News & interesting stuff

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On this page:

Really BIG cities exploring urban agriculture
London's TreeMe Program accepting applications
Corporation, community, compromise
Text change on Urban Agriculture Strategy

NFU Op Ed Press release about bread price fixing and agriculture
Urban Agriculture Strategy passed at Council November 14, 2017
Puerto Rico's agriculture devastated by Hurricane Maria, posted Sept 25 2017

Butterflyways - 150 communities and counting!

London Urban agriculture Strategy Draft report online - first public meeting to discuss is Thursday, May 11, 6:30 at St. Peter's Cathedral auditorium

Artemesia Forest Garden Nursery - orders taken until April 23 for April 29 pick-up
The Fixers: Grist's 50 Innovators for 2017
London Urban Agriculture Strategy - another chance to comment, by March 15
Urban Roots London - urban farm start-up
Arva Mill - powers back up ... go get your baking supplies!
Urban Agriculture from All People
Community Visioning ... notes from Feb 4/17 meeting
Groups met up on urban agriculture topics, January 21, 2017
Just Food Conference in New York
Friends of Urban Agriculture London - new group and website launch

SPARKS! Grants are back. Application deadline February 28
UK - Supermarkets' sugar waste to help feed bees
Carolinian Canada can help you plant climate friendly, native plant garden
New Bill Nye show coming to Netflix to "Save the World"
Evergreen Team to facilitate London's Urban Agriculture Strategy
London community gardens program strategic plan one year revew to CAPS Dec 12 2016
Urban Agriculture conference great success
Food Policy presentation notes from London's Food Future conference of Nov 19/16
notes from Lauren Baker's keynote presentation at Nov. 19/16 London's Food Future
San Francisco bans fossil fuel extraction on its land
Resetting the Table - Food Secure Canada conference October 2016
5 Loaves Farm - a blog to follow!
ReForest London Award Winners
Notes from Urban Agriculture Strategy meeteing held Sept 29, 2016
Urban Agriculture Act introduced into U.S. Congress
What is a "food swamp"?
Report: From Uniformity to Diversity: paradigm shift to agroecology
Bayer to Take Over Monsanto
Council Accepts Urban Agriculture Strategy Draft Terms of Reference
Victoria BC citizens weighing in on urban agriculture plan
Harvesting Freedom Campaign in London September 9/16
Detroit's Urban Agriculture - Farming For Their Lives -3 parts
Urban Agriculture "report" coming to Planning and Environment committee September 6/16
30 Ways Urban Agriculture Relates to Climate Change Easing
Elaine Stannard - founder of Seattle Tilth - remembrance from 2011
London for All Poverty Report and CGL comment on Food Policy Council mention
Some gardening teachers
Artemesia Forest Nursery open for season
A Greenhouse Home in Rotterdam
Pollinator Health - OBA Comment on Ontario plan and where to comment
ReForest London site has info about invasive species of trees
Cathleen Kneen passed away Feb 21, 2016
Thanks for Seed Saving Workshop!
Roughwood Heritage Seed Collection seeking financial help

Ontario Pollinator Health Action Plan (Draft) ... to read and comment
17 Tips for Activists from Incredible Edible Todmorden
Report - Fixing Food: Fresh Solutions from Five U.S. Cities
PMRA & EPA preliminary reports on neonicotinoid imidacloprid

COP21 - Lifeline from Paris
DuPont & Dow Chemical to merge
Documentary: Kisulu - the Climate Diaries
2016 SPARKS! applications being accepted to Feb 12 2016

City Councillor comments against climate change' importance
Growing Food in Public Places Brings People Together
Our Diet Meets Climate Change - a TVO Agenda broadcast, Oct. 26/15
City Symposium - Vote for next topic
London Federal candidates' answers to questions on environment topics
Urban Gardens Around the World
book - Landscapes of Change
Council instructs London civic administration to look at urban agriculture
Strategic Plan for London's community gardens program passed at Council Sept. 1/15
Mexico's Indigenous Farmers use old methods so healthy land remains
Strategic Plan going to council - with urban agriculture addition - comment!
Urban Agriculture Hamilton Ontario
Strategic Plan for London's community gardens being taken to committee Tues. August 25
Food business innovation centre and a new grocery store!
Green roofs in London still few
EAT THINK VOTE for food security
Glen Cairn Community Resource Centre Bioswale Project

Guide to Selling Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Canadian Organic Growers is 40! ... and counting!
Learning Garden at Graham Family Ecopark
The value of science and environmental health
*****Home Depot's new neonicotinoid plant labels
In Case you Missed It Monday - USC-Canada food security news
"The Messenger" - songbird decline is environmental warning

Living soil the solution to climate change, V. Shiva
Visionary changes school food in Detroit
Sprouts Children's Gardens Program
London Environmental Network
Red Celery in the Sunshine
Documentary - the Rise of Urban Agriculture in London Ontario
Los Angeles changes rules - gardens on city lands allowed
Urban Gardening Win in Drummondville - Youtube video

Vancouver's City Gardens Branch out with Innovation
Words from Patrick Whitefield
Hamilton Road Food Security Coalition
School Community Tree Challenge

US launches Monarch butterfly plan
Man in the Maze - food security documentary
SPARKS Grants are back for 2015!

Comment date is January 25 for draft of Ontario Pollinator Health Strategy
Carolinian Canada call for awards nominations

2015 is UN International Year of Soils

US scientists urge neonics be ditched
Public Consultation session on Ontario's Pollinator Health Plan
"Go further" say environment groups to Ontario Pollinator Health Report
Ontario moves on Neonics - Ontario Beekeepers Support
Great turnout to Pollinator Forum
Recommendations to make London Pollinator Sanctuary
Pollinator Pathway Seattle - must see video!
New-Fashioned Food System by Joel Salatin
Storetop Greenhouse in Skeena British Columbia

Draft Strategic Plan for London's community gardens
some preliminary notes on Draft, from CGL webkeeper

Allotment gardens great for bees - UK bee count
Food Security in Canada - Globe and Mail series

2015 food gardens by 2015

CBC Quirks and Quarks on birds, bees and pesticides
St Andrews Memorial Anglican garden provides
Bumblebees on lavender - children find that urban oases help bumblebees
Small farms key to feeding world and climate change slowdown
City staff asked to look at Pollinator Sanctuary recommendations
Pollination Gardens Project - Gardens4Bees
CP Rail destroys people's gardens in Vancouver
Can urban farming cool the city?
City Farmer website - Groucho Marx to community garden threat
Permaculture farm for sale!
More on neonics
Home Depot announces it will label plants with neonicotinoids
Gardeners Beware! 2014 - neonicotinoids in bee-friendly plants we buy -Friends of the Earth report - must read!
video to accompany Gardeners Beware 2014Video: Hidden Bee Killers - neonicotinoids on nursery plants
Task Force on Systemic Pesticides - stop neonicotinoid use
Update on strategic plan for London's community gardens
Prince Edward County Council actions concerning neonicotinoids
10 Trees That Can Save the World
GMO + roundup = starved Monarch butterfly larvae
Ontario Political parties reply about bee health
Online seed explorer from Seeds of Diversity

New study: honeybees exposed to neonicotinoids abandon hives and die
Symphony of the Soil - great film!
Community Garden at St Andrew Memorial

ALERT! - Impatiens Downy Mildew
National Garden Day private members bill
Urban Agriculture Journal from RUAF
No Dig vegetable garden - video to just enjoy!

Senate Hearings
IPCC Report - climate change
Comment on focus group 3 of current community gardens strategic plan
Focus group 3 of Lcgp strategic plan - could gardens be gardener-led?
Focus group 3 of Lcgp strategic plan - varied topics mentioned

National Farmers Union comment and Ontario Bee Health Working Group report

Organic attitude develops with Canadian Organic Grower
More strategic planning for London's community gardens program

MIlkweed being removed from Ontario Noxious Weed list
Action for Monarchs April 14?
Million Seed Challenge by Old East Village Hub
Earth Day Parade - call for ideas and volunteers to organize
Forum - Food Production, Labour and the Community - Saturday, March 22
FNL project to get delivery charges waived on fruit or nut trees you buy
Pollinator Sanctuary idea presented to Advisory Committee
for International Women's Day - 25 women working for food security
Reminder of Seeds of Diversity Canada - at this seed swap time of year
Garden blitz for edible gardens
Satire: why "natural" is the best advertising word ever
Must see interview on Organic Farming
Volunteers needed for pollinator sanctuary project
Senate committee hearings into bee health
What do we think of bees?
Closing Federal Libraries
Weather records come to Western Archive
Scotts community garden grant and note
Report - Neonicotinoid effects on birds
new local newspaper and climate change
IPCC as haiku and watercolour
101 + 101 Food Security and Advocacy organizations
Neonicotinoid contamination of Canada's prairie wetlands
Honeybees, neonicotinoids and agriculture advisory committee
Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth
2014 International Year of Family Farming

Community Gardens in South Wales - great documentary!
Pam Warhurst interviewed on austerity, food, and transition - great!!
Petition to change chicken quotas for small-scale, organic farms
Poverty Research Centre to be set up
Survey being done as part of London's community gardens program strategic plan
Notes from Focus Group #2 of London community gardens strategic plan process

SPARKS Grants 2014 application is open until January 31 2014

CropLife appoints federal conservative minister CEO
Ontario Local Food Act
Honeybees - interim PMRA report - chance to comment

Environmental Hansard
London SOUP volunteers call
St Andrew Memorial's community garden wins London Soup
Regenerative - Restorative - Agriculture

The Agropolis in Christchurch New Zealand
Participate in discussion about focus groups
Sharing Backyards tracking technology
Bring your leaves for Three Sisters Garden
Focus group #1 notes for London's community gardens strategic plan
Celebrate Hope with Simply in Season Cookbook

Seedmap multimedia tool from USC Canada

Boston Tree Party Handbook - plant fruit trees!

Plant milkweed - saving Monarchs
Glen Pearson column - backyard garden connects us

Focus groups to be held for London's community gardens program
Sierra Club Save the Bees Campaign

Guerilla Gardening - TED Talk by Ron Finley of LA
Alternatives Journal Food and Drink issue
15 Seed Saving projects worldwide
Seed Projects worldwide
Ogilvie Farmers Market opens in Hyde Park area
Waterloo Community Gardens bring many benefits to gardeners!
SPARKS Grant Recipients 2013
Londoners marched against Monsanto
Vandana Shiva on March Against Monsanto
ReThink London reports are coming out
Feeding Nine Billion
Stephen Ritz TED talk about teaching children about urban agriculture
Guidelines for London's community gardens program
Greek Bees - not yet affected by neonicotinoid pesticides ... but?
Vandana Shiva interview about GM seeds
Celebrating Food - ideas from Food Tank
GM Alfalfa - blog post, and CBAN report
Rodale Farming Systems Trials - 30 year report
Urban Agriculture documentary is first LondonSOUP winner
Food Forest Projects receive grants!!
Community Food Centres Canada
Notes from Olivier de Schutter webcast
Applied sustainability course, free online, starts May 6/13
World Day to Combat Desertification
stop GM alfalfa April 9 rally
Incredible Edible Todmorden documentary
Comment on London's community gardens draft policies

No "stand-alones" in Nature
Gardening books
Blog by maker of Farm for the Future
London Food Charter Mission points
Notes from March 2 seed saving presentation
Inner Transtion group of Transition Middlesex
New School of Colour
Fixing the Future - interview with David Korten
Celebrating women involved in agriculture
London Heritage Grants
Circle of Seeds for simple seed saving
Hypnotized by Peace - great video!
One Billion Green Jobs
Setting up a Seed Bank / Seed Savers Network in London
Frank Morton on Preserving Heirloom Vegetable Seeds

Heirloom Seed Sanctuary
Seed Bank Library in Basalt Colorado
Seed Lending Library in Richmond California

Glen Pearson knows if you eat you're in

Seed bank and saving resources
One seed at a time
The Seed Underground - new book out
4 P's of food and seed saving from NFLD & Labrador
Gardens Where People Grow
Focus group called for Feb 13 on London's community gardens program rules
Food Not Lawns London Canada
EFAO workshops prior to Guelph Organic Conference
New Middlesex Eat Local map coming this spring
Alternatives Journal is expanding
Garden Gates Open 2013 now looking for gardens
Walmart-Evergreen Grant - deadline March 31/13
Food garden space in Chicago
Canadian Organic Growers
Awesome Foundation
Londoners who've been helping their City
Funding possibility for seed event - Bauta/USC
Call for Papers for Environmental Studies Association of Canada annual conference
Presentations from OHCC annual meeting

Edible Education - Free online access to lectures
STOP GM ALFALFA - animation from CBAN
Special Rapporteur on Food event March 4 2013
Food Secure Canada Assembly videos
Food Forum notes - Nov 16 afternoon discussion
Food Forum notes - Don MIlls of Local Food Plus
Food Forum - Value Chain business model
Ten Thousand Villages Living Gifts
SPARKS neighbourhood project grants
Teachers! School garden how-to videos!
Salt Spring Seeds 25 years
Old East London better food with Western Fair Market
Sustainable Food Systems report at Local Food Forum
Debbie Field of Food Share Toronto at Local Food Forum
Bauta Seed Security Initiative
Feeding Nine Billion
Alternatives Journal has new website
OMAFRA Newsletter
We don't need industrial agriculture to feed the world
October 30 In search of alternatives ot synthetic pesticides
Pesticides harm bees and other pollinators
Reflections & Possibilities
Edible City: Grow the Revolution
Revolutionary Plots
Sustainable Food Systems report from London Training Centre
Agroecology better
Hungry for Climate Leadership
Urban Agriculture Summit means much for London
New TREA website!

King's College Students plant community garden
Precipitation chart to end of August 2012
Aug 27 Bacillus subtilis - just an interesting study
ReForest London's got stuff happening
Grow Toronto
Incredible Edible Todmorden
Urban Leaves of India
Better London for a better London
Saskatoon Food Bank's Food Patch garden
August 15-18 Urban Agriculture Conference Toronto
Community garden conversations are coming in Fall
Johnny's Seeds Garden videos on-line
Gleaning Some Good for London Food Bank
Book suggestions
Letter sent to gardens in City program
Precipitation update to June 14, 2012
Positives on garden rules
GRANT available from CN EcoConnections
Community gardeners meeting
Thames gardeners take a stand
Tree Survey
Clarification needed for London's community gardens program
Clothianidin found in local honeybees
Garden rule problems?
We need rain!
gLean on Me!
Black Out - Speak Out for the Environment
Local CSA
Occupy Movement and Growing Food
Emerald Ash Borer and cutting in London
Emerald Ash Borer and TreeAzin natural pesticide
Attracting Bees as Pollinators
London Co-op Store

Call for video for Bike Festival!

Growing Chefs Ontario Growing!

Food Forward Series

Hillside Church' community garden - Western Journalism article
Composting stories wanted
LCRC has new home
Farm Apprenticeships
Garden Art at Crouch
London Food Charter
Community Gardening Toolkit
LCRC Coordinating Agency for City community gardens
Composting restrictions didn't go through!
Possible Composting restrictions!
Port Townsend Community Gardens
Hillside Church starts Community Garden
Edible Trees Grant
Thank you City Farmer!
Grace Lee Boggs
Jerusalem Community Garden

New books noted
Facebook Page for Community Gardens London
Books for Every Child
TREA is 25!
Communities in Bloom award for London
Conference notes of Oct. 16
Conference notes of Oct 16 provided by Chantelle
Conference Notes from Education Discussion Group
USC's 2011 report - focus on Seeds of Survival

Crop sharing community

Sunnivue Farm

Summary of London's Community Gardens Program Review
Pre conference reading ideas
Garden City Harvest in Missoula, Montana
COG Blog
Video - Growing Food Locally
Food Down the Road
Veggie City - Northeast
EcoVox TV launch June 8
Westminster Park Farmers Market
Amazing Tree Quest
Old East Common Green Space
Strengthening Neighbourhoods Funding Opportunity
Vacant Lot Gardening Assn

Urban Farming Steps to Future
London's Community Gardens Program Review
City of London Food Charter

Seeds of Survival

Format note

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. 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.





Really BIG cities are exploring how much space they have for urban agriculture

               posted April 13

Paris, France

In 2014, the newly elected mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, declared her intention to make Paris a greener city.  Parisculteurs, the Paris government’s plan for this, was launched in 2016.  According to an April 3/18 article by Katy Wong on CNN, the Parisculteurs project “aims to cover the city's rooftops and walls with 100 hectares (247 acres)of vegetation by 2020. One third of the green space, according to its plan, should be dedicated to urban farming. So far, 74 companies and public institutions have signed a charter to partner with the city in developing urban agriculture.”
Full CNN article here, has a photo gallery of photos and links to related items:  https://www.cnn.com/style/article/urban-farms-in-paris/
Parisculteurs est tout en français, mais si vous lisez cette langue, ici: http://www.parisculteurs.paris/

London, England

"47% of London is green space:  is it time for our capital to become a national park?"
In 2014, this interesting idea was brought forward:  with 8,000,000 million trees in the city of London, England –as many trees as people - should it be declared the U.K.’s largest national park?
full article here

The idea, from geography teacher Daniel Raven-Ellison, is reinforced by a survey done in 2011, the UK National Ecosystem Assessment.  As the article states: “The daily view most of us have, of buildings and ways to get between them, dramatically skews our perceptions of geography. In 2011, the UK National Ecosystem Assessment, the first comprehensive study of its kind, revealed that just 6.8 per cent of the UK’s land area is urban, including roads and rural development. But, as the 47 per cent figure shows in London, not all that land is built on. In England, the proportion of land that has been covered by concrete, asphalt or anything that can be classified as “built” is, wait for it... 2.27 per cent."

What potential for recreation and biodiversity regeneration might there be in this huge city?  What other green space is there?  And what food production could be there?  Possibilities!

TreeMe community program taking applications

             deadline is Monday, May 7, 2018, 4:00 p.m.     .... text below posted April 13 from City website

TreeMe is a community grant program that provides London not-for-profit organizations and resident groups with the funds to plant trees on private property in their neighbourhoods.

The 2018 TreeMe Matching Fund is now accepting applications. This year, $200,000 is available to support tree planting on private property. Examples of private property can include not for profit organizations, places of worship, townhouse/apartment complexes, and/or a cluster of homes on a neighbourhood street. There are two categories for the TreeMe grant:

Not-for-Profit Organizations - Not-for-Profit organizations may apply for a maximum of $50,000 to support the planting of trees on private property.
Resident Groups - A group of at least five residents may apply for up to $3,000 to support the cost of planting trees in their neighbourhood.

HOW TO APPLY:  If this is your first time applying for City of London grants, click here to create a profile for the online portal.

If you have applied for City grants in the past, and already have an online profile, click here to access the login page.

To find out more about the program and last year’s projects:  https://www.london.ca/city-hall/funding-grants/community-funding/Pages/treeME.aspx

What are the compromises?

CGL webkeeper Maureen is unable to get past her uneasy feelings about mega-corporations. This is her comment:

In business schools there are case studies.  In theological colleges and philosophy departments there are situations presented which require discussion of ethical or moral ideas.  In the reality of daily life and economic survival ... what are the compromises made by organizations trying to do good – trying to help people - in their communities?

CGL’s favorite City Farmer site linked to a press release by Unilever (here) titled “Unilever Grows U.S. Urban Farming Commitment with New Mission-Based Brand”.  Unilever is rolling out a new “organic, plant-based food brand” called “Growing Roots” ... which is some sort of packaged snack and will sell for $3.99 (U.S.) per 4 ounce package.  (in comparison, 6 pounds of no name (ugly) apples in London cost about $5.00)

The “Growing Roots” brand will donate half its profits to “support Unilever's urban farming partnerships”.  Keep in mind that in the grocery business, the profit is quite small in comparison to a retail price.  And half the profits from a specialty item will be a droplet in the bucket of the multi-multi-billion dollar company Unilever (here)

The press release mentions the corporation’s public-private partnership to create urban farms in New York ... important on-the-soil and in-the-community projects no doubt.  Unilever volunteers participate in the projects.  And the projects appreciate the corporate help. The press release goes on to mention Unilever’s commitment to sustainability projects.


London’s Urban Agriculture Strategy – removal of mention of chickens and all livestock

On December 6, 2017, the following letter was sent by CGL webkeeper Maureen to City staff who were on the team that led consultations and writing leading to London’s Urban Agriculture Strategy, and who will continue involvement as London’s Urban Agriculture Steering Committee forms (first meeting in March 2018).  There was no reply to this note; I hadn’t expected one, so didn’t mind.

London’s Urban Agriculture Strategy – removal of mention of chickens and all livestock

“The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.”

Below my signature is a text comparison of two versions of London’s Urban Agriculture Strategy, page 13 – the version to PEC and Council in November 2017, in which “urban livestock” is addressed, and the amended (final?) version, with its reference only to “pollinators” and removing  reference to urban livestock (e.g. chickens).

It’s a tidy alteration of text and I’ll give credit to the writer.


There was no reason to remove this statement about the London Plan:  “The London Plan includes policy that would prohibit the ‘keeping of livestock and pursuing animal husbandry activities’ within the urban portion of the City.”

I listened via YouTube to discussion at both PEC and Council about the UAS.
- I appreciate John Fleming’s repetition to Council that the chicken pilot project was just a “small sliver” of the strategy, and that overall it is of definite importance .
- I was disappointed and not surprised that the only point addressed at any length by councillors at both meetings had to do with chickens.  
- I remain disgusted with councillors who said that because of one section they would not support the entire document ... and gave no suggestion for how to amend the section.  

Removing mention of urban livestock other than pollinators re-writes the history of consultations leading to not just the UAS but the London Plan itself.   People talked about chickens and other livestock at input sessions for both.  

Removing mention of livestock as written in the UAS document to Council removed a sentence which contains information proven true in many places:
 It is possible to raise food-producing animals such as hens, quail, bees, and fish within the urban environment, though it is important to do so within the context of a strong regulatory framework that ensures animal welfare and reduces the risk of pests and diseases.”

Was the text handed out November 28 (re)written during the Nov. 14 Council meeting?  
If not, the text was not text actually approved at Council.  I know from other situations that Council approves things without actual wording being sorted out; that can be seen as a positive comment on the responsibility Council gives to staff.  However, there could be situations where such an action becomes a problem.  It’s probably just that people don’t read text that keeps such things from coming back to bite.

It is unlikely that any of the Councillors (except perhaps Ms. Park) will even read the November 28 version, page 13, because the UAS will not go back to Council.  

I would have preferred to see mention of urban livestock ( including chickens) in the strategy, with inclusion of how such is handled in the London Plan ... and then say that no work was being done on this ... or that there was no endorsement at Council.  

The erased text erases history and people’s involvement.  It is a 1984 scenario:  “The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.”

Sincerely and with best personal regards,

Text comparison of page 13 London’s Urban Agriculture Strategy documents – version to PEC and Council and amended version, without reference to urban livestock (e.g. chickens) other than managed bees (honeybees)

Urban Agriculture Strategy that went to London Planning and Environment Committee on Nov. 6/17 and to London  Council on November 14/17
(page 13)


Urban Agriculture Strategy document handed out at November 28 food event hosted by City of London, Middlesex London Food Policy Council and Western Fair District
(page 13, assumed to be final version)


3.  Urban Livestock
It is possible to raise food-producing animals such as hens, quail, bees, and fish within the urban environment, though it is important to do so within the context of a strong regulatory framework that ensures animal welfare and reduces the risk of pests and diseases. The London Plan includes policy that would prohibit the “keeping of livestock and pursuing animal husbandry activities” within the urban portion of the City.

What we Heard from the Community
There was a great deal of interest in urban livestock, in particular backyard hens and bees, throughout the public consultations. There were strong opinions in favour of, and opposed to, promoting urban livestock in London, though a compromise position could include a Backyard Hen Demonstration Project in the city.


Taken from the Action and Roles chart
Compile existing public health research into the risks and benefits of backyard hens from a public health perspective.    
Community Partners with City
Compile existing research into bylaws that allow backyard hens in other Canadian cities and look into these cities’ experiences with backyard hens, including benefits and problems associated with backyard hens and how those cities addressed the issues.           
City leads

Investigate a Backyard Hen Demonstration Project in London, working with key stakeholders including the Middlesex-London Health Unit.     
Community Partners with City
Ensure that animal health, security, and welfare are priorities in the potential development of enabling urban livestock policies and demonstration projects.              
City leads
Increase pollinator habitat within the City.
City enables community.
Consider an Official Plan amendment and any other regulatory amendments to permit the keeping of livestock within urban areas of the city.                
City leads
Support for urban beekeeping in appropriate locations in the City of London.            Community leads


3.  Urban Pollinators
Urban pollinators are integral to the production of food in urban areas.  This can include both wild and domesticated pollinators.  Beekeeping is regulated by the Ontario Bees Act (1990), which specifies setback distances from residential, parkland, or other public spaces when locating hives.  Seeking out opportunities for urban beekeeping and increasing pollinator habitat are both aims of this strategy.


What we Heard from the Community
There was a great deal of interest in urban pollinators, in particular backyard beekeeping, throughout the public consultations.  There were strong opinions in favour of, and opposed to, promoting urban beekeeping in London, though there was unanimous support for maintain [sic] and improving pollinator habitats.


Taken from the Action and Roles chart
Increase pollinator habitat within the City.  
City enables community.        
Support for urban beekeeping in appropriate locations in the City of London.            Community leads



National Farmers Union Op Ed:  Looking a gift card in the mouth:  what Loblaw’s price-fixing is signaling about the future for Canadian farmers

CGL webkeeper’s note:  Over the next months there’s likely to be more details about how companies got together to set bread prices.  So far, info has been sound bytes, headlines ... the sort of stuff that news sites and readers fuss about for a while then leave behind as the next thing comes along.  CGL webkeeper received the following Op Ed piece from the National Farmers Union on Dec. 21/17.  It gives some background and context ... and she’ll post other info that comes along.  Best wishes for a Happy Christmas or holiday time.


According to the news, Canadians can look forward to a $25 Loblaw's gift card in response to George Weston Ltd. and Loblaw Companies Ltd’s admissions to participating in an industry-wide bread price-fixing arrangement. While we all like something free, we are being bought off cheaply, and many of us haven’t even began to process the underlying environment that made such a small pay off possible.
For years, eaters have been paying too much for their bread. Many farmers have noted the systemic unfairness citing $6 for a bushel of wheat, which makes approximately 42 loves of bread that sell for $2 or $3 each.

Now, we are being offered a “gift” card as a settlement, and the responsible people are no longer with the company. Is that it? Let’s say that these companies are being truthful, and they didn’t know it was happening. That’s even more frightening. Don’t you think fairness would call for the ultimate recipient of the shenanigans to be held responsible?

The National Farmers Union has been critical of the direction our food system is steamrolling towards. Government and corporations are pushing for bigger and faster with international trade deals at all cost. With three major players in Ontario's grocery retail market, both farmers and eaters are dominated by corporate interests.

These trends are consolidated in the Advisory Council on Economic Growth, or Barton, Report, which our federal and provincial governments have embraced as the holy grail for future ag policy. As noted in the NFU's Brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food (http://www.nfu.ca/policy/nfu-brief-food-policy-canada), “Barton’s recommendations would sideline farmers, consumers, food sector workers, and the democratic process that defines the rules and regulations governing our food system. Instead, Barton would put multinational agribusiness corporations in the policy driver’s seat.” The NFU is supportive of trade – the type of trade that supports Canadian farmers operating on a level playing field. Canadian statistical trends paint the picture of a disappearing middle class of farmers, and the Barton Report only seems to further contribute to the decline of rural livelihoods and small communities across the country.
On numerous occasions, the NFU has challenged government about land ownership, food sovereignty, and sustainability, and now our federal government is listening as they introduce a National Food Policy. But if a national food policy is to meet its stated goals, it must explicitly support the next generation of food producers and limit the power of corporations in the food system. 
As we sit around our kitchen tables sharing holiday meals, we ought to dig into why this is happening in the first place. Start by asking yourself who is really representing your interests as farmers. Who will speak up for you and not for those with the deepest pockets? Ask important questions, such as:
How did government regulators miss the bread issue all those years?
If this happened between two very reputable industry leaders, what else has been happening that we haven’t heard about yet?
Where’s my share of the money as a food producer, my net return for my work and providing the essentials?

Finally, what does farming look like in 20 years: who owns it; who controls it; who profits by it; and where do I, my family, and our community fit in this new world order?
Most farm businesses can’t compete with the political buying power of multinational corporations, but by joining the NFU, you will be part of a growing organization that is willing to speak out on behalf of farmers – those people on the ground doing the work. Our members’ farms range from a few acres to thousands of acres, but they all have one thing in common - they believe that farmers should play the key role in our food system.

Working with our fellow farmers and concerned eaters, we have political power and the ear of our elected representatives. If you join us and work together, we can make political change.
Emery Huszka is a grain farmer in Florence, ON. He is the President of National Farmers Union–Ontario and NFU Region 3 Coordinator.


Urban Agriculture Strategy for City of London

An Urban Agriculture Strategy for City of London was passed by London Council on November 14, 2017.
Prior to going to Council it had been discussed at Planning and Environment Committee (PEC), on November 6/17.

To read the Urban Agriculture Strategy as amended and adopted at Council go directly to: http://www.london.ca/business/Planning-Development/current-topics/Documents/2017-Nov-UAS-Final.pdf

A City webpage for urban agriculture, with previous draft reports, links to related undertakings like the Middlesex London Food Policy Council, and application to be on the steering committee is here: http://www.london.ca/business/Planning-Development/current-topics/Pages/Urban-Ag-Strategy.aspx

At both PEC and Council, comments focused on the raising of urban chickens, with almost no discussion on anything else.  Thanks were given to community members, staff and consultants whose ideas and work resulted in the Urban Agriculture Strategy.  .

At Council, a couple of councillors actually said that they would vote against the entire strategy document if the page concerning the suggested pilot project remained.  So, a motion was made to remove the reference and the strategy did pass.  Senior planner J. Fleming, valiently stressed that raising chickens was a small part of an important strategy.

If you have the fortitude to listen through all this, the video of the November 14/17 Council meeting is available on YouTube here (~ 1hr 36min): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaHTL--4NrY   
or from the City’s meeting page (using Microsoft Silverlight) here: http://www.london.ca/city-hall/meetings/Pages/default.aspx

Video of  the Planning and Environment Committee meeting of November 6 is available on YouTubehttps://youtu.be/Z0PknfmuMVE   or from the City site.

Video of all Council and Standing Committee meetings is available from that main City page, using Microsoft Silverlight.

“A people without agriculture,” he said, “are a people without food.”

It is this belief, and the determination to not give up on growing food after losing everything on his Puerto Rican farm, that will have Mr. Pinto replant and redevelop his plantain crops. 

The farmers of Puerto Rico may be able to re-establish farms in more healthy, land-sustaining ways after the devastation.

Prior to Maria, Puerto Rico only grew 15% of its food, importing the other 85%.  This had been an increase during the last few years.

The New York Times article here, recommended by USC-Canada, shows the loss to Puerto Rico’s economy which has been caused by a climate change driven hurricane and shows the optimism and determination of people who care for the land, crops and animals.

How self-sufficient is Canada in agricultural production?  Without looking up statistics, I’m guessing we import far more vegetables and fruit than we produce.  Why do our leeks and kale come from Texas – an incredibly hot state – when both are cool weather crops that we should and could be growing here?   

Butterflyways!   150 communities

Butterflyways are the topic of this email from the David Suzuki Foundation, received July 18. 2017

Pollinator pathway. Bumblebee highway. River of Flowers. Bee Line. These have all described habitat corridors created to help pollinators like bees and butterflies. We can add Butterflyways to the list.
Residents of Toronto and Richmond, B.C., recently celebrated official designation of neighbourhood Butterflyways. The David Suzuki Foundation began its Butterflyway Project earlier this year, recruiting more than 150 residents in five Canadian cities as the first Butterflyway Rangers. These volunteers learned how to help local pollinators flourish. They returned to their neighbourhoods with a mission: create a local Butterflyway by planting at least a dozen pollinator patches filled with native wildflowers that support these essential critters.

What happened next is inspiring. Rangers in each city connected with local gardening and horticulture groups, businesses, municipal councillors and parks staff, teachers and daycares. They attended community events and hatched plans to establish new butterfly gardens in parks, schools and yards. Once they began seeding these ideas, it took little time for the Butterflyways to begin blooming.

In May and June, activities ranged from creating butterfly-themed costumes and a bike-trailer garden that won second prize in a Victoria parade to adopting city parks in Richmond. In Markham and Toronto, Rangers built on a project started through the Foundation’s Homegrown National Park Project, installing a dozen wildflower-filled canoes in parks, schools and daycares. In Toronto’s west end, a pair of Rangers led the Butterflyway Lane art project, painting butterfly-themed murals on two dozen garage doors, walls and fences in a laneway facing Garrison Creek Park.

In late June, Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood and Richmond, B.C., surpassed the target of a dozen Ranger-led plantings, earning kudos from the Foundation for creating Canada’s first Butterflyways. The project is spreading, with neighbouring city councillors and groups clamouring to get their own Butterflyways.

Parading around as Rangers and planting wildflowers can be a fun way to engage communities and celebrate nature, but the project’s conservation potential is equally intriguing.

Reproduction for about 90 per cent of flowering plant species depends on pollinators, from bees and butterflies to hummingbirds and bats. We have pollinators to thank for one of every three bites of food we eat. Sadly, threats like development, pesticides and climate change are dramatically reducing pollinator diversity and numbers. A 2016 UN report found 40 per cent of all insect pollinators worldwide are under threat. More than 50 butterfly and moth species and a quarter of all bumblebee species in North America are threatened, and six species of native bees await protection under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

Although Canada’s more than 300 butterfly species aren’t as diligent pollinators as other species, they play other essential ecological roles, like becoming bird food. The plight of perhaps the most iconic butterfly in North America, the monarch, is well documented. Its numbers have dropped by more than 90 per cent over the past two decades.

Dwindling bee and butterfly numbers should be a compelling enough reason for action, but the story of Canada’s pollinators is complicated by the European honeybee. It’s an introduced species, managed like livestock. They’re good pollinators, but many of Canada’s native bees are more effective — yet they fly largely under the radar.

A recent poll revealed about two-thirds of Canadians couldn’t identify a single native bee, even though Canada has more than 800 species, dozens of which are found in most backyards — including carpenter, mining, sweat and mason bees. They don’t produce honey or live in hives and are unlikely to sting humans, but they’re essential pollinators.

We can help these beneficial critters by providing habitat throughout the places we live, work and play. Like the Butterflyway Rangers, reimagine your neighbourhood as a habitat highway for butterflies and bees. Encourage neighbours to add pollinator patches to yards and gardens. Create butterfly gardens at schools and daycares. Add pollinator patches to local parks and naturalize areas that park staff find difficult to maintain, like steep slopes or wet areas. Businesses can replace exotic flowers and shrubs with native equivalents. Thread these patches together and you have the beginnings of your own Butterflyway.

In the meantime, join me in celebrating the efforts of the Rangers, and the start of what I hope will be an inspiring national project to bring butterflies and bees to neighbourhoods throughout the country

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Strategist Jode Roberts. David Suzuki’s latest book is Just Cool It!: The Climate Crisis and What We Can Do (Greystone Books), co-written with Ian Hanington.

London’s Urban Agriculture Strategy Draft Report ... Public Input Meeting

Thursday, 11 May 2017 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
St. Peter’s Cathedral Auditorium, 506 Richmond Street, London, ON  

From Leif Maitland, Planner I, City of London’s email ( ph. 519-661-2500, ext. 7360     lmaitlan@london.ca )

We’re happy to announce that the draft Urban Agriculture Strategy is available here for your review.  We hope to see many of at the community consultation next Thursday May 11th where we will discuss the draft, clarify community and municipal roles as well as contribute to the online urban agriculture inventory.  If you have not already done so, please register here. If you cannot make it to the meeting, please forward your comments to me directly at lmaitlan@london.ca.            

The City of London has teamed up with Evergreen to develop the Urban Agriculture Strategy. Evergreen will act as the ‘backbone facilitator’ and partner by providing expertise and support to the City in the development of the Urban Agriculture Strateg

Artemesia’s Forest Garden Nursery is now taking orders

Order by April 23 for pick-up April 29
The Living Centre, 5871 Bells Rd., London

Located at The Living Centre, an eco-spiritual education centre, just outside London, Ontario, Artemisia’s Forest Garden Nursery is a collaboration between Rob Read and Shantree Kacera.  Its mission is “to share a growing variety of edible, medicinal, and useful trees, shrubs, vines, and plants, especially suited for Forest Gardens in southwestern Ontario.”  Plants are grown locally, and in ways that regenerate the earth. 

The website and catalogue of plants available is here:  http://forestgardennursery.ca/nursery/?page_id=33

For spring planting, here’s what the website says:

1. Order online by Sunday, April 23, 2017.
2. Pick-up plants at the Living Centre, near London, Ontario, Canada on Saturday, April 29, 2017 between 9am-4pm.
We do not ship plants. Most plants are bagged bareroot, moist, and labeled – swift pick-up and planting is essential. Most plants are grown on-site at the Living Centre using ‘beyond organic’ permaculture methods. A limited number of plants we feel are important are imported and resold in pots or bare-root.
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to email us readrobread@gmail.com

Artemesia has one May and one October pick-up date each year, so if you decide later in the season you need more plants you’ll have another opportunity to purchase


The Fixers: 50 Inspiring innovators for 2017

As Grist says: “The world feels pretty broken right now. That’s why we need Fixers — bold problem solvers working toward a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck.”

Grist’s list of emerging green leaders is worth looking over!

The list is not just people involved with urban agriculture or community gardening – altho’ they’re there.  These innovators are active with environment issues like climate change, water quality and pollution, technology, city planning and preservation, housing, political strategizing and activism.   And more.  Take ten minutes of your day to look down the list of photos, names, and activities of all fifty.  Full article is  here

Grist was founded in 1999 as an online publication. Grist is a reader-supported publication and a community of innovators, providing a home for people who want a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck.” It uses good information and some humour to cover a lot of topics. 

Grist’s mantra these days?  “Don’t freak out.  Figure it out.”


City’s recap of February 4/17 urban agriculture meetings – survey to fill out and call for comment

received today March 1/17 from Leif Maitland, London city planner

Hello from the Urban Agriculture Team!

With this last spell of warm weather and longer days ahead, it's a great time to be working on this strategy in support of the outdoor work to come. We'd like to send a special thank you to all who were able to attend our community consultation on February 4th.  It was wonderful to collaborate with such a passionate and committed group of people.

As promised, please click this link to access an online survey that recaps what we discussed at the workshop.  The survey will be available until March 15, 2017. The survey asks for your final thoughts on the definition of urban agriculture, the guiding principles and action items. If you weren't able to attend our meeting on February 4th, this is your opportunity to get in on the conversation.  

We are also delighted to announce that the urban agriculture inventory is ready to be populated.  You can enter your own items through this form.  Please take some time to review the inventory and ensure that all of London’s great urban agriculture projects are captured. Note that the inventory available online is draft and may not be identical to the completed final inventory. The inventory is available here.

And, if you can't get enough of this stuff, here are a couple of inspirational tales of food growing from around the world.

Documentary Film: Three Generations of Women Create a Community Garden in their South African Village

Innovation lab open sources flat-pack garden

As always please share this email and the associated links with those in your personal and professional networks who are interested in urban agriculture in London.

All the very best,

Leif Maitland, on behalf of the rest of the Urban Agriculture Team
519.661.2500 x 7360              lmaitlan@london.ca

Urban Roots London – urban farm start-up

Urban Roots London: a partnership with a BIG idea. To grow and sell fresh food near to London’s downtown food desert, to involve Western University students, to develop job skills and provide employment. 

Heather Barnes, Graham Bracken, Jeremy Horrell and Richie Bloomfield are looking to plant into their first urban agriculture growing area as early as possible this spring.

Barnes and Bracken’s visit to the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MIUFI: http://www.miufi.org/ ) gave the inspiration: “They grow a lot of food organically and they funnel it right back into the community ... While we were there people walked up [to the urban farm] and they walked away with food.”

Former Western students - and knowing that students involve themselves in all aspects of London’s community – they anticipate Western student involvement in the Urban Roots London farming project.

Horrell also anticipates support from members of the online Forest City Family, London business people who support a movement to local.  

Busy with start up funding – including the grind of grant writing – a GoFundMe page has also been started by the team’s business guy, Bracken.

For the complete Feb 12/17 Gazette article by Ellis Koifman click here. posted CGL 02 19 2017

Arva Flour Mill back to full operation after health and safety ruling

      posted Feb 10/17

CGL webkeeper and bread baker Maureen is delighted to learn that the Arva Flour Mill will be back to full operation.  She urges everyone to get out to Arva and buy some excellent flour or other items, and get cooking!

Mill owner Mike Matthews, whose family has owned the Arva Mill for a hundred years, worked the mill on his own – unbelievable overtime! – while waiting for the ruling to come down saying that the mill is safe and the millers know their way safely around the historic equipment.  Hurray Mike!

From the London Free Press article:
A federal tribunal has overturned a federal safety ruling Friday that called for the historic mill north of London to shut down.  ... Appeals officer Michael Wiwchar wrote that he visited the mill on his own twice as part of his investigation and was satisfied that the millers were well-equipped to work the old machinery.  .... “In my opinion, there is nothing in the evidence to indicate that the threat to employees operating the milling equipment was on the point of happening on the day of the inspection,” Wiwchar wrote.

The Arva Flour Mill website - http://www.arvaflourmill.com/ - has information about products, and a video about the mill’s history.  To get there, go north on Richmond Street from London until you get to Arva, turn east at the lights, then first left for a block, cross the road and down the slope.  Watch out for the gorgeous chickens!   2042 Elgin St, Arva Ontario, N0M 1C0   phone: (519) 660-0199   or 1-877-630-2296

full article here: London Free Press, Feb. 10/17 to publish Saturday, Feb. 11/17, by J. Sims and H. Daniszewski (thanks guys!)

Urban Agriculture comes from All People

Urban agriculture projects are done by people of all:

* nationalities
* backgrounds
* genders
* income levels
* education levels
* abilities
* doctrines

Urban agriculture gives opportunities for: 
* learning one’s abilities
* employment
* knowing other people 
* using local resources  
* not wasting    
* healing soil, water & air               

Urban agriculture projects are hugely diverse!

Urban agriculture is much more than growing plants and the raising animals within and around cities!

Urban agriculture involves growing, processing, transporting, selling, preparing and eating food ... and even disposing of waste.

Urban agriculture is embedded in - and interacts with - the urban ecosystem.


Community Visioning Urban Agriculture Strategy February 4, 2017 City meeting

CGL webkeeper Maureen’s notes, posted Feb. 10/17

Close on 90 people came out for a “community visioning” about urban agriculture.  Facilitated by City planning staff and consultants from Evergreen, this follows the Urban Agriculture Strategy: Terms of Reference brought to Council in December 2016. The City website hosts a website page linking to relevant documents, giving updates and contact people, and soon there will be a link to a community asset mapping map:  http://www.london.ca/business/Planning-Development/current-topics/Pages/Urban-Ag-Strategy.aspx

We look forward to seeing the art piece Morgan is making from our words – our thoughts about urban agriculture - that we wrote on split branchesHe will overburn the words and form a piece to inspire the consultants and us. 

We discussed the definition of urban agriculture that had been sent ‘round prior to the meeting, taking it far beyond just growing food within the city .... into roles of community and neighbourhood, social justice, food security and sovereignty, culture, organic practice and animals ... coming out the other side to whether a definition is constraining and language should be descriptive, and open to adaptation. 

Each table worked on establishing guiding principles for an urban agriculture strategy. 
- Food,  gardening, cooking education – for children and adults - was mentioned  a lot, including having such as part of school curricula, and that every school should have a garden
- That we need to get an idea and do it! 
- Find projects that are working elsewhere and bring the expertise to London to adapt them for here.
- Have supports for small scale urban agriculture – a mobile cider press – as well as supports for larger scale (analogous to City’s tax incentives for business?)
- Yes, urban agriculture encourages local production ... and is related to issues bigger than just here in London -food security and sovereignty,  climate change, regional and global economy and jobs.
- Food waste – disposal, composting, and simply not wasting.
- Access to land and incentives for new farmers.
- A hub system of growing, processing and distribution ... bridges the local and global.
- Communication and joint projects – in London, with region, province and federal levels.
- vibrant ecosystem – urban agriculture strategy needs to respect/retain/regenerate ecosystems ... this ties with London Plan
- encourage development of edibles in public and institutional spaces ... tie this in with City projects, ie so when trees have to be replanted after, eg, road widening, edible trees and shrubs are planted
- write into the Urban Agriculture Strategy that it is a “living document” so that change is the natural and expected thing. 

