a pace faster than the consequences of climate weirding.
Maureen of CGL was particularly intrigued by both farmers' experiences with gently sculpting their land through shallow cultivation that follows the contours of the land. Based on a longstanding aspect of permaculture, "Keyline design" rechannels water flow, so that instead of draining immediately 90 degrees from land contour ("straight" down to the lowest point), water flow is slowed and directed and is absorbed along its path down. Water is therefore retained in soil more evenly. As plants grow and decompose - over seasons - more living soil develops, increasing biomass that retains water and becomes a place where a greater variety of plants can be grown. There's a nice cycle there.
Tony Weis, political ecologist specializing in global agri-food systems, had the hard task of reminding us that we who look for saner agriculture are up against global problems. His presentation and comments reinforced the devastating environmental consequences of corporate, monocrop agriculture. Fuelled - literally - by fossil fuel, the current first world model of agriculture is headed for collapse. It does not feed everyone. It restricts the number of crops grown, and pollutes water and air with chemical residues. It's killing bees and other pollinators. And it has encouraged a diet that is harmful to its eaters, uses agriculture practices that deplete soil and causes cruelty and stress to animals raised. Weis' latest book, The Ecological Hoofprint: the global burden of industrial livestock, will be coming out in December (check with UWO bookstore).
This event was a fundraiser for the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (www.efao.ca). Thanks to EFAO for putting this together. Thanks to the presenters. Thanks to everyone who was in that audience of radicals. Thanks to the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, which had a hand in bringing the program about.
EFAO will have a video of the presentation, as another fundraiser. CGL will post when it is available.
Darren Doherty, is a 5th generation Australian farmer and Regenerative Agriculture pioneer who has worked in over 40 countries over 20 years as a farm planning consultant and educator, and originated the Regrarian concept (a merging of ‘Regenerative Agrarian’). Darren has designed thousands of projects, focusing on the practical regeneration of agricultural landscapes, soils, communities, and families.
Mark Shepard is the founding President of Restoration Agriculture Institute. He is also the CEO of Forest Agriculture Enterprises and runs New Forest Farm, a 106-acre perennial agricultural forest considered by many to be one of the most ambitious sustainable agriculture projects in the United States. Mark will be selling copies of his book Restoration Agriculture: Real Word Permaculture for Farmers following the meeting. http://restorationag.org/people/
Tony Weis is an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Western Ontario, whose research on global agro-food systems is broadly located in the field of political ecology. He is the author of two books, The Ecological Hoofprint: The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock (Dec. 2013) and The Global Food Economy: The Battle for the Future of Farming (2007), and is currently co-writing a book with Harriet Friedmann, entitled: Precipice and Possibilities: A Political Ecology of Food.
There are many videos, presentations and even books fully online about permaculture and about Doherty's regenerative agriculture and Shepard's restorative agriculture.
Note: The talk was a complement to a 3-day program - Regenerative Agriculture Farm Planning - (Oct. 26-28) led by Doherty, organized by EFAO, and happening at Red Mill Farm near St. Marys and Ever Terra Farms near Sparta. The course outline noted that it was for those interested in " the serious & timely process of regenerating, restoring, rehabilitating, rehabitating, rekindling & rebooting agriculture. Principles from keyline design, holistic management, and broadscale permaculture are all brought into this workshop."
The first two days have participants in a "Regrarian Open Consultancy" which gives a 10 step logical process covering each element of farm planning and how the practices could help them adapt and reboot their individual agriculture enterprise. The last day is a field practicum, so people apply key principles and practices.
added Oct 24/13 ... Thanks to City Farmer for this item by Andreas Wesener - http://thesolablog.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/agropolis-a-transitional-urban-agriculture-project-in-christchurchs-city-centre/
The first allotment gardens were established in 19th century Germany to feed the rapidly growing urban industrial proletariat; ever since, allotment and community gardens have become popular around the world. Urban agriculture – understood as the cultivation, processing and sale of food and horticultural products in urban areas – enjoys an ever growing community. Urban farms contribute to the food security in cities and have become a vital element of contemporary urban design. Whether in Manhattan, central London, Berlin, Chicago or Amsterdam – the progressive post-industrial city dweller enjoys producing local food in a sustainable manner either for recreation, as an additional income, or just to benefit from fresh organic vegetables and fruits.
Agropolis is a new transitional urban farm in Christchurch’s central city situated on a vacant earthquake site not far from the popular C1 café. Founded this year, a number of dedicated volunteers (including the author) have so far invested their precious spare time to create a wonderful new transitional and productive open space for everyone interested in growing and eating locally produced food. The official launch of the project will take place on Friday 25 October, 4 – 6 pm as part of the Festival of Transitional Architecture (FESTA) on Labour Weekend. Between Saturday, 26 October and Monday 28 October, a number of events such as a composting workshop (Saturday 26 October), a discussion on the relationship between food and urban design (Monday 28 October) and a shed building workshop (over the whole weekend) will provide opportunities to get involved with the project.
CGL comment: Nice play on words. The "Acropolis" is the ancient citadel in Athens, Greece, and more generally 'acropolis" meant the upper, fortified part of a city. What better way to fortify one's city than with urban agriculture?
London, Ontario city councillor Judy Bryant is from Christchurch New Zealand and is a champion of good urban design, so this item caught our attention.
For anyone who want really long notes (plus some commentary) from this meeting, email Maureen at email@example.com
There are two discussions going on: one via email ... again, email Maureen to get on list; and the other is on Community Gardens London's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Community-Gardens-London/220527951338866
City Farmer (www.cityfarmer.info) continues to pick up interesting urban agriculture news from around the world. There's an item just posted from Food Tank (a World Watch sector) ... 5 successful urban agriculture programs from around the world. Canada is mentioned because some Canadian locales are using the Sharing Backyards technology to develop space/gardener programs. With this, "those with unused property can post their approximate location, and those looking for space to grow food locally can search locations nearby at no cost."
Duration: October 19 to Saturday November 23, 2013 - anytime
Place: Museum of Ontario Archaeology, 1600 Attawandaron Road
Over the past 3 years volunteers have loaded in over 500 bags of leaves to the Three Sisters Gardens, at the Ontario Museum of Archaeology! As Don McLeod, Museum Board member and Transition Londoner writes, "We have one of the "happiest homes" for sub-terrestrial organisms in London. A proud accomplishment we like to share!"
The volunteers are now collecting bags of leaves to be used on our museum gardens for mulch. Please drop your bags of clean leaves at the east end of the parking lot near the palisade fence line. (Please no garden waste, branches or garbage.)
Don McLeod, TLO Three Sisters Project, Museum of Ontario Archaeology, or phone Don (519) 667-4016.
Transition London Ontario site: www.transitionlondon.ning.com
Directions: Wonderland Road North to stop lights 1 block south of Fanshawe at Aldersbrook Rd. Turn east, then south on Attawandaron Rd to museum
posted Mon. Oct. 21/13 Note: I'll try to redo this entry so this is an openable document, instead of this long.
These notes were taken by Anne Becker, Pathways consultant, who has been hired by LCRC/City to do the strategic plan. These notes are taken from those she wrote on flip chart paper at the Oct 16/13 meeting, which had about 2 dozen people. Becker has not always written people's exact words, and it looks like things have been put in categories, which was not the way they were taken down.
[what will being in] Community Gardens Produce for the City of London and Stakeholders?
- Grow vegetables
- Help to provide food to people in need or who want locally grown food
- Brings families together (community spirit, get to know one another, feeling of neighborhood)
- Food security
- Back to the land-growing our own food
- Teaching people how to start a garden
- Educating people – how to garden; benefits of gardening; why we should garden
- Advertising the benefits of community gardening more
- Gardening is important for the future
- Organic Gardens (promote healthy eating, nutrition, link to reducing obesity)
- Way of Life that is important to the future (skills, enough food, sustainability)
- Sustainability of gardens (resilience, help us get through difficult times)
- Passion – pass on our passion and skills to new gardeners
- Skills linked to sustainability
- We need places where we can grow flowers. Some people like seniors just want to garden flowers. Therefore, should not be designed just exclusively for food.
- Raised beds on boxes are important (i.e. for seniors)
- Some people want to just ‘get my hands in the mud and garden.’
- Gardens are more than just edibles
- Showcase our gardening in an urban environment (sense of achievement, great story telling)
- Pollinator friendly plants
- Local food growing – varieties of food
- Diversity of food growing in one space
- Big transition movement – part of bigger picture
- Pizza Garden for children
- Educational for children
- A lot of diversity is needed in our community gardens
- We need more gardens (core area, spread across the city, so more people can access, accessibility, on bus routes, beside libraries)
- Engage education (pocket-size farms, missing out of the equation, sharing our city)
- We should double our community gardens (encouraging population to get involved, connecting with other land owners)
- How do we create synergies with school?
- Self-sustaining plot of land producing good, organic food
- Need more committed gardeners (6 plots in our community garden were neglected out of 16, seemed to “opt” out after awhile)
- We all have to be committed to keeping them up
- Opportunity - roof top greenhouses – grow throughout year
- Raised beds – cold frames (start seeding)
- Link this planning process to Rethink London
- Use the expertise of our Community Gardeners to create better outcomes
- Survey re: abandoning a plot (why? Reach out to these folks and find out what happened? Why did they abandon their plots?)