Inventory of places where urban agriculture could go and projects - the City of London’s mapping department has put together an interactive map to mark an urban agriculture project or potential location.

There was an action priorities exercise ...
- education mentioned again
- “If people don’t get a buy in you won’t get anything else happening”
- clarity of budget used by City/consultants as urban agriculture strategy is developed ... that this would tie to future City funding and support ... ties with jobs and economy, good use of city money, ... relationship of money city might put to urban agriculture (social enterprise) projects and social service programs (youth training/skills) ... food security, which also relates
- that the urban agriculture strategy outline stakeholders’ steps from one phase to the next

Main Projects People were Interested In
Neighbourhood Food Hub               Small scale gardening for children
Eating more local food                     Raising livestock in urban environment
Greenhouses                                         Tool sharing
Food Forest                         Engaging institutions       

At the end of the day, we looked at the urban agriculture definition again and added even more ideas!
- other man said “too many words!” ... encouraging a short definition and additional ideas.
- it was noted that discussion often has to do with urban agriculture solving something seen as a problem ...that sometimes – often – urban agriculture “just is” ... ie don’t get hung up

Final Comments
- “ I had no ideas there could be such controversy about chicken poo!”
- “it’s refreshing to have a government working with us”
- a reminder to  ~ remember that there are rural/farming areas within the City boundaries ~ to be in touch with farmers

What next?
- send reflections, ideas, comments in to Leif Maitland, London planning department,  lmaitlan@london.ca
- consultants are going to be summarizing the pages and pages of notes that papered the room
- use the online inventory
- there’ll be another consultation in April, once they’ve written up the next document for us to talk about.


Supermarkets' waste sugar to help feed bees

In cooperation with the Bee Improvement Programme for Cornwall, Tesco grocery  stores in Cornwall and Devon (U.K.) will be collecting waste sugar from its stores – sugar from split bags and sugar leftover from its bakeries – so the sugar can be used to make sugar syrup to as a supplementary feed honeybees, as needed depending on harsh weather. Beekeepers know the value of bees to the food system, and Tesco staff who are involved with this project are obviously learning too.  During the last few years the U.K. has had a lot of bad weather (the sort of unusual stuff which is the new normal of climate change).  Supplementary winter feeding is needed.

This is the first pilot project of its kind, and British beekeepers and other food stores will be watching how it goes.  It’s good to read about an innovative, project that hopes to solve two problems:  food waste and keeping the bees.

For the full article:  Tesco’s waste sugar goes to Cornish apiculture scheme as honey bees go short of nectar and rely on keepers’ winter syrup.  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/08/supermarkets-waste-sugar-to-help-feed-bees

SPARKS! grants are back! Application deadline is Feb. 28/17

“Sparks! Neighbourhood Matching Fund is all about increasing the quality of life for residents across London. This fund is specifically designed to support residents groups of all shapes and sizes to implement ideas to make their neighbourhoods stronger.” 

What does your neighbourhood or community group need to get done? Develop your idea, write it up and fill out the SPARKS! application. You could get up to $5,000.00.

The online application process is pretty clear, including how to do a budget. Also, if your group is not a “group” according to the application definition, you are allowed to partner with a group in your neighbourhood to apply.

Don’t hesitate to come up with a project and apply. From comments CGL webkeeper has heard (and the comments heard may or may not be accurate) there aren’t nearly as many project applications as there should/could be. It’s not like there are ten applications for every grant; the numbers are much lower.

An important thing about the Sparks! grants is that there is dollar value given to volunteers' work. So, if your group has no money and can figure out the volunteer hours that can be given to the project, that is your group’s contribution ... and that means you can apply for the City’s real money.

Applications are due February 28th 2017.

Don’t hesitate to connect with a real person to get your questions answered. The NeighbourGood and Sparks! programs are supposed to be there for you and your community. For further information and to apply, click here

To see a list of Sparks! funded projects from previous years click here.”

Bringing people together around urban agriculture topics of interest

On January 21/17, the organizers of the successful Urban Agriculture: London’s Food Future followed up by bringing people together to discuss topics of particular interest and to begin working groups.  People with different experiences and skills got together and talked, and talked, and thought, and thought, and planned around these topics:
- Education
- Community Gardening
- Food Forests
- Raising Animals in urban areas
- Gleaning
- Policy and Advisory

Our conversations ranged widely!! ... with a bit of guidance:
- What topic does this group want to work on developing and addressing?
- What are the needs you see in this area? (why address this topic?)
- What will the main project(s) be for your working group? Next meeting
- What needs to happen in between your next meeting?
- What else should we think about?

Plans are underway for the various groups to meet separately, and there’s also going to be a meeting on February 25, 2017, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at Landon Library.  Come on out!  If you want to be in touch, check out the website http://www.fual.weebly.com

This meeting was organized by the members of the 3 City advisory committees and Library system who organized the very successful November 19/17 event Urban Agriculture:London’s Food Future.  The meeting was also a transition.  Some members of that group have begun a group called Friends of Urban Agriculture London (FUAL), which – without the constraints of City connection – will work to encourage people’s interest in urban agriculture, and work on specific urban agriculture projects. 
Friends of Urban Agriculture London website:  http://www.fual.weebly.com

A Call to Collaboration ... the Just Food Conference in New York ... just knowing they’re out there is cheering

Sunday, March 12 and Monday, March 13, 2017
New York City ...

The Revolution Where You Live: Are You Ready for a Revolution?
Revolutions are about creating the change we want to see in the world. Are you ready for a Revolution?
Local resistance and renewal are vital than ever. A revolution for self determination is quietly taking place in Detroit.  There’s something about people beginning to seek solutions by doing things for themselves, by deciding they are going to create new concepts of economy, new concepts of governance, new concepts of education, and that they have the capacity within themselves to do that, that we have that capacity to create the world anew. This is what revolutions are about.  They are about creating a new society in the places and spaces left vacant by the disintegration of the old; about evolving to a higher humanity, not higher buildings; about the love of one another not hate; about hope not despair. 
Speaker Devita Davison combines her passion for culinary arts with activism and entrepreneurship at FoodLab Detroit, a nonprofit that works to provide entrepreneurs with the technical assistance, workshops, resources and the skills they need to start and grow a strong values-based food businesses

The Future of Food Justice
The food system was built by exploiting people and nature. Progress toward a more just food system is a long-term social struggle that is obscured by power dynamics and technological discourse. Under a regressive political regime, it will be important for food justice advocates to keep a firm eye on the historical continuity of the social struggle, and to avoid distractions that demoralize, weaken and divide us.
Speakr DR. RICARDO SALVADOR is Food and Environment Program Director, Union of Concerned Scientists
He works with citizens, scientists, economists, and politicians to transition our current food system into one that grows healthy foods while employing sustainable and socially equitable practices

There’s more to the event than just these two: https://jfc2017.topi.com/

*** Check out the new Friends of Urban Agriculture London (FUAL)! ***

Congratulations to a new group in London ... which is making connections and which put a great website online on January 20, 2017.  And!  There’s an associated facebook page!

****** From the FUAL website, you can get to videos of the keynote speech and all the 6 workshops held at the London’s Food Future event. ******

The Friends of Urban Agriculture London website describes FUAL as:
a network of London, Ontario citizens who are passionate and dedicated to pushing the agenda of urban agriculture forward. We hope to engage and empower Londoners by organizing specific events to raise awareness, facilitating the successful implementation of urban agriculture projects and coordinating a network of organizations and individuals invested in urban agriculture. We are also focused on preparing the ground for urban agriculture friendly policy change at City Hall.”

The name - Friends of Urban Agriculture London - came about during planning for the Urban Agriculture: London’s Food Future event held November 19/16.  (That November event was organized by 3 of the City’s advisory committees in conjunction with London’s public library; this group also organized January 21/17 to bring people together through shared interest in particular urban agriculture topics).

FUAL made the connections to bring Gary Wozniak of Recovery Park (Detroit) to London on November 18/16. This was a full house!

FUAL is separate from the above the advisory committees/library group, altho' people who began FUAL are members of 2 of the city advisory committees ... an other instance of busy people wearing many hats!

Friends of Urban Agriculture London website - www.fual.weebly.com and a facebook page (reached thru' website). 

Carolinian Canada can help you grow a climate smart garden

Carolinian Canada has partnered with World Wildlife Fund-Canada and, with help from the London Community Foundation, pilot neighbourhoods in London and Middlesex can get help to grow climate-smart gardens using native species.

As the Carolinian Canada email said:
Master Gardeners of London are helping to train Backyard Leaders. This program is sparking a series of key partnerships including the City of London, Native Trees and Plants, Toronto Region Conservation Authority, Dorchester Mill Pond Committee, Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority, St. Williams Nursery and Ecology Centre and Hawthorn Farm Organic Seeds among others.  Backyard Leaders have reported as many as 180 species of native plants growing in neighbourhoods primed to make a big difference to our urban ecology.
Sneak Peek: Anyone can join in 2017 to access expert advice and track your patch of Carolinian paradise. Get In the Zone with native plant gardening how-to, wildlife tips and local connections. A big celebration is planned at Go Wild Grow Wild 2017. Grow Some Canada with Carolinian Canada wildflowers. InTheZoneGardens.ca

Bill Nye and Netflix Team Up to 'Save the World'

Bill Nye – the science guy of U.S. television – will be back in 2017, with a new Netflix show, Bill Nye Saves the World.

He’ll be looking at an interesting range of scientific topics – giving information, refuting myths and anti-science - with help not just from other science broadcasters but from some comedians ... so the show may be able to tap into its audience at a practical, non-threatening, “we can do it” level.

As Lorraine Chow writes in her article for EcoWatch:

We doubt that Trump will be streaming the new show, but Nye does intend to appeal to a wide audience.
"Since the start of the Science Guy show, I've been on a mission to change the world by getting people everywhere excited about the fundamental ideas in science," he [Nye] said in the press release.

Chow’s full article is here

Evergreen team to facilitate urban agriculture consultation and strategy in London

from the Urban Agriculture Strategy Terms of Reference report to Planning and Environment on Dec. 12/16 and accepted by London City Council Dec. 19/16:

“To assist in the development of the Urban Agriculture Strategy, the City has retained Evergreen.  Evergreen is a national charity dedicated to making cities flourish, and works with communities to create better urban environments.  Evergreen will act as the “backbone facilitator: and partner by providing expertise and support to the City in the development of the Urban Agriculture Strategy.

“The Evergreen project team brings a wealth of experience working in the community and municipal food policy.  They will be co-leading community engagement sessions, conducting significant background research, drafting the strategy and developing a final strategy for City use.

“The project team consists of:
Lauren Baker*, PhD, who brings over 20 years of experience working on food system issues to her role with the Global alliance for the Future of Food.  Her expertise ranges from research on maize agrobiodiversity in Mexico to negotiating and developing municipal food policy programs.  Most recently, Lauren was a Food Policy Specialist with the Toronto Food Policy Council, leading a citizen advisory group embedded within the City of Toronto’s Public Health Division.  Lauren teaches at the University of Toronto and is a research associate withy Ryerson University’s Centre for Studies in Food Security.

Jo Flatt is a Senior Project Manager, and leads several initiatives as part of the Evergreen team, including the Mid-Sized City Building Program, intended to enhance the social, economic and environmental prosperity of Ontario’s mid-sized cities and the laneway initiative to promote the development of laneway suites in Toronto.

Ashlee Cooper was a founding board member and farm manager of FoodCycles, one of Toronto’s first community-based urban farms.  She’s also spent time as a boutique garlic farmer, permaculture designer, program facilitator, and environmental event planner.  As a Project Manager with Evergreen, Ashlee has developed and delivered multiple urban agriculture programs throughout the Greater Toronto Area.”

*Lauren was keynote speaker at the November 19/16 conference Urban Agriculture – London’s Food Future.

London’s Community Gardens Program Strategic Plan Year One Update – very short

This is agenda item 11 of the Community and Protective Services Committee meeting of December 12, 2016.  Agenda here: http://sire.london.ca/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=1372&doctype=AGENDA

Along with it is the letter written by Maureen Temme, CGL webkeeper, stating concerns about:
- lack of full budget and program details – including a recent internal “Lean Six Sigma” review

- lack of communication with gardeners, community and interested citizens about the gardens

- lack of progress toward having gardeners participate in management of their gardens

- lack of information about how City direct management of the gardens will work (including budget comparison with current arrangement)

Click on the main agenda item for the letter.

Urban Agriculture: London’s Food Future

This conference was a huge success.  It was a partnership between three of London’s advisory committees (environment, agriculture and trees and forest) and the public library; informative displays by about a dozen organizations were on site through the day and the refreshments were great!  Speakers from London and out of town knew what they were talking about; participants’ questions were insightful and informed and brought forward more important ideas.  City of London planning staff gave an overview of their work toward working with citizens to develop an urban agriculture policy.  Thanks and congratulations to everyone involved!

Here’s the schedule for the Saturday, November 19, 2017 event:

Keynote Speaker, Lauren Baker from the Toronto Food Policy Council.
First breakout session:  One had to select:  Urban Agriculture Policy for Municipalities, Appropriate Technology, and The Role of Fruit and Nut Trees.
Second breakout session:  One had to select: The Economics of Urban Agriculture, The Role of Animals, and Food Security.

Notes are forthcoming from the organizers in January.  If you have a question, please send it to communitygardenslondon@exulink.com and CGL webkeeper will see it is forwarded to one of the organizers.

Lauren Baker’s Talk: Harnessing the Potential of Urban Agriculture

                                                                posted Dec. 11, 2016

On Saturday, November 19, 2016, Lauren Baker* opened the London’s Food Future conference with a talk titled Harnessing the Potential of Urban Agriculture.  Baker’s straightforward comments included these points about urban agriculture:

- urban agriculture is integrated into the economic and ecological system of a city*
- urban agriculture and food are key tools for City building
- a city – like London – has many ways to support food infrastructure at its municipal level
- possibilities for employment and skills development are huge, through both entrepreneurship and social enterprise; this can be ‘specially significant for women’s employment.
- with more local food, there’ll be more opportunities for people to eat better food, to share what they know about healthy eating and food preparation
- linked to employment and labour, resources (water and waste management), access to food, urban ecology, urban food system, land use, policies and planning
- embedded into various policies of all levels of government
- urban agriculture is a response to and solution to some big issues like climate change, economic shift.
- urban agriculture can help solve problems by making unlikely connections between situations, communities, fields of endeavours.

Baker commented that “what I’m hearing from the City of London is an active willingness to” [~ get on with things to do with urban agriculture in London ~]

* Over twenty years, Lauren Baker has worked in Toronto in programs relevant to urban agriculture and food: Evergreen, Food Secure Canada, the Peoples Food Policy Project, the Toronto Food Policy Council and Food Share Toronto. She presented at the October 2016 Resetting the Table conference. Her email is laurenxfood@gmail.com
** Baker uses the broad ideas of the  RUAF when talking about urban agriculture (RUAF is a global partnership on sustainable Urban Agriculture and Food Systems.)


Urban Agriculture Policy for Municipalities – notes from London’s Food Future


Urban agriculture is necessarily linked to food security in a city.  This idea was embedded in presentations by both Lauren Baker and Ellen Lakusiak on November 19/16 at
Lauren Baker – spoke on Beyond Policy to Action NOW! 
- If we want thing done, we have to take the lead in becoming partners with City staff and  council. 
- We have to show the City examples of successes, innovations, and problems solved ... and make sure we make clear how these relate to London’s situation. 
- We have to be partners who help the city support urban agriculture - and food security – as policy is developed.
- Citizens have – or can find - the information that can change NO to YES.
Baker noted that:
- when people feel that something aligns with their priorities, they do stuff.
- if you are strategic with how to connect with City department and staff, those staff are your allies
Baker pointed out five ways the City can support urban agriculture
1.  City can provide access to land and space.
2.  Develop enabling policies and programs
3.  Research and Documentation
4.  Food Education and Training
5.  Linking and Embedding

Baker asked us:  How will London build capacity to do these things?

Ellen Lakusiak  - London’s Food Policy Council
- Outlined the London Food Charter, Food Assessment and Food Policy Council

- the “home” for information about the Food Policy Council is the Middlesex London Health Unit website: http://www.healthunit.com    [specifically: https://www.healthunit.com/middlesex-london-food-policy-council ]
- the draft terms of reference developed for the Food Policy Council, include:      
Vision - The Middlesex London community sustains a healthy, safe, equitable and ecologically responsible food system, that nourishes all local residents and is economically viable.
Mission - The Middlesex London Food Policy Council will:
- Be a forum for discussing local food issues.
- Empower citizens to be involved in food system decisions.
- Foster coordination between sectors in the food system.
- Evaluate and influence policy.
- Support programs and services that address local needs.
- The Food Policy Council work will focus on
- Food Literacy
- Local Food Procurement
- Reduction of Food Waste
- Small scale agricultural production and distribution

San Francisco to prohibit fossil-fuel extraction from city owned land

Something uplifting f rom EcoWatch News, Nov. 17/16: here

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved legislation Tuesday [Nov. 15, 2016] prohibiting the city "from entering into or extending leases for the extraction of fossil fuel from city-owned land" in an effort to combat climate change.

The legislation by Supervisor John Avalos originated with 350 Bay Area analyst Jed Holtzman, who discovered the city was leasing to Chevron an 800-acre property that it inherited in Kern County. City finance officials say converting the property to a solar array could generate more revenue than current oil operations, which net the city about $320,000 annually.

"We're headed for catastrophic changes to our climate if we don't reduce our use of fossil fuels now. With the pending Trump presidency, local leadership on climate change is more urgent and important than ever," Avalos said.

"San Francisco and other cities can help lead this country into the clean energy future we need and resist the catastrophic policies our president-elect has proposed. The fact that we can make as much revenue from solar as we do from oil just reinforces that it's time to keep dirty fossil fuels in ground and transition to a renewable-powered economy."

Resetting the Table – Food Secure Canada Conference Oct 13 to 16 2016

       POSTED Nov. 8 2016

“Innovation is marching forward to tradition."
                                                                B. Sammamma

Food Secure Canada’s 2016 Resetting the Table conference hosted 900 attendees at the many workshops and representations over three days.  The work and passion of FSC staff and many volunteers to organize and run such an event is surely uplifting to every one of us. And getting this information out to its email list members only two weeks after the event is surely above and beyond! Thanks to everyone involved!

“Food Secure Canada is a pan-Canadian alliance of organizations and individuals working together to advance food security and food sovereignty through three inter-locking goals: zero hunger, healthy and safe food, and sustainable food systems”

Video and text summary highlights of its annual conference can be found from FSC’s resources and news page: http://foodsecurecanada.org/resources-news
A few of the topics and highlights:

The opening plenary ... Indigenous food sovereignty connects practically to culture, health, wellbeing, and the complex history of First Nations people as their country was colonized.

Canada’s New Food Policy: Opportunities, Challenges and Dilemma's

Innovation Saturday at Resetting the Table - Highlights of the Day
- Prof. John Ikerd of Missouri spoke about “Innovation - “significant positive change” – in his “passionate call to change our failed industrial food system, which is not even delivering short-term food security for all, let alone long-term sustainability.
- International speakers told of their “radical, organic and successful smallholdings:   Bidakanne Sammamma (Deccan Development Society, Andhra Pradesh, India) and Jean-Martin Fortier (La Ferme des Quatre-Temps, Québec)
- Debbie Field (FoodShare) took her inspiration from the women’s movement. Change, she said, comes from below; from the actions of the many. It is evolutionary. We cannot wait for the government to change the system or for any single innovation.

The Cathleen Kneen Award winners.   Honouring one of Food Secure Canada’s (FSC) founders, who passed away earlier this year. Abra Brynne and Norma Kassi, the 2016 winners, are two women who show extraordinary leadership and embody the spirit of the food movement in their communities and territories.  Kneen’s husband Brewster presented the awards.

5 Loaves Farm in Boston – a blog to follow!

Blog recommendation from CGL webkeeper Maureen.

The Mission of 5 Loaves Farm in Boston is: “Redeeming vacant lots by creating sustainable market gardens that produce healthy foods along with spiritual, educational, & economic resources for our neighbors.”

By good luck – and a lead from City Farmer – I was led to the 5 Loaves Farm blog.  I really enjoyed browsing entries that told stories about day to day activities in a readable way, and also gave planting information, clear thoughts on the ethos of urban agriculture, and anecdotes about being part of a community, such as the excerpt below from a September entry about butternut squash.

Thank you Matt Kauffman, I will be a regular reader!

from 5 Loaves Farm ... COMMUNITY INTERACTION - That same year that my neighbor stopped by to offer comment on our squash patch, another neighbor (or perhaps neighbors) had stopped by a few weeks earlier.  While  I was gone for Labor Day weekend someone came & picked our entire crop of still maturing butternut squash.  Such large scale theft in our garden is actually quite rare, & through continuing conversation with some of our other Asian neighbors, I have an idea of why this happened.  Many Asian cultures eat the vines, leaves, & young green fruits of the squash.  They don't prefer the sweet taste of the mature fruit, but rather the tart crisp flavor of the young ones.  Before I left for the weekend, I had thought to myself about how great the butternut crop was coming, & that in just a week or two they would be ripe.  I think our neighbors looked at them & thought that in a week or two they'd be no good at all, & that I was letting them all go to waste.  Different cultural perspectives, preferences, & values greatly shape who enjoys food from our gardens & who participates & in what ways.  Learning from each other will be the only way we will have an urban garden that truly feeds the community as a whole.

Organic urban farming often means managing a complex system with many interconnected parts.  It does take a lot of work, but there are beneficial yields.  Of course there are the delicious fall squash soups & dishes, not to mention scrumptious pies & desserts.  But beyond all that, the whole process teaches humility.  We have so much to learn... from listening to each other, from carefully studying the natural systems all around us, & by staying connected to the One that created & sustains it all!

Thanks to City Farmer (.info) for leading me to the 5 Loaves Farm blog, written by Matt Kauffman, manager and others involved there.

ReForest London – Million Tree Challenge award winners

ReForest London recently held its first awards night, to recognize great contributions by businesses, organizations and individuals who are making a difference through their support of tree planting in London, Ontario.

Congratulations and thanks for your work to:
Julie Ella Dubeau, Western Serves, Tree Team Award
Matthew Juszczynski, 2016 Tree Hero Award
Calvin McCallum, CLC Tree Services,  Forest City Builder Award
Jen McCrae, London Life, Solid Oak Award
Patrick McNeill, TD FEF, Digging In Award

For full information about the winners and the awards visit the ReForest London website http://reforestlondon.ca/mtc-award-winners .   Browse the site to find resources on how to select and care for the trees in your yard, current and past ReForest program information, and how to volunteer.
posted Wed. Oct. 26/16


Urban Agriculture Strategy meeting notes from September 29, 2016

Between 24 and 30 people attended a meeting on Sept. 29/16 relating to the Urban Agriculture Strategy: Draft Terms of Reference. Called by City staff, the  lead facilitator was John Fleming, managing director of the planning department (ph. 661-2500, ext. 5343, JMFleming@london.ca).

Mr. Fleming noted that both the London Plan and London’s 4-year strategic plan (with budget) mention green strategies, food and urban agriculture. He also noted that urban agriculture is “new territory” to the City.  Main points of the document were given.

People divided into two groups – so all would have a chance to speak – and ideas came continuously on these questions:

1.  Does Draft Terms of Reference address all it should?
2.  What project would you like to see in the city?
3.  What barriers are projects facing?
4.  What would help with visioning conversation?
5.  Would a streering committee  help?
6.  Who else should be invited?

Some of the points that came forward:
- that a strategy should encompass all City lands, not just the urban ones, ie things can happen in the zones currently deemed “agriculture” without undertakings stepping on the toes of persons currently farming.
- that urban agriculture undertakings range from individual ones to businesses employing many people ... and in between may be undertaken by neighbourhood based groups, organizations, ... may be social enterprise ... lots of potential for job training and long term jobs.
- that opportunities exist in all directions one thinks to have local, healthy food
- that an urban agriculture strategy is separate from, yet will relate to work to be undertaken by a London Food Policy Council (not yet set up) ...so communication is important
- that other cities have done both food security and urban agriculture strategic plans, so London writers don’t have to start from scratch

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Fleming commented that staff had not realized the number of people in the community who were knowledgeable about the topic, that more people and organizations were going to be invited in to the conversations – a lot of suggestions came forward for this!  Also, that the timeline put forward in the document – to have a strategy done by mid spring 2017 – could be adjusted so there was more time for consultation.

CGL webkeeper took extensive notes on the discussion in her group; as of Oct. 6 she’s typed them, but not summarized them.  If you want a copy, let her know!
Notes taken by the recorders for each group are forthcoming and will be posted on CGL

On Saturday, November 19, there will be a conference on Urban Agriculture: London’s Food Future, at the Central Library.  City staff have been given a time slot to present its urban agriculture terms of reference and get feedback.  The conference keynote speaker is Lauren Baker, and there are 6 presentation-workshops to choose from, each with a local and an out of town speaker.  Check the Library page here to see the topics and to register.  This is a free event!

Urban Agriculture Act introduced into US Congress

In Michigan, Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow is introducing an Urban Agriculture Act to the U.S. Congress.  Urban agriculture is seen through its abilities to increase economic opportunity, augment healthy food production, and benefit the environment.

CGL webkeeper doesn’t know much about U.S. politics or how long it might take to pass and put into action the suggestions in this act.  However, the very fact of it existing and being examined at this high legislative level is no doubt a reflection of work done by many individuals and organizations in Michigan, and Sen. Stabenow.

Congratulations on this and best of luck as it proceeds!

For full article, Sen. Stabenow’s website: http://www.stabenow.senate.gov/news  

and thanks to City Farmer for linking to this item

Video: What is a food swamp?

You’ve heard the term “food desert”?  Meaning an area where there are no places for someone to buy nutritious, fresh food.

There’s a new term – “food swamp” – referring to a place that is swamped with fast food outlets and liquor stores, but no grocery store where fresh, nutritious food is available.

A short, nifty video is on the Mo’ Betta Green Market Place facebook page ... mentioned on Sept. 22/16 Grist enews

The video was made by Perennial Plate film, Peter Steineck and has animation by Allegra Lockstadt.

This collaboration is a needed reminder that it takes a community of people to work together for food education and food security!

From Uniformity to Diversity: a paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems

Thanks to USC-Canada for bringing to our attention this report, written by The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES FOOD).  Only 96 pages; short enough to read!

From USC-Canada’s pages:
How can we leave industrial agriculture behind and shift towards agroecology? That is the very question the world's foremost experts on food security, agroecosystems and nutrition, the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES FOOD), sought to answer in their first major and comprehensive report released today.
Called "From Uniformity to Diversity: A paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems," the report urges for a global shift towards agroecology.

The experts clearly outline how today's industrial food and farming systems have succeeded in supplying large volumes of foods to global markets, but are generating negative outcomes on multiple fronts: widespread degradation of land, water, and ecosystems; high greenhouse gas emissions; biodiversity losses; persistent hunger and micro-nutrient deficiencies; the rapid rise of obesity and diet-related diseases; and livelihood stresses for farmers around the world. From Uniformity to Diversity

From Uniformity to Diversity http://www.ipes-food.org/images/Reports/UniformityToDiversity_FullReport.pdf

USC-Canada:  http://www.usc-canada.org


Bayer to Buy Out Monsanto!

CGL webkeeper’s explanation and opinion of this ... if I could write in a blacker black I would:

We did know it was coming.  On Wednesday, September 14, 2016, Bayer issued a press release saying it will buy out Monsanto.  Purchase price:  $66,000,000,000 ... that’s 66 Billion dollars.  The merger will create the world’s largest supplier of - read controller of – seeds and agricultural chemicals. 

Also in the works are unions between DuPont and Dow, and between Syngenta and ChemChina.

As it is now, the 6 companies involved control 60% of the world’s seed supply.  Merging to 3 companies, it’ll still be 60% ... but with less price competition and choice of seed types.

The even more important issues have to do with stronger corporate control of seeds and food supply, more force on farmers to use genetically modified seeds and their accompanying synthetic fertilizer and pesticide regimes (which use more water than agroecological systems), and further squeeze on small growers worldwide who do not want to buy in to all this.  Oh yeah, and then there’s depleted soil health, critter health, and human health.

Various organizations have articles about the takeover and related matters, petitions to sign, and strategy suggestions.  CGL webkeeper suggests planting a fall garden with winter protection, reading up on this through the organization of your choice, and deciding your own ‘next’.

the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network http://www.cban.ca/Resources/Topics/Corporate-Control
the Organic Seed Alliance (www.seedmatters.org)  http://seedmatters.org/mr-seed-dc/
Organic Consumers Association (www.organicconsumers.org)  
Seed Freedom ... related to Vandana Shiva’s organization ... http://seedfreedom.info/


Council accepts draft terms of ref for urban ag strategy

At the September 13, 2016 meeting of London City Council, Council voted to accept the staff report Urban Agriculture Strategy: Draft Terms of Reference ... agreeing to the text written in the minutes of Planning and Environment Committee (below)

 It remains to be seen how the document will be circulated, how input will be done, and how the schedule outlined in the report will be kept to.

From minutes of September 6/16 Planning and Environment Committee http://sire.london.ca/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=1285&doctype=MINUTES:

Urban Agriculture Strategy - Draft Terms of Reference ...  That, on the recommendation of the Managing Director, Planning and City Planner, the following actions be taken with respect to the Draft Terms of Reference for the development of an Urban Agriculture Strategy:
 a)            the draft Terms of Reference appended to the staff report dated September 6, 2016, for the development of an Urban Agriculture Strategy BE CIRCULATED for public review and comment; and,
 b)            the draft Terms of References BE CONSIDERED at the October 17, 2016 meeting of the Planning & Environment Committee;   

it being noted that the Planning and Environment Committee reviewed and received a communication dated September 1, 2016, from M. Temme, 66 Palmer Street, with respect to this matter.   (2016-E11)


Victoria BC urban agriculture proposals going to city council

Victoria BC residents are commenting on Victoria BC’s Growing in the City proposal, which goes to public hearing this coming week.

Farms in the City? is a readable article from the Victoria Times Colonist, and gives an overview of the situation and main points being discussed.  Not sure how long the City and community prep work has been going on to get to this stage, but I bet it’s been a few years!

Some things being proposed (shortened from article):

1.   Permitting small-scale commercial urban food production (growing and selling in all zones, provided it does not negatively impact neighbours  ... This would expand the range of potential sites for new urban food production businesses

2.   Eliminating the development permit for certain types of landscaping required for commercial and non-commercial urban food production (e.g. community gardens, community orchards and edible landscaping)

3.   Introducing new types of business licences  to sell unprocessed food products

4.  Updating the Official Community Plan to clarify that built development ... will be considered as a higher priority than small-scale commercial food production. This change would balance food security and production with the City’s objectives for new housing and development.

There will probably be a lot of discussion – #4 especially!  Julia Ford, an urban farmer with City Harvest, stated: “If the land upon which I farm is legally subservient to other kinds of development, there is no security for my business, and I cannot continue to invest in its growth”,

But having urban ag in all zones is a big thing ... and having city proposals come forward surely has all urban agriculture interested individuals and organizations thinking and talking.



Detroit Urban Agriculture – great 3 part series

Urban agriculture takes many forms.  It strengthens communities and individuals’ lives, it stimulates innovation during economic downturn and creates employment, it re-purposes land.  Urban agriculture ties to an “urban ecosystem” of lives and services.  Author Jessica Leigh Hester’s readable series combines people and good reference material, with links.  And great photos!

Farming for Their Lives
Detroit’s urban growers are cultivating the land to pick up where they feel the city has let them down.


Growing Pains for Detroit's Urban Farms
Agriculture flourishes in the city’s vacant lots—but can it survive the push toward revitalization?


The Fight to Feed Detroit
To mend the city’s food system, urban farmers and entrepreneurs are working to funnel fresh produce and artisanal goods to local tables.


This series contains links to organizations like The Greening of Detroit, that operates farms and training programs throughout the city, and cites several useful reports on food security and how that means much more than just food on a plate

Jessica Leigh Hester’s informative series was published August 29 – 31/16 in City Lab, a news publication out of Detroit.  Thanks JLH and thanks City Farmer website for posting links and notes to this series!

Migrant Workers and the Harvesting Freedom Campaign – and a Petition

Justice for Migrant Workers and the Harvesting Freedom Campaign are embarking on a caravan starting in Leamington, Ontario on September 4, 201 ... traveling to their final stop in Ottawa on October 2 and 3.  The caravan, consisting of migrant workers and allies, will be making several stops with solidarity actions in towns across Southern Ontario along their route.  The year 2016 is the 50th anniversary of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (S.A.W.P.), that yearly brings tens of thousands of Caribbean and Mexican farm workers to grow and harvest our food.

These migrant workers in the SAWP are not allowed to apply for Permanent Residency in Canada.  The Harvesting Freedom Campaign is calling on the Trudeau Government to provide access to Permanent Residency process for the SAWP farm workers.

Please read more about this issue, and sign the petition at Harvesting Freedom.

Food Not Lawns and Food Not Bombs members in London are asking for donations of fresh local produce to use in the preparation of a community meal to welcome the migrant farm workers to the London area (Friday, September  9, 7:00 p.m.).  Herbs, non perishable foods, fruit and veg, desserts, prepared dishes ... all contributions are appreciated and will be used.  Dishes of culturally appropriate, traditionally inspired foods will be included on the menu. Meal at Life*Spin Community Living Room, 866 Dundas St. London

To make a donation for drop off or pick up, from now until Friday, September 9, please contact:  Narcise (cell) 519-319-7927  or Maya (cell) 226-973-6979

Urban Agriculture "Report" comes to City Committee September 6

If you have an interest in urban agriculture in any of its forms ... for food production, for job creation, for mitigating climate change, for social and cultural benefits, for environmental health ... then take a look at the urban agriculture "report" that is coming to Planning and Environment Committee on Tuesday, September 6 (4pm meeting start).

Tues. Sept. 6/16 agenda of the Planning and Environment committee for London is on the meetings page here.

The two parts to the urban agriculture "report" are here and here.

PLEASE READ the "report" carefully and let your City Councillor know what you think. Was this document worth a year's wait?

Councillors emails are from this page or call 519-661-2500.

Members of the Planning and Environment Committee are:
- Phil Squire         psquire@london.ca
- Jesse Helmer     jhelmer@london.ca
- Paul Hubert       phubert@london.ca
- Tanya Park        tpark@london.ca
- Stephen Turner  sturner@london.ca

On September 1, 2015, London City Council instructed City staff as below.

b) the Civic Administration BE DIRECTED to consult with key stakeholders and to report back at a future meeting of the appropriate standing committee, with respect to the feasibility of an overarching urban agriculture policy that will outline the following:
i)     an inventory of parcels of City-owned land that are potential locations for urban farming;
ii)    the role the City of London could play with regard to urban farming on public lands;
iii)   a clear definition of "urban agriculture"; and
iv)    a review of the current license policies and by-laws to ensure that the City plays a role that does not hinder the various aspects of urban agriculture such as land preparation, food growth, food production and food sales.

30 Ways Cities Can Prepare for Global Warming – urban agriculture!

'In the era of global warming, urban agriculture’s ability to generate spaces for the development of social skills and adaptability is likely more important than its ability to produce food.'
Wayne Roberts

A “must read” piece!  Here Thanks Wayne Roberts! for this article from OpportunityCity, No 22, July 2016

Urban Agriculture is not just about feeding cities.  It ties with global warming, and our survival.  Roberts talks about:

Social skills and adaptability
Community development and newcomer welcome

Ecosystem services – cooling the city, managing stormwater,

Space for personal food production ... decorative and functional

Larger scale food production - on top of buildings

Find microclimates and extend the growing season
Ease the uncomfortable “heat islands” of our urban work zones.

We value trees.  Fruit or nut trees have even more value!

Worried about bees?Urban agriculture ... for their safe zones and our food & flowers.

Capture the rainfall ... water tables, run-off, sewer infrastructure, water treatment.

Municipal Composting is essential
Approx cost to London, Ont. may be $310,000,000 a year!
...  based on estimated $31 billion a year in Canada!  And food waste rotting in landfill sends damaging methane gas in the atmosphere.

Roberts asks you to forward his article to “your city or county councillor, along with a brief note asking that they inquire with City staff and colleagues about the possibilities of incorporating urban agriculture with green infrastructure when preparing new infrastructure to mitigate and adapt to global warming.”

CGL Webkeeper urges you to read thoroughly the report on Urban Agriculture coming to Planning and Environment Committee Sept. 6/16 (and to Council).  Think for yourself on how the ideas equate or do not.  Make your comments!  And forward Roberts article to anyone you can think of.

Elaine Stannard (1925-2011)

CGL webkeeper happened upon this when looking up Seattle Tilth.  She's grateful for the reminder that individuals make such differences in lives and communities

Remembering Elaine Stannard (1925-2011)
by Mark Musick, Founding Member of the Tilth Association


Elaine Stannard, one of the catalysts for the regional Tilth movement, died in Seattle on September 16 at the age of 86. As an honored guest at Seattle Tilth’s 30th anniversary celebration, Elaine told the story of her first experience with organic gardening, gathering manure from behind a horse-drawn milk wagon to add to her grandmother’s compost pile during the Great Depression.

As a young woman growing up in Chicago, Elaine was a Quaker peace and civil rights activist. She moved to Seattle in 1956, earned a teaching certificate at the UW, and taught elementary school in Renton. She lived in a pioneering housing cooperative and was one of the founding members of Puget Consumers Coop.
An avid gardener, Elaine was always interested in health, nutrition, and growing community. In 1976 she toured intentional communities and organic farms in Europe. Inspired by what she learned there, Elaine returned home with the idea of creating a membership organization to unite the sustainable agriculture movement in the Pacific Northwest.

In August, 1977 Elaine facilitated a meeting of organic farmers and city gardeners that led to the incorporation of the Tilth Association, and she served as the organization’s founding Secretary.
In early 1978, Elaine collaborated with Carl Woestwin, Regina Hugo, Steve Ruden, and other friends to start Seattle Tilth and host the city’s first urban agriculture conference. Over the past three decades the movement she helped foster has grown into a thriving network of local and state-wide Tilth organizations in Washington and Oregon.

Elaine was a devoted wife and mother, with five daughters and a large extended family. In addition to being a driving force in the Tilth movement, she was an advocate for the handicapped and mentally ill. Elaine’s life exemplified the profound impact one person can make through the simple act of building community, and her legacy will continue to grow.

*The mission of Seattle Tilth is to inspire and educate people to safeguard our natural resources while building an equitable and sustainable local food system.

Report - London for All: a roadmap to end poverty and CGL webkeeper comment on food policy council mention

            Posted Sunday April 10 2016

London Ontario Mayor Matt Brown received the final report from his advisory panel on poverty, on Thursday, March 31/16. 

The report - London for All: a roadmap to end poverty - contains 112 recommendations in total, within topics: changing mindsets, income & employment, health, homelessness prevention & housing, transportation, early learning & education, food security, and system change.

The report is on the City website here.

London Free Press news story London Poverty Report Released is here.

And the Londoner's report - Poverty Panel Passes the Torch to Londoners - is here

CGL webkeeper noted on page 23 that the main comment in this report's Food Security chapter is to ”Support development of the London & Middlesex Food Policy Council"

CGL webkeeper comment and hope: This "food policy council" referred to began meeting in February 2014, membership by invitation, with seed funding from the London Community Foundation.  Its three main organization reps are from the City of London, London's health unit and the Food Bank; there about ten other people involved.  There is no mention of this entity on any of those four agencies' websites. There has been no public report of its existance or activities.  The group's existance has gotten around to various food-interested groups in London, however, what is known is quite varied (based on CGL webkeeper's conversations with people).  Some city councillors have referred to it during the last months.  There has been public announcement of this group, however.  Its existance has not been accepted or declared through London's steering committees or City council (unless CGL webkeeper has missed this which is possible, but unlikely).  Two surveys and some research was contracted out by the group to EcoEthonomics consultants out of Ottawa; surveys were completed in fall 2015 (it is now April 10/16 and a report is expected in May or June 2016, according to the health unit rep). The group also has (seems to have) changed its working name to "Food Assessment Team".  CGL webkeeper hopes that if a  food policy council develops for the City of London, it will be a people's food policy council, and not an imposed top-down entity.

note: CGL Webkeeper tries to limite her comment pieces.

Yes, there are people who can teach you about gardening!

Beautiful Edibles: If you are starting a vegetable garden for the first time this year - at home or in a community garden - or if you need help with any aspect of kitchen gardening, the experienced gardeners of Beautiful Edibles can help.
Kitchen Garden Setup Needs • Want to design or re-design your garden to be more eco-friendly? • Mobility issues – container/raised bed gardening • Veggies & Flowers can co-exist • Kids in the garden – Family friendly methods for healthy engagement • Sourcing organic seeds and seedlings • Season long garden support - vacation confidently
http://www.beautifuledibles.blogspot.ca/           Ph: 519-639-9991

Wildcraft Permaculture:
Consultation: If you are looking for guidance and direction on what steps to take next in your garden, Wild Craft will walk through your property with you in a 1 to 2 hour consultation to discuss your options. You will be left with a series of recommendations that you are free to implement on your own time. Sometimes this is just the boost you need to get your own creative juices flowing, or give you the confidence to move forward.
Installation:  Wildcraft founder Jessica has training in permaculture and planning.  Gardens can be designed for you to install, or that Wildcraft staff will install.  Such designs are always mindful of site and the most environmentally sound uses of water.

CGL webkeeper note: I post notices only about for-fee garden guides whose work I know.  We don't do advertising on this site, so that's my compromise.  Such notices are posted in news once or twice a season, and links are in resources pages.

Artemesia's Forest Nursery open for season

Shantree Kacera and Rob Read sent this note:

Hi Folks,

Greetings, we are pleased to announce that Artemisia's Forest Garden Nursery is open once again for the spring season. As you go through our nursery website you will notice that we have lots of new stock and variety of herbs, berries and fruit and nut trees. Orders need to be in by April 30th. Our pick-up date is Saturday May 7th. from 9 to 4pm.

Click here  to see our Nursery website:

Rob and I look forward to sharing our passion and our forest garden plants with you.

Wishing everyone an amazing growing season.

In Kinship,


note: Artemesia's pick-up is at The Living Centre, ecospiritual centre, 5871 Bells Road, London

At home in a greenhouse

                                                        posted Sun. Mar. 28/16

The Scholten family in Holland was selected to live in a new greenhouse Concept House, a project of the design students of Rotterdam University, and built near Rotterdam's docks.

The family will live for three years in the home, which has been built as an experiment in energy-efficiency and sustainability.  It is a commitment on their time, because they are the ones gardening the rooftop greenhouse, meaning they have to regulate the windows, curtains, and watering to make sure heat, light and water keep the plants growing.

Treehugger article: http://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/concept-house-family-living-greenhouse-helly-scholten.html
Helly Scholtens website:  http://www.hellyscholten.com/

Ontario Pollinator Health

Ontario Beekeepers Ass'n comments on Ontario Pollinator Health Action Plan and where you can comment

Ontario Beekeepers Ass'n comment is found here
Ontario's Draft Pollinator Health Action Plan is here www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/pollinator/actionplan-draft.pdf

Your comment on the Ontario report goes here

The Ontario Beekeepers Association document is written clearly, so you can read it and understand it.  It is laid out well, emphasizing ideas in different sections.  It says clearly what needs to be done.  The suggestions are practical and do-able.

If you are reading this note, you are concerned with the health of pollinators and food security.  You likely have your own knowledge and thoughts about pollinator health and food production. 

We encourage you to comment on the Ontario Pollinator Health Action Plan by March 7, 2016, on the Ontario Environmental Registry here .  This page has links to the report and to a related survey.

In case you have too many thoughts to sort through yourself, the OBA comments may help you organize them.  Or, take a look at the OBA report, pick those that are closest to your own thoughts and heart, and comment Registry here

By all means, write a separate note with comments to Ontario's Agriculture Minister, Jeff Leal (here), and/or your own MPP (find MPP here)
Written - paper - letters are good.  Email is good

CGL webkeeper's note: The Ontario Beekeepers Ass'n stresses that widespread agricultural practices - based in subsidies and chemical use -  are the biggest factor affecting the health of managed honeybees, wild bees and other pollinators ... and thereby our soil health and food security.  It suggests ways in which follow up and review of progress of programs can be done and emphasizes that Ontario must partner with other provinces and national levels to protect pollinators (and the land). It states clearly that the U.S.-based Pollinator Partnership and the Canadian National Bee Health Roundtable are both sponsored by and/or member-heavy with chemical manufacturers and big agriculture advocacy groups, and are not agencies to support

ReForest London Reminder about Invasive Species

Gotta love the staff and volunteers of ReForest London!! Their Feb 29 enews reminds us they have information on the website about some of the most common invasive species of trees that plant themselves uninvited in our area. See here

The photos that accompany this information are particularly good ones, and will help you identify these trees.

ReForest London has available five Weed Wrenches that you can borrow. A Weed Wrench is an easy-to-use tool that grabs the base of the tree or shrub and allows you to pull it out of the ground, roots and all!  It uses leverage so that you can remove trees up to about 1 inch in diameter without having to cut them.

The website also has suggestions about native trees to plant, on the Planting the Right Species page:

And information about tree planting and care, suppliers, and many other tree-triviae! 

Website: http://www.reforestlondon.ca
Check the Contact Us Page for staff names and numbers, or call the general number for information or to get your tree questions answered: 519-936-9548


Cathleen Kneen, loved person and food policy activist, passed away February 21/16

"if you want to understand a food system, listen to the people who are most oppressed by it, who see it from underneath and can see how it is constructed. Leadership from the ground up is key to long-lasting, effective work for a just and sustainable food system, as it connects people and reframes the elements of food systems to make something new, strong, human-scale, creative and resilient."

Cathleen (née Rosenberg) Kneen passed away peacefully at home in Ottawa on February 21st, 2016, aged 72 after a struggle with pancreatic cancer. She is survived by her beloved life and work partner of 53 years, Brewster Kneen, children Jamie Kneen (Soha) and Rebecca Kneen (Brian McIsaac), grandson Theodore, sister Jeannie Rosenberg and many colleagues and friends across the country and around the world.


The Food Secure Canada website gives a fuller tribute to Cathleen Kneen, mentioning her work in the peace and women's movements, ability as a potter and sheep farmer, and her work with social justice and food policy issues through the Toronto and Ottawa Food Policy Councils, Food Secure Canada, and with her husband Brewster Kneen through the Ram's Horn publication, and their 53 years together.

She was a force behind the People's Food Policy Project which produced Resetting the Table: A People's Food Policy for Canada.

Every two years, Food Secure Canada gives out the Cathleen Kneen Award to recognize vision, leadership and a commitment to grassroots activism in building a more just and ecological food system.
Cathleen described this as the core work of building relationships based in community.  Nominations for this year's award will open in May 2016.

Above is written by CGL webkeeper - who was lucky enough to meet Cathleen in person one time in Guelph - from information on the Food Security Canada website, here. http://foodsecurecanada.org/resources-news/news-media/memory-cathleen

Thanks for Seed Saving Workshop, and links

On Feb. 17, CGL webkeeper Maureen was lucky to attend a seed-saving intensive right here in London, with presenter Bob Wildfong of Seeds of Diversity Canada, and organized by the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario in conjunction with Everdale and the Bauta initiative.  Bob took us through some basic plant biology, and the basics of seed saving ... then we went on to the differences between saving seeds for one's home use and the exactness required for saving seeds for small scale commercial production.  And really, it is small scale, organic production of seeds that is going to maintain the genetic diversity we require for plants of all sorts.  And, it's the sane, sustainable practices of organic agriculture that soil health, and human health require.  The practicalities that came through anecdotes from the presenters and participants was what really made this day special.  This day was, literally, sitting around some kitchen tables and sharing information.  That the kitchen tables were in the amazing Clay Arts Building, home of the London Potters Guild, just added to its feeling of community.

Regular readers of this site know that we cannot stress too much how important it is to look, learn, labour and love the gardens and agriculture we live with. The work of the organizations below all deserve our attention and support.  We hope you will visit the sites for information about their missions and work, workshops or presentations and the importance of seed and good production practices to food security and sovereignty.  And yeah, webkeeper Maureen knows she gets enthusiastic and writes too much ... but doesn't apologize for it one bit. :-)

Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario: https://efao.ca/
Seeds of Diversity Canada: http://www.seeds.ca

Bauta Family Initiative on Seed Security in Canada: http://everdale.org/our-friends/bauta-family-initiative-on-canadian-seed-security/

Roughwood Seed Collection needs help

An email from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (www.rareseeds.com) on February 18/16 brought not just information about their interesting offerings for this year.  There is also a notice asking for support for an important heritage seed collection, the Roughwood Seed Collection, located in Devon, Pennsylvania and maintained by author and food historian William Woys weaver.

At this time, Weaver and a single assistant, Owen Taylor, maintain a collection of around 4,000 varieties of unique, endangered and delicious non-GMO food plants. Woys Weaver's grandfather began the collection in 1932.  If you've ever seen Woys Weaver's book Heirloom vegetable gardening, you'll have a sense of the fascinating history of lives and places, as well as plants, that go with any heritage plant.  There is only one copy in the London Public Library system, so put it on hold now: 635 Wea

The Roughwood Collection needs funds to maintain the seed collection and the best way for it to do this is to evolve itself to include a small, financially self-sufficient seed company.  Profits will ensure the grow-out and collection of seeds, contributing to the genetic diversity of food plants. On the practical side, part-time staff can be paid, a  greenhouse expanded, and other work gets done.

The link here takes you to the fundraising site for Roughwood, and an interesting video.   

Baker Creek seeds also sells from the Roughwood Collection, and is itself an interesting website of a company devoted to maintaining safe seed and food security.

Ontario Pollinator Health Action Plan

Ontario's Draft Pollinator Health Action Plan was released January 22, 2016    ... comment period is until March 7, 2016

The report as pdf: www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/pollinator/actionplan-draft.pdf

Comments go in through the Ontario Environmental Registry, which has a link to the report and a survey: here

posted to CGL site Feb 1 2016

17 (ish) tips for Incredible Edible Activists

CGL webkeeper Maureen thanks the Incredible Edible Activists and volunteers of Todmorden UK for this list ... and recommends any reader check out their website! (list on site here) ....posted CGL Jan. 24, 2016

Posted by Incredible Edible volunteer Nick, June 2009 ... a few years old but the advice is as good today as it was in 2009.

Getting things done locally can be a slow frustrating process; here are some top tips that I have learnt at my auntie’s knee!

1) Apply the thin end of the wedge, You may have 16 things you want to get done, drop 15 for now and concentrate on one small, simple, possibly inadequate, but doable issue.

2) Ask for the earth not the moon, Make sure what your asking for is within the askees power. Magic is not possible.

3) Don’t devote all of your time/energy on winning over politicians. local governments consist of a few hundred elected officials and many thousand officers. Go figure who makes the majority of the decisions!

4) Don’t overstate your case, be calm reasonable, measured and friendly. Your passion is a driver but it’s often counterproductive to allow it to show (this is England after all!).
There are lots of bonkers people out there that make a career out of harassing council officers who have no choice but to respond professionally. Do try not to appear too mad!

5) Find a friend, an insider in the council is worth their weight in quality compost! Look in community engagement/community safety teams; any department prefixed by the word community is worth a try. Gardening is a key tool for community cohesion specialists.

6) Learn the language. Local government officers have a secret code that contains the directives they must fulfill. Finding the form of words to couch your request is the key. Find an off duty council officer who is a gardener to help you with this.

7) Parish councils may add support to your case but their hands are tied and for most things its the city/county level where decisions are made.

8) Don’t be a lone voice, find others who share your aims, prefferably in an area that has problems, Deprivation, minorities, disabled, children, etc, these all have targets attached for local authorities.

9) Lighten their load. Show the council that what you plan to do reduces their work load and costs, and that its sustainable, the community will run it for ever!

10) Harness institutions. Councils like handing things over to bodies, church groups charities etc. If necessary become a body, community association, local food group etc, you will find help with constitutions, insurance etc on this site.

11) Kill em with kindness, your appreciation for the smallest most pathetic step in the right direction should be rewarded with a truckload of appreciation and national press coverage. Stroke the dogs belly and it will be your friend for life.

12) Smother your enemies with love, they can’t oppose you because you are so dam nice to em!

13) Work on establishing precidents. With a few notable exceptions, all but the most senior council officers are apprehensive of doing the wrong thing and are most comfortable following what’s been done before.

14) Work in partnership. A partnership between your group and others including the council has a special resonance with the local authority mindset.

15) Carrot not stick. Show em the rewards for doing what you want, positive aprobation is a rare and treasured thing for the beurocrats, they will come back for more. Threats don’t often work.

16) Get the press on your side, they love a campaign and green issues are hot just now. Get loads of faces in the picture. Write the piece yourself. Make it positive, mention several organizations working together.

17) Link in with other issues, healthy eating, exercise, digging as a sport, education etc

17a) Be patient but persistent, the wheels grind slowly, but they do grind.

17b) Be reliable and safe. Do what you say your going to do and don’t wash your smalls in public, be a safe hand for council officers to work with, in time they will begin to trust you.

17c) The article Newstart magazine (link in media pages on this IET website) should impress council officers especially those involved in regeneration, use it. In fact use all the media links, media aprobration oils the wheels somethink lovely!

17d) Be lucky and think HUGE!

Fixing Food: fresh solutions from five U.S. cities

                                                                          posted Tues. Jan. 19/16

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has released a report, Fixing Food: Fresh Solutions from Five U.S. Cities (January 2016). The 12 page report is readable and highlights practical things done - the food stories - by citizens in five cities to develop more equitable food systems. 

Oakland, CA - using policy to remove barriers to growing and selling food, and promote food justice
Memphis, TN - training sustainable farm entrepreneurs
Baltimore, MD - providing local produce to neighbourhoods
Louisville, KY - working with local government to solve food access challenges
Minneapolis, MN - making corner stores healthier

Participants from all five cities valued citizens' involvement at the neighbourhood level as equitable food systems developed. 

In April 2015, UCS convened a diverse group of 10 community food advocates from those cities.  The group defined food equity this way:

An equitable food system assures that all communities have power over their food, to serve their economy, health, and environment.

  • Farmers, growers, and farmworkers are an important part of our communities.
  • Self-determination is an essential piece of an equitable food system.
  • Nutritious and healthy, culturally appropriate food is critical.
  • Equitable food systems are built on principles of safety and trust: the ability to trust farmers and producers with the source and quality of food

The group also identified barriers to equitable food systems.

  • Political barriers: local regulations, policies, access to political spaces, etc.
  • Historical racial trauma and ongoing structural racism: social structures and policies that remain intact and limit people of color (especially farmers and entrepreneurs) from accessing material, political, educational, and financial resources
  • Financial barriers: limited access to grants and sustainable economic models

The Good Food Advocates shared the following strategies for successfully advancing food equity:

  • Build strong political alliances to move policy, both at the local  and national level
  • Effectively engage local communities to ensure a program's sustainability and success
  • Develop cooperative economic models that fill the gaps created by traditional funding methods.  Economic models that are more inclusive and focused on community needs and ownership can provide greater opportunities for growth within the community,

Check out the food stories from the people here.

Thanks once again to Michael Levenston's City Farmer website - for mentioning and linking to this item, and for being such an excellent source for information about urban agriculture.

Imidacloprid: preliminary reports on "safety", from PMRA and EPA

posted by CGL webkeeper Maureen, Sunday, January 10/16

Preliminary reports into the safety to pollinators of imidacloprid, one of the neonicotinoid insecticides, were released jointly on January 6/16 by Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A comment period to PMRA will begin January 18.

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate has already given its condemnation of the limitations to the EPA comments.  The London Free Press has done an article in usual newspaper fashion, pitting sides against each other. 

No doubt organizations like the Ontario Beekeepers Association and the National Farmers Union of Canada will add their comments and condemnations soon.

My own reading of the 4-pagers of both statements sums up as:
- same 'ol crap ... don't these people read the studies and have some common sense as far as realizing everything is a web, and way more complex than X affects Y?
- systemic neonicotinoids (imidacloprid being the most used) - which last and travel through water systems and soil/water interface to other plants and critters - are toxic ... and dead pollinators, dead critters, dead soil, and dead water make for dead humans
- a government bureaucracy will never say there has to be a total system change in food production ... to regenerative agroecological systems and food sovereignty, and away from monied chemical corporations which make and promote synthetic fertilizers and pesticides that kill soil and control huge percentages of seed, worldwide.

For anyone wanting the references:

Xerces Society: EPA’s Preliminary Risk Assessment for the Neonicotinoid Insecticide, Imidacloprid
By Aimee Code - Pesticide Program Director, Xerces Society, Published on January 7, 2016

London Free Press: Neonic use on seeds no danger to bees, report says, Wednesday, January 6, 2016

PMRA Press Release: Status Update on Neonicotinoid InsecticidesWed. Jan. 6, 2016
Re-evaluation Note REV2016-04, Joint PMRA / USEPA Re-evaluation Update for the Pollinator Risk Assessment of the Neonicotinoid Insecticides

PMRA: Re-evaluation Note REV2016-04, Joint PMRA / USEPA Re-evaluation Update for the Pollinator    Risk Assessment of the Neonicotinoid Insecticides, 4-pager

EPA Press Release
EPA 4 page pdf opens from here: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0844-0141

Final Agreement Reached at UN Climate Negotiations

December 13, 2015           The post below is from Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada

               The morning after 13 days - 3 all nighters…And the Paris Agreement is accepted. The COP21 decision is agreed. What does it all mean?
               I have been working on climate for the last 29 years. In that time I have seen lip service from most politicians, courage from a few politicians, venality from some corporations (Exxon come to mind), leadership from others. I have witnessed opportunity after opportunity squandered for political expediency. Agreements signed and then ignored. Overall we have procrastinated and lost decades when we could have averted the climate crisis nearly entirely.
               Now we are in it. With loss of life and devastating droughts and heat waves, extreme weather events, sea level rise and loss of Arctic ice and permafrost. No longer are we arguing about a future problem. We have already changed the climate, so the debate of 2015 is “can we avoid the very worst of the climate crisis? Can we ensure the survival of human civilization? Can we save millions of species?” To do so requires transitioning off fossil fuels.
               You will undoubtedly hear some denounce the Paris Agreement for what it does not do. It does not respond with sufficient urgency. It does not use the levers available to governments to craft a treaty that is enforceable with trade sanctions to add some teeth. Those criticisms are fair. As trade lawyer Steven Shrybman said more than a decade ago “If governments cared as much about climate as they do about protecting intellectual property rights, we would have laws that require carbon reduction in every country on earth.”
               Nevertheless, the Paris Agreement is an historic and potentially life-saving agreement. It does more than many of us expected when the conference opened on November 30. It will be legally binding. It sets a long term temperature goal of no more than 1.5 degrees as far safer than the (also hard to achieve) goal of no more than 2 degrees. In doing so, it may save the lives of millions. It may lead to the survival of many small nations close to sea level. It may give our grandchildren a far more stable climate and thus a more prosperous and healthy society. It clearly means the world has accepted that most known reserves of fossil fuels must stay in the ground.
               It is absolutely true that Canada announcing support for 1.5 degrees mid-way through the conference made a huge difference in keeping that target in the treaty. I heard that from friends and contacts around the world.
               To avoid 1.5 requires immediate action. Unfortunately, the treaty is only to take effect in 2020 (after it is ratified by 55 countries, collectively representing 55% of world GHG emissions). We have built into the treaty mandatory global 5 year reviews – what is called the “ratcheting up mechanism.”
               The mechanism to force all governments to assess the adequacy of their own plans only kicks in in 2023. That gap from 2015 to 2023 could well foreclose any option to hold temperature to less than 1.5 or even 2 degrees.
               So in addition to the Paris Agreement we also passed the Decision of COP21. It includes some actions before 2020. The language there is far from perfect but gives us a chance to increase targets before 2020. In 2018, there will be a “facilitative dialogue” within the UN to assess the adequacy of targets and to prepare for new ones for 2020. The decision document is actually longer than the treaty itself and includes many actions to be undertaken within the ongoing UNFCCC COP process. Among them, the IPCC is requested to produce a report to COP spelling out what level of GHG emissions will lead us to holding global average temperatures to no more than 1.5 degrees C above those before the Industrial Revolution.
               Canadians can be rightly proud of what our government did in Paris. While I did not support our position on every single issue, I cannot be more proud of what we did on most issues, nor can I thank our newly minted (and now totally exhausted) Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, enough for her work.
               What matters now is what we do next. Canada’s climate target remains the one left behind by the previous government. We have no time to waste in re-vamping and improving our target. We should be prepared to improve it again in 2020. But let’s ensure we get started. The Liberal platform committed to, within 90 days of COP21, consultations with all provincial and territorial governments. In his speech at COP21, Trudeau expanded that to engaging with municipal governments and First Nations as well. That is all excellent. Ideally this sets in motion a quick-start to identifying a more ambitious target with actions spelled out in the spring 2016 budget.
               Earth Day 2016 has been chosen in the decision document as the day for formal signatures to the Paris Agreement. Ban Ki-moon has been requested to organize a signing ceremony in New York at UN headquarters. Let’s all take a moment to send a thank you note to Prime Minister Trudeau and Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and urge that Canada’s new target be ready to be tabled at the UN on April 22, 2016 when Canada shows up to encourage all other countries to improve their own targets.
               Paris threw us a lifeline. Don’t let it slip between our fingers.

DuPont, Dow Agree to Combine

Globe and Mail business section, Saturday, Dec. 12/15 print edition

"Chemical titans E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. and Dow Chemical Co. agreed to combine in an all-stock merger valued at $130 billion (U.S.) in a move that pleased activist investors and would generate tax savings while drawing scrutiny from regulators.  The 'deal of three centuries,' as Wells Fargo analyst Frank Mitsch dubbed it, will combine two of the biggest and oldest U.S. chemical producers in a prelude to a split into three publicly traded businesses, focusing on agriculture, materials and specialty products.  The deal with face regulatory scrutiny, analysts said, especially over combining their agricultural businesses, which sell seeds and crop protection chemicals, incuding insecticides and pesticides."  (Reuters)

A press release about this, with more details, is here

CGL webkeeper comment: If this goes through the real scrutiny will have to be by every person who cares about food security, food sovereignty, land justice, poverty and health. Way too much control in too few hands!

Kisilu: The Climate Diaries

posted Dec 6 2015

Climate change articles come our way daily right now, as we wait to see if heads of national governments can come up with a plan to limit global warming to 2 [1.5] degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels.  Worldwide, municipalities, provinces, and citizens are working on projects to change the dangerous trajectory we are on. 

In Kenya, a smallholder farmer named Kisulu has been documenting his farm for over four years.  Filmmaker Julia Dahr has spent time filming Kisulu.  The documentary Kisulu: the Climate Diaries may be seen online from here.

Kisulu lives in an area hard hit by climate instability and smallholder farmers are particularly affected.  Such farmers feed not only their families but others in their community.  Climate change is directly related to food security and food sovereignty.

Check out the article about Kisulu and the climate diaries here, and watch the doc too!

sources: Aljazeera, 02 Dec 2015 article, noted on City Farmer

2016 SPARKS! Community Grant Program - taking applications

              posted Mon. Nov. 30 2015

Applications being accepted until February 12, 2016 ... so you've got planning time!

The City of London’s SPARKS! Neighbourhood Matching Fund is a community grant that provides funding to improve and enhance neighbourhoods and supports neighbourhood-driven projects aligned with London's Strengthening Neighbourhoods Strategy

Your group could get up to $5,000 to make your project happen! 

 When people and ideas connect with opportunity, great things happen!  In 2015, a food forest was planted in Wood Street Park, the Glen Cairn area started a "Little Libraries" project, the Forest Edge community had a Family Movie Night series, and 8 other projects were funded. 

Up to $50,000 is set aside in the City budget for SPARKS! programs, administered through Neighbourhood, Children and Fire Services.

Get together with neighbours and an exciting idea. The online SPARKS information gives suggestions for planning, and the kinds of parameters that make your application great.  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.  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. 

Full guidelines and the application, as well as a list of previous funded projects, is on the SPARKS! webpage here

Call 519-661-5336 or email neighbourhoods@london.ca if you have questions. There's even a Facebook page! 

Good luck!!


CGL Comment: Climate Change, COP21, Compact of Mayors, and London Councillor opposed

by Community Gardens London webkeeper Maureen Temme, posted November 29/15

Worldwide, today - November 29, 2015 - there will be gatherings to urge our politicians to get serious about the legislation and limits that will do something about climate change.  Talks begin in Paris France.  It sounds like Canada is participating this time at the federal level. 

On November 10/15 London City Council voted 14 to 1 for London Mayor Matt Brown to join the Compact of Mayors, "a global coalition of mayors and city officials committed to reducing local greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing the resilience to climate change, and publicly tracking their progress".

At that Council meeting, Councillor Michael Van Holst spoke against the recommendation.  His comments about climate change were unexpected by CGL webkeeper Maureen; others may want to read or listen to them entirely or in context. Meeting agenda, report and a video recording can be reached through the City's agenda pages: http://sire.london.ca/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=1043&doctype=AGENDA

A transcript of Coun. Van Holst's comments was made by CGL webkeeper on Nov. 27. She wanted to know what had precipitated the Councillor's comments, some of which were reported in the London Free Press here, by coincidence just before she left for Ottawa for a conference on Food Security in a Changing Climate, hosted by the Canadian Climate Forum.

Excerpts from Coun. Van Holst's comments:

"I'm also very disturbed about the fact that the threat of climate change has been ridiculously exaggerated lately ..." 

" ...  When we burn these [fossil fuels] they return as carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and will again become those great forests. So, I think for that reason we should be happy.  However, there may be a little bit of a rainy season until then so probably worthwhile getting yourself a backflow preventer for the sanitary line." 

If you would like to receive a full copy of the transcript and make your own decisions about the context and general accuracy of Coun. Van Holst's comments, Maureen is happy to supply that transcript (or go to the links above to listen, which is perhaps the greater experience). communitygardenslondon@execulink.com

In all sincerity, Maureen Temme

Growing food in public places brings people together

CGL thanks the Vancouver Sun. Nov. 1/15 for this article by Peter Ladner!

"I first discovered the link between city building and urban agriculture from a community police officer in Vancouver’s Collingwood-Renfrew neighbourhood. A horse-loving hobby farmer from Langley, she had set up a community garden near a SkyTrain station as a crime prevention tool. Her theory was that by engaging street people in a garden they would be doing something positive in their lives. When I asked her how it was working, she said it was working too well: People with not much else to do were over-watering the plants!

"As a city councillor at the time, I quickly realized that a community garden is a simple, cheap piece of civic infrastructure that serves myriad purposes — with no downside. Community gardens really can reduce crime. At a social housing project in Manchester, two years after a large garden was built by people in the neighbourhood and young people got involved with it, calls to police declined by 50 per cent.
In any neighbourhood with many renters, newcomers from other countries, or the potential for seniors to feel isolated, a shared garden is a place where people can meet their neighbours around a simple project everyone can understand.

"I’ve heard stories about elderly Chinese-speaking women out strolling who stop and watch hapless young hipsters trying to get a garden growing, then start gesticulating and demonstrating what they have to do.
Food gardens in public places are like that. Anyone who has planted their boulevard — like the Kerrisdale neighbours who built a garden between the sidewalk and the curb and organized a pumpkin-growing contest — knows you can’t work in a boulevard garden without talking to people. Downtown Vancouver’s Sole Food Street Farms, best known for its raised beds adjacent to B.C. Place Stadium, transforms vacant urban land into street farms that grow artisan quality fruits and vegetables.” Now, with four urban farms under production, it offers people living on the margins of society a kind of work that just isn’t otherwise available within walking distance of the Downtown Eastside: relatively easy to learn, outdoors, physical, community-serving, utterly wholesome, with flexible hours.

"At David Thompson Secondary School, Fresh Roots, a non-profit organization, staged what I consider the consummate food-growing coalition, more than living up to its mission to “create thriving neighbourhood gathering places for learning, sharing, and connecting.” Coordinated by the ebullient Ilana Labow, they turned part of the school ground into a professionally-managed educational farm by engaging the students, teachers, grounds staff, parents and neighbours. The built the farm in four days with 360 community volunteers. The teachers build lessons around what’s growing and use an outdoor classroom space when the weather is good. The kids learn to like kale and broccoli, and local seniors can sit at picnic tables in the garden and be part of it all. There’s so much neighbourhood involvement that vandalism has never been an issue.

"Curtis Stone, the former musician turned urban farming rock star in Kelowna, has developed a highly sophisticated strategy for making serious money off micro-farming: $75,000 in revenue from 1/3-acres of small urban plots. But even he, with fences around all his plots and a keen commercial eye, says his business can’t avoid being a community project. He exchanges advice with nearby gardeners and uses retired senior volunteers to prune his tomato plants in the peak season. And his gardens beget more gardens: “In every place that I have had a farm plot over the years, I have seen at least 10 people in those areas start to garden passionately,” he writes in his new book, The Urban Farmer, Growing Food for Profit on Leased and Borrowed Land.

"Vancouver’s first urban farmer, Ward Teulon, told me about one East Vancouver plot he tended — one of several backyards donated in exchange for produce and upkeep — where the owner lived alone and didn’t talk to anyone else all week.

"Increasingly, new housing developments are providing places where people can grow food together. District Main apartments at 28th and Main is one of many residential buildings with a rooftop garden where tenants can pick vegetables for their own dinner or dine at a communal table.

The simple act of food growing resonates in so many positive ways: improving neighbourhood safety, building links between generations and cultures, making people healthier and happier, relieving poverty, beautifying brownfield sites, educating kids about where their food comes from, improving diets and animating underused park lands and recycling organic waste.

"A city that grows food together, grows together."

*Peter Ladner, a former Vancouver city councillor, is author of The Urban Food Revolution: Changing the Way We Feed Cities. He writes a weekly column for Business in Vancouver, a weekly newspaper he co-founded. Article is located here

Our Diet Meets Climate Change - TVO

How will climate change affect what we grow, what we eat and where we get it? The Agenda discusses the role food plays in our identity, culture, and security.  Main Agenda page: here

TVO Broadcast Monday, Oct. 26/15 ... segments play separately. Item posted on CGL Tues. Oct. 27

The Future of Food         interview here
What we eat can say a lot about who we are, where we live and what we think. The Agenda discusses the effects of climate change on food. Could it affect what is on the Canadian plate and how we see ourselves?
Sarah Elton, Journalist & Author, “Consumed: Food for a Finite Planet” 
Diane Pacom, Sociologist, University of Ottawa
Mark Holmes, Professor & Coordinator, Centre for Hospitality & Culinary Arts’ ChefSchool, George Brown  

Navin Ramankutty: Farming in a Changing Climate        here 
No matter what happens, people still need to eat. Navin Ramankutty from the University of British Columbia visits The Agenda to discuss how climate change could affect agriculture around the world and whether we can do anything to adapt.

Barry Smit: The Changing Wine World   here
As Ontario's wine industry grows larger, some wonder if climate change is helping the province grow all these grapes. Barry Smit from Brock University joins The Agenda to explain how climate change will affect wine production both at home and abroad.


City Symposium - Vote for December 9th topic

City Symposium - What would you like to talk about on December 9th?

London City Symposium holds presentation and discussions on various topics, choosing the topics by votingJames Shelley organizes these.  The next City Symposium is on Wednesday, December 9th (7pm at Chaucer’s Pub, Atrium room). You have 25 days - until Friday, Nov. 20 - to vote for the next topic ... or to add another you'd like to discuss.

Vote now for the topic(s) you want to explore!  from the topics below, which are explained more on the Vote Now page.  Please direct any questions about City Symposium to organizer James Shelley at city.symposium@gmail.com

Is immortality worth pursuing? 

How can we (actually) make positive changes in society?

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD): Disorder or Superpower?

Mental Illness: is it a Gift or a Curse?

Can we understand the present without understanding the past?

Federal Candidates on environment topics

London Environmental Network members have taken the time to contact candidates from all parties with candidates in the upcoming federal election, and have asked questions about a range of environment topics.

Candidates' comments, by topic and by riding, are on the LEN website here.

Putting this together would sure have taken a lot of time. Hurray for all involved in this important work!

The London Environmental Network site is a "go to" site for information about over 25 environment groups and the many events in and around London. http://www.londonenvironment.net

Urban Farms are around the world

Against all odds, people find ways to resist – Aleppo, Syria

syrian garden

This is a garden in one of the mosques in the city of Aleppo, northern Syria. The caretaker is originally a farmer and started to transform the gardens that once only hosted flowers into a vegetable urban garden to provide poor families in the neighbourhood. Urban farming in necessary in Aleppo as people suffer from constantly rising prices and the circumstances of war that prevent farmers from cultivating and harvesting their crops in the countryside. The activists in Aleppo emphasise that farming needs to take place inside the cities and especially on the rooftops, not only in gardens. Against all odds, people find ways to resist. Mutaz Hammoda

from Guardian News - Urban Farms Around the World in Pictures -


new book ... Landscapes of Change

Landscapes of Change: innovative designs and reinvented sites. Roxi Thoren. Timber Press, 2014 ...... posted Sept. 20, 2015

Books from the children's library, with lots of pictures and non-technical text can be a great introduction to a new topic and terms.

Roxi Thoren's Landscapes of Change is not a children's book, nor is it a "coffee table" book, with only terrific photos.  Thoren is both a landscape architect and architect.  She has selected photos, site plans and diagrams that highlight details, shapes and layout.  There's a lot to look at, and it just might be fun to go through it with a young child and hear the details she or he finds!  The text is readable, and concise, giving essentials about each project.  Each project chosen has a place - a connection - to its community, and there's a lot of innovation in the projects, the sort that might become standard as we move into our resource-short future.
Thoren also includes a reference list for each location highlighted, and reference list for each of the design/social topics she covers:
- infrastructure: rethinking public works
- postindustrial landscapes: reclaiming sites of industry
- vegetated architecture: living roofs and walls
- ecological urbanism: design informed by natural systems
- edible landscapes: agriculture in the city

Landscapes of Change is available in London's Public Library system: 712 Tho.
If you are interesting in purchasing it, please consider purchasing/ordering it through an independent bookseller. In London , Ontario - Mandala Books (519) 432-9488) Oxford Bookshop (519-438-8336), or the Bookstore at Western (519-661-3520)

Landscapes of Change: innovative designs and reinvented sites at Timberpress Publisher.

Roxi Thoren ... prof at U. of Oregon

Brownfields/Green Neighbourhoods, pdf.  ... description of studio (part of a course?), about a waterfront industrial zone that was changed.

The Professor's House, Fine Homebuilding site, March 28, 2012.

An inside look at living roofs. Fine Homebuilding 220, pp. 66-70, May 19, 2011... requires membership/sign-in to read entire article.

London Civic Administration to look at Urban Agriculture

the Municipal Council, at its meeting held on September 1, 2015 resolved:

That the following actions be taken with respect to the London Community Gardens Program Strategic Plan (2015-2019):

a)  On the recommendation of the Managing Directors of Neighbourhood, Children and Fire Services and of Parks and Recreation, the London Community Gardens Program Strategic Plan (2015 - 2019) and the year one Implementation Plan, as appended to the staff report dated August 25, 2015 as Schedule A, BE ENDORSED; and,

b) the Civic Administration BE DIRECTED to consult with key stakeholders and to report back at a future meeting of the appropriate standing committee, with respect to the feasibility of an overarching urban agriculture policy that will outline the following:
i)     an inventory of parcels of City-owned land that are potential locations for urban farming;
ii)    the role the City of London could play with regard to urban farming on public lands;
iii)   a clear definition of "urban agriculture"; and

iv)    a review of the current license policies and by-laws to ensure that the City plays a role that does not hinder the various aspects of urban agriculture such as land preparation, food growth, food production and food sales.

The above is from the official letter copied to CGL webkeeper Maureen Temme from C. Saunders, City Clerk for the City of London.

Strategic Plan for London's community gardens accepted at City Council Sept. 1, 2015

The Strategic Plan can be found on the agenda of the Community and Protectice Services Agenda: http://sire.london.ca/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=971&doctype=AGENDA

Mexico's Indigenous Farmers Farming for the Future

                                                                           Posted Sept 1/15

The traditional, sustainable agricultural practices of Mexico's indigenous farmers remain the same and are also developing ... there's inspiration here for anyone interested in land regeneration, sensible water use, and food production.

August 10, 2015 by Leah Penniman  for YES! magazine

By Leah Penniman, an organic farmer from New York state, spent 6 months in Mexico meeting farmers and working with them.  Check out the August 10, 2015 issue of YES! magazine here

Thanks to USC-Canada's In Case You Missed It column for linking to this article. (scroll down USC page for ICYMI)  USC-Canada and YES! are both sources of good ideas, good stories, and inspiration

Strategic Plan for Community Gardens going to City Council... still questions ... and possible co-opting of urban agriculture!

The strategic plan for London's community gardens program was accepted at the August 25/15 meeting of Community and Protective Services Committee.  It will proceed to Council at its Tuesday, September 1/15 meeting, 4 p.m. start. The CPSC agenda is here ; click on item to get pdf of strategic plan.

Once through the political language of the strategic plan, there are some good ideas ... ideas that came from people who garden in the system and who care about shared gardens ... ideas that have been talked about for years. These people were the ones not notified in any way that the plan was coming to City Hall (in August!).  There was no media notification of it. People and gardening are left out of the plan, which is heavy on administrative detail..

There are questions and concerns to raise about the strategic plan. If you are concerned too, please get in touch with your councillor.  Make your opinion known.

What guarantee is there that the administration of the Community Gardens program is really going to start talking with the community partners and community members concerned about community gardens?  These people were supposed to be brought into the gardens' care and oversight system, according to the review in 2011.  It hasn't happened.  Who oversees the coordinating agency and the City staff desk that holds the gardens program?

The plan talked about how great community gardens are ... but where were real examples of London's gardens as part of their communities?

What will an exact time frame be to get reports about the community gardens?  And a guarantee that gardeners, interested people, and media will be notified? 

When will gardeners be invited to really participate in how their garden is run? Be given some choices on management style?

What guarantee and real, accountable time line is there for putting in place ways for gardeners to communicate with each other?  The gardens review came out in 2011, and the new - old - coordinating agency (London Community Resource Centre) took over in 2012.  But neither the City website, nor the website or facebook pages of the coordinating agency are a forum for communication.

Where's the guarantee that there will be a visible budget of dollars and in-kind services for the community gardens program?  How is the program responsible, accountable, transparent?   Pick your word.  When a community program can show it is managing its resources it can say with pride and truth that it is doing something good when it does something good.

How can 14 gardens remaining in the program have 600 plots if 21 gardens mentioned in the 2011 review had 600?

Several sections of the strategic plan talk about gardens not on municipal land being brought into - and under the jurisdiction of - the municipality.  This was never talked about before.  Where did this come from?!  The City and coordinating agency has not been talking with the gardeners it has, how can it think to handle more? What level of regulation might be brought in? Why should it be?

What concrete, practical plans are going to be done - and when - to really make community gardens part of their neighbourhoods?

You will be able to watch/hear the proceedings of the CPSC meeting here - click on "video"
 - starting Thursday, Aug. 2

Urban agriculture ... co-opted?? Things can happen at civic meetings that even the councillors don't understand, let alone the people in the gallery who are trying to follow procedures. 

A sudden addition to the plan was a request to City staff to start to investigate regulations that affect urban agriculture and a definition of it.  The exact wording of this instruction to staff won't be available until the agenda for the Council is posted online.  It had been the intention of the councillor who initiated the urban agriculture discussion - with the best of intentions - to have that topic brought to the CPSC meeting under "additional business".  Some procedural confusion occurred and it went in with the gardens strategic plan.

This is a serious thing and could begin a political process where urban agriculture is rolled in with community gardening.  This important topic needs its own conversation.  Of course, it may be that urban agriculture will proceed a lot faster and more productively in London if advocates just get on with doing things instead of becoming involved in the usual years long, frustrating process City Hall takes.

To Comment ...... and please comment! ... Your written comment about the strategic plan for London's community gardens program can be included with the printed agenda for the next City Council meeting if  you are able to get it in by noon, Friday, August 28 to Cathy Saunders, City Clerk, csaunders@london.caOr, you can phone her at 519-661-2500, ext. 4937.

I think written comments can be accepted and distributed with the agenda ... check with the City Clerk's office.

Or, send a note or phone your own city councillor, from the list here
or 519-661-5095, or  citycouncillors@london.ca

or the Mayor Matt Brown's officePhone: 519-661-4920, mayor@london.ca

Urban Agriculture in Hamilton Ontario

"For the Planning and Economic Development Department, an important part of our partnership role is to make sure that our policies and regulatons are not needlessly standing in the way. "
         Jason Thorne ... City of Hamilton, general manager, Planning and Economic Development

For an easy to read piece on some of the things being done in Hamilton to facilitate urban agriculture development, check out the article Facilitating Urban Agriculture with 'Tactical' Policy Changes by Jason Thorne, August 18, 2015 in Raise the Hammer

It sounds like Hamilton City staff are working with various community groups and programs, talking through concerns and making changes that are needed.

CGL webkeeper is looking online for related material and will email Thorne for references. So far , she's found community gardens related material.

Hamilton "Community Garden Policy" - 17 page report - (PW10044) - (City Wide)
to Hamilton's Public Works Committee on April 19, 2010 -

Hamilton community gardens general info page ...links to application form, policy document (report below), Hamilton Community Gardens Network - https://www.hamilton.ca/parks-recreation/community-environmental-initiatives/community-gardens

Hamilton Neighbourhood Action Strategy
... with a link to the Hamilton Food Strategy  ... some info ... this is work underway

Jason Thorne - CBC interview, just prior to starting his job, April 25, 2014.
Hamilton Spectator piece, same date: http://www.thespec.com/news-story/4484256-great-city-planner-wants-to-help-hamilton-get-there/


Strategic Plan for London's community gardens goes to Community and Protective Services Committee Tues. Aug. 25

A proposed strategic plan for London's community gardens program will be presented to the City's Community and Protective Services Committe on August 25, 2015. Meeting begins at 4:00 p.m.

CGL webkeeper comments about it are below in this article.

CGL hopes that you will have the interest and time to look at the proposed strategic plan (here) and send comments to one or all of the City councillors who are on the Community and Protective Services Committee:
Josh Morgan (ward 7), chair: joshmorgan@london.ca, cell: 226-927-0395 or 519-661-2500, ext. 4007
Bill Armstrong (ward 2): barmstro@london.ca, 661-2500, ext. 4002
Tanya Park (ward 13):  tpark@london.ca, cell 226-927-1468 or 519-661-2500, ext. 4013
Virginia Ridley (ward 10): vridley@london.ca, cell 226-927-0539 or 519-661-2500, ext. 4010
Mo Salih (ward 3): msalih@london.ca, cell 226-926-7615 or 519-661-2500, ext. 4003

It might be possible to write something that can go to the councillors and be an added paperwork at the CPSC meeting.  Committee assistant Lauren Kucera would can advise you on this. lkucera@london.ca or 519-661-2500, ext. 6479

This strategic plan is coming forward more than 4 years after a review with 14 recommendations for the gardens was endorsed by City Council (April 4, 2011). Focus groups for the strategic plan occurred in fall 2013 through April 1/14 and a survey was done in the fall of 2013.

The agenda for the Community and Protective Services Committee is here (click on the gardens item to get the pdf of the plan)

For comparison and convenience, the draft of the strategic plan (November 2014) is here and CGL concerns about it are here

The London Community Gardens Program Review (April 2011) is here

From here - below - I claim webkeeper privilege to comment on the current (proposed) strategic plan.

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 CGL webkeeper, Maureen Temme, and others spoke with senior City staff to encourage a review of London's community gardens program. The website came online Feb. 14, 2011 and its content is much farther ranging than just London's community gardens! We try to encourage, advocate for and celebrate urban agriculture and community gardening.

There is no joy in this (proposed) strategic plan. People and gardening are missing from it.  It lacks information.

The strategic plan has important goals, many of which reflect concerns brought forward in 2009 and written into the 14 recommendations of the London Community Gardens Program Review (April 4, 2011).  The strategic plan does not, however, give the support information to prove an accountable, participatory program.  The task list is not prioritized on a time line; how things will be done is not said.  How  oversight will be handled is not said.  Minor text changes from its November 2014 draft leave it overwritten with business/political speak in comparison to the Review. 

The most basic information given in the strategic plan about Lcgp raises a question.  The strategic plan mentions 14 gardens and 600 plots; 5 years ago there were 20 gardens and 600 plots.  How can the plot number be the same? 

Where is an actual plot count?  Where are numbers of programs, participants, drop-outs, late-entries to the gardens, problems and how handled?  Where is budget information, for dollar and in-kind services? Such data should exist to justify a program and be the basis of a strategic plan.

There have been no public annual reports about Lcgp, either prior to the 2012 shift in relation between City and Co-ordinating agency or since. There have been no moves to engage neighbourhood assistance and "community stakeholders" as recommended in the LCGPR.
Poor communication was identified as a need for a LCGPR (in summer 2009) and the need for better communication was underscored in the LCGPR.

In the four years since the Review, London's community gardens program has not fostered communication between its gardeners or responsibility for garden management within gardens.  Information about the gardens has not been publicized to the public in general, or to community members with particular interest in community gardening.

There is no website or facebook page designated for communication between gardeners in London's community gardens program, with explanation that it is such and encouragement to use it..

The strategic plan was expected in March 2015, then June. It comes forward in late August when no one is around.  Why?  (the strike is not an excuse for the last delay)

Summaries of information from the strategic plan's focus groups and survey (in fall and winter 2013/14) were not sent to all gardeners or participants in these undertakings.  Notes from focus group #1 were sent out to participants at my urging by the agency hired to do the strategic plan (consultant fees are another budget item not mentioned anywhere).  Community Gardens London site posted notes from all three focus groups; I wrote them and referred to them on the CGL's email list of about 230 people.

Gardeners have not been informed that this strategic plan is coming forward next week.  Not even long-time interested persons like myself and others who participated in meetings over the years, focus groups and survey have been told this document is coming to CPSC. There's no mention of it on the City or LCRC website/facebook (as of Thursday, August 20 morning).  There's never been an email from the City (Cheryl Smith) or the LCRC giving an update about the process or the timeline.  I know this stuff because I ask, and ask again.

Again, if you have thoughts or concerns about London's community garden program, please be in touch with councillors on the CPSC or your own councillor.

Food Business Innovation Centre lands a long-awaited grocery outlet!

                                                                         posted August 15, 2015

On August 13, the London Free Press reported that food entrepreneur Dave Cook will be opening a food-business innovation centre ("incubator") in November, in a building to be renovated at 630  Dundas Street, just east of Adelaide. (article here )

Cook hopes to encourage new food-related businesses and help entrepreneurs learn about and get through many of the hurdles and regulations specific to such.

Now, the Saturday, Aug. 14 Freeps reports that a grocery store is in the works, to be part of this Old East London food hub (here)

ATN Access and Pathways are partnering in this undertaking, which will be staffed by persons with disabilities, and provide them with job skills and experience.

The new grocery store and related business innovation hub will be a terrific complement to the London Farmers and Artisans Market - open Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with a huge range of local products.  The market is a great experience, and an undertaking of Dave Cook, who began Fire Roasted Coffee and has never looked back in developing and encouraging community-based businesses. 

Few green roof pioneers in London (yet)

Praise must surely be given to London entities which are first in the city to be installing "green roofs" of water-holding, building-cooling plants: The Sisters of St. Joseph, the Biotron Building at UWO, Renaissance Condo Tower, and City Hall (which has a green "roof" on what seems to be ground level at the main entrance doors but which is a roof to the floors below it).  Youth Opportunities Unlimited (http://www.you.ca) has added food-growing space to its roof - the latest in its innovative programs and a great complement to its café and catering enterprises!

London Free Press writer Emanuela Campanella deserves praise too, for tracking down the few such projects that are happening in London* and for speaking with senior city hall staff ... whose comments confirm that green roofs are not (yet, anyway) on London's radar in a significant way.  There have been no moves toward building code changes to require such or financial incentives for such renovations, as there have been in other Canadian cities. 

CGL webkeeper has not taken a look at the draft London Plan to see if green roofs are mentioned specifically.

Proving that great minds think alike and great ideas come 'round in many places at the same time ... the CBC News recently posted Green roofs and 'agritecture' have potential to transform food supply in cities (here) The focus here is on food production and its potential for adding locally produced food to the environmental benefits of aerial green space. 

The City Farmer website can be searched for many articles about rooftop gardens as part of urban agriculture (and many other important topics).

More London building owners are going green at the highest level, by Emanuela Campanella, August 9/15 London Free Press.   (here)

Does food matter to you? Then lets make it matter to our politicians!