- We need to mitigate theft in our gardens (signage by city)
- Incorporate beehives, plant perennials, fruit and nut trees (be open to different things)
- Gardens should be arms length from bureaucracy (not go through processes)
- To expand our city community gardens, neighbourhoods and groups would be leveraging “adopt a park” (work with city and do innovative things to create spaces i.e. Gardens)
- Community development is very important to all of this
- Worry that community gardens budget could get canned if council saw it
- Commitment and participation (in how the individuals gardens happens vs. a structured system)
- Fundraising for gardens
- Give them the opportunity (not for lack of ability)
- If there is a path, then people will follow it, but now see barriers, showing all the alternative, i.e. Edmonton gardeners get $5K and a list of what is required for them to do. After 5 years, they are on their own
- Vision - 42 gardens, 42 neighborhoods
- The city saves money by y not having to cut grass where gardens are
- Need diverse menus of services/type of gardens/plots
- Forum for creative initiatives
Processes for Community Gardens
- Groups of Gardens (City Gardens, Life Spin, Other Groups)
- Set of standards that gardens must follow
- Follow through
- Commitment of a group to bring a community garden to life – shared accountability
- Group has to work together – collective with shared responsibility
- Group building guidelines for how they work together
- Tapping into expertise of all of the gardeners
- Laying out the path – tap into over resources, innovation (private gardens, city gardens, funded gardens)
- How do we deal with issues, problems, conflict, funding when C of London is not overseeing it?
- Do we need a Governance structure to support community garden group?
- More things that can come off tax base, the better (our staff don’t need to do some things, community involvement is better)
- Workshops across city (raise awareness, open minds, application, how do I set up a gardens, volunteers, people resource, showing and help others)
- Each garden is set up like a baseball team and the coach and captains of the baseball team could run each garden. Individualized governance structure for each garden.
- Each person within the garden has a skill/roll to offer
- Need 75 plots in a garden to have a critical mass to have true engagement (12 people who want to do things, adaptable and self-sustaining system)
- Teaching and mentoring new gardeners is critical
- Buddy system for new gardeners
- Help one another – train all of us to be more successful
- Remove the layer of bureaucracy so we can talk and communicate when we need to
- Place for all types of models (meet different needs, I will help out, respect)
- We need to have Community Garden Meetings where everyone meets together and plans, problem solves, shares information and teaches
- Complaint – mailbox – resolve complaint – comes up with solution – draws in someone else, etc.
- Communication (why can’t a gardener put up a note at the garden even without a notice board?)
- White Oaks Private garden has 4 meetings during the season; we are already planning for next year; there is a chairperson and secretary. However, we still have neglected gardens. To overcome this issue, we should allocate the gardens at end of season so people will want to clean up and prepare for the following year.
- Community gardens should be self managed instead of managed by a bureaucracy.
- Each community garden committee could manage allocation of plots; ensuring plots are worked instead of abandoned, and manage fee collections and the waiting list.
- We could run the governance structure like a ‘Condo Board’ model whereby every garden would have a rep that would be part of the City-wide steering committee and would attend meetings. They would then report back to their gardeners.
- Maybe the head of the garden could be called a Garden Captain.
- Gardens could be giving back by showcasing what we do and produce; share some of our produce with the larger community as part of our social responsibility.
- There are things we can plant on bad soil to make it cleaner, such as sunflowers
Communication, Website and Social Media
- Critical for info sharing and communicating – so many opportunities
- Our current website is not about 2-way communication; it is static posting of information
- Current site does not communicate enough of the changes that are going on; not always sure how to navigate the site to find what we need
- Facebook or social media portals would be a great way for all gardeners to communicate, problem solve, share ideas and information and set up meetings or gatherings.
- We need a living, working portal that we could share (user groups, pictures, idea sharing, forum, go-to-meeting, virtual meeting) and we have expertise in the room to build that portal.
- Message boards at the garden sites are also important. Also need signage to explain what community gardens are and to reduce stealing.
Growth of LondonCommunityGardens
- What is the growth plan for London’s community gardens?
- We need a strategy for growth.
- Take advantage of new garden ops (zoning of public land)
- Growth into other neighborhoods
- We need maps with land as growing thing – possible growing spaces
- Menus of services/type of gardens/plots
- Forum for creative initiatives
- We should be encouraging new people to join gardens and to get plots.
- How do we share the information about how to start a garden with Londoners – it is hard to find this information currently.
- Roles and Responsibilities of city staff – we want to hear your voice
- How do we deter thieve (plant more than we needs, help people – they need)
- Maybe we should have a gardening 101 session for staff
- Fruit trees – what are the opportunities
Posted October 20/13 .............. Blogger Why's Woman, over at Saving the World in My Spare Time is a strong supporter of the CGL website. She was recently browsing the excellent cookbook,Simply in Season: recipes that celebrate fresh, local foods in the spirit of More with Less (an earlier cookbook, also by the Mennonite Central Committee) and was reminded that it is a radical book. Interspersed with its great recipes is a food, agriculture and food sovereignty course, written as short anecdotes, recollections and factual comments .
A particularly timely quotation used in Why's Woman's post is from Nettie Wiebe, Via Campesina representative 2005, Delisle, Saskatchewan:
I have worked with rural leaders from many parts of the world. When we compare experiences, it is clear that agriculture everywhere is being reordered through trade agreements and financial instruments. ... Genuine food security requires food sovereignty. The Via Campesina is leading the global struggle for food sovereignty because we recognize that food security can only be achieved if food production is broadly based, environmentally sustainable, and locally controlled.
And contributor Jennifer Shrock advises us to "celebrate hope" by purchasing what we can from those farmers who love the land and care for it.
Check the blog post for October 19/13 for more good quotations. www.savingtheworldinmysparetime.blogspot.ca
Unfortunately, our excellent library does not have Simply in Season or the earlier cookbooks published by the Mennonite Central Committee. However, Mandala books probably carries the recipe books or could order for you (190 Central Ave, London / 519-432-9488 / www.mandalabookshop.com )
FYI: Mennonite Central Committee Canada http://mcccanada.ca/ is an active peace and justice organization which is part of the worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches. In London, Ontario, you might have visited the Ten Thousand Villages store on Richmond Street. TTV is the retail arm of MCC, which sells crafts and art from fair trade projects. TTV has left London, part of a restructuring to downsize in our difficult economy.
Nettie Wiebe is an organic farmer and professor of ethics at St. Andrew's College, University of Saskatchewan ... a long-time activist!
posted October 18 2013
SEEDMAP is interactive, multimedia tool for biodiversity and food issues
"We're proud to release this Seed Map at a time when safeguarding our seed diversity and food supply is more urgent than ever. We need to act now to build seed diversity and to protect the genetic resources of our food production landscapes. Biodiversity ensures we have options to handle climate pressures and extremes. It's nature's brilliant insurance policy against disaster."
Susan Walsh, director, USC Canada
On October 16/13, World Food Day 2013, USC Canada and ETC Group launched Seedmap.org, "a comprehensive online tool to explore where our food comes from, the challenges facing agriculture today, and strategies to overcome them."
"Seedmap.org is a unique, user-friendly, interactive multimedia tool ideal for students, teachers, researchers, and policy makers. It highlights the origins of our food crops, the farmers who continue to nurture them, the threats to our food supply, and achievable solutions. Using Google Map technology, the virtual map chronicles hundreds of case studies that bring critical food issues to life. It also offers an extensive online reference on seeds, biodiversity, corporate concentration in the seed and food sector and agricultural issues."
posted October 17/13
The Boston Tree Party has just released an online and free-to-print resource for people interested in fruit tree planting projects in their communities. Congratulations to all the people who worked on this project and Thank You for making it available to everyone!
"The Handbook contains a wealth of information about caring for apple trees; ideas and suggestions for community events, discussions, and activities; and lots of educational articles. There are also many interesting tidbits of information sprinkled throughout!
This is an essential tool for all Delegations, but it’s also a very useful resource for anyone planting heirloom apple trees at home, or for groups working with fruit trees in a community setting. Please feel free to share it widely."
The 87 page handbook is found at http://www.bostontreeparty.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/BTP_Handbook.pdf and is optimized for online viewing by having links to useful videos and resources. It is printable, for free!
The Boston Tree Party is "an urban agriculture project, a performative re-imagining of American political expression, and a performing arts project. At its core (no doubt pun intended!) the Boston Tree Party is a diverse coalition of organizations, institutions, and and communities of the Greater Boston (MA) area coming together in support of civic fruit".
In short, people get together and come up with projects to plant fruit trees, give away fruit trees, care for fruit trees, harvest the fruit and store or prepare it ... and teach other people how to do that ... and encourage all sorts of other projects. They also have speakers on heritage fruit topics ... like the upcoming (Oct. 23) talk by John Bunker on "The Roxbury Russet: America's oldest apple and a history of the orchards of Massachusetts" as part of the Roxbury History Speaker Series (for more info: www.discoverroxbury.org).