From Food Secure Canada ...

Join the Eat Think Vote (http://campaign.foodsecurecanada.org/) campaign starting on June 29th and invite the federal election candidates around your table by organizing and sharing healthy meals together in your community. 

In coming together around a good meal, it is possible to share great ideas and make food an election issue. Together, let's ask for a bold new vision for Canada. Together, let's ask for a national food policy where all Canadians will eat healthy, just and sustainable food.

To facilitate the meetings between people and politicians around the issue of healthy sustainable food, Food Secure Canada will be launching a new website on June 29th. We will be asking Canadians to sign a petition asking for a national food policy and to attend or host an Eat Think Vote event in your riding to bring the message to candidates across Canada.

The Eat Think Vote campaign will be asking for:
zero hunger in Canada (food insecurity affects nearly 4 million Canadians);
affordable food in northern and remote communities;
support for new farmers ;
a federal investment in a universal healthy school food program

Follow Food Secure Canada on its website: http://foodsecurecanada.org/
... or on Facebook here

Glen Cairn Community Resource Centre - using water resources!

Devlyn Lover helps plant vegetation in a bioswale at Glen Cairn Community Resource Centre on Monday. The vegetation will prevent erosion of the bioswale, which is designed to gather, filter and absorb rainwater run-off from nearby parking lots. (MORRIS LAMONT, The London Free Press)
Devlyn Lover helps plant vegetation in a bioswale at Glen Cairn Community Resource Centre on Monday. (MORRIS LAMONT, The London Free Press)

Children from the Glen Cairn community helped plant blanketflowers, coneflowers, iris and other rainwater loving plants into a new "bioswale" - a natural rainwater-capturing ditch - near the Glen Cairn Community Resource Centre and the Youth For Christ Centre.  The area will become a cheerful, colourful, meadow garden with the special purpose of filtering (cleaning) and holding water which runs off from parking lots ... and stopping that water from overloading storm drains.

Craig Merkley, conservation services specialist with the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, emphasized that UTRCA is trying to promote use of such bioswales in London and throughout the watershed. As well as being environmentally sensible by keeping water where it's needed for growing plants, bioswales are an economical way of dealing with rainwater and save money on infrastructure (pipes and transfer systems).

A grant from RBC's Blue Water funded the project.  UTRCA, the City of London and the London Community Foundation partnered with the two organizations on it.

Glen Cairn Community Centre also installed an "oasis" ... a vegetable garden in raised beds!  The Centre really does serve as a centre for its neighbourhood!

Thanks to London Free Press and Deb Van Brenk for reporting on this.  The full article can be found here. 

Glen Cairn Community Resource Centre
244 Adelaide Street South, N5Z 3L1      519-668-2745

A Guide to Growing and Selling Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

A Guide to Growing and Selling Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
Hot off the Press! The TFPC and City of Toronto are pleased to announce a new publication that explores the issues related to growing and selling fruit and vegetables, provides answers to common questions, presents key information about rules, regulations, health and safety, and offers inspirational stories of successes achieved and opportunities seized! Link to the Guide here.

Canadian Organic Growers Celebrates 40 Years!

Congratulations to Canadian Organic Grower!

For 40 years Canadian Organic Grower organization has been advocating for organic agriculture, for education about food, for integrated growing systems, for healthy land, for standards about organics that ensure good growing and that consumers get the food they want.

COG has an online monthly news, updates, publications, a library from which you can borrow, information about organic standards, courses to take ... and those things are just a beginning.

COG has written the books on organic agriculture in Canada, publishing about such things as crop planning, raising livestock organically, and record keeping (which is a requirement of certification in Canada.

Canadian Organic Grower's most recent publication is the Backyard Gardening Guide ... to let any home or community gardeners know the importance of their work.

Your monetary support through membership or just a donation keeps all the good things going!

If you haven't checked out the COG website and signed on for the newsletter or joined as a member ... here's your chance!

Canadian Organic Week this year should be the biggest celebration ever! September 19-27 . Stay tuned for more info as it becomes available!

Check out www.cog.ca      

The value of science and environmental health

Here in Canada, we've known for years that the "Harper government" has been censoring science.

So it's no surprise to hear yet another retiring scientist speaking out against the government's actions and policies.

So, CGL webkeeper Maureen applauds the scientists who stood up for science and freedom by protesting on Parliament Hill today, Tuesday, May 19/15.  I hope they'll monitor any push back they get ... because they'll be getting push back.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Society of Biology has been given permission to become the Royal Society of Biology. (here)
This is a recognition for the discipline of biology and the contribution of biologists as educators, advisors and researchers.

And in the United States there's just been unveiled a national strategy to restore 7 million acres of bee and butterfly habitat over the next 5 years. (here)

Whether you have no use for the Monarchy and thereby a "royal" designation ...
Whether you feel somewhat cynical about any national strategy declared in the United States ...

We hope you'll take a moment to think on those two situations - and Canadian scientists speaking out - as positive news.


Learning Garden at Graham Family Eco Park 

                                 Posted in NEWS Tues. May 19/15

The Graham Family EcoPark (http://www.theecopark.com/) holds over 26 acres of ecologically diverse plant life featuring large indigenous trees, interpretive walking trails, a pond with two beaver lodges and many species of wildflowers. It is situated on a rehabilitated aggregate site! The vision of its founder, Bill Graham of Try Recycling, is to create a place for children and families to enjoy nature and continually develop an appreciation for the environment.

The London Community Resource Centre is creating a Learning Garden at the Graham Family Eco Park to promote the growing of food using sustainable and organic methods and the importance of urban bio-diversity and nature connection. The first community work bee was held on Monday, May 18. In the 1st year of a multi-year plan, the Eco Park Learning Garden will be open for once a month community visits and celebrations on Saturday, July 18, Saturday, August 15, and Saturday, September 19.

Home Depot's new neonic plant labels spin the story

CGL webkeeper Maureen here.  My trip to Home Depot last week was an education ... and I'm claiming editorial privilege to comment on this item. 

Home Depot Garden Club plant labels say: "This plant is protected from aphids, whiteflies, beetles, mealy bugs. Treated with Neonicotinoids that are approved by Health Canada".

Sounds nice, doesn't it?  Government approval, and our plants are safe.

The Home Depot plant labels DON'T say:

Neonicotinoid insecticides are known to harm and kill bees.

Neonicotinoid insecticides persist in all parts of a treated plant, including its pollen and nectar.

Neonicotinoid insecticides can stay in the soil/water for a year or more.

In the world of "what goes around comes around", I wonder what will come around for Home Depot.

For articles about neonicotinoids, check the News and resources pages of the Community Gardens London site.

Home Depot is labelling which of the plants it sells are grown using bee-killing neonicotinoid insecticides. Those of us who know the neonicotinoids are a problem will know what not to buy. 

For general consumers who just want pretty flowers that will attract pollinators, however ... they'll think the plants are just fine.

Last year, several environment groups campaigned and lobbied several major retailers to label plants they sold to let buyers know which were grown using neonicotinoid insecticides.

Last summer, the day after the Gardeners Beware 2014 report was released - finding that over half the plants sampled contained neonic residue - Home Depot announced it would label plants grown with neonics. 

This sounded good ... sounded like buyers would be informed and choose against buying the neonicotinoid-treated plants ... after all, the neonics kill or harm bees and we all want to help bees.

We environment types are naïve ... we don't think in terms of the promotional staff ( "spin doctors") who get big money for coming up with ways of saying something that uses certain parts of truth to disguise a big problem

We need to do better.

USC-Canada's "In Case You Missed It Monday" news round up

Every Monday, USC Canada gathers up news items to do with food security and agriculture.  The Monday, May 4 selection included these wide-ranging items:

* Bees May Become Addicted to Neonicotinoid Pesticides! from the Guardian News
* How 300 farmers from 'round the world met in Mali to discuss how agroecology will lead our food future
* Inmates in a Bali prison are growing plants for seeds to supply the organic farm market - learning skills, and serving a real need
* and in Canada, a market gardener talks about how to make an agricultural living without a tractor!

Check it out here!

It's a great column and CGL webkeeper hopes to remind herself to check it out regularly by writing about it for you!

'The Messenger' documentary: Death of songbirds is environmental warning

Canada's songbirds are in declineThe environmental message that birds might just have for us all is the subject of a new documentary film, The Messenger, screening at Toronto's Hot Docs festival.

Must listen program from CBC's The Current, broadcast Friday, May 01, 2015 and available online here.

Interviews with
Ian Jones, an ornithologist at Memorial University.
Su Rynard, director of the documentary.
Christy Morrissey, an ecotoxicologist from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.  Morrissey's work on neonicotinoid contamination of wetlands in the Prairies was reported on the CGL site (CBC item here), mentioned on a Quirks and Quarks show about neonics, and her work is part of the work by the Taskforce on Systemic Pesticides (http://www.tfsp.info/) which condemns the systemic and persistent neonics.

Care for the Living Soil

" ... Some 4,000 years ago our ancient Vedas had guided us, “Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Care for it, and it will grow our food, our fuel, our shelter and surround us with beauty. Abuse it, and the soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it.”

" ...The solution to poverty, the agrarian crisis, the health and malnutrition crisis is the same — care for the soil and care for our farmers who care for the soil and our health.

" ...An economic system that violates the Earth’s rights also violates human rights because we are inseparable from the Earth. We are members of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam. We need a new pact with the Earth as members of the Earth family, a pact to create a new non-violent economy and Earth democracy in which the contributions and rights of the last species and the last person to the creative gifts of the earth are taken into account."

excerpted from from Vandana Shiva, In the Living Soil Lies the Solution to Climate Change, April 23/15, full text in Common Dreams here

Visionary Changed School Food in Detroit

GL webkeeper thanks "Civil Eats" and author Chris Hardman for the inspiring article about Betti Wiggins who has spearheaded great changes for Detroit schoolchildren's health through lunch programs, bringing in local food, and soon a farm program.  see full article here

"In the past four years, school meals in Detroit have been transformed. Gone are the chicken nuggets and sugary drinks. Now school cafeterias serve fresh fruit and mixed baby green salads, lean meat, low-fat milk, and whole grain breads. Better yet, some even serve produce from school gardens and local farmers.

".... The companion program to the meal service is the DetroitSchoolGarden Collaborative (http://detroitk12.org/admin/operations/foodservice/). Wiggins comes from a farming background and has maintained strong ties to the agricultural community. With the help of a school board member, she started a farm-to-school program that now includes 76 school gardens. To make sure gardens thrive, each participating school has to sign a contract committing staff time to maintain its garden. DPS employs a garden director, a farmer, and a horticulturist to run the program.

"The largest DPS farm is located at the DrewTransitionCenter (http://detroitk12.org/schools/drew/), a school for young adults with special needs. There, a 2-1/4-acre farm and 96-square-foot hoop house produce corn, greens, and root vegetables. More than 7,000 ears of corn from the Drew farm ended up on the plates of schoolchildren throughout Detroit last year.

"Another shining star in Wiggins’ $43 million dollar budget is a plan to turn an abandoned high school into the Kettering Urban Agricultural Campus (http://detroitk12.org/content/school-nutrition/). The site will include installing a 27-acre farm, 8 hoop houses, indoor growing areas, and a food processing center. Food grown and processed on the site will be used to feed schoolchildren and other members of the community.

" ...“It’s a rebirth,” she says. “It’s caring about our citizens.”

Photo courtesy of Excellent Schools Detroit and Detroit Metro Parent.

Sprouts Children's Garden Program

Sprouts Children's Garden Program

Sprouts Children's Garden Program is an adjunct to London's community gardens program, which is managed by the London Community Resource Centre.  Explore our children’s gardens and have fun learning about nature, food, and gardening throughout the City of London. Our program emphasizes nature awareness, food literacy, and gardening skills.

The Sprouts program also welcomes group visits from community organizations, day camps, and schools to our children’s garden plots. We also regularly conduct community outreach.

Please contact Becky for further information at projectsupport@lcrc.on.ca
Our Programs  
Spring 2015 – May 12 to June 11
Summer 2015 -  July 7 – August 21


London Environmental Network is a Go!

The London Environmental Network officially launched on Friday, March 27!

"The London Environmental Network will be able to provide its environmental non-profit member organizations with resources, training, networking and partnerships to be stronger and work more effectively together. It also connects groups to the London community, recruit volunteers, and promote environmental events, initiatives and successes."

The London Environmental Network website will carry information about environment groups in London, volunteer opportunities with them, and environment-related events.  There will be an "e-newsletter" of events to sign on for also. And if you are with a group that has not joined, you can find out about how to do that here.

"In 2013, Thames Talbot Land Trust and ReForest London took the lead, and gathered people from twenty-five environment groups to discuss what needs an environmental network could address.  TTLT and ReForest collaborated on a grant to Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) and were fortunate to receive funding to operate the network for three years. The energy and commitment of member groups in LEN will make us stronger and more effective as we grow together."  

The Coordinator of the London Environment Network is Marna Fujimoto-Pihl. Check the website at www.londonenvironment.net ... or email marna@londonenvironment.net or phone 519-858-2039


chicory in cups

chicory in cups -- making Timmie's more environmentally friendly!

Red Celery in the Sunshine

CGL webkeeper's note: occasionally, I like to post something from Why's Woman, who's blog is Saving the World in My Spare Time.

Hello Everyone!

Hope this note finds you well!

I've just had the darnedest thing happen: I ran across an article by Michael Levenston.

Now, if you follow these columns, you'll have heard me mention - thank - Michael Levenston for articles I've run across on his site City Farmer. City Farmer must surely be Canada's longest running urban agriculture website, and even non-profit (1978!): City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture.

The article I just ran across is titled Red Celery in the Sunshine, and is from Harrowsmith, April/May 1984.

For those of you below a certain age, or outside Canada, Harrowsmith, was a great Canadian magazine that began as what I'll call a Canadian counterpart to Mother Earth News or Organic Gardening.  It told us about gardening organically, how to live with less ... it was great.  Along its journey it got rather upscale, there were some falling outs, and then it disappeared. 

And I've just found a treasure trove of old issues of Harrowsmith ... right in my own kitchen.  Oh, I knew they were there ... lurking in a cut-down detergent box, on the bottom shelf of a pretty inaccessible shelf.  The ones from the 1980's were from the committed organic gardener who owned our house before we took it on.  The ones from the 1990s came from my husband or myself. 

Well, what brought them out (to dust!) to browse is my Christmas gift ... just finished now because everyone in the house got sick just before Christmas with the 3-week flu and it's taken months to catch up: a beautiful 5-shelf shelf, built by my brilliant husband, smooth as silk, stained a lovely reddish gold, sturdy, functional, fitting the space.  I love this shelf!  Thanks Chris!

Red Celery in the Sunshine talks about setting up City Farmer's gardens in the backyard of the Vancouver Energy Information Centre, near Maple Street and Sixth Avenue ... where it still is!!  The article talks about urban agriculture, biodynamics, food in the community, the importance of living soil, volunteers ... all the things some of us are trying to get across to some people today!

Back when the article was written, plans were afoot for a solar greenhouse!  Talk about City Farmer being ahead of the trend!  Apprenticeship programs had been in place since the garden began in 1981, under the management of Catherine Shapiro; 

Check the link to Michael's interview with Catherine, in 2007!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DY5wUYCZisg
     .... (I haven't found a site for Catherine Shapiro yet)

and the well-archived City Farmer site has Red Celery in the Sunshine online here:  http://www.cityfarmer.org/Harrowsmith1.html

The article gives inspiration to just get going on a project.  The history of City Farmer shows what happens when you do!

So, once again:  Thank you Michael!

Best regards to all!

Why's Woman

The Rise of Urban Agriculture in London Ontario - documentary

The documentary, The Rise of Urban Agriculture in London Ontario was shown to a full house at the Root Cellar organic cafe on March 17.  Thirteen London and area urban farmers shared their ideas as they showed their innovative, productive and beautiful gardens. 

Not just about food for one table: food security. 
Not just about one backyard: neighbourhoods and foodsheds. 
Not just herbal tea: the possibilities of herbal medicines.

It is a joy to hear and see these insightful, enthusiastic urban farmers ... all of whom teach others, in their own ways.  You can stream the 90 minute documentary right from the Food Not Lawns website here or on You Tube here

The documentary came about because members of Food Not Lawns London Canada (Narcise and Alexandra) pitched the idea at a London Soup evening and won the audience vote for project to be funded.  London Soup is a micro-funder and holds events as volunteers are able to. Directors/editors/photographers for the project were Dennis and Wendy Siren of Saby Siren Production. The money for this particular project came from the London Community Foundation (here), after London Soup made a successful request to it. 

This documentary is an important part of the growing history of urban agriculture in London

CGL webkeeper just loved seeing all the wonderful people, sends thanks to everyone, and hopes that this documentary is seen by so many people - go here! - that a next and a next and a next documentary happen to record this growing story.


"Gardening is the most defiant act you can do" ... Los Angeles allowing gardens on its land

Posted March 23/15

Los Angeles has changed some of its bylaws, and starting in April 2015 will allow free gardens next to sidewalks, gardens on city lands.  see here.

Achieving this change has been a four year effort by artist and guerilla gardener Ron Finley, and many others. 

Since his August 2013 TED Talk, Ron Finley of South Central (Los Angeles) has inspired over 2 million people (# of views). With his group, Green Grounds, gardening has been done on all sorts of lands in their neighbourhoods.  Gardening gets people learning about plants and about food. Gardening feeds people. Gardening transforms people and neighbourhoods through food.

"Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do."

"And you get strawberries!"  

Get out and plant something! ... and if you can't right this minute, check out Finley's TED Talk, then get out and plant something!

An urban gardening win!  Must see!  

                      Posted March 10/15

Josée Landry's and Michel Beauchamp's decision to improve their diet and health lead to a beautifully designed, flourishing vegetable garden in their front yard ... and then there were bylaws to be fought and a changed!  This video is a positive and articulate explanation of why urban gardening is the way to go, and why sometimes it is really worth "going to city hall" to make your case for yourself and the benefit of others.   


Vancouver’s city gardens branch out

Vancouver’s city gardens branch out

New policy allows park projects to blossom, allowing for new forms of food production, including fruit and nut orchards and beekeeping

By Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun February 25, 2015 article here
Vancouver’s city gardens branch out

The Oak Meadows Park pollinator garden at West 37th and Oak is home to a pollinator hotel (pictured), made from a retired phone booth. The centrepiece of this pollinator’s paradise, the hotel is filled with tubes, nooks and crannies attractive to insects. The 1,500-square-foot pollinator garden is part of a network of bee-friendly biodiversity that extends into VanDusen Gardens.
Photograph by: Jason Payne , VANCOUVER SUN

VANCOUVER -- A new urban agriculture policy passed by Vancouver’s park board expands the scope of edibles and forms of development for food production in the city, including edible landscaping, fruit and nut orchards and beekeeping. Here is a sample of the diversity.

* Vancouver’s oldest park-based community garden is also one of its biggest, at 3.3 acres. Strathcona Community Garden was created in 1985, divided into one-third allotment gardens, one-third natural plant and animal habitat and the balance is a unique espalier fruit orchard. The site features the Eco-Pavilion meeting space, greenhouse and beehives.

* Means of Production artists’ workspace and garden is found on the western edge of China Creek North Park in Mount Pleasant. MOP is an outdoor art lab, performance space and most uniquely, a place where artists can literally grow and harvest their own materials for art projects. Lots of native plant species are used in on-site installations and for handicrafts.

* The Oak Meadows Park pollinator garden at West 37th and Oak is home to a pollinator hotel, made from a retired phone booth. The centrepiece of this pollinator’s paradise, the hotel is filled with tubes, nooks and crannies attractive to insects. The 1,500-square-foot pollinator garden is part of a network of bee-friendly biodiversity that extends into VanDusen Gardens.

* Woodland Community Garden is home to a visually stunningly original garden shed designed as a collaboration between eco-art innovators at CityStudio and the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. One of the city’s newest urban agriculture projects, the gardens are home to a unique multi-generational gardening project in Woodland Park.

* You will literally smell the bread baking at the Beaconsfield Community Garden in Beaconsfield Park adjacent to the Italian Cultural Centre. In addition to communal garden spaces for local schoolchildren, allotment gardens, an orchard, pollinator garden and on-site compost, there are plans to build an outdoor bread oven.

Words from the late Patrick Whitefield

Patrick Whitefield was a teacher of permaculture in England. He died this past February, and the UK Permaculture site posted a tribute. Included is the passage below from his book The Earth Care Manual. Thanks Robyn for posting about this on the CGL facebook page

"This book is much more about solutions than about problems, more about what we can do in the present situation than about how we came to be in it in the first place. Yet there’s no escaping the fact that the Earth is in a dire state, and getting worse. In the twenty-three years I’ve been actively involved in the ecological movement almost every aspect of planetary health has got worse.

"This raises the question: Is it all worth it? If we do our best to heal the Earth and make our place in her a sustainable one, is there a good chance that we will succeed? Or is it a forlorn hope? It’s a big question, and one which can lead to depression if we look at the facts honestly and dispassionately. But to my mind it’s the wrong question. Even if we could answer it – and we can never know anything about the future for certain – it would beg the question, How do I want to live my life?

"Here I find the teaching of Mahatma Gandhi very useful. One of his precepts was that of non-attachment to the fruits of our labour. All we can do in life is to make sure that we play our own part in it the best way we can. Much as we would like to, we can never do more than that. Everything we do is so complex, and relies for its ultimate completion on so many different people and natural forces, that we can never take responsibility for the final outcome of our actions. We can only take responsibility for our actions themselves.

"So my answer to the question, How do I want to live my life? is that I want to be a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem."

Hamilton Road Food Security Coalition

Hamilton Road in the Crouch Library area has long been a neighbourhood where people get things done, where people help each other.  The Crouch Neighbourhood Resource Centre (in the library) is bringing together people from the area to develop a Hamilton Road Food Security Coalition.

Neighbours and members of local organizations have been meeting to develop plans for what a community food hub could be, and could do ... and they've been connecting with area resources (more people!) to find out who can help on various projects.  People meeting with each other have been finding out their own strengths and their connections. There's a lot of passion and practicality in this group! 

If you live in the neighbourhood and would like to find out what's been happening, and/or would like to find out how you might fit in with the work areas developing around food for families, a food hub, outreach, and advocacy, you can get in touch with Stanislav Rajic, community development person at the Crouch Neighbourhood resource centre: hamroadcd@rogers.com

School Community Tree Challenge - 3500 trees!

“The trees they are starting today will be the urban forest of tomorrow.”

Julie Ryan, coordinator of ReForest London's Million Tree Challenge Project praises the contribution of students in 18 London elementary and secondary schools.

Students are ignoring the well-below freezing temperatures of this long winter by planting 3,500 native trees inside their classrooms. They are learning about seed viability and germination, growth style, types of trees and how trees fit with our environment.  Lesson plans have been developed for all class levels.

This collaboration - The School Community Tree Challenge - is great pedagogy, great community, and great fun!  Seed kits have been supplied to the schools, and lesson plans developed around tree ecology.  When the time and weather are right, seedlings will be sold at various venues and planted out at schools and other locations ... all with student (and teacher!) participation.

A full article about this project can be found on the ReForest London website here

The School Community Tree Challenge is a collaboration of the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, Middlesex London Health Unit, TVDSB, London District Catholic School Board and ReForest London. Funding for the program is provided by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, TD Bank, and the Arcangelo Rea Family Foundation.

Hurray for all the students, teachers, parents, and organization staff and volunteers involved in this project!

posted Feb. 26, 2015

US launches plan to halt decline of monarch butterfly

The Guardian online news, Suzanne Goldberg, Monday, February 9, 2015

The Obama administration and conservation groups launched a plan on Monday to halt the death spiral of the monarch butterfly.

The most familiar of American butterflies, known for their extraordinary migration from Mexico through the mid-west to Canada, monarch populations have plummetted 90% over the past 20 years.

Fewer than 50m butterflies made it to Mexico last winter – a fraction of the population once estimated at 1bn.

Those numbers mirror the sharp declines of honey bees in recent years.

“We need to turn that around,” Dan Ashe, director of US Fish and Wildlife Service, told the Guardian. “If you look at the 20-year trend definitely monarchs are at risk of vanishing.”

The USFWS will spend $2m (£1.3m) and work with the National Wildlife Federation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to grow milkweed and other butterfly-friendly plants along the monarchs’ main migration routes from Minnesota to Mexico.

The initiative aims to restore more than 200,000 acres of habitat through the spring breeding grounds of Texas and Oklahoma and summer breeding areas in the Corn Belt, tracking closely to the I-35 highway from Austin, Texas to St Paul, Minnesota.

There are also plans to promote wildflowers such as goldenrod and aster along pipeline and electricity lines.

Monarch populations have fallen precipitously over the past 20 years because of changes in farming methods, and the destruction of milkweed that is the caterpillars’ main habitat.

The idea is to get populations back up to 1bn.

Monarchs showed a slight rebound this year  because of good weather. “That’s a sign we haven’t yet reached any disastrous tipping point,” Ashe said. “If the habitat improves, if we make more habitat for them, then the population still seems to have the ability to respond.”

The Centre for Biological Diversity went to court last August to seek protection for the monarch under the endangered species act. Ashe said the petition presented “substantive evidence” for such protections, and the government was studying the case.


The centre welcomed the new initiative – but said protecting the monarchs would be far more effective. “I think it’s great that this voluntary stuff is going to happen,” said Tierra Curry of the Centre for Biological Diversity. “But if the monarch does get protected that will open up a lot more funding to protect habitat.”

She went on: “It’s going to take a massive amount of investment and a massive amount of milkweed to reverse the decline.”

Man in the Maze - documentary

Man in the Maze, one of five films to win the Sundance Short Film Challenge, takes the viewer from the devastating dumping of fruits and vegetables into the Rio Rico landfill to the Borderlands Food Bank in Nogales  and on to Southern Arizona communities working to save the food from waste, and to grow their own."

The film, directed by Phil Buccellato and Jesse Ash of Greener Media, features Tucsonan Gary Nabhan of Native Seeds/SEARCH talking about ways to rebuild food systems.

people working in farm field

Go to the documentary here: http://vimeo.com/116890818

Nogales Arizona is the third largest port of entry for fresh produce into the U.S.; the largest inland "port".  If a shipment of 120,000 pounds of Mexican tomatoes arrive on a day when Florida tomato prices drop below their price, that shipment could be dumped into landfill!

Man in the Maze is an 8-minute look at food security and waste, and introduces the Community Food Bank of Arizona, the Native Seeds/SEARCH organization, and Community Gardens of Tucson.

"Man in the Maze" is one of 5 short documentary winners out of 1,300 submitted to the Sundance Institute for 2014.  It was funded by Greener Media with help from Food Tank . The Sundance Short Film Challenge is "underwritten by the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation and geared toward addressing such issues as poverty and hunger". 

Thanks to City Farmer for posting about this documentary and the Tucson Local News for the complete article that took me to it.

Community Food Bank of Arizona - http://communityfoodbank.org
Food Tank - http://www.foodtank.org
Sundance Short Film Challenge - here
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation -
Native Seeds/SEARCH - http://www.nativeseeds.org
Greener Media - http://www.greenermedia.com/
Tucson Community Gardens - here

2015 SPARKS! Community Grant Program - taking applications

Applications for the 2015 SPARKS! Neighbourhood Matching Funds are being accepted until Friday, February 27, 2015.  This could get your group up to $5,000 to really make your project happen!

 Wonderful things happen when people, ideas and opportunities connect. In 2014, funded projects included the incredibly successful Painting Blackfriars project, the Boyle is Beautiful project, and an Evening in the Park out Westminster way. A complete list of projects funded is on the SPARKS site.

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 2015.

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. 

Visit www.london.ca/sparks for full details.  Visit SPARKS! on Facebook for community photos and stories

Good luck!!

** Please! Comment on Ontario Pollinator Health Strategy by January 25/15 **

The Ontario Government has made some proposals on how to help pollinator health.  Your comments are important to strengthen both the overall pollinator health aspects of this paper, and to affirm that they are on the right track in reducing the use of neonicotinoid insecticides in agriculture. (One recomendation in the strategy is to reduce the use of neonicotinoid treated corn and soy seed, by 80% of seed used.) 
If you are concerned about pollinator health and habitat, please read the paper and comment.
Public input sessions have been held and farm and environment groups have met with representatives of the Agriculture and Environment ministries, both of which are sponsoring this proposal.  But your comments will be counted.

A direct link to the environment registry and comment page: here

If you find the page confusing, email comments or questions to: pollinatorhealth@ontario.ca

The paper is here,Pollinator Health: A Proposal for Enhancing Pollinator Health and Reducing the Use of Neonicotinoid Pesticides in Ontario session in London.

CGL Webkeeper Maureen's comment: The paper is divided into two sections: overall pollinator health, and NNI use reduction. It is important to tell the government that it is on the right track in trying for a major reduction in the single largest use of NNIs (the NNI treated corn and soy seed). They seem to understand "precautionary principle" but are not strong in their own language. The paper does need to be more clear and consistent when it talks about overall pollinator health (it tends to regress to honeybees) and could talk about such things as habitat protection, linking of natrual areas, and that urban and rural areas are involved in pollinator health. Also, the strategy could be stronger in talking about how agricultural use of NNIs affects wild bees as well as honeybees, and that the persistence of NNIs and their effects goes way beyond just pollinators.

There are many things to say ... you pick what's dearest to your heart and knowledge. And thank you for doing so!


Call for Nominations - The Carolinian Canada 2015 Conservation Awards

posted January 5, 2015

Every year, Carolinian Canada accepts nominations to celebrate the individuals, groups and youth who care for our unique nature in southwestern Ontario. Everyone has a different reason to do more for nature. Youth want to save wildlife. Grandparents think about leaving a legacy. Farmers want to protect soil quality. Municipal leaders envision communities with clean air and water for all. Community groups work to protect a natural area close to their heart.

Help us celebrate all this great work! 
 We are seeking nominations for our 2015 Conservation Awards in the following categories:

Individual: may be a dedicated landowner, stakeholder, professional or volunteer who has acted above and beyond expectations.
Group: an organization, partnership or project that has contributed greatly towards the conservation of natural heritage within the Carolinian life zone.
Youth: may be a young person, youth group or youth program that is active in protecting Carolinian Canada's unique nature.
Lifetime Achievement: a group or individual that has contributed exceptionally over many years.
The Awards Ceremony will be held April 17, 2015 in London, Ontario.
For more information on the Carolinian Canada Conservation Awards or to request a nomination package please visit the 2015 Conservation Awards website.
The deadline for nomination submission is February 1, 2015

Join the conversation at Carolinian Canada today! or email info@carolinian.org

2015 - United Nations International Year of Soils

"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/


Experts Urge U.S. Federal Task Force: Listen to Science. Ditch Neonics

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.


Public Consultation - Ontario Pollinator Health Strategy

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

"Go further", say environment groups to Ontario's pollinator health report

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 enews@ontariobee.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.

250 Attended Plight of Pollinator Talk & Forum

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.

Recommendations to make London a Pollinator Sanctuary

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 communitygardenslondon@execulink.com

Pollinator Pathway of Seattle Washington

posted to CGL November 20, 2014

Mind bogglingly great idea!

Check it on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGH3Lkr0vso

and Sarah Bergmann's TED Talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRYPfRqhu6E

Oct. 26, 2016 note: Unfortunately ... the Pollinator Pathway website seems to be defunct!

The Pollinator Pathway [was planned to be] 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.

A New-Fashioned Food System

                                                                  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/

Rooftop greenhouse brings together community with solar chili

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. 

greenhouse on building

...  “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!


Draft Strategic Plan for London Ontario's community gardens program

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 neighbourhoods@london.ca

note: This website, Community Gardens London, is not in any way involved in the management of London's community gardens program.s

CGL webkeeper's notes on lead up to Draft strategic plan for community gardens

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 2013
b) also, several focus groups were held, the last being held April 1, 2014. 

This means it took 8 months for this draft 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.


Great British Bee Count reveals allotments make the best bee habitats

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

Aerial view of allotments
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.


Food Security in Canada - Globe and Mail B.C. series on agriculture

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


York Region challenged: 2015 food gardens for 2015

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."

To read the full article about this innovative project, please proceed to the Sustain Ontario website, here or contact Seeds for Change founder Lynne Koss, Founder     lynne@seedsforchangegardens.org

This profile is part of a series of profiles for the Ontario Edible Education Network. sustainontario.com/tag/edible-education-profiles


Quirks and Quarks, birds, bees and pesticides

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!

St. Andrew’s Memorial Anglican community garden provides

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. 

St. Andrews Memorial Anglican Church website: http://www.standrewmemorial.org 
55 Foxbar Road, ph. 434-5281
Rev. Marty Levesque, Rector: rector@standrewmemorial.org

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.

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

Children looking for bumblebees
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.

Recommendations from City staff requested concerning London as Pollinator Sanctuary

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 communitygardenslondon@execulink.com

This report prepared by Maureen Temme, webkeeper Community Gardens London and member of the ACE Pollinator Sanctuary working group.

Pollination Gardens Project - Gardens4Bees

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.

St Aidan's pollination Garden
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: info@lcf.on.ca


St. John Evangelist Pollination Garden
Pollination Garden at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in London, Ont. 2014 funding assistance from Julia Hunter Fund.  http://stjohnslondon.ca/pollination-garden/


CP Rail destroys people's gardens in Vancouver

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.

I'm not going through the who's who and history and legal stuff.  Look it up if you want the info, and can bear to read it. There's a piece on CBC, another on Global News, and one on the Vancouver Sun

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
email: breanne_feigel@cpr.ca

Mention that the story doesn't play well.

Can urban agriculture ease the heat in cities?

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

City Farmer website - Groucho Marx to community garden threat

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!

Permaculture Farm property for Sale!! 1.8 acres

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.

More on neonicotinoids

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

Home Depot pledges first step: labeling of neonicotinoid-treated plants

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

ph. 519-439-8306

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/

Video to accompany Gardeners Beware 2014

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.

No neonics says Task Force on Systemic Pesticides

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: enquiries.tfsp@gmail.com

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


Prince Edward County Council takes some action on neonicotinoid insecticides

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.

update: timeline for City's community gardens

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.

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:communitygardenslondon@execulink.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?

Hi Cheryl,

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.


Maureen Temme

ph. 519-439-8306
webkeeper: Community Gardens London

Diana Beresford- Kroeger: 10 Trees That Can Save the World

“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

Monarch migration routes ... a path of starvation

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's political parties express positions on bee health ...received and posted May 30, 2014

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


Seeds of Diversity announces online "Seed Explorer"

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!"

Honeybees abandoning hives and dying due to insecticide use, research finds

Harvard study shows neonicotionoids are devastating colonies by triggering colony collapse disorder
Damian Carrington, The Guardian online news, theguardian.com, Friday 9 May 2014

Impact of pesticide on bees and beehive
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."

Symphony of the Soil - great film!

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.

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.

Community gardening at St. Andrew Memorial Anglican Church

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

Plant Alert! - Impatiens Downy Mildew

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




National Garden Day for Canada?

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.”

Contact Malcolm:  www.malcolmallen.ca       malcolm.allen@parl.gc.ca       613-995-0988

Urban Agriculture Journal from RUAF

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.

Video for pure enjoyment! Creating a Productive No-Dig Garden in under a Year

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

No-dig gardening Video
Soil experiments: how no-dig systems prevent soil erosion

Senate Hearings into Bees and Bee Health - good spokespeople for pollinators!

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 agfo@sen.parl.gc.ca . 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.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report

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.

Comment piece - focus group 3 - London's community gardens program and strategic plan

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

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

- 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

Record keeping
- 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 - Points that came up other than garden management committees

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

In attendance: 
- 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

Ontario Bee Health report is a reason to comment about neonicotinoid pesticides

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 National Farmers Union has issued a press release which says:

"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 premier@ontario.ca or via the Ministry of Agriculture minister.omaf@ontario.ca 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, president@nfuontario.ca
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>


Organic growing and attitude needed more than ever

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!)

So, there's my promotion of a really important advocacy organization for organics in Canada.  As its website says:

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"

London's community gardens program seeks ideas as it develops its strategic plan.

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:

"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.
Topic One
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?
"Topic Two
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 neighbourhoods@london.ca.

*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.

Milkweed is to be removed from the Ontario Noxious Weed List

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."

Contemplation and Action for Monarchs - April 14?

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.

Million Seed Challenge

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: gardener!@palacetheatre.ca or gardening@palacetheatre.ca

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

Let's Have an Earth Day Parade!

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 robertacory@rogers.com." and website www.londoncouncilofcanadians.ca

Food Production, Labour and the Community*- free

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)

Featured Speakers
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.

Fruit and Nut Tree deal - delivery charges waived

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.

The nurseries involved are Silver Creek Nursery near Wellesley, and Whiffle Tree Farm and Nursery up near Elora. Both nurseries have on-line catalogues and all sorts of other interesting information.


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


2 presentations about pollinators - conversation and work will continue

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.

For International Women's Day - 25 Women Changing Food

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.woman farming

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 KainInternational 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 Merrigancurrently 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."

Seeds of Diversity Canada - seed swap time

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)

Garden Blitz - Food Not Lawns

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!

Satire - Why "Natural" is the best advertising word ever

posted Feb 23 2014

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.

satire on natural


Must see Organic Farming video-interview

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!



Pollinator Sanctuary Project - volunteers sought

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. 

an information piece is posted on Food Not Lawns: 

Senate hearings into the Importance of bees and bee health

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:

What do we think of bees?

“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."               
Albert Einstein             

bombus terrestris  Bombus terrestris bumblebee                                                                                  

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 - audio interviews with Nikiforuk and others

 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. 

Tracking Canada's History of Oil Pipeline Spills

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.

Environment Canada archived weather records comes to Western University archive

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 amaceach@uwo.ca

Congratulations and thank you to everyone involved in this project!!

What's new on City Farmer urban agriculture site?

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
direct link:

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

notice has been received about Scotts Miracle-Gro grant for community gardens

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 Limitedwww.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

Report - Neonicotinoid pesticides' impact on birds

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

new local newspaper, climate change

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. 

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change summarized in 19 haikus and watercolour

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.

101 + 101 Food Security and Advocacy Organizations!

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

and the 101 more: http://foodtank.com/news/2014/01/one-hundred-one-additional-organizations-to-watch-in-2014

Happy browsing!!

Neonicotinoid Pesticides contaminating Prairie wetlands

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

Honeybees, neonicotinoid pesticides and experience with Agricultural Advisory Committee

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 - communitygardenslondon@execulink.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."
Publication 'Feeding the world, caring for the Earth'

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.


2014 is the International Year of Family Farming!

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.



Community gardens in South Wales - Must see!

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!

Food Banks are the first response, not the final response ... we are part of something bigger

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

Petition to change chicken quotas so it's easier for small-scale, organic farmers

posted Dec. 6/13

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.

Poverty Research Centre to be set up in London

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.

London Communityi Foundation: http://www.lcf.on.ca/
London Food Bank:  http://www.londonfoodbank.ca/
Sisters of St. Joseph:  http://www.csj.london.on.ca/

London’s Community Gardens Survey Fall 2013

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.

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.  ???

Notes from focus group #2

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 communitygardenslondon@execulink.com 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!

2014 SPARKS! Community Grant Program - taking applications until January 31/14

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. 

Visit www.london.ca/sparks for full details.  Visit SPARKS! on Facebook for community photos and stories.

CropLife Canada appoints Conservative Federal Minister as CEO ... huh?

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.

Ontario Local Food Act

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 

Honeybees - Interim PMRA report is out - there's opportunity to comment by Dec 12/13

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

Environmental Hansard website!

Posted Nov 2/13

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 sponsors

Posted Nov 2/13

*** 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

London Soup Winner: St Andrew Memorial Community Church' Community Garden Idea!

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/

Keep an eye on the London SOUP blog  our blog and website www.londonsoup.ca for information about this and other activities.  And volunteer to give them a hand if you possibly can!

Regenerative - Restorative - agriculture

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.

Ecological Farms Association of Ontario: http://www.efao.ca    ontarioracinfo@gmail.com

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.

Agropolis – a transitional urban agriculture project in Christchurch’s city centre

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.

More information on Agropolis and the events over Labour Weekend at: http://festa.org.nz/agropolis/ by Andreas Wesener, Lecturer in Urban Design, Lincoln University, NZ

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.


Longer notes available from focus group #1 or get on Facebook/email discussion

For anyone who want really long notes (plus some commentary) from this meeting, email Maureen at communitygardenslondon@execulink.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

Sharing Backyards tracking technology

Sharing Backyards

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."  

Three Sisters Garden / Attawandaron Community - 4th Annual Leaf Bag Collection

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


Notes from focus group #1 of strategic plan for London's community gardens program

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
  • Interactive
  • 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



Celebrate Hope - Simply in Season cookbook is a food sovereignty resource

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!

SEEDMAP: interactive, multimedia tool for biodiversity and food issues

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."

Boston Tree Party Handbook 2013 - Resource Guide

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

Plant Milkweed - one part of saving the Monarchs

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. ian.gillespie@sunmedia.ca

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.


A backyard garden connects us to everyone's table

“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 glen@glenpearson.ca



London's community gardens program strategic planning focus groups

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
call 519-­661-­5336.

We look forward to your involvement and to seeing you in October. If you have any questions, please email  to neighbourhoods@london.ca or call 519-­661-­5336.

Yours truly,

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





Sierra Club's Save the Bees Campaign

note: web-maintainer Maureen received this note from Sierra Club. It refers to the group's efforts to get a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides. Sierra Club is not the only group working on this. The letter has several links to other information.

Here's the note Received from Sierra Club
First, I want to thank you for signing our petition to #SaveTheBees. Over 4400 Canadians signed the petition, so know you are not alone in your concern. Please also know we are doing everything we can to raise public awareness - we won’t stop until we win a ban on bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides.

There is a lot to report as much has happened since Sierra Club Canada called for a ban in May.
The latest news flash is we’ve gone to court! On September 19th, Sierra Club Canada and others filed an objection to PMRA’s decision to re-license Clothianidin -- a neonicotinoid pesticide made by Bayer. We’re using a complex legal action in the hope we can force a reversal of the decision.

Here's what happened over the summer. In July, the Ontario Premier convened a “Bee Health Working Group” to give her recommendations for action to protect bees and other pollinating insects. However, within days of the first meeting, beekeepers in Ontario began reporting bee deaths.

In early August, David Schuit of Elmwood Ontario lost several million bees and Ontario beekeeper Jim Coneybeare was forced to truck his hives several hours north to “bear country” just so they could forage away from neonicotinoid pesticides.

You’ll remember that back in the spring, Health Canada’s “Pest Management Regulation Agency” (PMRA) concluded neonicotinoids only present a problem “during spring planting” and went ahead on July 13th to quietly re-license Clothianidin (a neonicotinoid manufactured by Bayer) despite demands from beekeepers and Sierra Club Canada to ban bee-killing pesticides (we even sent the Health and Agriculture Ministers 20 scientific studies linking neonicotinoid pesticides with bee deaths).

As we’ve just witnessed more bee carnage in August, that logic obviously doesn’t hold up anymore. Perhaps that’s why on September 12th PMRA quietly posted a release with this startling statement:

“Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has determined that current agricultural practices related to the use of neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed are affecting the environment due to their impacts on bees and other pollinators. This notice outlines our intended actions and provides interested parties an opportunity to comment.”

Apparently, the PMRA has been shaken. This has been the most dramatic development in the bee campaign.

The Club also commissioned a film by beekeeper and animator Nathan Carey and has begun a series of showings of “The Vanishing of the Bees” (narrated by Ellen Page). If you would like to organize a showing in your community, click here to send me an email.

Sierra Club Canada worked tirelessly through the summer with allies to build a broad coalition to #SaveTheBees, which includes the Ontario Beekeepers Association, National Farmers Union, Ontario United Church of Canada, Practical Farmers of Ontario, Organic Council of Ontario, Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario, Master Gardeners Ontario, Canadian Organic Growers and Farms At Work.

In summary, you could say we have been “Busy as a Bee”.

Now I want to ask you to join Sierra Club Canada in taking the next step to convince government to ban bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides.

You may remember that back in 2012 Environment Canada invited comment on a proposal to kill wolves as part of a so-called ‘plan’ to protect Caribou. More than 20,000 comments (many of them yours) forced the government to back-track. Let’s do it again – for the bees this time!
Since PMRA has invited us to comment on the use of neonicotinoids, let’s let them know what we think! We have made it easy -- just click here, fill in the form and click “send”. For everything you need (scientific studies, media releases, etc.) visit our #SaveTheBees webpage.
Please note: Be sure to include your full mail address in the body of your submission or the PMRA will invalidate your submission.