The Boston Tree Party
c/o Hybrid Vigor Projects, Inc.
P.O. Box #302452
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
added to site: Sat. Oct. 12/13
Ian Gillespie's article in the London Free Press, Expert Advises People to Grow Milkweed begins with Bruce Parker's work tagging Monarchs and the small number he's found this season.
It continues with comment from Chip Taylor, Monarch Watch' founding director and University of Kansas insect ecologist, who "blames the widespread planting of genetically modified corn in the American Midwest that has led to increased use of herbicides that kill a wide variety of weeds and so-called noxious plants — including milkweed."
“(Herbicides) have eradicated up to 80% of the milkweed in the United States in the last 10 years,” says Parker, who speaks regularly about monarchs at schools and clubs. “It’s an indicator of what we’re doing to our environment.”
Further, Parker says we are at a tipping point "in regards to both Monarch populations and in our ability to do anything about the declines" and Gillespie quotes his simple starting point for change.
“What I tell people is ‘grow milkweed,’ ” Parker says. “If you plant milkweed, it’s not going to overtake your garden — it’s going to feed and attract monarch butterflies.”
Ian Gillespie is the Free Press city columnist. firstname.lastname@example.org
Further from CGL webkeeper. It's a fair bet that anyone who reads this site knows the environmental crises causing crashes in both honeybee and Monarch butterfly populations. We also know that personal action around our homes needs to combine with political action - "political" in the "personal is" sense and/or in the municipal, provincial, federal or international spheres we choose.
It is noteworthy that the Agriculture and Food Department of the Ontario government continues to list milkweed on its noxious weeds list: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/noxious_weeds.htm
London Ontario (Bylaws department) used to follow Ontario's noxious weed list, therefore milkweed was been listed negatively in London. London's current property standards bylaw, which does not contain a specific list of plants not to grow, is found as a pdf at: http://www.london.ca/city-hall/by-laws/Documents/propertystandards.pdf
It might be taken as a positive that such a list is not specified, however, ...
The City website no longer seems to have certain information it used to contain about desirable and undesirable plants. CGL webkeeper Maureen will inquire about this.
Roadside milkweed ... if you are digging it up, dig it up in clumps because it forms root masses as means of propagating. It doesn't grow in the single stalks we notice. Or take seeds, of course!
Milkweed for home gardens usually comes in the forms of "Butterfly weed" which nurseries are re-naming something without the word "weed" in it. Also, there is swamp milkweed (for areas where soil stays damp and well mulched) and a native Canadian milkweed.
Maureen will check on sources. Seed Sources page of this CGL site does have a native plants nurseries list.
“So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.”
Glen Pearson's column begins with Franz Kafka's comment and then writes how his own family's first vegetable garden showed them the pleasures of growing their own food and how it connects them to others in their community and to issues of food security and insecurity.
His column is always worth reading and, to use his phrase, "makes for a profound Thanksgiving season."
Glen Pearson is co-director of the London Food Bank (http://www.londonfoodbank.ca), with his wife Jane Roy. Most Saturdays, the LFPress publishes an opinion/commentary by Glen Pearson which is always worth reading. He also writes at his own website, The Parallel Parliament (hppt://www.glenpearson.ca), and has published books on civic engagement, futures and international issues. He is a retired fire fighter and was a member of parliament (Liberal) for London, Ont. He can be reached at email@example.com
The email and poster received by CGL said:
You Are Invited To Join The Conversation!
The City of London is charting the strategic course for London’s Community Gardens Program for the next five years. As we look to shaping the future of our Community Gardens program, your ideas and voice are critical contributions to the planning process. Please plan to join us at one of the strategic planning focus groups listed below.
During the two-‐hour session, we will ask you about your needs, ideas, goals and vision for London’s Community Gardens Program.
Focus Group Sessions
Wednesday, October 16th, 2013, 6:30 – 8:30pm
Tuesday, October 29th, 2013, 6:30 – 8:30pm
Tuesday, November 19th, 2013, 6:30 – 8:30pm
All focus groups will be held at the Goodwill Industries, 3rd floor meeting room, located at 255 Horton
Street (near Wellington). Parking is off of Horton Street. To help us prepare for each focus group, please RSVP if you will be attending one of the focus groups to
We look forward to your involvement and to seeing you in October. If you have any questions, please email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 519-661-5336.
Scott Stafford Division Manager
Parks and Community Sports
City of London
Many more items below ... but there's a white gap ... either use title list at right or page down ... sorry for the inconvenience