Thanks for your encouragement and ongoing support.

John Bennett, Executive Director
Sierra Club Canada
412-1 Nicholas Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 7B7


*** Ron Finley's TED talk on guerilla gardening *** must see!

posted Aug. 13/13

In his TED talk, Ron Finlayson of South Central Los Angeles shows us that guerilla gardening gets people actually gardening and learning about plants and about food. It feeds people. it transforms people and neighbourhoods through food. And you get strawberries! So make a shovel your weapon of choice and 'get out and plant some shit'.

Click on one of the links ... I couldn't get the video start to embed today.


In order to make a garden sustainable you have to sustain it.

Alternatives Journal - The Food and Drink Issue - July/August 2013 posted July 31 2013

As "Canada's Environmental Voice," Alternatives Journal is well worth reading. The current issue focuses on Food and Drink (main articles listed below)

Alternatives Journal home page (www.alternativesjournal.ca) takes you to blogs, special on-line features and comments, links to other places, a subject index, past issues, and you can take a look at some of these articles in the current issue.

Comfort Food ... How scientists, farmers and new Canadians are welcoming world crops to Ontario soil.
Where's the Fish? ... The bounty of Canada's freshwater and ocean catch is missing from the country's local food movement.
Spirit of the Hoser ... A toast to homegrown micro-distilleries.
Hidden Streams - We can save several billion drops of the blue gold by watching our waste lines.
A Rotten Shame ... artist Klaus Pichler's One Third project illuminates our worldwide food waste problem
Drowning in Neglect ... If the government treated Attawapiskat like Afganistan, Canada's First Nations communities would have safe water
The Grapes of Math ... advancing the science of wine production in Israel's Negev Desert
Be warned ... If Monsanto's Roundup Ready Alfalfa is commercialized, the flow of genes and traits from GM to non-GM alfalfa will be inevitable and irreversible.

Alternatives Journal is available at the Western's Weldon Library and is sold at Western's Bookstore in the UCC. It is not at London's Public Library (tell 'em you want it http://www.londonpubliclibrary.ca/contact/suggest-a-purchase ).

15 Seed Saving projects worldwide

Posted July 31, 2013

CGL receives mailings from "Food Tank" (http://foodtank.org) which is a project of World Watch Institute, and has food as its big interest. CGL is also interested in food production and believes that saving seeds is important not just to maintain genetic diversity but to maintain our most basic connection with the gardens we tend. Food Tank director Danielle Neurenberg sent out a list of 15 seed saving projects from around the world, witih links and descriptions. Here's her note and the list:

Dear Friend,

There are roughly 100,000 global plant varieties endangered in the world. Extreme weather events, over-exploitation of ecosystems, habitat loss, and a lack of public awareness threaten future plant biodiversity. Conservation techniques, such as the creation of seed banks and seed exchanges among farmers, gardeners, and even nations, play an important role in preserving ancient, heirloom varieties of important food crops

Saving seeds doesn’t only help improve agricultural biodiversity, but helps farmers and researchers find varieties of crops that grow better in different regions, especially as the impacts of climate change become evident. Many farmers groups, non-profits, and governments are conserving crops in their own communities—there are currently more than 1,000 known seed banks, collaboratives, and exchanges around the world.

The Science & Environmental Health Network (SEHN) has been spearheading work on the Rights of Future Generations for the last decade. Future Generation Guardianship is the right and obligation of all people to protect the commonwealth of Earth—and one another—for the prosperity of Future Generations. SEHN’s dedication and public advocacy to find legal channels for the application of Future Generation Guardianship provides the framework for preserving biodiversity for centuries to come.

Food Tank is honored to collaborate with SEHN by highlighting these 15 important seed-saving projects across the globe that are helping preserve global agricultural biodiversity for Future Generations. 

Many of these seed banks are nonprofit organizations, but we would greatly appreciate your recommendations of other public and state-owned banks in the comments. Many public seed banks are in danger of sale, contamination, and other threats. Because they are such a valuable part of the Commonwealth, the public needs to be aware of these assets so that they can work to protect the inheritance of Future Generations.

1. AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center
AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to alleviating poverty and improving nutrition through extensive research and outreach. AVRDC aims to improve the livelihoods of poor rural and urban households through the cultivation of more efficient vegetable varieties combined with effective production methods. Headquartered in Shanhua, Tainan City in southern Taiwan, AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center now has over 300 staff members throughout Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, and Oceania. One of AVRDC’s primary programs includes collecting, conserving, and distributing germplasms, samples of tissue from plants. Now the world’s largest public vegetable germplasm collection, the AVRDC Genebank holds more than 59,500 different germplasms from 156 countries. The AVRDC Vegetable Genetic Resources Information System (AVGRIS) is a database containing information about the germplasm collections.

2. Camino Verde
Camino Verde 
is a nonprofit with locations in Concord, Massachusetts and Puerto Maldonado, Peru. Camino Verde’s mission is to plant trees and encourage future planting through educational programs and public awareness. The initiative’s Living Seed Bank is a botanical garden with more than 250 tree species, and it protects endangered varieties and provides an arena for further research into multi-species agroforestry systems. Camino Verde has planted some 70 different varieties of fruit trees, 40 flowering species, and enough trees to cover seven hectares of land.

3. Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago (GLBC) Seed Saving Initiative
The Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago Seed Saving Initiative was created in 2012 out of the Chicago Bioneers Conference, where Vandana Shiva challenged audience members to begin their own local seed saving projects. The GLBC mission states that “this project is to honor and elevate the work of seed saving for the purposes of protecting and expanding the non-GMO native and edible seed saving projects.” The initiative aims to expand by holding local and regional events to bring seed savers together to exchange and store regional varieties.

4. Hawai’i Public Seed Initiative 
The Hawai’i Public Seed Initiative (HPSI), created by The Kohala Center and funded by the Ceres Trust, assists Hawaiian farmers by holding workshops to educate them about storing and improving their seed varieties. HPSI also organizes seed exchange events, bringing farmers together to trade varieties from different parts of Hawai’i. HPSI’s goal is to build knowledge of seeds through improved communication and information, and to preserve the diversity of home gardens.

5. International Center for Tropical Agriculture
The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), a member of CGIAR, is dedicated to “reduc[ing] hunger and poverty, and improv[ing] human health in the tropics through research aimed at increasing the eco-efficiency of agriculture.” Headquartered in western Colombia, CIAT’s high quality research focuses on developing techniques, technologies, and methods to enhance eco-efficiency in agriculture primarily for small farmers. CIAT conducts crop research with its extensive genebank, which holds 65,000 crop samples from all of CIAT’s regional offices in Kenya, Vietnam, Honduras, and Nicaragua. CIAT aims to alter legislation and supply information from their research on issues of climate change, farmers’ market access, and gender equity.

6. Louisiana Native Plant Initiative
The Louisiana Natural Resources Conservation Service began the Louisiana Native Plant Initiative to collect seeds, preserve native varieties, increase flora abundance, and research plant materials for future re-vegetation projects. Louisiana is home to a plethora of endangered varieties of plants such as the longleaf pine, switchgrass, big bluestem, and partridge pea. The initiative has spearheaded several new conservation projects, combining public and private managers in order to release native plants for commercial production.

7. Man and the Biosphere Programme
Launched in 1971 under the supervision of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB Programme) aims to conserve biological resources by improving the relationship between humans and the environment. Today, with the help of the MAB Programme, there are 621 biosphere reserves categorized in 117 different countries. The MAB Programme utilizes international, regional, and sub-regional partnerships to increase their global intelligence work.

8. Millennium Seed Bank Partnership
The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, started by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is the largest plant conservation project in the world. Since 2000, Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Partnership has saved 10 percent of the world’s wild plant species at their location in Wakehurst, England. The seed bank has one billion seeds from 130 partnering countries. Similar to other seed banks, each seed is duplicated and the replica remains in the home country of origin. Kew’s long-term goal is to house seeds from 25 percent of the world’s bankable plants by 2020. Researchers at the seed bank can test centuries-old plants for medicinal purposes, assess horticultural value, and produce more seeds to increase global biodiversity.

9. Native Seed / SEARCH 
Native Seed / SEARCH (NS/S) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to seed conservation in the Southwest United States and Northwest Mexico. Based in Tucson, Arizona, NS/S has a state-of-the art conservation facility, 2,000 varieties of arid land-adapted seeds, and a reputation as a leader in heirloom conservation. Their seed bank currently houses varieties of traditional crops including corn, beans, and squash once used by the Apache, Havasupai, Hopi, Maricopa, Mayo, and many other tribes. NS/S aims to maintain the genetic purity of these traditional, wild strands of crops. In order to conduct further research and education workshops, NS/S purchased a conservation farm in 1997 to continue to build public awareness about the importance of biodiversity. 

10. Navdanya 
Navdanya is a research-based initiative founded by Dr. Vandana Shiva, a world-renowned scientist and environmentalist. Navdanya, meaning “nine seeds” in Hindi, saves endangered seed varieties through its seed vault, and provides support for local farmers. They also conduct research on sustainable farming practices at their own organic farm in Uttarakhand, North India. Navdanya has collected roughly 5,000 crop varieties, primarily staples such as rice, wheat, millet, kidney beans, and medicinal plants. Navdanya’s outreach program has established 111 additional seed banks in 17 Indian states. Navdanya has also created a learning center, Bija Vidyapeeth in Doon Valley, Uttarakhand. Bija Vidyapeeth offers courses on biodiversity protection, agroecological practices, water conservation, and more.

11. New York City Native Plant Conservation Initiative 
In 2008, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR), in partnership with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG), started the New York City Native Plant Conservation Initiative to promote and conserve diverse native plant species. Launched with 34 endangered species, the initiative hopes to preserve New York City’s biodiversity and generate awareness surrounding the conservation of urban plant varieties. DPR and BBG use their research on endangered plants to create new management strategies in the interest of promoting future biodiversity in the city. Additionally, the New York City Native Plant Conservation Initiative has a list of all native plant species in the city, which is used to develop seed transfer zones without diminishing the genetic fitness of the native plants.

12. The NSW Seedbank
The NSW Seedbank began in 1986 as an initiative to collect wild seeds for the Australian Botanic Garden in Mount Annan. Over the last three decades, the seed bank has grown to save and preserve Australian native and threatened plant species. After a major upgrade in 1999 and creating a partnership with the Millennium Seed Bank in 2003, the NSW Seedbank launched a range of horticultural research projects in their on-site laboratory. NSW Seedbank now documents 600 threatened plant species and 81 threatened ecological communities.

13. Seed Savers Exchange 
Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds. SSE’s mission is to “conserve and promote America’s culturally diverse but endangered food crop heritage for Future Generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.” Headquartered in Decorah, Iowa, Seed Savers Exchange began in 1975 and its seed bank is now one of the largest in North America. Individuals and organizations become members of the seed bank and SSE facilitates communication and exchange of seeds among members. Aside from their primary seed bank location at Heritage Farm in Decorah, SSE also maintains seed banks at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colorado and at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. SSE also offers services to nonmembers through the sale of more than 600 heirloom varieties.

14. Slow Food International
Slow Food International is a movement that began in the mid-1980s to give individuals an alternative to fast food and fast lives. Slow Food International believes in “neo-gastronomy,” or the recognition of the strong connections between plate, planet, people, and culture, and has more than 100,000 members in 150 countries. The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity was created in 2003 as a subcategory of their Terra Madre initiative to increase and preserve food biodiversity. The Foundation’s Ark of Taste program collects regionally and culturally significant food products to catalogue and promote their global consumption. Their goal is to preserve history and traditions relating to food products around the world. So far, 1,200 products have been catalogued internationally, including the Pampin Mamey Sapote, native to Central America. Many national and local Slow Food organizations have begun their own seed saving initiatives to preserve heirloom varieties.

15. Svalbard Global Seed Vault 
CGIAR and conservationist Cary Fowler founded the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in 2008. The vault, also known as the “doomsday vault,” rests more than 1,100 kilometers south of the North Pole. Seeds are stored in permafrost conditions, approximately -18 degrees Celsius, to ensure preservation. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault acts as a sort of insurance policy for other seed banks around the world, only accessing the seeds if the original is destroyed. The Seed Vault can hold up to 2.25 billion seeds in total, equaling 500 seeds of some 4.5 million crop varieties. Priority for space in the vault is given to seeds that can ensure food production and sustainable agriculture, and the collection is primarily composed of seeds from developing countries. The seed vault is managed by the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust, and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center.


New Farmers Market opens in Hyde Park area

Congratulations to Ogilvies Food and Artisans Market ... opened recently at 1331 Hyde Park Road.
The outdoor market - selling local produce, bread, and meat is  open Saturdays 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. on opened recently at yde Park merchants and nearby farmers are involved.
An indoor market is underway! You can follow Ogilvies on Twitter at @OgilviesMarket for more information.

CGL noted two articles about this new market:

*West End embraces Ogilvies Market
By Shobhita Sharma, Londoner        Monday, July 8, 2013 11:16:24 EDT A

Expansion of Farmers Markets welcomed by Established Vendors. Hank Daniszewski, London Free Press, July 13, http://www.lfpress.com/2013/07/13/expansion-of-farmers-markets-welcomed-by-established-vendors

Waterloo Community Gardens study: health, inclusion and learning!

The City Farmer website once again brings us the news!                                           posted Friday, June 7/13

Not Just a Passing Fancy: how community gardens contribute to healthy and inclusive neighbourhoods is a community gardening storytelling project put together by the Community Garden Council of Waterloo Region and the Region of Waterloo Public Health.

84 gardeners told their stories to the interviewers. They talked about gardening as good for their health, as something that helps them be part of their community, and that education and learning about gardens go hand in hand. City Farmer website has several embedded videos.  The entire written report is available online. The report comments that the City's urban policies make it easy for community gardens to be set up.

Not Just a Passing Fancy: how community gardens contribute to healthy and inclusive neighbourhoods.
Region of Waterloo Public Health and the Community Garden Council of Waterloo Region, May 2013.
authors: Judy Maan Miedema, Ellen Desjardins, and Kevan Marshall

A summary article about the report, posted June 6/13,  is found on the City Farmer website with embedded videos on the topics of inclusion, health and education: http://www.cityfarmer.info/2013/06/04/how-community-gardens-contribute-to-healthy-and-inclusive-neighbourhoods/#more-43015

The pdf of the report is found at: http://chd.region.waterloo.on.ca/en/researchResourcesPublications/resources/Community_Gardening_Storytelling_Project.pdf


SPARKS Grants Recipients 2013 - Congratulations!

posted June 6, 2013

Congratulations to the groups and hardworking volunteers who have been chosen to received the 2013 SPARKs grants!

Beacock Library Reading Garden — Huron Heights Literacy Working Group
Blackfriar’s Park Gazebo — Blackfriar’s Community Garden Group
Ed Blake Park Improvement — Kipps Lane and Community
Fruit Tree Guild — Hamilton Road Area Fruit Tree Guild
Halloween in Old East Village — Boyle Activity Council
Oakridge Optimist Park Community Day — Optimist Club of Oakridge Acres
Old East Village Community and Cultural Development Initiative — Old East Village Community Association
Passport to Argyle — Argyle Steering Committee
Pocket Park Rejuvenation — Neighbours of Richmond and Horton
SoHo Community Picnic — SoHo Community Association
Summer Arts Project — Neighbourhood Youth Group

It is exciting to see that several projects focus on gardens as ways as enhancing their communities! We wish all the projects great success and high spirits as they carry through their projects!

Thanks to The Londoner newspaper* for alerting CGL to this year's winners of the City's SPARKs grants through its article *A SPARK into Neighbourhood by Shobhita Sharma Shobhita.Sharma@sunmedia.ca http://www.thelondoner.ca/2013/06/03/a-spark-into-neighbourhoods

The SPARKs grants is a Neighbourhood Matching Fund initiative. Like many granting programs it has requirements for the project being proposed (info is on the website).  An important feature is that it gives value to the contribution made by volunteers, and assigns a dollar value per hour of time. This volunteer contribution may be added in to the contribution being made by the group submitting for a grant, up to $5,000.  For more information about SPARKS, visit www.london.ca/sparks
*note that information about the 2013 winners is not yet on the City website.  This may be because the City website is about to bring forward its new version just after mid-June, and that web content is waiting for the new format.

Londoners Marched Against Monsanto

There was a huge turnout in London, Ontario on Saturday, May 25 for the March Against Monsanto!

Thanks Chris D. for this link! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLa1zc0mozA

Worldwide, millions of people marched to protest genetic modification of food by the agrichemical company Monsanto. The Guardian, UK news report is here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/26/millions-march-against-monsanto?INTCMP=SRCH

Vandana Shiva speech: a march against Monsanto is a march for life and freedom.

Vandana Shiva, founder of the Navdanya seed justice organization, released a speech just prior to the May 25/13 March Against Monsanto events. Always inspiring! Check out the video at either link:

Organic Consumer (always an interesting site): http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_27613.cfm

or, Running the Country (this site has the full written transcript of Shiva's speech) as well as the video: http://www.runningthecountry.com/dr-vandana-shiva-march-against-monsanto/#.UaOSApxjHm

ReThink London reports are coming out

posted May 17/13

ReThink London topic reports are being released for you to read and comment on.  The May 17/13 releases are:
·   Transportation Choices;
·   Building a Greener City; and
·   Supporting a Culturally Rich and Diverse City

Visit the Rethink London website (feedback.rethinklondon.ca) to download discussion papers based on ReThink London’s key directions

Papers already released and on-line are A Prosperous City, Compact London, and Connecting the Region.

The rest of discussion papers that will be “rolled out” on May 30, 2013: Building Strong and Attractive Neighbourhoods and Making Wise Planning Decisions, Careful Management

CGL's note: These reports can be read online at the ReThink London website - http://www.rethinklondon.ca/ - and you can print them out.  Maureen inquired about getting printed copies of these short reports (or just text versions); printing photo-heavy documents at home runs up the 'ol printer ink bill. Unfortunately, copies of individual reports are not available as give-aways.  Reading copies (you can't take them away) are available at City Hall 6th floor, and in the Planning department 206 Dundas Street, and are being sent to the Libraries where they are available from the  reference desks.

At the end of May, when the last reports are out, full copies will be made available to City Councillors and it is anticipated that there will be some copies printed for citizens to have.

Maureen suggests contacting your councillor (http://www.london.ca/d.aspx?s=/City_Council/default.htm) and/or people at the ReThink office to tell them copies should be made available for people to pick up. 

ReThink London: www.rethinklondon.ca     ReThink@London.ca
Sean Galloway, Urban Design Manager, London: sgallowa@london.ca   ph: 519-661-4980
Heather McNeely, (one of the) Senior Planners, London: HMcNeely@london.ca   ph. 519-661-2500, ext. 5074

Bronx Teacher Stephen Ritz educates kids about urban farming

And they learn skills, and get jobs, and there are business possibilities, and there are partnerships, ... and wonderful things are happening in one of the poorest areas of the United States. This is a must watch TED Talk for anyone involved with children and the future. Thanks again Michael Levanston of City Farmer news for posting this!! (www.cityfarmer.info)


posted May 1/13 on CGL site

New Guidelines for London's community gardens program

posted on CGL May 2/13

12 (!) pages of Guidelines for London's community gardens program were posted on the London Community Resource Centre (LCRC) website (www.lcrc.on.ca) on March 30, 2013. They are posted only under the section labelled "Events." They are not posted under the "Services" menu, which leads a person to information about London, Ontario's community gardens program. The LCRC website states that guidelines were based on gardener input, "in alignment with our [LCRC and City Department?] guiding principles for this review process.  Going forward, the Guidelines will be reviewed and updated (if needed) on an annual basis to ensure they consistently meet the needs of our Community Gardeners, the City of London and London residents. We trust the new Guidelines and Procedures will be helpful to all Community Gardeners as you embark on a new season of gardening."

Relationship of London's community gardens program to the LCRC. The LCRC is contracted by the City of London to be the Coordinating Agency for London's community gardens program. London's community gardens are not a program of the LCRC.

Maureen of CGL comments in regards to the guidelines. Community gardeners and Londoners provided feedback on the draft Policies and Procedures for City of London community gardens at a meeting held on February 13/13. The draft of the policies were given to people that evening, not previous to the meeting. These policies were a consultation between LCRC and the City of London's Parks department staff, with Pathways Consulting involved and facilitating the meeting. Participants at that meeting were told that they would be notified of a redraft, and asked for comment. Of three participants at that meeting spoken to by Maureen, none of them received notice that the guidelines had been issued; nor did Maureen.

and Maureen's note on Strategic Plan. At the February 13/13 meeting, participants were also told by the facilitator that there would be a strategic planning process begun for London's community gardens program. She said that the strategic planning process would involved not just gardeners but "community stakeholders." Community stakeholders were noted asimportant to the development of London's community gardens program by the London Community Gardens Program Review. No information is available at this time about the strategic planning process on the LCRC website.

London Community Gardens Program Review - http://council.london.ca/meetings/CNC%20Agendas/2011-03-29%20Agenda/Item%209.pdf

Feeding Nine Billion                                      (re-posted April 21, 2013)

Over the last few weeks, Maureen, Robyn and Chris have had conversations with several people on the questions "how can we feed everyone?" and "won't we need chemicals (and highly technical interventions) to grow enough food?" We love this whiteboard presentation by Dr. Evan Fraser, food security specialist at theUniversity of Guelph, who guides you through a lot of food production issues to his answers to the Global Food Crisis.

Check it out for four suggestions that will help clear away the fog. Be sure to watch right to the end. There are ways for you to participate!
Thanks to USC Canada for alerting us to this positive presentation with terrific artwork by Scott Chantler: http://usc-canada.org/2012/11/13/feeding-nine-billion/

Direct link to the Feeding Nine Billion project website: www.feedingninebillion.com

Life is sweet for beekeepers in Greece, but for how long?

posted April 22, 2013

Many countries - including Canada - have been struggling with high bee mortality, "Colony Collapse Disorder." Losing honeybees, bees generally, or any significant pollinating insect has potential to be an agricultural and environmental disaster. If plants are not pollinated, they do not reproduce. Bye bye.

The country of Greece, affected strongly by so many economic crises, has not been affected by Coloney Collapse Disorder ... so far. A post on the Phys.org website - Life is Sweet for Beekeepers in Greece, But for How Long? - goes over some of the issues about the bee situation in Greece: http://phys.org/news/2013-04-life-sweet-beekeepers-greece.html - and has quite a few links so a reader may get information.

Until now, Greek beekeepers have been able to have their hives at a distance from pesticides, particularly the neonicotinoid pesticides which are a major cause of CCD. In March, the European Union countries voted 13 to 9 to allow various pesticides* considered by scientists to cause harm to bees. Greece voted against. It is thought there will be another vote in the summer. Let's hope so!

*Experts have isolated three compounds causing concern—clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, known as neonicotinoids—which are present in insecticides produced by pharmaceutical giants Bayer, Syngenta and Cruiser OSR.

The Phys.org site is a credible site for a range of science and research:

Vandana Shiva on the Problem with Genetically Modified Seeds

posted April 22, 2013 - Thank you Seanda for forwarding this link to Bill Moyer's July 13/12 interview with Vandana Shiva, founder of Navdanya (www.navdanya.org), and tireless fighter in the global battle against genetically modified seeds.

As Moyer's website says in the promotional blurb: "These seeds — considered “intellectual property” by the big companies who own the patents — are globally marketed to monopolize food production and profits. Opponents challenge the safety of genetically modified seeds, claiming they also harm the environment, are more costly, and leave local farmers deep in debt as well as dependent on suppliers. Shiva, who founded a movement in India to promote native seeds, links genetic tinkering to problems in our ecology, economy, and humanity, and sees this as the latest battleground in the war on Planet Earth."

Celebrating Food for Earth Day and Every Day

posted April 21, 2013

" ... sustainable food and agriculture systems can play a big role in preserving the environment by helping to improve soil health, protecting biodiversity, and mitigating climate change."

This message, just received from the "Food Tank" project of the World Watch Institute, is relevant all the time, but Earth Day - April 22 - and surrounding celebrations gives a particular time to think on it.

We all eat, and therefore we are involved with the systems that protect the environment and human health. Most of us can add some environement and food-friently actions to our lives ... linking with all the others who are eating, celebrating, and participating in their own healthy communities.

So, without further speechifying ... here are Food Tank's* ideas for celebrating food and agriculture!

 1. Eat more colors

2. Buy food with less packaging

 3. Choose seasonal produce

4. Get in touch with agriculture

 5. Get creative in the kitchen

6. Invest in perennial crops

7. Reclaim abandoned spaces
8. Build local and global food communities

 9. Do It Yourself - Cook, Grow, Learn

10. Cook in batches and freeze for later

11. Brighten your outlook

12. Use crop rotation
13. Embrace conviviality around the table:"Talking and laughing while sharing food is a uniquely human experience. Conviviality, joyful and friendly interaction, is found at markets and around the dinner table, and it supports healthy relationships and healthy bodies. The BarillaCenter for Food & Nutrition (http://www.barillacfn.com/en/) considers convivial food culture one of the most critical aspects of food and agriculture, alongside health, hunger alleviation, and sustainable development. Researchers from CornellUniversity and the University of Minnesota agree, reporting that the reported benefits of family dinners on children's mental health and achievement levels depend on engagement with their parents at these meals."

Happy Earth Day and beyond!

The full article - with lots of links to explore the 11 points - can be found:
from the Food Tank website: http://www.foodtank.org
or on Danielle Nierenberg's blog on the Huffington post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danielle-nierenberg/earth-day-13-things-every_b_3112746.html.


Genetically modified alfalfa - London blog post and report from CBAN

On April 9 there were 38 cross-Canada protests against the introduction of Genetically Modified Alfalfa into Canada. Over 90 people attended the London, Ontario rally.  Congratulations to the organizers! 

An attendee at London, Ontario's rally has written a blog post titled Some Thoughts on Genetically Modified Alfalfa and Beyond,  talking about how genetic modification of seeds is involved with food and land sovereignty, and concerns about corporatization of food and agriculture ... things antithetical to local, organic food.  www.savingtheworldinmysparetime.blogspot.com

There is a readable report from the Biotechnology Action Network - The Inevitability of Contamination from GM Alfalfa - just out at the beginning of April 2013.

Both the CBAN and NFU sites have the pdf'd report, The Inevitability of Contamination from GM Alfalfa Release in Ontario ... or follow: http://www.nfu.ca/story/inevitability-contamination-gm-alfalfa-release-ontario
Organizations concerned about genetic modification of seeds include:
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network:  www.cban.ca
National Farmers Union: www.nfu.ca
Council of Canadians: www.canadians.org

Rodale Institute Farming Systems Trial - Celebrating 30 Years

added to this site April 20/13

"After thirty years of a rigorous side-by-side comparison, the Rodale Institute confidently concludes organic methods are improving the quality of our food, improving the health of our soils and water, and improving our nation's rural areas.  Organic agriculture is creating more jobs, providing a livable income for farmers, and restoring America's confidence in our farming community and food systems."
         Farming Systems Trials - Celebrating 30 years, published late 2012,

The summary document - Farming Systems Trials - Celebrating 30 years - is a 24 page document, and it is written clearly. It is a great place to start if you want to explain to someone that "Yes, organic is better, and yes, organic can feed us." It gives information about soil health, yields, economics of organic agriculture, energy use, and human health. The charts are understandable!  And it has a good resources list of studies cited in the document.  It prints out on 8 1/2" x 14" (legal size) paper, 2 pages per sheet.

Rodale has been advocating organic methods for over 60 years.  It has published many books, all of which are useful.  It has published Organic Gardening Magazine (with a couple of title changes) for pretty well all that time.  It runs courses on organic agriculture, and partners with other organizations on projects.  Its website has a lot of information on it.  The Rodale Institute website and the Organic Gardening Magazine have separate website, and both are good to look over.

Rodale Institutehttp://rodaleinstitute.org/
Rodale Institute Field Systems Trials pages:  http://rodaleinstitute.org/search/field+trials
are under the "Our Work" menu: http://rodaleinstitute.org/our-work/farming-systems-trial/
Farming Systems Trials - Celebrating 30 Years:
Organic Gardening Magazine: http://www.organicgardening.com

Urban agriculture documentary idea wins first LondonSOUP microfunding award!

Congratulations to Narcise and Alexandra, and their partners ... for winning the first LondonSOUP microfunding opportunity.  They will be making a documentary about urban agriculture right here in London, Ontario. 

Hurray to LondonSOUP! LondonSOUP is a new microfunding undertaking.  April 14 was its first awards evening.  A lot of time and many people's genius and work went into setting up the idea and bringing it off.  Hurray to all of them!

All the presentations had great merit, and everyone who attended will surely be looking forward to the ideas that come forward at at the next event (tenatively in June).

Information about LondonSOUP's vision is on its website: https://www.facebook.com/LondonSoup

Carolinian Food Forest and Crouch Fruit Tree Guild Projects receive grants!!

Congratulations to all the dedicated people and organization partners working on the Carolinian Food Forest and the Crouch Fruit Tree Guild projects!

The Carolinian Food Forest has received $4500 from TD Friends of the Environment to carry out more of the site plan in 2013!!! AND its new project, the Crouch Fruit Tree Guild Project has received $5000 from SPARKS! Neighbourhood Matching Funds to plant 3 fruit trees and their associated guilds next to Dillabough Community Garden this year.

There is also money in both of these funds for several workshops over the summer so check out their Events page for dates and registration information.

The Carolinian Food Forest is a 1 acre forest planted on public park land in the Dillabough area, London.  Here's the  fascinating explanation of how it works, from the project website (www.londonfoodforest.blogspot.ca):

"Think of a forest near where you live - does anybody water it? Till the soil? Weed it? Nobody does because it is a self sustaining ecosystem. A food forest mimics the pattern and structure of a natural forest but the plants are deliberately selected to provide food, medicine and other things for us. There are also plants included that are there to support the whole, or the system, through the release of nitrogen and other nutrients into the soil, or by performing natural pest control. Most species perform more than one role."

More information about food forests and these projects, and how to become involved, is on the website:  www.londonfoodforest.blogspot.ca

Community Food Centres Canada

Food as community transformation!

From the website: "A Community Food Centre is a welcoming space where people come together to grow, cook, share and advocate for good food. CFCs provide emergency access to high-quality food in a dignified setting that doesn’t compromise their self-worth. People learn cooking and gardening skills there, and kids get their hands dirty in the garden and kitchen in ways that expand their tastebuds and help them to make healthier food choices. Community members find their voices on the issues that matter to them, and people find friends and support. CFCs offer multifaceted, integrated and responsive programming in a shared space where food builds health, hope, skills and community. CFCs go beyond traditional charitable giving approaches, which answer an immediate need but often do nothing to address underlying issues of chronic hunger, poverty and poor health. They do that by offering multifaceted, integrated and responsive programming in a shared space where people can grow, cook, share and advocate for good food."

Partner sites so far are in Perth (The Table Community Food Centre) and The Local Community Food Centre in Stratford, Ontario (http://thelocalcfc.org/), based on the model of Toronto’s The Stop Community Food Centre. Partner sites develop to fit the needs of their individual communities.

For more on Community Food Centres Canada and the campaign to build Community Food Centres across the country, visit www.cfccanada.ca

Notes from Olivier De Schutter's talk on May 4 posted on Food Not Lawns site

On March 4th, 2013 four members of Food Not Lawns London Canada visited the Local Community Food Centre in Stratford.

They took part in a live webcast of UN rapporteur for Food Security Olivier De Schutter, as he answered questions from food security groups in many different provinces and territories.

Heather has posted notes from this broadcast on the FNLLC website: www.foodnotlawnslondoncanada.blogspot.ca

Thanks Heather!!! and Thanks to Narcise, Teresa, and Margo who also took time to attend this event.

The Local Community Food  Centre, Stratford, Ontario: http://thelocalcfc.org/ 

is partner site of Community Food Centres Canada www.cfccanada.ca


Applied Sustainability course - free, online

CGL received notice about this. There's a link below to the initial registration. More information about the course will be sent out when available by the host agency. Sounds interesting.

Fanshawe College is holding a first-ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).

Beginning on May 13, in partnership with educational software provider Desire2Learn, Fanshawe College will launch a free, six-week open online course on Applied Sustainability. Students from anywhere in the world will participate in online field trips, perform hands-on tasks, discuss issues and ultimately be eligible to receive a letter of completion from the College.

Please fill out the short form at https://fcsw.fanshawec.ca/v2/forms/registration/index.aspx?e=52 and you will receive registration information when it is available.

Questions? Please email mooc@fanshawec.ca or contact Wendy Wilson, eLearning Development Consultant, at 519-452-4430 ext. 4603.

World Day to Combat Desertification

Monday, June 17, 2013

The theme of the 2013 World Day to Combat Desertification is drought and water scarcity. Freshwater is valuable. Of all the water on Earth, only 2.5 per cent is freshwater. And of all this freshwater, the total usable supply for ecosystems and humans is less than 1 per cent.  When demand for water exceeds available supply, it results in water scarcity. Drylands are particularly vulnerable to water scarcity. The projected intensification of freshwater scarcity will cause greater stresses in drylands. While each person needs at least 2,000 cubic meters of water for human well-being and sustainable development every year, on average, people in the drylands have access to only 1,300 cubic meters.

The goal of the 2013 World Day to Combat Desertification is to create awareness about the risks of drought and water scarcity in the drylands and beyond, calling attention to the importance of sustaining healthy soils as part of post Rio+20 agenda, as well as the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

This year’s slogan, “Don’t let our future dry up” calls for everyone to take action to promote preparedness and resilience to water scarcity, desertification and drought. The slogan embodies the message that we are all responsible for water and land conservation and sustainable use, and that there are solutions to these serious natural resource challenges. Land degradation does not have to threaten our future.

Website: http://www.unccd.int/en/programmes/Event-and-campaigns/WDCD/WDCD2013/Pages/default.aspx?HighlightID=168

* and for some extra comment on Canada's pullout from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, check out the March 31 and December 7 posts on blog Saving the World in My Spare Time, www.savingtheworldinmysparetime.blogspot.com


April 9 - Stop Genetically Modified Alfalfa from being allowed onto our farmland!

Day of Action April 9

Tuesday April 9, 2013 from 12 noon (sharp) to 1 pm
Office of Ed Holder, MP for London West, 200-390 Commissioners Rd West

Bring your banners. Bring your voices. Together we can stop the release of GM alfalfa!!

This action is hosted by National Farmers Union Local 312 Middlesex and Elgin Local 306. This call for a Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa was issued by the National Farmers Union-Ontario

If you are interested in attending or supporting this event, please contact: Malorie atmalorie100@hotmail.com 

Information about GM alfalfa & issues to do with genetic modification of  food, check the website of  the Canadian Biotechnolgy Action Network (CBAN) www.cban.caCLucy Sharratt, Coordinator - coordinator@cban.ca     Phone: 613 241 2267 ext. 25
for more information about the April 9 protests: www.cban.ca/april

Or the pages of the National Farmers Union: http://www.nfu.ca or National Farmers Union Ontario - http://www.nfuontario.ca/

The Story:
Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) alfalfa could be registered for use in Eastern Canada this April!

GM Roundup Ready alfalfa varieties have just been cleared for the last step before they hit the market – all they need now is a final rubber-stamp by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Alfalfa is used to produce many of the foods we eat! Alfalfa (commonly harvested as hay) is high-protein feed for animals like dairy cows, beef cattle, lambs, poultry and pigs. It's also used to build nutrients in the soil and is important for organic farming.

Because alfalfa is a perennial plant that is pollinated by bees, genetically modified alfalfa will inevitably cross-pollinate with non-GM and organic alfalfa, threatening the livelihoods of family farmers across Canada. Prairie farmers have already rejected GM alfalfa because of the threat of contamination, so now the industry is trying to introduce GM alfalfa in Eastern Canada.

The April 9/13 action is hosted by National Farmers Union Local 312 Middlesex and Elgin Local 306. This call for a Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa was issued by the National Farmers Union-Ontario. 

 Why is GM Alfalfa Such a Huge Threat? 
GM contamination is inevitable because alfalfa is a perennial crop pollinated by insects. In Ontario, weeds are becoming resistant to glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup): another glyphosate tolerant crop like Roundup Ready alfalfa would increase these weeds. Alfalfa is almost always grown in a mix with grasses and establishes readily without the use of herbicides. Farmers don’t want or need Roundup Ready alfalfa. If genetically modified (GM, also called genetically engineered or GE) alfalfa is released in Eastern Canada it will have negative impacts on a wide range of farmers and farming systems, both conventional and organic. For more information see www.cban.ca/alfalfa

Why is Alfalfa Important?
Alfalfa (commonly harvested as hay) is a high-protein forage fed to animals like dairy cows, beef cattle, lambs, poultry and pigs. It's also used to build nutrients and organic matter in the soil, making it particularly important for organic farming. If it's introduced, GM alfalfa will ruin export markets for alfalfa products, contaminate family farms, make it more difficult for farmers to control weeds, and threaten the future of organic food and farming in Canada.

What Else Can I Do to Help?
1. Come out on April 9! Bring your friends and family! Bring your home-made sign.
2. Help spread the word about the action to groups in your community and ask them to get involved.
3. Help publicize the action in your community by putting up posters, handing out flyers, and posting through email and facebook. Materials are at www.cban.ca/april9
4. Contact media to tell them about the Day of Action and encourage them to cover the rallies.
5. Collect signatures on the petition to stop GM alfalfa and bring them to the rally on April 9. See www.cban.ca/alfalfapetition
6. Email, call or write your Member of Parliament and the Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz on April 9 gerry.ritz@parl.gc.ca Tel: 613-995-7080 Fax 613-996-8472 By mail (no postage required) Hon. Gerry Ritz, House of Commons, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6

The following resolution was passed on March 2, 2013 at the NFU Region 3 Convention/NFU-Ontario AGM: "Be it resolved that the National Farmers Union – Ontario call on farm organizations in Ontario and across Canada, other civil society organizations and concerned consumers to join NFU-O members in a day of action against the release of GM alfalfa to be held at MP's constituency offices on April 9, 2013."

Incredible Edible Todmorden - documentary - inspiration!

Incredible Edible Todmorden, UK has a simple mission statement: "We grow and campaign for local food."

corn and other vegetables grow outside a college in Todmorden UK
this is food growing alongside a building at a local college

For about six years now, the volunteers of Incredible Edible Todmorden have thought up food projects and gotten community organizations involved in growing, eating and appreciating local food, and understanding its relationship to everything else. They talk about the three spinning plates that, kept in motion, reinforce each other: social, economic, and environment. main website: http://www.incredible-edible-todmorden.co.uk/

They do a lot! And nothing Maureen writes here will get across its message and its joy and its rightness as effectively as a visit to the website and to the documentary (http://vimeo.com/36838823) and to Pam Warhurst's TED talk about the project (http://www.ted.com/talks/pam_warhurst_how_we_can_eat_our_landscapes.htm). Please check these out!!

London's Community Gardens Draft Policies - get your comment in!

London's Community Gardens Draft Policies and the Presentation (it's a link) made to gardeners have been posted on the London Community Resource Centre website: http://lcrc.on.ca/portfolio-item/londons-community-gardens-draft-policies

The text below is taken from the LCRC site. Community Gardens London encourages you to write in with your comments. The first meeting was held on Wednesday February 13 to show the draft policies to gardeners who came out. They had many comments. City and LCRC staff, and the consultant making the presentation, all showed a commitment to the betterment of London's community gardens program and a willingness to listen. This is the chance to give comment.

It is important to note that the announcement was also made that there will be a strategic planning process begun in the "second quarter of 2013."

From the LCRC website:

Consultation Meeting Presentation As part of the ongoing commitment to promoting and sustaining London’s community garden program, we are in the process of reviewing and updating our Operating Policies and Procedures that support the program.  It is critical to ensure that our policies are responsible, relevant and easy for Gardeners to abide by and that they reflect the current environment we operate in.  Please send your feedback using the form on the contact us page.

1301 Overarching Policy (1)

1302 Code of Conduct (1)

1303 Existing Community Gardens (1)

1304 New Community Garden (1)

1305 Composting Policy (1)


Gardening books scattered around the house

No time to re-do a book list. These are on loan from London Public Library, and scattered around the house. They all have merits! www.londonpubliclibrary.ca

Close to the earth : have your garden and eat it too / Enid Mallory         635 Mal

Edible action : food activism and alternative economics / Sally Miller. 338.19 Mil

Folks, this ain't normal : a farmer's advice for happier hens, healthier people, and a better world / Joel Salatin.  635.048 Sal

The forgotten pollinators / Stephen L. Buchmann and Gary Paul Nabhan ; with a foreword by Edward O. Wilson ; illustrations by Paul Mirocha.   574.524 Buc

Gardening grief & glory : Ed Lawrence answers your gardening questions / with Liane E. Benoit.   635 Law

Growing seeds! : starting from scratch / Linda D. Harris ; illustrations by Susan T. Fisher. 635.0431 Har

Heirloom vegetable gardening : a master gardener's guide to planting, growing, seed saving, and cultural history / William Woys Weaver ; photography by L. Wilbur Zimmerman ; drawings by Signe Sundberg-Hall.                635 Wea

High-impact, low-carbon gardening : 1001 ways to garden sustainably / Alice Bowe. 635.048 Bow

A place for us : [thoughts on a city in transition] / Glen Pearson.            307.1 Pea

Pruning made easy : a gardener's visual guide to when and how to prune everything, from flowers to trees / Lewis Hil

Reclaiming our food : how the grassroots food movement is changing the way we eat / Tanya Denckla Cobb ; foreword by Gary Paul Nabhan ; photo essays by Jason Houston.           338.1973 Cob

Seed sowing and saving : step-by-step techniques for collecting ... / Carole B. Turner.      635.0421 Tur

The seed underground : a growing revolution to save food / Janisse Ray.              631.521 Ray

Blog by maker of Farm for the Future Documentary

Rebecca Hosking has a blog.  Rebecca made the wonderful documentary Farm for the Future, about her return to the family farm in Devon UK, and her exploration of permaculture as having possibilities for making it more sustainable, and less reliant on fossil fuel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixx1c3RSw_8

You can read about how the farm - Wolf Tree Farm - is doing. www.wolftreefarm.blogspot.com

a few points from London's Food Charter

*London's Food Charter *
The Vision of the Food Charter states: London is a food secure community.

The Charter goes on to say:
The City of London and its people are committed to creating a food secure community where there is:
1.  A just and sustainable food system that contributes to the economic, ecological, and social well-being of our city and rgion which balances local production and fair international agricultural trade;
2. Sufficient personal income and resources to ensoure safe, nutritious foods in adequate amounts for everyone everyday;
3.  Ready access to quality grocery stores, farmers' markets and other food sources which provide safe, nutritious and culturally-appropriate foods;
4.  Opportunity for residents to become food literate; and,
5.  Opportunity for residents to grow and sell food within the City

If you have questions about this, get in touch with Trevor Fowler, program manager, Ending Poverty Implementation Team tfowler@london.ca

A pdf of the Food Charter can be reached through London website page: http://www.london.ca/d.aspx?s=/Child_Youth_Network/Food_Charter/default.htm

Seed Saving Network - notes from March 2 event

On Saturday, March 2/13 Maureen Temme of Community Gardens London gave a talk about Seed Banks and Seed Saving Networks.  The talk was a public education event, organized by Transition London Ontario (TLO - www.transitionlondon.ning.com).  TLO's Annual General Meeting followed the talk.

Presentation Summary: Through anecdotes and slides about her own experiences with seed saving and by an overview of various seed saving networks in Canada and internationally, Temme explained how saving seeds maintains genetic potential within plant types, encourages biodiversity within an area, and that variability of plants will be useful as we face the effects of increasingly unpredictable climate.  Increases in local food production and jobs in sustainable gardening and farming; decreased fossil fuel use and transportation costs also link in.  A grower controlled (organic) seed saving network fits with the Transition movement's emphasis on community resilience, reduced fossil fuel use and readiness to handle climate change and economic shift.

Conversations after
After the presentation, Temme invited people to have conversations on any aspects of seeds, growing and food that came to mind.  Saying conversations were lively is an understatement! Gardens grow and change over time.  Ideas and projects will arise from - and grow and change from - the ideas below, and from ideas to come.  Let's relax and begin, one thing at a time, as we enjoy the plants and community that come. 

Ask for long notes : communitygardenslondon@execulink.com   (Once I remember how to do them as a printable document to post them here, I will)

Let's have some fun and creativity with it all!  Bring in the arts of all sorts

Defining what we want - Vision - is as important as specific projects ... recognizing the real problems we face, and how to still have hope

How to get gardeners more connected?  Need to know and involved individuals and groups. 

People most interested in garden education ...  topics were suggeted for education and workshops that go year-round

Seed exchanges in the community & cooperative gardening and planting ... need places and how-to

Big issues underlying seed saving and community change
climate change, local food security, non-corporate, economy

Taking Inventory of our Community
Who are our resource people?
What and where are there native plants? Tree Inventory and Mapping?
Seed Saving specific resources mentioned
The Seed
Alliance - www.seedalliance.org  - has a printable document called A Seed Saving Guide for Gardener and Farmers (look under Publications)
Community Gardens London website is posting information about seed saving

 What changes may be needed at City Hall as urban agriculture develops?
- how to use the fact the London Council already endorsed a food charter?
- policy and bylaws need to be looked at

Inner Transition working group of Transition Middlesex

"Nurturing inner resilience in the face of socio-economic, energy and ecological challenges"

Time: 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
The Living Centre - 5871 Bells Road, SW of London
Cost: free, with donations greatly appreciated - come out to one or to all!

April 3, 2013                  The Spiral Path: A Map for Personal Empowerment
May 1, 2013                   Gratitude: Enough is Enough
June 5, 2013                  Mindful Living: From Habits that Drain to Habits that Sustain
July 3, 2013                   Creative Dreaming: Take Control of Your Sleeping World
Sept. 4, 2013                 Cultivating Your Innter Life: Nature as Model & Guide
Oct. 2, 2013                    Active Listening: Communicating in Real Time

Transition Middlesex is a grass-roots group with a positive vision for a sustainable future. http://transitionmiddlesex.blogspot.com or readrobread@gmail.com or Rob Read at 519-666-0168

The Living Centre is an eco-spiritual education centre with a huge range of wonderful programs. Principals are Lorenna Bousquet Kacera and Shantree Kacera. www.thelivingcentre.com

The New School of Colour

The New School of Colour is a creative social space. It is a free art program that is open to all community members, with a special focus on providing opportunities to youth and adults dealing with issues of poverty, mental health and other social barriers.        

Based at Glen Cairn Community Resource Centre, this will be a place to learn how to paint and draw, to learn about photography and sculpture, and to show and sell you own artwork at public exhibitions.  Programs will develop for all age groups.  (funding for project from The Trillium Foundation)

Check out the website - complete with videos and on-line gallery! - at: www.newschoolofcolour.com

Fixing the Future - interview with David Korten on PBS series

Thank you to Sophia, who sent along a link to an interesting PBS series called Fixing theFuture.

I'm not an economist, so anything is new to me! I hope this will interest you too.

PBS interviewer David Brancaccio speaks with David Korten  http://www.pbs.org/now/fixing-the-future/picture.html
Korten spoke about local economies, and how they are a commitment to community.  Local economies create jobs, profit, and, most important, community. He mentions that there are many community-based undertakings to change economy and the future.  Transition Towns is one. He also  comments that there are various types of globalization - corporate kinds are not good, but other types can be o.k. I've always just read the term "globalization" in the mega-corporate sense (particularly agri-chemical /food) so it was good to think about other types of globalization.

Korten, an economist, is the co-founder of Yes! magazine [www.yesmagazine.org]; his website is the Living Policy Institute,  http://livingeconomiesforum.org

Fixing the Future has interviews with Matthew Bishop, US editor, The Economist
and with Jane D'Arista, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute
The PBS pages link to an entire network of Fixing the Future communities, and how the economy works information

Link to the film:  http://www.pbs.org/now/fixing-the-future/picture.html
There is even a transcript of the David Korten interview available:

Celebrating women involved in agriculture and women's agriculture education

Celebrating women involved in agriculture and women's agriculture education

In celebration of International Women's Day, the Food Tank  project (an affiliate of the Nourishing the Planet Project of Worldwatch Institute) is honouring women internationally who are involved in food projects.

Here is an excerpt from the email received by CGL, with links to more information.

"Tomorrow is International Women’s Day – a day to recognize the steps that have been taken to improve gender equality and to acknowledge that much more needs to be done to level the playing field for women in all sectors, including agriculture.

"Olivier De Shutter, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, recently wrote an op-ed in The New York Times, The Feminization of Farming, drawing attention to the need to empower women farmers and remove the obstacles that hold them back from improving agricultural productivity, nutrition, and incomes. He says that “the most effective strategies to empower women who tend farm and family — and to alleviate hunger in the process — are to remove the obstacles that hinder them from taking charge of their lives.”

"According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 40 percent of agricultural laborers in developing countries are women - and in some countries, they are as much as 80 percent of the agricultural work force. But women farmers’ yields are roughly 20-30 percent less than male farmers.

"If gender barriers were eliminated and women farmers were able to match the yields of male farmers, global malnourishment could be reduced by 12 to 17 percent. And a study conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute found that almost 55 percent of the reduction in hunger from 1970 to 1995 could be attributed to improvements in women’s status in society. In our guest post on Ecoagriculture Parners Landscapes for People, Food, and Nature blog, we highlight how providing better access to credit and inputs can not only improve the livelihoods of women farmers, but translates to better nutrition for their families. 

"In honor of International Women’s Day, Ellen Gustafson and [Danielle Nierenberg] want to highlight seven women working to change the food system:" The enews listed their accomplishments much beyond just the highlighted affiliations!

Jeomek Bak the Chairperson of the Korean Women Peasants Association.

Barbara Buchner is a member of the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Advisory Board and is the head of CPI Europe.

Debra Eschmeyer is the co-Founder of FoodCorps and an organic farmer

Wenonah Hauter is the Executive Director of Food & Water Watch.

Saru Jayaramane is the Director of the Food Labor Research Center and co-Founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.

Sophia Murphy is a Senior Advisor for the Institute on Agriculture and Trade Policy.

Lindiwe Sibanda is the Chief Executive Officer of the Food and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) based in Pretoria, South Africa.

Food Tank: http://www.foodtank.org     email: danielle@foodtank.org

LondonSOUP - first meeting of new micro-funder

Sunday, April 14, 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. (approx)
The APK  restaurant and music club, 347 Clarence Street, London

LondonSOUP is a new, local micro-funder / business incubator event with a local food and sustainability theme. Information below in italics is taken directy from LondonSOUP's emails to CGL

"The concept is simple: four individuals briefly pitch their proposal to a London club audience and share their experiences over a bowl of delicious soup, made from locally-sourced ingredients.  Votes are then cast & tallied during dinner, with one recipient awarded the proceeds of the night.  Admission for non-presenters is a mere $10, which includes the focus meal and allows the audience to pick the winning proposal, while also sponsoring and giving support to their idea"

"LondonSOUP is seeking entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, educators, students and any other interesting people to submit proposals for a tasty micro-grant.  There is no age restriction for the event, so this may be of potential interest to secondary students."
"The deadline to submit is 10 days BEFORE the meal on April 14th." This would be April 4.

"The sustainability theme of the evening meshes well with the [London District Renewable Energy Cooperative] LDREC community energy co-operative (initiated by the [Mayor's Sustainable Energy Council] - MSEC), however it should be noted that there is no formal relationship among LondonSOUP, the Co-op or any City entity or individual."

LondonSOUP is developing partnerships with London groups to develop this project.  If you have questions, please contact: Gary Zavitz gary.zavitz@interbeach.com
Like Us On Facebook: London SOUP           Tweet Us On Twitter: @LondonSOUP
Canada: www.londonsoup.ca            International: http://sundaysoup.org/london-soup

London Heritage Grant Program Now Accepting Applications

Following is the text of the press release sent by the London Community Foundation. CGL added the emphasis on categories..

Feb. 04, 2013

(London ON) - On behalf of The City of London, London Community Foundation is now accepting applications to the London Endowment for Heritage Grant Program. Up to $15,000 in grant money is available. The deadline for applications is Tuesday April 2, 2013.
This program grants to projects that aim to support efforts at enriching local heritage as related to the following five categories: Archaeological, architectural, cultural landscapes, moveable, and natural heritage.

To apply, visit London Community Foundation's website at lcf.on.ca, and identify the heritage stream to which your project aligns and then submit any applicable grant form(s) to the Foundation by April 2.

The City of London is committed to the forward-looking stewardship of London’s natural and cultural heritage. The London Endowment for Heritage Fund was established at the direction of City of London Council in January 1993. London Community Foundation was selected to be the conduit to manage and steward the endowment fund, and assists the City’s Heritage Planner with the application intake process.
The London Advisory Committee on Heritage (LACH) assesses the applications and allocates the grants annually.  #30

for more information
Lori Worozbyt, Manager of Community Initiatives
London Community Foundation 
519.667.1600 x.105  

Circle of Seeds                         

Community GardensLondon receives e-news from the Seed Freedom organization of India, which began in October 2012 following an international appeal by Vandana Shiva which alerted its founders to "the urgency of rescuing at least some of the traditional Seed that still exist in our country with the need for sharing knowledge."

Its Circle of Seeds idea is a most basic getting together of friends or neighbours who agree to "choose a species, soweth, takes care, harvest, clean, dry and store the seeds. At the meetings everyone shares their seeds and the information they have on the plant chosen. ... After one year, the Circle will have in your Seed Bank 12 varieties. The following year, each person chooses another culture and now there are 24 varieties. After one year, the Circle will have in your Seed Bank 12 varieties. The following year, each person chooses another culture and now there are 24 varieties. fter 5 years... "

The English translation of how to set up a Circle of Seeds is found on the Seed Freedom website, March 4 entry: www.seedfreedom.in

The Seed Freedom website also has an 11 page guide titled You Too Can Be a Seed Saver!
It gives information about different types of seeds and seed saving, and also about the Navdanya organization and its efforts against corporate efforts to patent seed. http://seedfreedom.in/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Seed-Kit.pdf

Hypnotized by Peace - London's Peace bus

You are inspiration. Your are dedication. You are motivation. You are Peace.

Jim Kogelheide is a London, Ontario artist and school bus driver. The children on his bus are surely lucky: they get to talk about environment and peace and draw about their ideas, and have their art posted on The Peace Bus.

Jim has posted a video to YouTube talking about some of the things we face on this Earth and that we can help these problems by thinking peace. This is a must see - complete with guitar! - for any of us who care about children and helping them make positive changes and feel as if they can make positive changes in their world.

A gentle sharing of thoughts and children's art: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jL1CH_6Rnz8

One Billion Green Jobs

One Billion Green Jobs is the title of a short video on the Home Harvest Farms website (http://www.homeharvestfarms.com/ ) that gives an overview of how local agricultural production - urban agriculture - could be used to reduce fossil fuel emissions, create jobs and help in the fight against global warming. Set in Vancouver's lower mainland area, it's an eye opener about shifting water tables (a negative) and a real positive about the potential of portable growing systems.

Whether Philip Be'er is entirely accurate when he states that locally and organically grown, reduces food related emissions by 70% doesn't matter. Whether it's 70% or 60% or even only 25% we need to start making changes that reduce fossil fuel use, produce food locally and organically and create jobs. These kind of jobs create personal and community security too, both economically and culturally.

In its own words, Home Harvest Farms is "a social enterprise that designs, builds and sells garden containers and greenhouses of all sizes - tabletop to rooftop. Home Harvest Farms is responding to our pressing food security concerns: we promote Horticultural Literacy and supply systems that are robust, affordable and easy to deploy. Our systems are well suited for use indoors and out."

Thanks Philip, for a lift to my day. Now, where is this sort of thing in London, Ontario?

Setting up a Seed Bank and Seed Savers Network for London, Ontario

Setting up a Seed Bank and Seed Savers Network for London, Ontario is a way to ensure local food, maintain seed diversity, and keep our gardening interesting

Saturday March 2, 2013, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
236 Dundas Street, London - at Organic Oscars/Downtown Yoga Centre
Transition London Ontario invites you to a presentation about seed banking, by Maureen Temme of TLO and Community Gardens London (she writes all this stuff you're reading!). Please bring your ideas and experience, so we can start to really do this! Resource material that might interest you prior to this event is being posted on the Community Gardens London website www.communitygardenslondon.ca and on the Transition London Ontario website at www.transitionlondon.ning.com

Transition London's Annual General Meeting will follow this event, at 3:30 p.m.
Maureen can be reached at 519-439-8306 or communitygardenslondon@execulink.co

How to Preserve and Rejuvenate Heirloom Vegetable Seeds

“Preservation is absolutely essential, but you can’t live on preserves,” Morton says. “You’ve got to keep up the evolutionary dance.”  

We read a lot about heritage or heirloom seeds these days.  Even the biggest home garden seed companies are marketing heritage or "heirloom" seeds.

The article "How to Preserve and Rejuvenate Heirloom Vegetable Seeds" - www.grit.com/garden/vegetables/heirloom-vegetable-seeds.aspx?page=4 - focuses on the work of Frank Morton, co-founder of Wild Garden Seed at Gathering Together Farm in Philomath, Oregon.  For over twenty years he has been breeding heirloom plants, strengthening or rejuvenating seed stock, and developing new hardy seed stocks.  He plants seeds where things don't usually like to grow, over or under waters, lets the diseases in ... and what survives - or flourishes - becomes the next generation.

The article is a useful overview of plant genetics, and is respectful of farmers' wisdom and skills and respectful of plants' genius for continually adapting to their locale and circumstances.

The full must read article appears in Grit magazine, written by Craig Idlebrook   Grit, Ja/Fe 2011      http://www.grit.com/garden/vegetables/heirloom-vegetable-seeds.aspx?page=4

Heirloom Seed Sanctuary - Sisters of Providence

"It is our heritage to save seeds, a link between the past and future. By living sustainably and simply in a balanced relationship with creation, we witness to others our respect for the Earth and Life in all its diversity. Come and learn more about this great work."

The Heirloom Seed Sanctuary is an undertaking by the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul, in Kingston, to uphold the ideas, and the commitment to share with community, expressed above. 

The Heirloom Seed Sanctuary website http://www.providence.ca/?cat=30 gives:
- a history of the sanctuary and the way it is managed
- a terrific slide show from the 2012 gardening season 
- a link to the YouTube video of the place, with a song 'specially written to emphasize the importance of gardens and their life                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yk2bEtWQoXY&feature=youtu.be
- seasonal events
- downloadable brochure
- a diary/blog kept by the garden manager Cate Henderson

The Sanctuary has a full roster of events and workshops during the gardening year.  These combine practical gardening with the respect and "reverence for the creative spirit in the seasonal cycles that are intrinsic to gardening," as expressed in the Sanctuary's brochure.

Once a year, in May, plants not needed for the preservation of the collection are available to the community.  Seeds are not for sale, however, because they are the seeds of the heritage collection. 

Eleven Reasons to Save Heirloom Seeds, from the Sisters of Providence

Connection with Earth and Mystery of Creation
Historical Value
Cultural Relationship

I hope you take time to visit the website of the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul.  It's inspiring!
Sanctuary website: http://www.providence.ca/?cat=30
Sisters main website: http://www.providence.ca/

How To Save A Public Library: Make It A Seed Bank

The seed library is a partnership between the Basalt Public Library and the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute. Seed packets encourage gardeners to write their names and take credit for their harvested seeds.

The Basalt Public Library in Basalt Colorado has a seed library too! 

Listen to the National Public piece, broadcast February 2/13 by Luke Runyan, at: http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=170846948&m=170922884

or you can check it out in print at: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/02/02/170846948/how-to-save-a-public-library-make-it-a-seed-bank

Barbara Milnor, the library's director, notes that a seed library is a relevant, local and physical resource, just the sort of thing for a public resource like a library.

Thanks to Don McL. and Seanda W. for the heads up on this one!

Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library - Richmond, California


A year and a half ago, Maureen of CGL (me, writing here) read about a seed lending library in Richmond, California.  She checked out the website and thought it was pretty cool.

Well, it's now fabulous!

The Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library - which is in a real library and uses real, card catalogue type drawers to hold seeds - is a program of the Richmond Rivets Transition group, with some fiscal sponsorship by Urban Tilth, a community-based agriculture/environment organization in California.

The Richmond Grows Seed Library volunteers have actually put their "How We Did This" model on-line - there's lots of advice and suggestions - along with set up flyers, and an 8 minute video introducing the library. 

Please go see the video when you've finished reading this item!  It'll save me writing way too much.  And it'll be much more fun for you!  http://www.richmondgrowsseeds.org/

Then, come out March 2nd, 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. at 236 Dundas Street, for a presentation about seed banks and seed saving networks. Together let's see what's possible here in London, Ontario. This event is hosted by Transition London Ontario, a public event prior to TLO's annual general meeting at 3:30 (which we invite you to stay for, of course).

The Transition movement is worldwide. Its people undertake projects that fit their communities so they become more resilient (able to adapt to change) and get ready for a more local, capable way of living with less fossil fuel, a changed climate and a different economy.  Transition ideas vary as much as people do, really.  With the commonality that Transition people are all caring people who realize that shift happens.

Transition London Ontario: http://www.transitionlondon.ning.com
Richmond Rivets Transition group:  http://www.richmondrivets.org
Urban Tilth: http://www.urbantilth.org

Glen Pearson knows too: If you eat, you're in

It's always worth reading the Parallel Parliament comments by Glen Pearson, co-director of the London Food Bank.  www.glenpearson.ca

In his February 11/13 piece - Identity – If You Eat, You’re In - he notes that London has quite a few groups involved with food issues, but they haven't - yet - established a network so they can strengthen what they do and simply go ahead and get stuff done.  He also stresses that we don't need to wait for municipal government

Indeed, we can't wait.

Pearson links to Pam Warhurst's Incredible Edible Todmorden  TED talk (noted previously on CGL).   Warhurst's enthusiasm and the results she and others have achieved in Todmorden - without asking permission - is a must see. http://www.ted.com/talks/pam_warhurst_how_we_can_eat_our_landscapes.html

Pearson calls out for us to line up with Warhurst: If you eat, you're in.

Seed Bank and Seed Saving Network Resources list - so far!

CGL is working on this resource list, so you can browse anything that catches your attention prior to the presentation about Setting up a Seed Bank and Seed Savers Network for London, Ontario, on March 2, 1:30 to 3:30. A seed saving network is a way to ensure local food, maintain seed diversity, and keep our gardening interesting.

Articles in print or other media

Mother Earth News - always a good place to look for garden info

Starting a Community Seed Bank: Part 1 – A Good Idea?    July 1994  http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/33-3script_en.asp
Farm Radio International, Package 33, Script 3, July 1994, Word Count: 466

Towards setting up a community seedbank - experience from Chengam, Tamil Nadu
K. Vijayalashmi and A. Nambi         Document(s) 38 of 38


Heirloom Vegetable Gardening: A Master Gardener's Guide to Planting, Seed Saving, and Cultural History.
If you ever spot a copy of this second hand, buy it!  Full of stories and information - the practical and the trivial - for avide gardeners.
William Woys Weaver with illustrations by Signe Sundberg Hall.
New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1997.

One Hundred Vegetables and Where They Came From.
Variation of the now out of print Heirloom Vegetable Gardening. It may be more readable for an audience new to gardening.
               William Woys Weaver with illustrations by Signe Sundberg Hall.
               Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2011.

Seed Sowing and Saving: Step-by-Step Techniques for Collecting and Growing More Than 100 Vegetables, Flowers, and Herbs.
Carole B. Turner.
               Storey Communications, Inc., 1998     (Storey always does good books - www.storey.com)
               London Public Library call #: 635.0421 Tur

The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food
               Excellent up-to-date book with big resource list.
               Janisse Ray.  White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Press, 2012.

 Organizations - Seed Banks, Seed Saving, Seed Sources - and related

Atlantic Canadian Organic Growers Network (ACORN) - A non-profit organization that serves the organic sector in Atlantic Canada (based in Sackville, NB).  They do so much stuff (annual conference, provincial workshops) and have so many different resources for organic folk;

Canadian Organic Growers
COG is a national information network for organic farmers, gardeners and consumers. Founded in 1975, we are a federally incorporated registered charity. Our mandate is to be a leading organic information and networking resource for Canada, promoting the methods and techniques of organic growing along with the associated environmental, health and social benefits.

Cyndi's Catalog of Garden Catalogs
This is the most comprehensive list of mail-order garden catalogues that we know of.

Eastern Canadian Organic Seed Growers Network (part of Seeds of Diversity)
Founded in 2011, with members from Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, ECOSGN is an independent association geared toward helping growers to produce top-quality certified organic seeds in Canada.

Plant Gene Resources of Canada http://www.agr.gc.ca/pgrc-rpc
mandate: To protect, preserve and enhance the genetic diversity of Canadian plants of economic importance, and their wild relatives, by acquiring, evaluating, researching and documenting plant genetic resources in order to provide fundamental genetic building blocks for crop variety  and bio based product development and plant genetic studies nationally and internationally.

Henry Doubleday Research Association (U.K.)
HDRA's Heritage Seed Library is one of Europe's largest non-government genetic conservation bodies. The library contains over 700 varieties of interesting and traditional vegetables that can't legally be traded in Europe. Many are family heirlooms nurtured from generation to generation; others were once commercial varieties, now no longer offered by seed companies, the seeds being victims of commercial pressures and draconian European rules. Members of the library are able to receive up to seven packets of free seed each year.

ICanGarden GardenWeb
Seed Company and Nursery Catalogues

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) - What ACORN will be in 20 years!  MOFGA is doing and has done some incredible work to support the development of what is now a rich, diverse and abundant organic farming scene in Maine;

Navdanya means “nine seeds” (symbolizing protection of biological and cultural diversity) and also the “new gift” (for seed as commons, based on the right to save and share seeds In today’s context of biological and ecological destruction, seed savers are the true givers of seed. This gift or “dana” of Navadhanyas (nine seeds) is the ultimate gift – it is a gift of life, of heritage and continuity. Conserving seed is conserving biodiversity, conserving knowledge of the seed and its utilization, conserving culture, conserving sustainability.
Navdanya - Diverse Women for Biodiversity
Diverse Women for Diversity is the gender programme of Navdanya which works with local, national and global level. It was founded as a global campaign of women on biodiversity, cultural diversity and food security by Dr. Jean Grossholtz and Ms. Beth Burrows, USA, Dr. Christine von Weizsacker, Germany, and Dr. Vandana Shiva, India. 

Rare Breeds Canada
A federally incorporated, charitable organization dedicated to the conservation, evaluation and study of rare, endangered and minority breeds of livestock and poultry.

Salt Spring Sanctuary Society | dan@saltspringseeds.com
Box 444, Ganges P.O., Salt Spring Island, BC V8K 2W1 Canada | Phone : 250.537.5269

Seed Savers Exchange (U.S.A.)
Seed Savers Exchange (SSE), a nonprofit tax-exempt organization that is saving oldtime food crops from extinction. SSE's 8000 members are working together to rescue endangered vegetable and fruit varieties from extinction. These members are maintaining thousands of heirloom varieties, traditional Indian crops, garden varieties of the Mennonite and Amish, vegetables dropped from all seed catalogs and outstanding foreigh varieties. Each year 1000 members use SSE's publications to distribute such seeds to ensure their survival. SSE has no monetary interest whatsoever in any of these varieties and wants only to save them for future generations to enjoy.

Seeds of Diversity Canada
From the website:  "Seeds of Diversity is a Canadian charitable organization dedicated to the conservation, documentation and use of public-domain, non-hybrid plants of Canadian significance. Our 1400 members from coast to coast are gardeners, farmers, teachers, scientists, agricultural historians, researchers and seed vendors. Together we grow, propagate and distribute over 2900 varieties of vegetables, fruit, grains, flowers and herbs. We are a living gene bank."
Lists seed exchange events around Canada.
website:  http://www.seeds.ca                         email:  mail@seeds.ca                      phone: 1-866-509-7333
P.O. Box 36, Stn Q, Toronto ON M4T 2L7
Seeds of Diversity's Resource List
We maintain a list of seed companies and nurseries which specialize in heritage seeds, hard-to-find varieties, and sustainable agricultural and horticultural practices. These are recommendations from our members, and we hope you will find them useful.

USC Canada - http://usc-canada.org - Works to support the revitalization of community seed banks and grassroots seed preservation around the world; big campaign against Monsanto's "terminator technology" (to make seeds breed sterile) and GMOs.

USC Canada's Seeds of Survival Program works with small-holder farmers in some harsh areas of the global south to build food and livelihood security. The themes underlying its programs involve seed security and diversity, climate change adaptation and mitigation, community-based economic development, promotion of gender equality, and involving young farmers

USC ... Bauta Family Seed Security Initiative - http://usc-canada.org/what-we-do/canada/bauta-en/
An undertaking of USC-Canada and Seeds of Diversity Canada to survey just who is producing local seed, and encourage more.  The program will feature training, applied research, market development, and support for expanded production and improved public access to seed.

One Seed at a Time: Protecting the Future of Food

“You don’t look in the eyes of a carrot seed quite in the way you do a panda bear, but it’s very important diversity.”

In this TED Talk from 2009, Cary Fowler* discusses how the rapidly advancing threats of climate change make even more urgent the need to save seed, and preserve biodiversity.

Biodiversity activist Fowler comes to thinking about seed saving from a wide perspective. He has been on the Board of Seed Savers Exchange and been executive director of Global Crop Diversity Trust, one of the organizations that actively advocated for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, an international program to back up the world's diverse biological resources in a world where monocropping and corporate-controlled genetically modified seeds seem to want to over-run us.

Fowler sees a place for large and small efforts to preserve seeds. He tells us there is not just one answer, other than saving seeds in all their variety.

To reach the TED Talk page, which even has a transcript of the talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/cary_fowler_one_seed_at_a_time_protecting_the_future_of_food.html

"I can't look you in the eyes and tell you that I have a solution for climate change, for the water crisis ... the energy crisis, or world hunger or peace in conflict. ... I can look you in the eyes and tell you that we can't solve any of those problems if we don't have crop diversity. Because I challenge you to think of an effective, efficient, sustainable solution to climate change if we don't have crop diversity. Because, quite literally, if agriculture doesn't adapt to climate change, neither do we. And if crops don't adapt to climate change, neither will agriculture, neither will we.

The Seed Underground: a growing revolution to save food

Janisse Ray says, in her new book, The Seed Underground: a growing revolution to save food:

I want to tell you about the most hopeful thing in the world.  It is a seed.  In the era of dying, it is all life.  Every piece of information necessary to that plant for its natural time on earth is encoded, even though the world is changing and new information will be needed.  But we don't know what is in a seed; its knowledge is invisible, encased, secret.  A seed can contain any number of surprises. A seed can contain a whole tree encrypted in its sealed vault.  Even with climate change there will be seeds that have all the wisdom they and we need.

Two video sections from a talk Ray gave at Chatham University, in the fall of 2012 have been posted by Southern Spaces interdisciplinary journal at. http://southernspaces.org/2012/sowing-seed-underground

The talk excerpts above are must sees, even if you don't get to Ray's book (but get to it if you can!). They give you the flavour of her wonderful new book, which is stories about her own experiences meeting people who grow food and save seed combined skillfully with a wealth of information about our overindustrialized and contolled agriculture. As her title implies, she is particularly concerned with saving seeds.

Ray's short piece on the history of industrial agriculture is a clear overview of how farming changed from the 1930s onward, much to do with the types of seeds available.  Of course, she mentions the loss of biodiversity from hybrid and genetically modified seed, and the loss of control by farmers as they have purchased seed from ever-growing companies whose main interest is selling chemicals.

In the book Ray uses term: landedness.  It seems to mean a blend of living on and making one's living from the land, from land where one grows food and is in charge of the decisions that grow that food.  It's sort of "terroire" for people.

The Seed Underground: a growing revolution to save food, by Janisse Ray, published 2012 by the ever wonderful Chelsea Green publishers (www.chelseagreen.com). London Public Library call number: 631.521 Ray

NFLD and Labrador Food Security, seed saving and the 4 P's of food

Finding one resource just lead to another. This stuff is great!!

Newfoundland and Labrador has a most amazing resource, the Food Security Network of Newfoundland and Labrador.  Maureen of Community Gardens London was directed to it from the USC-Canada website while researching seed banks (more coming on that).

The Food Security Network of N&L: http://www.foodsecuritynews.com/

Its affiliate, Root Cellars Rock, has a great article about the 7 reasons to save local seeds http://rootcellarsrock.ca/2013/01/local-seeds-need-saving/

1. Preserve plants
2. Lower garden costs
3. Build appreciation for nature
4. Build community
5. Cultivate locally acclimated plants
6. Gain access to unusual and rare plants
7. Connect to our heritage

Root Cellars Rock also has a Seed Saving "Workshop" which is an 80 page how-to get started on seed saving.:
Root Cellars Rock Seed Saving Workshop

The Seed Saving Workshop how-to is just one of an 8-part resource covering what the Food Security Network of Newfoundland and Labrador refers to as "the 4 P's of Food": planting, picking, preparing and preserving.  The full series can be reached from: http://rootcellarsrock.ca/food-skills-workshops/

Planting: Container Gardening; and Composting
Picking: Seed Saving and Edible Wild Plants
Preparing: Preparing Local Vegetables and Using Culinary Herbs
Preserving: Canning/Bottling and Root Cellars

These 8 workshops are approximately 80 pages per pdf document with lots of photos! The FSN describes them as "a resource for community groups and individuals across the province to use to foster knowledge, capacity, and engagement with healthy, traditional food skills in their communities."
It's sure just not Newfoundland and Labrador that can benefit from these resources!

Check them out, and send a thank you or a donation if you can. And if you want to get in touch with Root Cellars Rock, contact info@rootcellarsrock.ca or call (709)237-4026.

‘Gardens Where People Grow’ - Martineau Gardens, Birmingham, UK


Gardens Where People Grow is a cheerful, positive 6 minute film that will really lift your spirits!

This film focuses on Martineau Gardens near Birmingham, UK.  It explores how community gardens benefit public health and increase resilience in a community, with particular focus on the impact of the garden and gardening on the mental health and well being of the people of Birmingham. Commissioned by the National Health Service Midlands and East (UK).

This is a must see!!

Director: John Hill-Daniel                              Camera: Carl Jorden, Peter Austin
Martineau Gardens website: http://www.martineau-gardens.org.uk/

Call for Input on Policies and Procedures for London's Community Gardening Program

A "focus group" is to be held on Wednesday, Feb. 13/13. Get your name in, or contact one of the people listed!!

The following letter copied below was sent to people who garden in London's community gardens, asking for their input on policies and procedures.

If you garden at one of London's community gardens it is important that you respond to this, and participate.  If you are person #25 or above, it is even more important that you make sure your voice is heard!

If you do not garden at one of London's community gardens and you have comments to make about London's community gardens and their policies and procedures, you should also be in touch with someone!

The 2012 season rules are posted here: http://www.communitygardenslondon.ca/news.html#gardenrules and there are other related items nearby on the News pages.

Linda Davies is head of the London Community Resource Centre, agency that has been contracted by the City to manage the gardens: phone: 519-432-1801 or email: linda@lcrc.on.ca

Scott Stafford is with the Parks Department, which supplies many support services: phone: 519-661-2500 Ext. 4518 or email: sstaffor@london.ca

Cheryl Smith is a senior City administrator in the the Community Services department, handling London's community gardens program: phone: 519-661-2500, ext. 5880 or email: csmith@london.ca

Below is the text of the letter sent to people who gardened during the 2012 season at one of the plots in London's communitiy gardens:

Dear Community Gardener,

As part of our ongoing commitment to promoting and sustaining London’s community garden program, we are in the process of reviewing and updating our Operating Policies and Procedures that support the program. It is critical to ensure that our policies are responsible, relevant and easy for Gardeners to abide by and that they reflect the current environment we operate in.

We have hired Anne Becker from Pathways Consulting Group to assist us in updating our policies and procedures. We would like to invite you to meet with Anne in a Focus Group to provide feedback on draft policies and procedures based on your experience as a Community Gardener.

The focus group will be held on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at Goodwill Industries, 255 Horton Street, 3rd Floor in the Town Hall Meeting Room. The meeting will start at 7 pm and should be wrapped up by 8:30 pm. Please call or email Linda Davies (see contact details below) by February 5th to indicate your interest in participating in the focus group. Since we can only accommodate 24 people in the focus group, the criteria for selection of participants will be based on a blend between:
               First come, first serve
               A balanced representation from all community gardens.

If you have any questions about the focus group, please contact Linda Davies. Thank you for your interest and we hope to see you in January

Scott Stafford
Division Manager, Parks and Community Sports
City of London
Linda Davies
Executive Director
London Community Resource Centre

Contact information
Linda Davies
Phone: 519-432-1801
email: lcrc@lcrc.on.ca

255 Horton Street London, ON N6B 1L1 519-432-1801 www.lcrc.on.ca lcrc@lcrc.on.ca



London's Community Gardens Program Review, with 14 recommendations, came forward and was endorsed by City Council on April 4, 2011. It can be found at: http://council.london.ca/meetings/CNC%20Agendas/2011-03-29%20Agenda/Item%209.pdf

Community Gardens London is not the agency that coordinates London's community gardens program. We are always interestedin hearing your comments and we can often answer questions. email: communitygardenslondon@execulink.com


Food Not Lawns London Canada

Beginning with two gardens in 2012, as well as education events, London has an active Food Not Lawns group, Food Not Lawns London Canada. 

Its interested and interesting members are gardeners and lovers of food and edible landscapes who are "interested in making sustainable and local food systems in London". They are looking to meet and involve more people interested in food producing gardens and the importance of food in our community's future.

Projects and events are in the planning, but we know already that there will be a Food Not Lawns information booth at Seedy Saturday on March 9 and at Gathering on the Green in June. 

Forest City Food Not Lawns' blog posts information, events and meeting notes at http://www.foodnotlawnslondoncanada.blogspot.ca/

or check its Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/forest.city.food.not.lawns

Ecological Farmers workshops prior to Guelph Organic Conference

Dates: Thursday January 31/13 or Friday, February 1/13 at various locations.

Topics such as Ecological Beekeeping and Small Scale Intensive Organic Market Gardening have direct relationship to shared garden and urban agriculture undertakings. EFAO is great people! Check these out at http://www.efao.ca

1. Orchard Health with Michael Phillips 
2. Labour on the Market Garden: A Panel Discussion
3. Direct Marketing with Ann Slater
4. Finding the Balance: Interpreting Soil Tests for Organic Farmers
5. Working with Your Butcher 
6. Making a Living on 1.5 acres: Techniques for Small Scale Intensive Organic Market Gardening

7. Introduction to Ecological Beekeeping

For more detailed descriptions visit their website or register online.
For questions contact Karen Maitland info@efao.ca or 519.822.8606.
Become an EFAO member ($45/farm per year) and save over 25% on fees!
Register soon as workshops are filling up fast!

Middlesex Get Fresh Eat Local Map - 3rd edition will be coming this spring

The Middlesex Federation of Agriculture is producing a 3rd edition of the popular Get Fresh Eat Local map.  Over the past 4 years, over 75,000 maps have been distributed to consumers.  You can see the 2nd edition at: http://www.middlesex.ca/living-here/get-fresh...-eat-local 

There was a call out to farmers with a local food product to sell and interest in being on the map. The deadline for inclusion was posted as January 11, but here's the contact info in case you have questions: Middlesex Federation of Agriculture: email to mfa4h@bellnet.ca or call the Middlesex Federation of Agriculture office at 519-457-8444.

Alternatives Journal is expanding!

A solar heating unit from pop cans ... Shopping for a lighter "foodprint" ... Why local voices matter

If you are looking for a readable, Canadian publication about environment issues, check out Alternatives Journal, a publication of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada which is based at the University of Waterloo.

Alternatives Journal has been around since 1971.  Valued by academics and members of environment groups, the journal is ramping up its efforts to bring useful, thought-provoking ideas to more Canadians.  The quarterly publication is expanding, and there's a revamp of the website too.  A call for bloggers is adding to the sections on Sustainable Living, People and Profiles, Policy and Politics, and Energy and Resources.  Online, there are more links to useful resources like the video how-to's that go along with the pop can solar heater.

Maureen at CGL will be using the word "foodprint" as soon as she can, and enjoyed the posts 10 Ways to Waste Less Food and Compost: Completing the Food Cycle because she advocates composting as essential for soil health.

Alternatives Journal publishes 6 issues a year.  Subscription rates for the print edition are reasonable.  http://www.alternativesjournal.ca/

Alternatives also has an affiliated site. Green Student - http://thegreenstudent.ca/ - reaches directly to students to encourage them to write for their peers on environment issues, and it encourages students to learn about and work on environment campaigns, events, and in their communities.

Garden Gates Open 2013 looking for participant gardens

Garden Gates Open 2013 looking for participant gardens

Event date: July 20 and 21, 2013 - the weekend     Various locales around London

July 2013 will be the 6th year of London, Ontario's Garden Gates Open.  Two days of visiting interesting, beautiful and fun gardens - gardens of flowers, herbs and yes, even vegetables! 

If you love your garden, are proud of it, and would enjoy having visitors to talk to ... and gardeners love to talk! ...  check out the website.  You may register for only one day, or both.


2013 Walmart-Evergreen Grants Program

Evergreen - http:www.evergreen.ca - is now accepting applications for the 2013 Walmart–Evergreen Green Grants Program supporting community development, environmental stewardship and urban agriculture projects across Canada.

The 2013 deadline is March 1, 2013.

The Walmart–Evergreen Green Grants Program, a community greening program sponsored by Walmart and led by Evergreen, provides funds of up to $10,000 to community development, environmental restoration and other community-based projects across Canada. To find out about projects already supported through the Green Grants program, check out the list of Funding Recipients on [the Evergreen] website.

For full information on eligibility and to download the application and guide, visit the Green Grants page on [the Evergreen] website. Evergreen also lists other grants: Grants pages

Questions?  Contact Ellen Kaross, Assistant, National Programs, Evergreen
ekaross@evergreen.ca       416-596-1495 x312    1-888-426-3138 x312

CGL note: The above announcement has been taken from the one received from Evergreen.

Finding Food Gardens space - a Chicago story

The question gets asked: Are food-producing gardens in urban areas actually important for food security?

The answers can get long and complicated.  Maureen of Community Gardens London asserts that the answer is Absolutely Yes, and we should proceed to make it even more Yes.

The Yes of the importance of food growing space in Chicago is put forward in an interesting study “Mapping public and private spaces of urban agriculture in Chicago through the analysis of high-resolution aerial images in Google Earth” and was just posted on the City Farmer website (www.cityfarmer.info). You can read the summary at http://research.aces.illinois.edu/content/finding-chicago%E2%80%99s-food-gardens-google-earth under the title Finding Chicago’s food gardens with Google Earth.

Researchers John Taylor and Sarah Taylor Lovell plugged in information from various NGOs in the City of Chicago and discovered that many areas being called "community gardens" were not of a significant size, as far as producing food was concerned.  Going with good intuition, however, about what was really out there, they turned their attention to Google map imaging of the City of Chicago, looking at green space - back yard gardens -  and did some computer wizardry (listed in the article) and a lot of legwork over eight months  to find out just which areas really had food producing gardens.

They came up with "4,648 urban agriculture sites with a production area of 264,181 square meters. Residential gardens and single-plot gardens on vacant lots accounted for almost three-fourths of the total".  Areas of Chicago with high populations of particular ethnic groups often were "hot spots" of urban agriculture. 

No surprises that lots of people have food producting gardens.  No surprise that people grow food in Chicago that they loved in their country of origin.  No surprise that home food gardens were in areas where people lived in detached houses, and that economically disadvantaged areas had gardens in adjacent vacant lots.  No surprise that gardeners shared food with neighbours.

The study found what food gardeners know. People grow food to feed themselves healthy food, and to lower their food bills.  Gardens promote kindsness and sharing. This ties in with food security and with community building.

An important thing for City planning is that this is a serious PhD level research project, in a big city.

Hurray for John R. Taylor and Sarah Taylor Lovell!!  ... whose article is published in the October issue of  Landscape and Urban Planning, is available online at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016920461200237X
however, only as an abstract. 

Maureen is trying to locate a print copy of the journal, but, to reiterate, the summary is at http://research.aces.illinois.edu/content/finding-chicago%E2%80%99s-food-gardens-google-earth

Canadian Organic Growers - join and strengthen the organic voice!

 Canadian Organic Growers (COG - http://www.cog.ca) is a national charitable organization. Its mandate 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. It is also tied to the international organic community through membership in the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

* The COG website is a great place to start if you are looking for organic agriculture statistics.
* The COG website has a lot of great information, including what "certified organic" means.
* COG has a lending library.
* COG publishes a useful journal three times a year, which you can get electronically or in print (at cost)
* COG can supply a speaker to an event.
* COG speaks up on national and international issues to do with organic agriculture, genetic modification of crops, and corporatization of agriculture.

COG's membership includes farmers, gardeners, processors, retailers, educators, policy makers, and consumers.
Not all COG members run certified organic operations, but they share a vision for a sustainable bioregionally-based organic food system. COG members believe that organic food production is the best choice for the health of consumers and producers, for the protection and enhancement of the environment, and for the sustainability of the food production system.

For more information on Canadian Organic Growers, visit the national website: http://www.cog.ca.

COG groups in Ontario include:
COG Perth Waterloo Wellington: http://www.cog.ca/pww/
COG Toronto ... which is holding a conference on Feb. 16/13  - see CGL news page or       www.cogtoronto.org
as well as Ottawa, Durham and Hamilton (reach from the www.cog.ca site, via the Chapters menu)

Awesome Foundation starts in London

The Awesome Foundation has arrived in London, Ontario!

The Awesome Foundation started in Boston in 2009.  Its 61 chapters have given away $374,000 - so far - to let people carry out their Awesome ideas. 

The set up of an Awesome Foundation chapter is pretty simple.
People get together in a community and become the board of Trustees for their community's chapter. 
Each trustee chips in $100 each, three times a year. 
People in the community submit Awesome ideas
Each month the trustees decide who gets $1000 to make the Awesome project happen.

That's it.

40 Londoners have already signed on to be trustees of London's Awesome Foundation chapter.

If you have an idea that needs money for an Awesome project that follows these three rules, check the links and send in the idea.

Three rules: the money can’t be for personal use, it can’t go to established charities and the application has to be specific

The links:
main Awesome Foundation website: http://www.awesomefoundation.org/en
London Twitter site: twitter.com/awesomeldn
LFpress artiele: http://www.lfpress.com/2013/01/05/the-awesome-foundation-making-its-debut-in-london

The first deadline for London submissions is Jan. 14. The top three candidates will pitch their ideas in person and a winner will be chosen at a public event at Joe Kool’s restaurant, 595 Richmond St., on Jan. 28.

Good luck on your project!

Hurray for the London trustees of the Awesome Foundation!

London Honours for Community Heroes

Community Gardens London congratulates all those who were named to the New Year's Honours List for the City of London for 2013. Nominations are put forward by the City's Advisory Committees, committees of volunteers who know what's what around town.

This year’s honourees are: Meredith Fraser (Diversity and Race Relations); David Nelms (Housing); Bruce Huff (Sports); Carmen Sprovieri (Persons with Disabilities); Suzanne Huot (Humanitarianism); Bramwell Gregson (Arts); Lou Rivard (Safety and Crime Prevention); Shane O’Neill (Environmental); and, Joseph O’Neil Jr. (Heritage).

CGL 'specially congratulates Shane O'Neill, named for his work on environment issues.  We know Shane to be a garden-friendly fellow, as is his whole family.  The City website has this to say about him:

Shane is the quintessential environmentalist, who not only talks the talk but walks the walk; he lives and breathes the concept of environmental sustainability through his personal, professional and community life. Through his involvement in Post Carbon London (PCL) which he helped start and maintain as a viable organization, Shane has initiated key projects that were aimed to generate awareness amongst the community regarding energy planning. Along with Diane Szoller involving TREA and PLC, they presented a number of workshops on the concept of Community Energy Planning in 2010 at a dozen public libraries. Again through PCL, Shane was the key instigator and overseer of a very successful series of solar (thermal) workshops funded by a grant from the London Community Foundation in 2011.

He has been a two-term member of both the Advisory Committee on the Environment and the Ecological and Environmental Planning Advisory Committee (both for the City of London) and he was there to help launch Transition London. He has taught courses on the Foundations of Sustainability at Western as well as courses on Landscape Planning at Fanshawe. He is a very active member of his local community of Woodfield helping to organize local events including the Woodfield Fair.

Attention Seed Event Organizers - fund assistance possibility!

The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security - a project aligned with USC-Canada - is offering resources in support of seed saving and seed exchange in Canada. Project possibilities include, but could go 'way beyond a Seedy Saturday event.

Up to $1500 is available for a single training event or exchange.  As with any other grant program, there are guidelines and a form to fill out.

Check the USC-Canada website for further information and the application form. Info is under the Bauta initiative section on the home page.

Kate Green at 1-800-565-6872, ext 228 is the USC-Canada contact person for this program. USC-Canada: www.usc-canada.org

Call for papers - Environmental Studies Association of Canada - www.esac.ca

Topic: Harperian Ecologies:  Conservative Transformations in Canadian Environmental Policy

Panel to be held at the Annual Conference of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada (June 3rd – 5th, 2013; University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C.).

Scholars, environmental researchers, and graduate students are invited to submit proposals for presentations to be held during this panel (or possibly multiple panels, depending on the level of interest) being organized at the 2013 Annual Conference of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada (ESAC.ca). Please send your proposal, including an abstract of no more than 300 words, a presentation title, your name, and a brief biography (of no more than 100 words) to the panel organizer, Ryan Katz-Rosene, at ryan_katzrosene@carleton.ca, by January 31st, 2013. Decisions on proposals will be communicated by the end of February. Those accepted will be asked to register and attend ESAC’s Annual Conference, being held at the Congress of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, in Victoria, B.C., from June 3rd to June 5th, 2013 (for which membership to ESAC is required).

Full details on ESAC website:  www.esac.ca

From the ESAC website:
The Environmental Studies Association of Canada (ESAC) is a Learned Society formed in 1993 to further research and teaching activities in areas related to environmental studies in Canada. ESAC is a non-profit, federally incorporated, bilingual organization open to members from across Canada and elsewhere. Members are welcome from educational institutions, government agencies, and private sector and non-profit organizations. [for full details about ESAC: http://www.esac.ca/about/]

*** ESAC publishes the excellent journal - Alternatives : http://www.alternativesjournal.ca ***

Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition - power points Sept 2012 speakers

PowerPoint presentations from the key speakers at the September 2012 annual meeting of the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition are posted on the OHCC website, along with speaker biographies. Thanks to all OHCC members who co-ordinated this helpful resource, and to the speakers! http://www.ohcc-ccso.ca/en/healthy-communities-symposium

Edible Education 103: Telling Stories About Food and Agriculture

Free Access to the lectures!!!!

Thanks to the UC Graduate School of Journalism and College of Letters and Science, course leader Michael Pollan, and the Edible Schoolyard Project, 15 recorded lectures from this course are online! Thanks to Michael Levenston of City Farmer (www.cityfarmer.info), we spotted this opportunity to listen, learn and follow-up.

All 15 recorded lectures online!
Edible Education 103: Telling Stories About Food and Agriculture is a Fall 2012 course at UC Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism and College of Letters and Science. The course is moderated by Michael Pollan, a Knight Journalism Professor at UC Berkeley.

 “As the costs of our industrialized food system—to the environment, public health, farmers and food workers, and to our social life—become impossible to ignore, a national debate over the future of food and farming has begun. Telling stories about where food comes from, how it is produced—and how it might be produced differently—plays a critical role in bringing attention to the issue and shifting politics. Each week, a prominent figure in the debate explores: What can be done to make the food system healthier, more equitable, more sustainable? What is the role of storytelling in the process?”

Recorded Lectures:
Eating Oil, Eating Sunshine, By Michael Pollan
Social Practice, By Peter Sellars
The Psychology Of Food, By Paul Rozin
The Farm Bill, By Chellie Pingree, Dan Imhoff, And Ken Cook
Documenting Food Stories, By The Kitchen Sisters
On The Farm, By Bob Cannard
A Bee’s Eye View, By Claire Kremen
The Politics And Economics Of Meat, By Mike Callicrate And Bob Martin
Farming As Dance –The Choreography Of Polyculture, By Joel Salatin
On Cooking, By Jerome Waag, Samin Nosrat, Charlie Hallowell, And Harold Mcgee
Food Movement Rising, By Michael Pollan
Food, Race, And Labor, By Nikki Henderson And Saru Jayaraman
The Green Revolution, By Raj Patel
Edible Education, By Alice Waters
Food Marketing And Childhood Obesity, By Kelly Brownell


Check out the animation and act: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlbtIEVF77Q

Animation is by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network - www.cban.ca

UN Special Rapporteur Launches Canada report March 4, 2013!

On March 4, Food Secure Canada will host an interactive web discussion with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter. Following his formal presentation to governments at the UN in Geneva, the rapporteur will join FSC’s members and friends via webinar to discuss his findings.  Think about organizing a community event where you live to raise awareness about the report!  To take part in the preparation of this national event (logistics and fundraising support needed), sign up now!  We will be in touch with more plans in the new year.   http://foodsecurecanada.org/webform/un-special-rapporteur-report-launch-team

Food Secure Canada Assembly videos

Food Secure Canada held its assembly in early November in Edmonton.
Videos of presentations are available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/FSCSAC?feature=mhee

There are 6 or more presentations.

Jim Hole - Energy, Resilience & the Future of Food Plenary
Susan Roberts of GFSA, Thelma Chalifoux, former Canadian Senator and Métis activist, gives the welcome to delegates

Energy, Resilience & the Future of Food Plenary
Presentation by Pat Mooney, CEO and ETC Group Founder
Presentation by Augusta Henriques, co-founder of Tiniguena
Presentation by Eriel Deranger
Kathryn Gwun-Yeen Lennon performs her poem Hunger is Inherited at FSC's 2012 Assembly Power Up! Food for the Future during the closing plenary Powe...

Please check the Food Secure Canada website for all events and news: www.foodsecurecanada.org

more Nov 16/12 Food Forum Notes - Afternoon Discussion

facilitated by Mary Ann Colihan (member, grants committee, LCF) 2:15 - 3:15  Fri. Nov. 16/12

note:  Maureen of CGL has summarized, re-organized and probably interpreted things people said in this section, much more than in the other conference notes.  That's why most of these points are not put under people's names.  Any mis-interpretations are Maureen's.  Thanks to everyone for great ideas and for inspiration!  

- This was not a "panel discussion" of the sort where panelists make speeches, then answer questions.  Instead, people who had presented already sat at front and people asked questions ... answers came from those speakers and also from other attendees.

Colihan set things up for us by saying "The London Community Foundation has done its job" - set up this forum ... now we all have stuff to do, and how do we get there ... efficiently?   [Go to it!]

Jeff Pastorious of On the Move Organics emphasized that there are many answers to each of the many questions and issues ...we're not stuck with just one thing.

This is a chance for everyone to come up with do-able, positive actions that will protect our ability to feed ourselves

Debbie Fields said that London has a lot of resources and energy - urged us to use 'em ... get going.

Comment on London Training Centre's unique role - it is already training people in food skills, and has programs to build-upon ...  
- David Corke stated that London Training Centre people are risk-takers ... that in 2010 he stood in a horse barn and told 120 people we wanted to open a food centre ... they found a field and have grown food for two summers, which has trained people in growing skills and the food was used in the LTC kitchen
- Sustainable Food Systems report written for LTC:  http://www.londontraining.on.ca/SFS_Final_Reports.htm

Make innovative links between urban agriculture and other things in your community!
- attendee asked if  urban agriculture undertakings could use equipment seized from grow-ops.  Other attendee said this has been done somewhere in the region.

What are the possibilities for using the Old McCormick building or hospital lands?
- Colihan noted that the Urban Agriculture conference in Toronto highlighted examples of  urban agriculture projects on contaminated lands ... that such lands don't always have to have a complete dig-it-out remediation.  Container gardens and greenhouse operations can operate on top.
- Gregg Barrett - senior City of London planner - noted that the McCormick site is not City property (decisions and use about that particular location have had a lot of delays)
[Maureen's note:  there's been no survey of lands available and suitable for urban agriculture in London.  Such a survey for community gardens in neighbourhoods was part of London's Community Gardens Program Review  http://council.london.ca/meetings/CNC%20Agendas/2011-03-29%20Agenda/Item%209.pdf  ]


Get doing more children's programs, in and out of schools.  Children have to be involved and physically doing and planning a program
   There was discussion about best projects for schools and other locations (like the markets and Ontario Museum of Archaeology) ... There are many example programs and information about what works and doesn't ... and much room for innovation

Re: the London Community Foundation programs - http://www.lcf.on.ca/
- London Community Foundation has selected to emphasize local food.  From the discussion today it will be looking for collaborative projects - to get full and accurate details about its varied programs and requirements, check the website
- it does have a micro-finance program [certain parameters]
- its bylaws require its grant recipients to be registered charities
- it selects different program foci at different times
               e.g. one upcoming focus is housing
               e.g. it does a useful state of the city report each year
Importance of Neighbourhood Networks
Teresa Rutten had mentioned the Carolinian Food Forest project - a community-based (collaborative), practical project earlier in the day
- she noted that even if a person or group has a great idea, it requires networking to get off the ground and people actually getting together to do things 
- "there are "silos" in my neighbourhoods" - silos of agencies getting paid to provide services, but they aren't sustainable
- "my generation has been disempowered - trained to ask permission" .... we rely too much on government at one level or another to step in and solve a problem
- we need a circle dedicted to a community
- there's a lot of expertise in London - e.g. Western's Environment and Sustainability program - that people don't know about or even know to go and look for
- Hamilton Road neighbourhood used to be market gardens and there is huge opportunity to develop the Hamilton Road community

Rolanda Elija - a director with Chippewa on the Thames - involved with outreach programs to youth, finding their potential
- First Nations are your neighbours - youth - growing cash crops for cattle feed - we're looking at these
- we need to have a cannery and we did farming
- first Nations in this area have been isolated from London happenings, and planning
- under current regulations/agreements, reserve lands cannot be used as collateral for [loan]
- for participants involved in social services - some of your clients may be First Nations
- will take the day's discussion back to her organization

Education is key to expanding people's minds about food - whether to promote local, get away from corporate image, or let people know that a few chickens in the yard is o.k. 

Find the place to begin the conversation ... get past the disconnect people have between eating and where that food comes from.

Remember the connections of local to global and to environment!
- issues about food must be connected to issues of water, energy, environment, and social justice
- food sovereignty must be talked about ...  even beyond being able to feed ourselves from local product, people in a community have to be in control of our food
- the expanded list of topics to talk about and act upon: cost of farmland ... new farmers getting land ... succession planning ...central production ... agribusinesses ... democratizing the food system

Who are the food champions locally?  and projects already going on London- any issue really needs one, visible person to promote and talk up and advocate for it
e.g.s       - UWO's head of food services buys much local food and promotes it
               - the Growing Chefs program - in-class growing and cooking - is expanding
               - every one who came out to the Food Forum is a knowledgeable, connected champion!!

And how to combine this with promotion?
- paid promotion of an item works - that's why there's a whole advertising business

Promotion of local food has to be someone's real, paid job

Advertising works
- build on the ads/campaigns for Covent Garden Market and Good Things Grow -o-o in Ontario

Food Forum - Don Mills, president of Local Food Plus & v.p. with National Farmers Union

Speaker: Don Mills, president of Local Food Plus (http://www.localfoodplus.ca/) & v.p. with National Farmers Union (http://www.nfu.ca)

- a long time farmer, who joked he has more pictures of his pigs on his phone than pictures of his children
- he attended the 2008 food conference at Brescia which led to various of the farmers meet restaurants and stores "speed-dating" things
- "I don't go anywhere without a farm income graph"
- urban sprawl photos - mentioned UWO geography resources - maps
- agriculture is oil - oil is really cool, and we're frittering it away
- sustainable agriculture - get back into balance - showed photo of tomato hornworm being parasitized by tachnid wasps (a natural control)
- slide - changing food landscape - check NFU site
- hot trends for food: local and sustainable
- food can be sustainable in terms of local, financially responsible, and ecologically sound
- e.g. Fred Kinshenmann (sp) carrots from Holland Marsh (has website)
- Local Food Plus certification - a tool for food system change
- Local Food Plus decided on Ontario as the "local" but recognize it's not perfect
- concept of a "local foodshed"
- Parnership Development  is important at all levels of food production and distribution - institutions  e.g. being universities, municipalities -  what organizations buy?   restaurants, retailers, catering companies, seniors buildings, hospitals,
                        ???????who said "they want one form" to fill out
- e.g. Harmony Milk - is a co-operative, and big
- had a slide of London growers - - "if you can't make local food work in Southwestern Ontario you can't do it anywhere" [referring to our wealth of good agricultural land]
- talked about land prices going up and up
- farm land costs a lot - it's hard for people who want to do the innovative stuff
            (which is why programs to get new farmers started are important)
- you have to have food champions, like. Ben Kramer, U. of Winnipeg
- e.g. 100 km Foods Inc
- recognize soft infrastructure (organizations and connections that can help)
- be patient ... we've been on the road to the corporate agriculture model for years, and changing away from it will take some time
- he likes the word regenerative more than sustainable
- 10,000 people shift $10 a week to local food ... money builds up, and jobs increase

Food Forum Nov 16 - Value Chains: Collaborate to Compete

Jacquelynn Moody, senior business advisor, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs outlined the benefits of a "Value Chain" business structure under the title Collaborate to Compete (1:00 - 1:30 p.m presentation)

Value Chain - "Value chain management is an independent approach to business where trading partners improve their combined competitiveness by collaborating to more effectively and efficiently deliver a product or service to a customer.  .... there is a commitment among the partners to share informtion, risks and rewards..."
from London Training Centre's Sustainable food Systems Report http://www.londontraining.on.ca/SFS_Final_Reports.htm

- good features of a value chain
            - for the relationships it develops between its partners
            - relationship based - long term business
            - increased responsiveness
            - supports traceability and improves communication
            - cost savings - good for business

For a value chain to work for everyone, partners in a value chain need to:
- appreciate each other's differences
- be fair with each other, so things feel fair
- have a system of accountability
- work towards the same goal
- need a business plan - clarifies, solidifies
- everyone must be open to change, or leaving - trust

OMAFRA has useful information on the Ontario Fresh site - www.ontariofresh.ca
- has its find a supplier site
- link to a guidebook from Alberta that takes you through a series of questions to know if value chain is for you ... to help figure out resources in your community and potential partners.

Ontario Farm to School Challenge - background about, and how to get your school buying more Ontario produce - http://www.ontariofresh.ca/farmtoschool

Gift giving - Ten Thousand Villages - there are ways to think gardens and food

Maureen, of CGL, was in London's Ten Thousand Villages store at 630 Richmond Street, and had a great conversation with Tania, the manager.  It made her realize there are so many connections to food and gardens and agriculture, and so many good projects to help with. This post is about just one organization.

Ten Thousand Villages stores are a Fair Trade organization, selling hand-crafted items and food items made 'round the world.  TTV is a non-profit, fund-raising arm of the Mennonite Central Committee, a reputable, long-standing international assistance organization. Revenues from the TTV stores are ploughed right back into programs.  (and since some are agricultural programs, plough is pun intended)

All year 'round, one can donate to MCC projects - give gifts of hope, peace, and food sovereignty.  At this time of year, gifts come right into the Ten Thousand Villages stores.  You get a card describing the gift and project being supported.  TTV can even arrange to send it on to someone for you. "Gifting" made simpler and far kinder than the stores advertising on tv.

The selection of Living Gifts is described fully at:  

Highlights of the Living Gifts:
A Training program -  Creativity and technical skills unleashed!  This $35.00 gift sends one woman in Mymensingh, Bangladesh to a course where she learns about textiles' qualities and how to design fabrics.  (Part of what happens in this town is that the materials for the textiles are grown right nearby, so supporting design training reinforces the agriculture)

In Haiti, a reforestation project is planting fruit trees in its tree mix, acknowledging the importance of healthy, local food alongside the land regeneration importance of trees.  Only $20.00 to purchase a tree.

In Ethiopia, sheep are a natural part of agriculture and local industry... sheep for fleece, fiber and clothing ... and of course their manure is part of soil health.  Give a sheep for $57.00 and help maintain the cycle of agriculture and production.

You can even "Fill a Farmyard" for $300.00.  This provides healthy stock for breeding more and for all the products: meat, milk, eggs, leathers, textiles.

There are two education gifts, which support 50 community-based education programs.  
$24 school supplies - Provide school uniforms and supplies to a child, giving them access to education.
$300 give education - Sponsor a Global Family program for one full year.

Education and training of one family member, or any one small enterprise run by a family, has its effects on the neighbourhood, and into the wider community.  Just like your own creativity and care help in your community, you can help in another's community.

Ten Thousand Villages - Living Gifts - http://www.tenthousandvillages.ca/events-and-festivals/living_gifts
Ten Thousand Villages -630 Richmond Street, London, Ontario - ph. 519-433-0977
               ** they have beautiful, hand-crafted crêches!! **
Mennonite Central Committee, Canada - http://mcccanada.ca/

SPARKS - Community project grant opportunity

SPARKS! Neighbourhood Matching Fund is a community grant program that provides funds to improve and enhance neighbourhoods.

The City of London will match your volunteer time contributions and donations from $100 to $5,000.

Check the website for full details of application requirements and descriptions of the projects that have been funded the last couple of years. Deadline for application is January 31, 2013. If your project is selected you'll hear by April 1, 2013.


This is handled by the Community Development and Funding division: phone: 519-661-5335 or email neighbourhood@london.ca

Teachers!  School Garden how-to videos from Ireland!

Paddy Madden is primary school teacher in Ireland, specializing in outdoor education and remedial education. 

An Irish Times article School Garden a Class Act  will tell you all about him at http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/magazine/2012/0929/1224324489785.html

and link you to a series of videos - several per month - that will take you through a gardening year in short, easy steps ... produced for Black Rock Education Centre.

These are straight forward and have great attitude. Go away now and look at some of these!!


This is a Dec. 1/12 post on City Farmer: http://www.cityfarmer.info/2012/12/01/irelands-long-time-school-garden-advocate-paddy-madden/#more-36725

Salt Spring Seeds 25 years! - fun video

Salt Spring Island Seeds has been promoting safe and sustainable, local agriculture for 25 years. http://www.saltspringseeds.com/

Jean-Marc Abela has put together a short video of Dan Jason's philosophy, and some great visuals about how he works! Check it out at the December 2/12 post: http://www.cityfarmer.info/2012/12/02/portrait-of-dan-jason-a-pioneer-in-seed-farming-in-british-columbia/#more-36761

Did you catch the interesting use of an air compressor?

As Dan notes: " All our seeds are untreated, open-pollinated and non-GMO. We grow all our own seeds and sell only our most recent harvest. As is true again this year, we write the printed and online catalogues in December after we’ve cleaned and evaluated all our seed crops from the year before. December is also the month when we package the seeds. Most of our seeds are mailed from mid-January to mid-May but we fill orders year-round and usually within a day or two of receiving your requests." so check the catalogue: http://www.saltspringseeds.com

As often, thanks to City Farmer for leading us to this story! http://www.cityfarmer.info/

More food forum notes ... Old East London and Western Fair Market & Q&A session

More notes from the November 16 Food Forum

From Food Desert to Food District: Local Economic Development Planning for the Revitalization of London's Old East ....Jason Gilliland and Michael Clark
                        morning speakers at Food Forum, November 16/12

Gilliland* noted that the Old East Village area in London started developing an economic action plan in 2002 - it wanted a business district that related to its residential district. It wanted to build on the strong sense of community, heritage, arts, and walkability ... to develop a livable, resilient and sustainable local economy. Back then, it was a "food desert" ... it lacked a grocery store or other source of fresh, healthy food within a certain distance.  People had to go outside their neighbourhood to shop.  A "food-based intervention" occurred when the Western Fair market came in, and people could fill their "healthy food basket"

Michael Clark - researcher, works with Gilliland - doing economic analysis for the Western Fair farmer's market
- money spent at the Market circles into the community
- market gets 2400 visitors a day; they spend money there and in nearby locales
- a significant number of people come into the neighbourhood  specifically for the market
- This is a neighbourhood where a "local currency" would work well ... This ties into some ideas in the Sustainable food Systems report by London Training Centre, altho' I'm not sure this was specifically mentioned.
- Individual market vendors/businesspeople are working for the community in ways other than just being vendors ...  e.g. a baker teaches young people the craft ... essentially job training

Maureen's comments:
1. Gilliland did not stresss that the Western Fair Market's presence in East London was not a planning decision, or planned.  It was just good luck.
2. the really short, non-technical version of Gilliland's research ... he looks at how cities are built and puts that together with health information for children, particularly he's looking at obesity and diabetes rates ... with the idea that walkable places with good food available would be better for kids.  It's important because he's proving the common sense!

*Jason Gilliland: http://geography.uwo.ca/faculty/gillilandj/
"... research focuses on various aspects of urban planning and development, urban design, housing, transportation, children's environments, and public health in Canadian cities."

15 minutes Question and Answer - Topics that came up

    • That many actions and undertakings are the answers - there is not one answer.
    • London's Hamilton Road area is a logical place for a food hub- There was recently a Carolinian food forest area planted and there are community supports/strengths like Pearson and Thames Schools (which has a greenhouse), Dillabough community garden, Crouch resource centre, senior centre and a community association. 
    • Government policies at all levels get in the way of projects and throttle innovation.
    • London has put in place a food charter ... and people need to bring about its ideas; don't wait.
    • Customers for local food want their end of things to be simple - they want one supplier.
    • "Vertical co-operatives" give a model worth exploring.  Vertical co-operatives are a way for businesses along the production/delivery/sales chain to pool resources, keep greater control over their decisions, make money, and support each other. (is this "benevolent capitalism"?)
    • Local food grow/transport/sell supply chain can create jobs!
    • When assessing costs of any project, add in the environmental costs.

Local Food Forum - Sustainable Food systems Report


First speaker was David Corke executive director of London Training Centre [http://www.londontraining.on.ca/ ]
- London Training Centre programs are employment training programs, which serve many  youth at risk. Programs combine skills in the food sector, self-actualization, and positive impact on community.
- funding is from Ministry of Colleges and Universities and from social enterprise programs run by LTC.
- during the last 2 years an LTC training program has taught garden/farming skills on land outside London. Food grown is used in LTC programs (and some has gone to the food bank). - LTC works with community and business partners Sleegers Greenhouses - in Strathroy [http://www.slegersgreens.com/retail.html ] and Everdale Farm (workshops that introduce people to farming).
- Corke believes "now is the time" for more farming and gardening programs ... and when people taste the results - the leek and fingerling potato soup (with potatoes planted back in June by young men who'd dropped out of school and took the farm training) - they realize "the wealth and depth of what our programs do"
- as well as education and employment, their programs are regenerating soil (more worms!)
- Corke and LTC staff are inspired by ideas in Bill McKibben's book Deep Economy : moving to smaller, local scale enterprises; putting value to social and cultural things, not just big economy

Tom Schell - about The Sustainable Food Systems report
Maureen's comment: The Sustainable Food Systems report is bold:  it asks us to imagine a food system that is not based on everything being BIG, and corporate-run.  I think Schell actually said that " the desirable future is the de-structure of corporate agriculture" and that local entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial organizations and businesses can make changes faster than governments. London Training Centre, through its partnership with ...... has put together some really important ideas.  I'm looking forward to seeing how it moves forward in its part in the new, local and healthy agriculture.

- Schell had us close our eyes and imagine 15 years from now, that we'd developed sustainable, local agriculture (there's actually a nifty video on the website)
- Food system is complex, like an ecosystem; you have to understand all the components before you start tinkering. To know where we are now, they talked to people involved in the entire "value chain" of food production, processing, distribution, sales and consumption.

A main idea proposed in the Local Food Systems report is to develop a local agriculture system that involves businesses along the entire agriculture supply chain working in co-operative structures.  Growers, processors, distributers, and retailers would share costs, planning and benefits in an area.  What cannot be done in one area, would be augmented by another area.  With $19 billion dollars of food imported each year into [Ontario], a lot of jobs can be created as local sectors develop ... and there is much potential for job training and new types of jobs to be developed, and more training.  The proposed food hub and cluster system is effective in economic, environmental and social ways (the "triple bottom line" that is often talked about).  The model can be resilient (flexible)

Next Steps
- get together the core stakeholder teams (who will do it)
- develop a matrix of people/skills (who is able to do what)
- prepare implementation plan
- try to grow, produce, and process  as much as you can in a cluster

Is it complex? yes                  Is it complicated? no             Is it do-able?  yes!

Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future      London Public Library  306.3 MacK
"... an impassioned call to arms for an economy that creates community and ennobles our lives. .... For the first time in human history, he observes, "more" is no longer synonymous with "better"—indeed, for many of us, they have become almost opposites. McKibben puts forward a new way to think about the things we buy, the food we eat, the energy we use, and the money that pays for it all. Our purchases, he says, need not be at odds with the things we truly value.
McKibben's animating idea is that we need to move beyond "growth" as the paramount economic ideal and pursue prosperity in a more local direction, with cities, suburbs, and regions producing more of their own food, generating more of their own energy, and even creating more of their own culture and entertainment. ... the more we nurture the essential humanity of our economy, the more we will recapture our own.
For an excerpt from Deep Economy:http://www.billmckibben.com/deep-economy-excerpt.html

The Sustainable Food Systems Report, put together by Tom Schell, Roxanna Roshon and Angelica Nef,  can be downloaded in sections (http://www.londontraining.on.ca/SFS_Final_Reports.htm)
- executive summary
- the main report which is page after page of good ideas and projects that are going on 'round about
- a list of all the people and undertakings mentioned in the report (with links online!)
- a glossary of terms used in the report and in agriculture and policy documents (a brilliant inclusion)
- maps and charts


Local Food Forum - notes about Debbie Field's presentation

On Friday, November 16 2012, the London Community Foundation brought together about 50 local people with an interest in local food production.  The London Community Foundation (www.lcf.on.ca) is looking toward local food projects as a focus in 2013; parameters to accept proposals should be forthcoming.  Maureen of CGL was excited to attend and meet many hardworking, broad-thinking people.  On behalf of CGL, thanks to the LCF for this! Here are her first notes, on just one speaker.       

Debbie Fields - Executive Director, Food Share Toronto - 1st Speaker

Fields had done her homework about London before coming. She's been in London before, been involved with projects and people ... knew we were stalled on developing a food policy council structure.  When she sees something wrong, she says so.

The global economy is at a strategic moment, and "food" is in the news and on people's minds.  There is a lot of bad stuff going on worldwide. WAR is the greatest contributor to food shortages, agriculture problems, hunger and injustices. The industrial food system is killing us.

Canada has no federal policy or department involved with food security. No province has such.  Canada needs to build a stronger local food system (with imports because switching is not overnight).

The most important actions are coming from local communities - municipalities - and they will influence up the chain.  We don't need to wait for government.  We will succeed.

London's local food system "will be about what YOU in London do, with your local people".

Fields' Big messages

COOPERATIVES.  To change the balance toward more local food, get people together, get growers and suppliers together.  Cooperatives are good for production, distribution, health, spirit  and the economy.  People have to work together to work against the huge [international agri-chemical monopolies - Maureen's term, but it's what she meant]

London Co-op Store http://londonfoodcoop.org/

"You know that here in London there are acres and acres of public land with no food growing on it", she said. ["growing locally" can be a strategic priority]

Food literacy
- polling - the majority of Ontarians believe we should teach "food literacy" in school
- right now, there's no requirement that schools even have cafeterias
- we want to reform the highschool curriculum to include home economics (cooking!) and gardening and consumer knowledge (food literacy)
food at school
- in London there are mid-morning snack programs, targeted to low incomes only.
- and there's a role for farmers ... to be direct sellers to school boards (every successful program worldwide links with local food)
gardens at school - "probably every school is in the middle of acres of arable land" and there are many curriculum opportunities in the garden.
- compost - you cannot grow food without it - put the composting projects everywhere, but schools are great spaces
fun programs - Student Engagement - Great Big Crunch - 148,095 kids last year all took a bit out of an apple at the same time

1. Strengthen farmers' markets ... need more ... make one a food resources  hub
2.  Support Local Food Plus' certification program (Lori Stahlbrand] to encourage local production and buying, balanced with imports
3.  Universal Student Nutrition Program .... London Children's Nutrition Network ....London City goverment is participating ... check with Cheryl Smith
4. [advocate for] Food literacy throught he Ministry of Education
5. Link Ontario Farmers to schools
Model a project after the Alternative Land Use Services model, whereby farmers are paid for environmental services of their land.
6.  Strengthen Community food Programs ... love to see OMAFRA support the Good Food Box program [check LCRC's Grow, cook, learn]
7.  Expand community composting
8.  Develop a Community Food Hub [find what we want "food hub" to mean]
9.  Get in place a London Food Policy Council [or other name] to build on the London Food Charter   
EAT IT  - individual action  GROW IT - community mobilization  SHARE IT - government action

Food Share - founded 1985 - has a range of social enterprise programs, a $5.5million budget, and 60 paid staff.

Its mission .... "as social entrepreneurs, our work is rooted in innovation, operational excellence and food sustainability ....
Principles ... [to have food that is] delicious, healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate; local and seasonal whenever possible: organic if same price; fair trade

"Low income people don't need to be burdened with a crisis they did not create" ... is her reply to the question of why organic is not at the top ... ie there are so many issues to food and income distribution ... and we have to fix a lot of local stuff before we ban imports.

Food Share Projects and Programs

  1. Many projects purchase food (via the principles) and resell it (the social enterprise part).  When low income people pay for their own food they retain their independence and dignity as consumers.  They are more participants in their own well-being. In 2011 Food Share's Good Food Program purchased food that was 34% local and 66% not local
  2. Many Food Share Projects focus on children's programs - school programs - the next generation.  e.g. 250 Toronto school programs get their produce through Food Share's social enterprise sales program  .... (in Toronto - 141,000 children get mid-morning snacks, there are 720 student nutrition projects)
  3. Food Share does "animation" programs - working with communities to start community kitchens, community gardens and compost projects.
  4. Food Share advocates for healthy food projects and for changes in the health system, e.g. to have healthy food subsidized ("they'll buy me any amount of chemotherapy but not healthy food")

Food Share Toronto                        www.foodshare.net     info@foodshare.net
...  is a non-profit community organization whose vision is Good Healthy Food for All.
90 Croatia Street, Toronto, ON M6H 1K9        Phone: 416-363-6441
Debbie Field, Executive Director (since 1992!)  x228 (Direct: 416.583.5410) debbie@foodshare.net

USC Canada will carry through the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Food Security

For all of us who worry that the future of food and food sovereignty, and who know how important it is to be able to breed and harvest seeds ... the continuation and expansion of the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security is exciting news. USC Canada, and Seeds of Diversity Canada are partnering to carry this on. Congratulations and Hurray to all involved. The following is an excerp from the USC-Canada website. The site will give you more information as well as tell you about other great undertakings.

USC Canada is proud to launch the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security.

Nine out of every ten bites of food around the world today begin with seed.

From Newfoundland to British Columbia, Canadians coast-to-coast will soon benefit from a program to build a more secure and diverse ‘made-in-Canada’ seed supply. Thanks to a generous grant from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation [2] (http://www.westonfoundation.org/Pages/default.aspx), the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security will promote local and diverse seed. The program will feature training, applied research, market development, and support for expanded production and improved public access to seed. It will be delivered in close collaboration with regional partners across the country, and Seeds of Diversity Canada [9 (http://www.seeds.ca/en.php)], which has demonstrated great leadership in conserving seed biodiversity since 1995.

Gretchen Bauta, the initiator of this program ...  explains, “The issue of seed security in Canada came to my attention through my friendship with Sharon Rempel, a pioneer advocate for heritage wheat. I am pleased to be able to work with USC Canada and their network of Canadian farmers to create sustainable food sources for the future, adaptable to climate variation and readily accessible to growers.”

[10]The Canadian food system relies on a handful of varieties of a few major crops. The seeds that produce these crops are largely bred for uniformity and performance under controlled conditions. Canadian farmers who want to grow biodiverse vegetables and grains must often purchase seeds from the US, Europe, or further afield. In an age of ever-changing growing conditions, food security requires locally grown seeds with the genetic diversity needed to adapt to tomorrow’s climates.

Thanks must be extended to the many Canadian seed advocates who have worked for years, mostly as volunteers, to lay the groundwork for this effort. Built on this solid foundation, the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security will work with seed producers, farmers, farmer organizations, seed banks, organic industry partners, researchers in plant genetics and climate, governments, and food organizations to at least double the production and spread of biodiverse, locally-adapted seed.

USC Canada is one of Canada’s longest-standing international NGOs and has worked extensively with smallholder food producers around the world. It is farmers like these who feed the majority of our planet’s population. They have bred an impressive 5000 crops and donated over 2.1 million varieties of seed to the world’s gene banks. Here in Canada, the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security will value and strengthen this kind of innovation.

The program has an official start date of February 1, 2013.

For further information, contact:
Jane Rabinowicz, Program Director at jrabinowicz@usc-canada.org, or
Susie Walsh, Executive Director of USC Canada at swalsh@usc-canada.org

USC Canada: www.usc-canada.org

Seeds of Diversity Canada: www.seeds.ca

Feeding 9 Billion - great animation to watch

Frustrated by the complexity of the global food crisis? By 2050 there will be 9 billion people on the planet – but will there be enough food for everyone?

Food security expert Dr. Evan Fraser (Guelph University just down the road) guides you through a clever and entertaining whiteboard presentation of his solution to the Global Food Crisis.

Check it out for four suggestions that will help clear away the fog.

Be sure to watch right to the end. There are ways for you to participate!

Thanks to USC Canada for alerting us to this positive presentation with terrific artwork by Scott Chantler: http://usc-canada.org/2012/11/13/feeding-nine-billion/

Direct link to the Feeding Nine Billion project website: www.feedingninebillion.com

Alternatives Journal has a new website - check it out!

For a more sustainable future and the tools to take us there ...

Since 1971, Alternatives Journal, Canada’s national environmental magazine, has delivered thoughtful analysis and intelligent debate on Canadian and world environmental issues, the latest news and ideas, as well as profiles of environmental leaders who are making a difference. Based at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, it is the official publication of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada (http://www.alternativesjournal.ca/alternatives-journal-official-publication-environmental-studies-association-canada)

Alternatives has a revamped website ... so it is even easier to get at its excellent articles about Sustainable Living, People and Profiles, Policy and Politics, and Energy and Resources.

If you don't know about Alternatives, please check it out!  And if you like it, take out a subscription.

Alternatives Journal publishes 6 issues a year.  There's a real print edition you can subscribe to, and can read articles from its website for free (donations accepted).  http://www.alternativesjournal.ca/

OMAFRA news updates available for Middlesex and Elgin

OMAFRA news updates available for Middlesex and Elgin

Your interest in shared gardening and urban agriculture may well extend to the broader fields of agriculture (pun intended!). 

Perhaps you are thinking about local food systems, or taking a course on how to move into farming, or you are curious about the technical details of a specific topic like growing pulses.  You might want to know when the Royal Winter Fair is coming up (November 2-11) or when Canada's 4-H day is being celebrated (November 7).  Perhaps you just want to develop a sense of things "agricultural" to complement your interest in urban agriculture.

If so, you want to subscribe to the monthly OMAFRA Connects newsletter, a useful resource for Middlesex and Elgin Counties sent out by Valerie Clark, Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor for Middlesex, for the Ontario Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). 

It is easy to sign on.  Send an e-mail to Valerie Clark at valerie.clark@ontario.ca

Community Gardens London thanks Valerie for newsletters ssent.  It makes us more aware.


Do we really need industrial agriculture to feed the world?

Nice video - Hint: the answer is NO!

Food Myths

We do not need industrial agriculture to feed the world.  We do not need need synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which are fossil fuel based products. 
This short animation from Food Mythbusters shows the interconnections of the chemical industry to contemporary food production, and some ways in which farmer independence can be regained.

Anna Lappe is project director of Food Mythbusters.  She is principal and founder of the Small Planet Institute (www.smallplanet.org) and author of Diet for a Hot Planet.  If you recognize her name somehow, she is daughter of Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for A Small Plant.  Frances and Anna collaborate on projects.


Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement

Get information about the rights we'll lose to buy locally and even to save our own seed!

If CETA is signed it will:
• Threaten our democracy by putting corporate rights first
• Encourage privatization of Canada’s drinking water and wastewater services
• will put on table things not usually  considered trade items:  Drinking Water, Municipal services, Universities, Schools and Healthcare

Threaten local job creation and “buy-local” policies
• Cause prescription drug costs to skyrocket by at least $2.8 billion per year
• Allow big corporations to ignore or challenge environmental regulation We know this needs much more written. For now, check out:

Council of Canadians London blog: http://londoncouncilofcanadians.blogspot.com/2011_10_01_archive.html
National Farmers' Union website:  http://www.nfu.ca/     scroll down their home page for much information/actions


In Search of Alternatives to Synthetic Pesticides

Science Here and Now - In Search of Alternatives to Synthetic Pesticides: Eavesdropping on Mother Nature

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Central Library, 2nd floor, 251 Dundas Street

Professor Jeremy McNeil gives a presentation on how chemical cues insects use when making decisions about "what to eat", "where to lay eggs" and "with whom to mate" has lead to the development of effective and more eco-friendly means of managing certain pest species. The London Public Library and the Faculty of Science at Western are excited to continue the new series of talks on all things Science

Pesticides hit non-pests: exposed bees forage poorly, die more often

Pesticides hit non-pests: exposed bees forage poorly, die more often

The latest study to link synthetic pesticide use to honeybee deaths has been posted on the Nature (journal) website and is highlighted in a short video at this link:


Researchers from the Royal Holloway, University of London (England) underscores that insecticides can influence the overall health of bee colonies and that natural insect pollinators other than honeybees may be even more sensitive.

Bees from small colonies were fitted with radio tags which allowed their coming and going to be monitored.  In the abstract, authors Gill et al report:

" ... chronic exposure of bumblebees to two pesticides (neonicotinoid and pyrethroid) at concentrations that could approximate field-level exposure impairs natural foraging behaviour and increases worker mortality leading to significant reductions in brood development and colony success. We found that worker foraging performance, particularly pollen collecting efficiency, was significantly reduced with observed knock-on effects for forager recruitment, worker losses and overall worker productivity. Moreover, we provide evidence that combinatorial exposure to pesticides increases the propensity of colonies to fail."

Writing on the Artstechnica site, John Timmer notes about the study:
 ".... even though it doesn't answer everything, it helps us identify many things we should be asking. For one, the use of bees that form smaller colonies may tell us a lot more about the wider impact of insecticide use. It also tells us we should start thinking in terms of multiple exposures, both to insecticides and parasites, that accurately reflect what the bees see in the real world. Finally, it tells us that some of the effects won't be apparent during short exposures, which means we have to start thinking in terms of longer experiments. Future studies will undoubtedly attempt to track many of these factors."

Reflections and Possibilities, September 2012

THANKS to the Thames Region Ecological Association (www.trea.ca), Maureen Temme of Community Gardens London attended the 20th anniversary conference of the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition. 

The international "Healthy Communities" concept outlines features common to healthy communities: that health is not just an absence of illness, but includes personal physical health, mental health, and the social health of the entire community. 

Two speakers' comments were particularly relevant to issues of food, environment, and urban agriculture.  

The keynote speaker was Dr. Trevor Hancock (thancock@uvic.ca), public health physician, professor at the School of Public Health and Social Policy at the University of Victoria.  His points:

  • There is no topic of concern these days (environment, poverty, housing, social justice) that was not being discussed 30 years ago when the healthy communities movement began.
  • "Health" involves how people fit into and function in communities.
  • Problems are urgent as more people move into urban areas (50% of world's population now).
  • He believes in small, local solutions ... how will urban areas find their communities and work within them?
  • We need to connect the work done in non-profit community groups with municipal, provincial and federal programs. 
  • It is important that community groups have people interested in policy keeping an eye on governments.
  • Arts, culture and being outdoors - connecting with nature - are essential for health.  He suggested some resources for this.  He showed a map that showed Loss of Roaming Distance; it was a shock to see just how small is the area today's children are allowed to explore on their own compared to 50 years ago. 
  • "Vision is values projected into the future" and we need ecological sanity, social justice, peace, and active, engaged democracy.    
  • We need "healthy governance" - not government - to put people in the centre.
  • We have to face ecological decline realistically - like accepting a cancer diagnosis - and then find the ways to bring back community empowerment and resilience.  His tip for this:  Join a local Transition group! (www.transitionlondon.ning.com)

Food policy analyst, Wayne Roberts (wayneroberts@robertsfood.ca) is concerned with local, sustainable and health-promoting food systems.  He was manager of the Toronto Food Policy Council from 2000-2010. (http://www.toronto.ca/health/tfpc/).   His points:

  • It's all about food.
  • Solving "Food" is like working out a Rubik's cube.  You have to work all sides together.  (And "Food" probably has more than 6 sides!).
  • Most health professionals and government don't yet get the connections between food and health.
  • Food is the missing component of economic planning.
  • Food has business opportunities - it is "job rich" and can be cost saving.
  • City planning has only very recently (if at all) given consideration to food ... where it is grown, full transportation and energy costs, urban sprawl over agricultural land, urban farming.
  • Municipalities are taking the lead in projects, localizing, doing food charters. 
  • In Canada, people have a "preference" to view ourselves as powerless because then we can say  "It is not my problem".  This is the easy way out and we can't do this anymore.
  • Individuals have the power - we make 100s of decisions a day about food ... start with a few changes.
  • Buy Local Policies need to be set up.
  • Food brings people together ... food is not a scarce commodity.
  • There are ways to change the way we grow, process, transport, and consume food that will help the environment.

Two exciting projects were brought forward at the conference:

  • the official launch of the The Canadian Healthy Communities Network (http://www.chc-csc.ca/) - which will develop stronger working relationships between the four Canadian sectors and give them a new, coordinated website
  • a panel presentation of the project "Healthy Communities: An Approach to Action on Health Determinants in Canada". This project summarized what's happening in 16 different Canadian Communities. It was fun to see how excited everyone was to see the first bound copies!

Edible City: Grow the Revolution

Just watched this! It's terrific. Full of ideas, interesting things to see in the locales. Full movie posted on October 17/12 entry on City Farmer: http://www.cityfarmer.info/

By Andrew Hasse and Carl Grether
Director and Producers of Edible City
Published on Oct 17, 2012

Edible City is a fun, fast-paced journey through the Local Good Food movement that’s taking root in the San Francisco Bay Area, across the nation and around the world.

Introducing a diverse cast of extraordinary and eccentric characters who are challenging the paradigm of our broken food system, Edible City digs into their unique perspectives and transformative work, finding hopeful solutions to monumental problems.

Edible City - movie website: http://ediblecitythemovie.com/

Revolutionary Plots

Revolutionary Plots: urban agriculture is producing a lot more than food.

"What crops are you tending? What do you hope to grow?

Gardening involves three noble works: it feeds the hungry, it gets us wondering why they are hungry, and it urges us to change the system.

Author Rebecca Solnit makes the case that growing a garden in our own backyard, or being part of an urban agriculture project in the heart of a city, is the way to regenerate ourselves and the self-sufficiency of our communities.

Check it out in Orion Magazine: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/6918

Sustainable Food Systems

The London Training Centre published a report last month about Sustainable Food.  I haven't been through it all yet, but it looks good, and the LTC has fabulous programs.


Agroecology simply better

Here is the latest e-news received from Danielle Nierenberg, of the Nourishing the Planet Project of Worldwatch Institute.

"The Christensen Fund has put together an infographic that got me thinking. The infographic (see large version here) demonstrates all of the benefits of growing food using ‘agroecology,’ or an ecological, holistic approach to agriculture. These benefits include capturing and storing carbon dioxide, involving the local community in the farming process, and improving farmers’ ability to adapt to climate change. Industrial agriculture, on the other hand, tends to rely on scarce fossil fuels, harmful chemical inputs, and a small number of crop and animal species.

"Some industrial agricultural practices are implemented in food-strapped regions as a stop-gap measure to avoid malnutrition; but teaching, encouraging, and gradually implementing agroecological practices in those areas can help avoid the need for chemicals and resource-depletion in the first place. Small plot intensive farming, for instance, fights weeds, pests, and diseases by growing plants on almost every square foot of a farm or garden, and by emphasizing crop diversity over long rows of a single crop. Check out our video about small plot intensive farming here.

"I would love to hear about agroecological practices that you have tried or heard about. What works, and what doesn’t? What are some surprising benefits of growing food without using chemicals? Please e-mail me with your thoughts!

"And a sustainable food system doesn’t end with harvesting the crops. About one third of all food is wasted worldwide, as Tristram Stuart, author of Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal explains in this TED talk. And much of our world’s food is now grown to produce unhealthy foods and drinks: check out this post about the top five worst drinks in America, including milkshakes, sodas, and sugar-packed teas."

Check out Nourishing the Planet at: http://www.nourishingtheplanet.org

Hungry for Climate Leadership

Voice of Women for Peace (http://vowpeace.org) members are out on the streets making a difference, again. National Co-chair, Lyn Adamson, is on Parliament Hill  joining with other Climate Change Leaders to bring attention to the climate crisis.  

Lyn wrote, "if you support our 3 asks - end fossil fuel subsides, put a price on carbon, and develop a renewable energy plan for Canada - please go to our website, www.climatefast.ca and pledge your support."

Hungry for Climate Leadership fast and vigil takes place September 21 through October 2. Its purpose is to demand that the Canadian government address climate change, the greatest threat to our children.

Urban Agriculture Summit meaningful for London!

Community Gardens London thanks Mary Ann Colihan for her clear  notes about Summit presentations and for linking them to London possibilities. We are inspired!

Mary Ann Colihan attended the first Urban Agriculture Summit held in Toronto, this past August.  Mary Ann is on the Grants Committee of the London Community Foundation.  She reported back to the Foundation with a summary of the project presentations she attended and with suggestions and questions about how similar programs could be done in London, Ontario.  For example:

Wychwood Barns in Toronto is an adaptive re-use of four decommissioned bus repair/parking buildings, by Artscape Toronto.  These buildings now house an art studio, community meeting spaces, and a year-round greenhouse and sustainable food education centre managed by The Stop Community Food Centre.

Will Allen presented for Growing Power, describing its range of programs for growing food in urban and peri-urban areas, distributing and selling it in low-income areas of a city, and putting people to work.  Colihan comments accurately and succinctly that "Urban agriculture is a model to lift people and feed people" and points out that London has low income areas and spaces where food can be grown.

She cites Everdale Farms for its farm planning and training programand its program partnerships with places such as Black Creek Community Farm - a new undertaking, see below - and the London Training Centre.

Colihan notes the Toronto Urban Agriculture Action Plan, with its priorities to:

  • Link growers to land and space
  • Strengthen education and training
  • Increase visibility and promotion
  • Add value to urban gardens
  • realize the full potential of this food
  • Cultivate partnerships

She reminds us that London's Food Charter is an important step towards food security. However, there is work to do to evaluate and adapt policies and bylaws in London, which requires bringing elected officials on board during planning and program development.

There are many faces to urban agriculture, many of which we haven't seen yet in London, and many yet to be thought up here and elsewhere. 

If you would like to receive a copy of Mary Ann Colihan's full 8-page report, which lists other places and ideas, Community Gardens London will forward it to you.  Just ask:  communitygardenslondon@execulink.com

London Community Foundation: http://www.lcf.on.ca
Artscape/Wychwood Barns: http://torontoartscape.org/artscape-wychwood-barns/barn-barn
The Stop:  http://www.thestop.org
Growing Power:  http://www.growingpower.org
Everdale Farm: http://everdale.org
London Training Centre: http://www.londontraining.on.ca/
Black Creek Commuity Farm:  http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1241098--toronto-s-largest-city-farm-to-be-announced-at-urban-agriculture-summit
GrowTO: Urban Agriculture Action Plan: http://tfpc.to/news/growto-action-plan                (24 page pdf)

Check out Thames Region Ecological Association's bright new website!

TREA is a local, non-profit, registered charity established in November of 1986. The purpose of TREA is to promote environmental awareness to its members and the community of London for the development of an ecologically responsible and sustainable future encouraging citizen participation in environmental issues, and promoting and/or facilitating innovative projects that contribute to the community.

To fulfill its mission, TREA will focus on the following Strategic Initiatives:
Waste Reduction & Recycling
Active Transportation
Reducing the Use of Fossil Fuels

Thames Region Ecological Association: http://www.trea.ca

King's College Environment Students Plant Community Garden

King's campus growing...literally

CGL thanks Graham Casselman for the following story, which we found on the King's College website! Graham is Environmental Intern, Physical Plant, King's College

"As students As students begin to arrive on campus and classes begin, the newest addition to campus is taking root. The King’s Community Garden is a welcome addition to our vibrant campus and will develop new skills and foster knowledge both in and out of the classroom. The garden is located behind the International House and will consist of four raised beds. The first, limited harvest is expected to be in mid-October and plans are to be in full production by early April 2013. The intention of the garden is to become a place where classes can engage in topics relating to food security and social justice. This garden project showcases King’s support towards new environmental projects on campus.

"The project was due in part to the dedicated work of KUCSC Environmental Commissioner Skylar Franke. Her hard work paid off and the project received grants to assist with the construction of the garden. The project was supported by Michael Tattersall (Director, Physical Plant), Graham Casselman (Environmental Intern), Jason Austin and his team assisted in the construction of the raised beds. Jessica Roder Robertson from Wild Craft Permaculture provided her expertise on seasonal planting, crop rotation and placement of the raised beds.

"Students, faculty and staff who are interested in volunteering can follow the King’s Community Garden Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/KingsCommunityGarden , stay up do date with the gardening blog http://kingscommunitygarden.wordpress.com/ or email environment@kucsc.com. Stay tuned for the next gardening event."


Precipitation Summary for London Ontario

Month and Year

Precipitation in millimenters (centimeters)
percent of average precipitation for the month

Precipitation in Inches

Precipitation Average based on Environment Canada Date 1971-2000*  mm (cm)    inches





January      2012

71.7 mm (7.17 cm)      96.64% of normal for the month


74.2 mm (7.42 cm)      2.916"

February    2012

21.7 mm (2.17 cm)      36.16%


60.0 mm (6.0 cm)        2.359"

March        2012

45.9 mm (4.59 cm)     58.55%


78.4 mm (7.84 cm)      3.081"

April          2012

30.2 mm (3.02cm)       36.75%


82.2 mm (8.22 cm)      3.230"

May           2012

21.0 mm (2.1cm)
 25.3%   of normal precipitation

0.8 inches

82.9 mm (8.29 cm)      3.258"

June 1-14,  2012

55.4mm (5.54cm)    
at 62.5% of rain for month

2.18 inches

86.8 mm ( 8.68 cm)     3.411"

June 1-30, 2012

86.6mm (8.86cm)
call this 100%
note that this occurred in two main rainfalls:  39.6mm June 1, and 25.8mm June 21 (no rainfall since June 21)

3.41 inches

86.8mm (8.68cm)      3.411"

July 1-31, 2012

41.9mm (4.19cm)
49.12% of normal precipitation for the month

1.65 inches

85.3 mm (8.53 cm)      3.352"

August 1-28, 2012

60.3mm (6.03cm)
given forecast of no rain for rest of month, this is 70.69% of normal precipitation for month

2.374 inches

85.3 mm (8.53 cm)      3.352"





Table compiled August 29/12 by Maureen Temme using Environment Canada data from page http://climate.weatheroffice.gc.ca/climate_normals/index_e.html  Canadian Climate Normals or Averages 1971- 2000.

*note from the page: "Climate normals or averages are used to summarize or describe the average climatic conditions of a particular location.  At the completion of each decade, Environment Canada updates its climate normals for as many locations and as many climatic characteristics as possible. The climate normals and extremes offered here are based on Canadian climate stations with at least 15 years of data between 1971 to 2000. "

question Maureen asks:  What changes will there be in the newest normals - that will take us to 2010 - and take into account the climate change that is occurring, including the hottest years on record? Has rainfall been affected along with temperature?

The subtlety of the amazing Bacillis subtilis                  

We gardeners who observe plants, learn about plants and soil, labour in and love our gardens sometimes begin to think we are "on top of things" or understand what is happening in that realm.

And then we run across a study like the one below, and are humbled by the complexity of the life-web that supports our gardens and us.

Researchers led by Prof. Harsh Bais, at the University of Delaware, have published a study of how the bacterium Bacillus subtilis, which lives in the soil, makes a connection with plant hormones, which then signal plant leaves, stems, and petals to close stoma when there are harmful pathogens trying to enter.  This stops pathogens from entering the plant and becoming a systemic stressor (possibly killing the plant).

How cool is that, eh?!

Interesting too is that drought conditions can also start the sequence between the soil born bacterium, plant hormones and stoma closure.

The research used a modest little plant, mouse eared cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), which looks like a "weed" of the sort we'd take out of our gardens, but which is probably welcome in a healthy meadow mix of plants for animal fodder.

Of several soil bacteria tested (of the very many that there are!), the researchers determined that only the Bacillis subtilis triggered the beneficial reaction sequence that occurs in the soil plant web. 

Phys.org reports that the study underscores "both the importance of root-based processes in plant defense and the potential for bolstering plant immunity naturally through the emerging field of probiotics."  ("Probiotics" are "live microorganisms that are thought to be beneficial to the host organism."*)

In other words, do all you can to encourage healthy soil so you'll have healthy plants.

In Prof. Bais' words: "... there is increasing commercial interest in inoculating crop seeds with beneficial bacteria to reduce pathogen infection. 'Just as you can boost your immune system, plants also could be supercharged for immunity.'"

I think of the soil web as "wholistic" in the sense of there being many, many parts which are together greater than the sum of the individual parts.  I also have great respect for the abilities and detail-orientation of people in the sciences.  Balancing the "whole" and the detail is an ongoing dance.

Here, a researcher spends time separating out many factors (soil bacteria), finds only one that triggers a reaction (and admits to only knowing 5% overall of what the one does) and then wonders what place this one factor might play in treatment application for crop betterment.

Is it just our human nature to be awed by the small amazing things we can discover, and to hope that the one small thing can be applied to the larger scope difficulties we try so hard to solve?

You might want to read the study summary and have a think on these matters yourself.

Wishing you healthy soil, new discoveries, and happy gardening!

Maureen for Community Gardens London

Researchers show how probiotics boost plant immunity
August 27, 2012 by Tracey Bryant                 Physics News website website
The article has video and micrograph images of what happens

Adabidopsis thaliana, mouse eared cress - Wikipedia entry - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabidopsis_thaliana

* Probiotics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probiotic

London's Urban Forest? Check ReForest London site!

Did you know...?

The City of London is asking for Londoners to give their ideas about London's trees?

That there will be free trees given away at Western Fair by ReForest London?

That ReForest London can turn you into a tree guru ... by teaching you the types of trees 'round about?

That you can learn how to plant a tree by volunteering with ReForest London?


Check out the Reforest London Website for info about all this, and more!



An Urban Agriculture Plan for the City of Toronto

issued August 2012 through the Toronto Food Policy Council

From a snapshot of urban agriculture in Toronto, through the benefits of urban agriculture and on to six priorities to move urban agriculture forward.

The pdf of the document can be found via the City Farmer site: http://www.cityfarmer.info/2012/08/24/an-urban-agriculture-action-plan-for-toronto/#more-32538

Toronto Food Policy Council website is: http://www.toronto.ca/health/tfpc/

... productive land and rooftops ...food gardens in city parks, ...Churches and community centres, universities and public housing corporations .... gardening available for condo and apartment dwellers ... small businesses ... offering backyard food-growing services ... entrepreneurs ...young farmers are forming co-ops ... in schoolyards ... rooftop farms ...beekeepers

Urban agriculture ... everywhere our imagination takes us.

Incredible Edible Todmorden UK

"We came up with a really simple game plan that we put to a public meeting. We did not consult. We did not write a report" ...       

Incredible Edible Todmorden (UK) is practical community change, based in our common language of FOOD. Pam Warhurst, founder of Incredible Edible Todmorden gave a "TED Talk" back in May and City Farmer's Michael Levenston posted it on August 11 (www.cityfarmer.info).

Pam's TED talk is at: http://www.ted.com/talks/pam_warhurst_how_we_can_eat_our_landscapes.html

The Incredible Edible story is exciting and inspiring, and Warhurst's voice and enthusiasm just shine. The projects are, in her words, "focused around three plates: a community plate, the way we live our everyday lives; a learning plate, what we teach our kids in school and what new skills we share amongst ourselves; and business, what we do with the pound in our pocket and which businesses we choose to support."

Incredible Edible Todmorden is nothing short of an incredible project that began about 5 years ago in Todmorden, UK.  It is getting things growing all around the market town of Todmorden (pop'n 15,000), and its ideas are being taken up by and inspiring people in communities around the UK and in other countries.

I'll track a direct link, but for now, get to the talk via City Farmer. (www.cityfarmer.info) and there's a transcript of the talk!

With thanks again to the City Farmer website (www.cityfarmer.info)

Kitchen Garden inspiration - Urban Leaves of India

Serendipity takes us where we need to go.  From the City Farmer website (www.cityfarmer.info) CGL located the site for Urban Leaves of India (http://www.urbanleavesofindia.blogspot.ca/)

Urban Leaves, established in 2009, is an initiative of the Vidya Vaaridhi* Trust (1994).  

Check along the left side of the blog pages for the topics covered, including a series on how to start your own kitchen garden or rooftop garden!

Please watch the video Reap what you sow, and eat what you growwhich charts the development of the Mumbai Port Trust Kitchen Garden and others begun by Urban Leaves.  The video contains a detailed description of how the volunteers develop living soil organically for the gardens. The comments, values and vision of the people involved with the gardens are in common with those of gardeners everywhere, and underlain with an inner spirit. http://urbanleavesofindia.blogspot.ca/2011/08/tribute-to-kitchen-gardeners-all-over.html

The Vision:
We came from villages to the city and left our roots behind.
We grew fresh roots  by covering cities with urban farms,
A small haven lies right next to us that we can call our very own,
Spreading smiles from Urban Leaves to farthest ends of the globe.

               Uday Acharya, one founder of Urban Leaves

*Vidya Vaaridhi'  literally means 'the ocean of learning'. It is also the name of Ganesha, the Hindu god who represents intelligence, creativity, harmony, and problem solving.

"Better London" is idea for a better London!

The City of London is asking Londoners to participate in making London a better place through its ReThink London activities and website: http://rethinklondon.ca/

Londoner Jesse Helmer cares about London too, and has established a website www.betterlondon.ca to gather small, do-able ideas to inspire us to make London a more liveable city.

Recently highlighted in the London Free Press article Better London a way to pipe up, the website is found at http://www.betterlondon.ca and has received 27 ideas since late 2011.  Mr. Helmer set up the website to focus on ideas to make our city a better place and to connect up people with similar ideas so they can get things happening.  

Better London already has 20 volunteers helping with the website, research and events like Ignite London where you can get up and talk for 5 minutes about your good idea. www.ignitelondon.ca

Great stuff Mr. Helmer!

Saskatoon Food Bank's Garden Patch

"The Garden Patch is so much more than the pounds of produce it grows. Diversity in socio-economic status, ethnic origin and skill levels amongst our volunteers creates a culture of empathy and unity that stretches beyond the garden gates."  Alison Robertson

The Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre, and many volunteers, are growing food on a 1.5 acre plot of what was vacant land in Saskatoon.  The City of Saskatoon has recently changed policies so that community organizations may grow food on any vacant municipal land.  Food from The Garden Patch is distributed through the food bank and is also used in school lunch programs.

Thanks to the City Farmer site, for the full article and its links to the Saskatoon Food Bank and other participants: http://www.cityfarmer.info/2012/07/27/food-bank-garden-patch-urban-agriculture-in-the-heart-of-saskatoon-saskatchewan/#more-30975
See their websites:


Urban Agriculture Conference in Toronto

Aug 15 – 18 –- The 2012 Urban Agriculture Summit programming draws on local and international expertise and practical experience, in order to engage diverse communities and provide opportunities for cross-fertilization across sectors. Whether you are involved in community-based initiatives, or are in the business of city building, you can learn new tools to advance urban agriculture in your communities. From acclaimed keynote speakers and leading sessions, to professional development training courses and practical workshops; from tours 'in the field' and networking events, the Summit agenda delivers value and opportunity for anyone involved in city-based growing. http://www.urbanagsummit.org/index.php/program

London's Community Garden Program ... future

Just a quick note ... On Thursday, July 26, Maureen Temme and Robyn Harvey had a conversation with senior London staff who are involved with the administration and delivery of London's community gardens program. There are 21 garden locations and 600 plots in the program, most of the plots being on City owned land. They confirmed that, in the fall, the City will invite gardeners in the program and all interested Londoners to begin conversations to strengthen and evaluate the program. The London Community Gardens Program Review, which was endorsed by Council in April 2011, had 14 recommendations for the program. This garden season is a transition year to the new management system. There is a lot to talk about.

Robyn and Maureen recognize that City staff are commited to developing a community gardens program that works for the gardeners and their communities. We all recognize that doing this within the budget constraints will take innovation and participation of everyone who is interested in community gardening and urban agriculture.

We will keep you posted about upcoming meetings and opportunities to put forward your comments and ideas. If you have questions be in touch: communitygardenslondon@execulink.com

For reference:

London's Community Gardens Program Review was accepted unanimously by City Council, Monday, April 4, 2011. The review is attached to the Community and Neighbourhood's Committee report of its Tues. March 29/11 meeting, found at: http://council.london.ca/meetings/CNC%20Agendas/2011-03-29%20Agenda/Item%209.pdf

ASAP, Community Gardens London will post the responsibilities of the City and of the Coordinating Agency (CA) of London's community gardens program as written in the Request for Proposal by which the CA was hired.


Gardening and Garden Tool How-to's on Johnny's Seeds

Gardening and Garden Tool How-to's on Johnny's Seeds

Johnny's Seeds of Albion Maine has a series of about 20 on-line garden instruction videos, featuring such things as sharpening and caring for tools, identifying and treating late blight which affects tomatoes, and using hoops and tools.  Some of these are, in a way, advertisements for tools that Johnny's sells, but please don't let this stop you viewing these brief introductions to functional tools for the home and small-market gardener.  Many of the tools featured were developed by Elliot Coleman, small-market gardener extraordinaire whose books are full of good information and anecdotes.  Johnny's seeds was founded in 1972, and over the last few years its founder, Rob Johnston, has turned over control of the company to its employees, instead of selling out to a bigger company.  Johnny's strives towards organic, has a small is beautiful philosophy, and is GMO free.  Its catalogue is full of useful information and great visuals. 

Johnny's video page:  http://www.johnnyseeds.com/t-video.aspx?source=E_JSSAdv0712_videos&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=JSSAdv0712&lm=jony
Johnny's seeds home page:  www.johnnyseeds.com
Elliot Coleman, of Four Season Farm: http://www.fourseasonfarm.com/
   look for his books, e.g. Four Season Harvest (in London Public Library 635.0484 Col)
                                             Winter Harvest Handbook (635.0484 Col) https://encore.londonpubliclibrary.ca

Gleaning Some Good - project of the London Food Bank

Community Harvest London is looking for volunteers to help with its "gleaning" project.  People are needed, sometimes on short notice.  If you have a flexible schedule, please give the Food Bank a call.  If you are a farmer interested in the project, please give a call.  519-659-4045.

Josh Chadwick, administrator of the program, explains that when produce is left in a field after harvest there is often useable food left.  This can be gathered - gleaned - for use: fresh food for users of the London Food Bank.  Fresh food is a nutritious and flavourful boost ... and a practical sign of the care that local farmers have for people.

More information about the program, visit Londonfoodbank.ca, click the volunteer tab and follow the prompts. Otherwise call the food bank at (519) 659-4045. www.londonfoodbank.ca

CGL thanks to The Londoner newspaper for promoting this project. The full article is found at http://www.thelondoner.ca/2012/07/05/gleaning-some-good

A few books that look good!

These are some titles that have crossed the web-keeper's path lately...she hasn't had time to read them, but they look good! 

EcoMind : changing the way we think, to create the world we want.  Frances Moore Lappé.
New York : Nation Books, c2011.   304.28 Lap (London Public Library #)

The edible city : Toronto's food from farm to fork. edited by Christina Palassio and Alana Wilcox.
Toronto : Coach House Books, c2009. 641.309713 Edi 

Food and the city : urban agriculture and the new food revolution. Jennifer Cockrall-King.
Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, 2012. 363.8 Coc  

Your farm in the city : an urban dweller's guide to growing food and raising livestock. Lisa Taylor, and the gardeners of Seattle Tilth. New York : Black Dog & Leventhal, c2011.  630.81732 Tay  

Letter sent to London community garden program gardeners

A note from Maureen, CGL webkeeper: The following letter has been sent to gardeners in London's community gardens program. It is likely the reply/follow-up to the garden rules issues that arose recently. 151 Dundas Street has the City Parks offices.

151 Dundas Street
P.O. Box 5045
London, ON N6A4L6

June15, 201

In 2010, the City of London undertook a review of the community gardens program with a view to positioning the service for the future, to reaffirm the City's commitment to the community gardens program and have a renewed community gardens program and administrative structure in place for the future.

A review of the program was completed in the spring of 2010 and the 14 recommendations from this review were endorsed by City Council in 2011 . The community gardens review identified many trends and forces of change in the environment that reinforced the importance of developing a more complete and comprehensive operational framework to support the development and management of community gardens within the City of London.

Based on this review, the City sought to engage an external agency via an official Request for Proposal process, to coordinate London's Community Gardens Program. The City entered into a funding agreement with the successful proponent, London Community Resource Centre and provides annual funding as outlined in that funding agreement.

The City maintains overall guidance and policy direction for London's Community Gardens Program and while supporting the efforts of gardeners, The City also has responsibilities to balance those needs with the community in which these gardens exist relative to their general appearance, safe use and operating cost of supporting paid by all taxpayers. For the 2012 growing season, London Community Resource Centre and the City of London will not remove any fences, trellises or other garden supports. Fences between plots continue to be discouraged.

The City of London will:
• Continue to support community gardeners with public space services and technical support
• Support the coordinating agency: London Community Resource Centre
• With London Community Resource Centre, monitor and document compliance and non-    compliance to the current rules
• Deal with major concerns or safety issues if and when they emerge on public land at the request of the London Community Resource Centre
• Oversee the development of a long-term strategic plan for London's Community Gardens Program in collaboration with stakeholder groups which includes an evaluation of the current rules, procedures and operational processes, growth and long term sustainability of the program, etc.

Community gardens are extremely important and have the ability to improve well being, and create neighbourhood involvement. There are significant tangible benefits associated with successful community gardens including, increased access to fresh, nutritious, low-cost food.

If you have any further questions about London's Community Gardens Program, please contact London Community Resource Centre at Icrc@lcrc.on.ca or 519-432-1801.

Linda Davies
Executive Director
London Community Resource Centre

Scott Stafford
Division Manager, Parks and Community Sport
City of London.

Positives on garden rules

Wed. June 6, 2012

Hello Thames gardeners and other gardeners,

At about 6:30 this evening I had a conversation with Bill Coxhead, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of London.  He was returning a message I'd left earlier today. 

Here is my take on things. 

It was a good conversation.  Mr. Coxhead is, in his words, "coming up to speed" on the community garden rules and concerns.  He affirmed that Parks and Recreation, and the City, support community gardens and want to find all the ways and means to have them work well.

The important things from the conversation:

1.  He confirmed that Parks and Recreation (or other City staff) will NOT be moving into any community gardens to remove fences or trellises, or other garden supports.  This confirmed his comments reported in today's London Free Press. (note that the reporter got his Mr. Coxhead's name wrong.and referred to him as Bill Wilcox.) 

2.  He has asked his staff about the garden rules.  New garden rules were put together by the Coordinating Agency and some Parks and Recreation Staff.

3.  He has asked his Parks and Recreation Staff to write a letter that will be distributed to the gardeners in the City's community gardening program - by whatever means it takes to get the word out - that fences and such are not under threat, that the garden rules are guidelines, and that gardener communication with his department is wanted.  It think he's trying to have this done by early next week.  

4.  He emphasized that there are new arrangements starting this year between the City and the Coordinating Agency and the gardeners ... that things are evolving. 

5.   He seemed to be saying that as all the people and departments involved in community gardens get talking with each other, problems and perceived problems can be resolved.  (It sounded like a review of garden rules will come in the fall, and include gardeners.)

6.  I said to him that I would do my best to start to get the gist of our conversation to gardeners at Thames and beyond.

Mr. Coxhead and his staff are open to talking in person with gardeners from Thames or other gardens who have questions. 

Two newspaper items covered the Thames community garden event yesterday.

I hope this information is useful.  I will post this note on the Community Gardens London website.

Best regards,


Community Gardens London

Two newspapers covered the Thames community gardens, in today's papers.

 Gardeners On Guard   - Metro News, by Angela Mullins, http://metronews.ca/news/london/250904/gardeners-on-guard-in-london/

Gardeners dig in for battle - By Patrick Callan The London Free Press, Wednesday, June 6/12         photo and video by Derrick Ruttan 

The London Free Press article carried more important information.  Despite getting wrong the name of the Director of Parks and Recreation, who is Bill Coxhead ... here's an excerpt:

    Bill Wilcox [should be Coxhead], director of parks and recreation, said the city is working to provide clarity and there won’t be any garden police ripping down fences.
    “We don’t have any problems with tomato stakes and bean poles. What we’re concerned about was the delineation of the garden plots with fences.”
    {He} said gardeners can use structures within their plots to help growth but can’t put fencing around the perimeter of their individual plots. For the rest of the summer, the city is asking people not to put up fences around their plots because it violates their contract with the city.
 "We will look at fences as part of our discussion in the fall and consider what is permissible and what isn’t.”

Precipitation update to June 14 2012

We have definitely not gotten the average rainfall we expect for the year, for the spring planting season.

February - we had 36.16% of expected average rainfall
March           58.55% of expected average rainfall
April              36.75%of expected average rainfall
May - we had 25% of expected average rainfall

June 1-14 - 62.5% of rainfall expected for the month, however, the bulk of this was June 1.

February through May has us at less than 50% of normal, overall.

This chart will be updated at intervals. If you would like the a table sent to you that has monthy 2011 and 2012 precipitation amounts side by side with averages for the 1970 - 2000 period, please email communitygardenslondon@execulink.com

The figures were calculated by M. Temme, one of the principles of CGL. from data from Environment Canada's weather archive pages. [http://climate.weatheroffice.gc.ca/climate_normals/index_e.html ]

Community Gardeners Meeting Sunday June 10

Sunday, June 10, 4:00 p.m. beside Thames Park community garden which is west off Ridout Street just south of the Thames River

Community gardeners and others interested in talking about short and long term of community gardening in London are welcome to attend.

It will also be a pot luck - might as well have some good food while talking about gardening! Please bring your own dishes and utentils.

An agenda is not set ... but there is a need to talk about communication between gardeners and the City and Coordinating Agency, about rules, about how to make community gardens a real part of their communities, and all sorts of other things that were touched on in the London Community Gardens Program Review.

Help start the conversation and action.

Until another communications point is established, Community Gardens London will field questions and pass them on to someone to answer: communitygardenslondon@execulink.com

or get in touch through CGL's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Community-Gardens-London/220527951338866

Grant to make your community greener

Thanks to Valerie Clark, OMAFRA, for letting us know about this!

Through the CN EcoConnexions Grant up to $25 000 in funding is available to make communities greener.  With this initiative your ‘community’ may be eligible to receive grant money that may be used for:
·      Urban forests: planting, protecting and maintaining trees in your community
·      Traffic calming and safety: Vegetation creates natural noise, visual and movement barriers in parks and public lands along tracks to discourage access to rights-of-way and yards and promote rail safety
·      School greening: Encouraging children to play outdoors within natural treed areas promotes healthy active living, an appreciation for nature and a better environmental footprint for the school in the community.
·      Transforming spaces: Brownfield conversion initiatives that promote recreation and healthy lifestyles for youth and families by changing abandoned and ugly areas into vibrant and active ones. This can involve soil replacement, sod installation, raised bed construction and plant, shrub and tree planting.
·      Naturalized areas, park creation or restoration: Sod, raised beds, planters and other natural structures. Areas lacking imagination can be dramatically improved through proper placement of structures to allow the planting of more natural areas.
For more information, visit: http://www.tcf-fca.ca/cnfromthegroundup/ .

Thames Gardeners Take a Stand

On Tuesday, June 5, gardeners at Thames community gardens spent the day at the garden, not knowing if City staff would be coming to remove fences from around individual garden plot.

Definite information had not been received either verbally in writing as to whether fences would be removed on Tuesday or Friday, from the The Coordinating Agency which is contracted by the City to manage the gardens. Reporters from both Metro News and the London Free Press came down and spent time speaking with gardeners; many park visitors joined in conversations which went from discussion about garden rules to enjoyment of gardening very easily.

Both the London Free Press and Metro June 6 editions have coverage.

The LFPress reports that the Director of Parks and Recreation says that no City staff will be removing fences from community gardens ... altho' the topic will be on the agenda for discussion in the fall.

It is hoped that gardeners, the Coordinating Agency, and City departments will begin conversations face-to-face very soon to clarify how the new rules came about, and how other problems can be averted.

This situation - which caused stress and took time for Thames' gardeners and others to deal with - should be a call for everyone to take the opportunity to talk with each other and begin acting upon the positive community effort that should be community gardening.

Gardeners dig in for battle

Gardeners On Guard

Survey about London trees

As part of London's Urban Forest Strategy, a survey is being taken of London residents' attitude towards trees in the Forest City.

It takes about 10 minutes. Follow the link below and lend your voice to the proceedings. 

Clarification needed for much in London's community gardens program

Note: this is also posted on the Facebook page of Community Gardens London

Sunday, June 3/12

Hi, My name is Maureen Temme.  I'm one of the people who has been involved in the loosely knit team called Community Gardens London.  The name started in summer of 2009 when a couple of us went in to speak with Ross Fair and Cheryl Smith to advocate for community gardens and for a review of London's community gardens program oversight.  I maintain the CGL website, www.communitygardenslondon.ca    Robyn Harvey set up the Facebook page.

It's a strange set of circumstances that sees this garden rules issue at Thames coming up just as I was going to make an appointment to go see Ross Fair about garden rules and many aspects of the London Community Gardens Program Review that need to be clarified.  Ross Fair's position has just been eliminated by the City. He was a real ally in Community Services, and, as executive director, an important one.  I expect there will be further comments on his departure, from many fronts.

Up until now, neither the "Civic Administration" nor the Coordinating Agency have begun discussions with gardeners or community stakeholders (people/organizations interested in community gardens).

I really hope that today's meeting will be the start of gardeners getting together with the Coordinating Agency and the Civic Administration.  There need  to discussions of how gardens are managed, discussions and clarifications about the 14 recommendations of the LCGPReview and of the the follow-up Request for Proposal 11-42 , which is supposed to govern how the Coordinating Agency supports the community gardens.

People come to an issue when the lead line is something like "the City is going to destroy something-or-other".  For the long haul, however, there must be people who read the paperwork carefully (which is time consuming and usually boring) and then work through problems and positives in detail, with all parties.  It is my hope this will happen. Particularly, that we avoid accusing "the City" of something that City staff may not know much about at all.

In my experience, there are good people at City Hall who understand broad issues of community gardens and their important role in communities.  Bring them in.  Help them to use the good knowledge and intentions they have.

There are positives to work from.  The LCGPR states clearly the benefits of community gardens generally, states that there needs to be better communication between all parties involved in London's community gardens program, states that gardeners in the London program should be involved in the management of their gardens for both community development and financial sustainability of the gardens. 

Just what is meant by "London's community gardens program" needs to be defined.  At this time, it seems to be the 21 gardens, referred to as "supported" gardens in the Request for Proposal 11-42 for a Coordinating Agency for the gardens. 

Clarification is needed to have the Civic Administration / City state clearly that London's Community Gardens Program (of supported gardens) does not have jurisdiction over gardens started independently at, for example, a seniors' centre or private apartment complex, and so such gardens do not have to follow any procedures set out by the City. 

Clarification is needed about what the LCGPR and the RFP 11-42 refer to as Friends of the Community Gardens. -- It is supposed to be a volunteer arm of London's Community Gardens program, helping with garden tasks and with fundraising matters to make the London community gardens program run without additional City funds.  Please note that this volunteer arm - Friends - is NOT THE SAME AS WHAT IS REFERRED TO IN THE LCGPR AS COMMUNITY STAKEHOLDERS.  The community stakeholders are all the individuals and groups in the City who were deemed important in the LCGPR because of their care and concern for community gardens generally, such gardens in the City program, and also extending to broader aspects of urban agriculture and food security and planning and all sorts of other things.  The LCGPR said that the Civic Administration would bring together the stakeholders.  This hasn't happened. 

And this is where, perhaps - beginning with questioning garden rules -  people will be found who will begin work on many issues.

The London Community Resource Centre, as Coordinating Agency of the London community gardens program, is supposed to communicate with the gardeners.  It should be required to say clearly where the 2012 rules came from.  It should be telling gardeners that there was a LCGPReview.  This was not done by either the LCRC or the City when the report was endorsed by Council in April 2011; and was not done at any other time. This garden season the Coordinating Agency - LCRC - did not put in any communication to gardeners that its relationship to the City has changed and that it has been hired to begin to fulfill recommendations of the Review.

Clarification is needed of roles for the Coordinating Agency, and the (at least three) departments of the City involved in the London community gardens program.  It was always the intent that gardeners in the program be involved too. 

Right off the top, the change in rules underscores the need for communication. 

The Community Gardens London website has links to documents. www.communitygardenslondon.ca
email is communitygardenslondon@execulink.com

This post got long fast.  Thanks to any of you who read through it.


Clothianidin Pesticide found in our local honeybees

webkeeper's note: Colony Collapse disorder of honeybees is worldwide. Here's another item linking it to a nervous system disruptive pesticide, Clothianidin.

Pesticide found in bees
By John Miner, The London Free Press, Monday, May 28, 2012

The ongoing investigation into honeybee deaths that struck hives across Southwestern Ontario this spring has turned up a pesticide used to protect corn and soybean seed. 

Thousands of dead bees were found in piles outside hives in early May, triggering an investigation by Health Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ontario Environment Ministry.
An Ontario Agricultural Ministry spokesperson said 37 samples of bees from various sites tested by Health Canada found residues of the insecticide clothianidin in 28 samples.

Clothianidin was been banned in Germany after widespread honeybee deaths and there is a campaign by U.S. beekeepers and environmental groups to have it banned there.

While clothianidin has been found in 28 samples, the spokesperson wrote in an e-mail that given the large number of potential factors involved, Health Canada has not drawn conclusions at this stage. Screening for additional pesticides is still to be done and other factors relating to overall bee health are being examined, she wrote.

E-mail john.miner@sunmedia.ca

Do you see any problems with London's Community Gardens Program rules and regulations 2012?

Community Gardens London would like to hear from gardeners in London's community gardens program, (the one coordinated by the London Community Resource Centre) and anyone else. If you think any of these items could be "improved" get in touch. We will compile comments and send them to the City. communitygardenslondon@execulink.

The following are the rules people have had to sign on to to get a space in one of London's community gardens this year.

Gardeners must abide by all City by-laws, as well as these Rules and Regulations.

1. HOURS OF OPERATION: The Garden is officially open from May start date to November 30, 2012 (weather dependent). Garden hours are from dawn to dusk. The garden must be under cultivation during this entire period.

2. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

3. PLOT MAINTENANCE: Garden must be maintained in a safe, clean and sanitary condition to the satisfaction of the Coordinating Agency.

4. PLOT ASSIGNMENT: Plot assignment is determined by the Coordinating Agency.

5. HOLIDAYS/BEING ABSENT: If a Gardener is going to be away for more than two weeks, he/she must make arrangements to have an alternative Gardener tend to the plot or notify the Coordinating Agency so that other arrangements can be made.

6. REASSIGNMENT OF PLOTS: If a plot is not used or if it is unattended for more than two weeks it will be reassigned to the next Gardener on the waiting list by the Coordinating Agency, who will be responsible for maintaining the plot until it has been reassigned.

7. OVERALL MAINTENANCE: All Gardeners must maintain the pathways adjacent to their plot(s), keeping them free of weeds and garbage. This includes normal watering, weeding and general care of the assigned plot. If you have a maintenance concern, please contact the Coordinating Agency. No tools or personal property shall be left unattended in the garden area. Tools and personal property must not be left out overnight.

8. END OF SEASON CLEAN UP: All gardeners are required to clear their plots at the end of the season, no later than November 30, 2012 (weather dependent). The Community Gardens must be “put to bed” which means there is no above ground material left behind.

9. GARBAGE: All Gardeners must make sure to dispose of all litter into Garbage bins provided at the Garden. Garden waste is to be left for roadside pickup at each Garden based on the pickup schedule for each Garden as identified in the City’s Waste Reduction and Conservation Calendar

10. FENCING AND OTHER STRUCTURES: Installing any type of fencing, boards or other materials in or around your individual plot is prohibited.

11. INSECTICIDES AND HERBICIDES: Strictly prohibited! Only compost and composted manures may be used for soil conditioning and fertilization.

12. WATER: Water supply is limited so use sparingly.

13. MUSIC/RADIOS: Loud music is strictly prohibited. Please use headphones and be conscious of other gardeners and neighbours.

14. PETS: Pets must be kept on a leash by your own plot. Pet owners are required to remove pet droppings. The City may prohibit any pets from the Garden, in its sole discretion.DO NOT compost pet droppings, as this is a health hazard for humans.


16. PROHIBITED PLANTS: Illegal plants, trees, woody plants or perennials are not allowed in individual plots. Vegetables, grains, berries, fruits, beans, herbs, and flowers are allowed on individual and communal plots.

17. PLANTS NOT FOR SALE: Produce or flowers from the garden cannot be sold but may be traded or exchanged with other Gardeners.

18. VANDALISM: Report as soon as possible to the Coordinating Agency so that it can be repaired quickly.

19. In the event of non-compliance with the above rules, the Coordinating Agency will issue a verbal or written notice to the member. If at the end of a two-week period the problem has not been resolved, the plot will be reassigned, and membership revoked.

20. City of London staff conduct regular inspection of garden areas; if any contravention of Rules is found, the Coordinating Agency will be notified and it may result in cancellation of garden privileges.

21. These Rules may be amended from time to time by the City.

London’s Community Gardens Program Coordinating Agency is responsible for the following:
1. City of London contact for any site issues (e.g. tools left on site, site upkeep etc.). Duties include but are not limited to: coordinating overall site upkeep, fall cleanup, compost maintenance and collecting all garden plot fees when then forwards these fees annually to the City.
2. Orienting new gardeners on operating procedures, horticultural information, coordinating trash removal, composting activities and cleanup days, answering questions and settling disputes.
3. Maintaining a current list of gardeners for communication purposes.
4. Arranging to repair any vandalism as quickly as possible.
5. In the event of non-compliance with the Garden’s Responsibilities, a written notice will be issued to the gardener. If, at the end of a two-week period, the problem has not been resolved, the plot may be reassigned and the gardener’s gardening privileges revoked.
6. Informing the City if the above responsibilities cannot be fulfilled.

Coordinating Agency Contact Information: London Community Resource Centre (www.lcrc.on.ca)
Contact Person: Linda Davies Phone #:519-432-1801 Email: lcrc@lcrc.on.ca

We need rain!

The figures below were calculated by M. Temme, one of the principles of CGL. from data from Environment Canada's weather archive pages. [http://climate.weatheroffice.gc.ca/climate_normals/index_e.html ]

We have definitely not gotten the average rainfall we expect for the year, for the spring planting season.

February - we had 36.16% of expected average rainfall
March           58.55% of expected average rainfall
April              36.75%of expected average rainfall
May (so far) we are at only 27.75% of expected rainfall

The chart will be updated at intervals. If you would like the a table sent to you that has monthy 2011 and 2012 precipitation amounts side by side with averages for the 1970 - 2000 period, please email communitygardenslondon@execulink.com

gLean on Me!

gLean on Me! connects London's fruit tree owners who can’t keep up with the abundant harvest produced by their tree(s) with volunteer fruit pickers and social service organizations that serve individuals and families experiencing food insecurity.

gLean on Me! is just starting up in London.  It needs people to harvest.  It needs people who have trees that need harvesting.  It needs people to help publicize the project and nurture it along.  Other cities like Edmonton and Guelph have similar projects.

Use the Facebook page to connect.  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Glean-on-Me/405277856160633


Black out - Speak out for the environment and democracy on June 4

"Canada would be a different place without our 80,000 registered charities dedicated to everything from health to economic policy to the environment. We'd be much poorer without the two-million employees and millions of volunteers who devote their time to causes that strengthen our nation.

Recent efforts by the federal government and its backers in media and industry front groups like Ethical Oil to demonize and silence legitimate organizations ignore the important role charities play in Canada. That's why environmental and other organizations are joining with Canadians from all walks of life for Black Out Speak Out (blackoutspeakout.ca ), launched on May 7 with ads in the Globe and Mail, La Presse, and Ottawa's Hill Times and culminating in a website blackout June 4.

Canadians understand the value of charitable organizations. Close to 85 per cent of us over 15 years of age (22.2 million people) donate to charities every year. Often, it's to help people in other parts of the world. According to Charity Village, Canadians gave $20 million to the Canadian Red Cross, CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada, UNICEF Canada, and World Vision within four days of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. For supporting worthy causes, Canadians are entitled to a small tax break.

Canadians also know that our spectacular natural environment is crucial to our national identity, health, and survival, and that we can't always count on governments and industry to look out for its interests. ...   If we are committed to these ideals then it follows we should also value freedom of speech and opportunities for a range of viewpoints on matters of national interest. It's fair to place limits on the extent and types of work organizations with charitable status can do. It's fair to ask questions about donations and what, if any, influence they may have on activities. But it is unacceptable to try to silence people with smear tactics designed to discredit them and deny their funding.

... We're asking all Canadians to join us to help preserve two core national values: nature and democracy. Let's keep Canada strong and free. Please visit the websites of your favourite environmental organizations on June 4 to add your voice."

The above is a selection from an email from the David Suzuki Foundation(www.davidsuzuki.org), By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Editorial and Communications Specialist Ian Hanington. References specific to the DSF have been removed, so that the message of supporting Canada's environment and environment advocates is an overall support.

Supporting Local Farmers through Community Supported Agriculture program

“When you buy a share of what the farmer has, you’ve basically got access to everything the farmer grows.”

So says Julie Richards-Bramhill, member and very active supporter of the Triple Cord Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.  Richards-Bramhill's garage in London is used as the farmer's drop-off point for the weekly produce, and members come to her place to pick up their shares.

Mervin Miller, an Amish farmer near Aylmer, is the farmer for Triple Cord CSA, now in its fourth year. 

A "Community Supported Agriculture" program allows a person to buy a share of a farm's produce at the beginning of a season.  A CSA pays the farmer for her/his produce, cuts out the middlemen involved in food transport and sales, gives a wide selection of food in weekly food baskets, and saves the eater money over the season.  The food you buy is as fresh as it can be, and you the consumer can choose organic.

Triple Cord CSA has 90 member families; there are still some shares.  This year’s deadline for Triple Cord CSA is May 17, with the first deliveries taking place the following week. Information is at  triplecordcsaorganicproduce.wordpress.com.

Richards-Bramhill also has a blog, titled Lady Locavore, which is well worth taking a look at.  Recently, for instance, she highlighted collards, an easy to grow and tasty cabbage related vegetable.  This writer happens to be growing collards for the first time this year, so a big thank you for the article and recipies Julie!

CGL thanks Debora Van Brenk and the London Free Press for highlighting Julie Richards-Bramhill's efforts to promote local eating.
More effort is needed to connect urbanites to the bountiful harvest at our doorstep. D. Van Brenk, London Free Press, May 8, 2012.  http://www.lfpress.com/news/whoslondon/2012/05/07/19729411.html

By Growing Food, the Occupy Movement Grows Up

“We don’t need corporations and we don’t need gene research to tell us how to farm. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years. We just have to remind each other how to do it.”
                        Gopal Dayaneni, urban agriculture activist, Albany CA

On Earth Day, April 22/12, hundreds of urban agriculture advocates marched under the banner “Occupy the Farm” and took over a University of California (UC) agricultural testing station.  The 5 acre site is the last of 104 acres,  originally deeded to the University in the 1920s.  It is the last agriculturally zoned land in Albany, California, and has been been used for agriculture research for over 30 years.  For at least 15 years it has been the subject of the "What to do withs."  In 1997 a representation by 40 groups had submitted a detailed proposal for an urban farm, and since there have been other such proposals.  Currently, the UC has been entertaining a proposal to build over the site.  The Occupy group planted one acre of crops on the land, while UC officials turned off water to the site (figuring this would deter the watering in phase of planting).  The next day, half an inch of rain fell, during a late-season storm. Mother Gaia wins again!                           

Read the full article, which talks more about the Occupy movement and has several useful links:  http://climate-connections.org/2012/05/02/by-growing-food-occupy-the-farm-helps-a-movement-grow-up/


Emerald Ash Borer - London situation

At the London City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 it was decided to not follow the recommendation from the Planning and Environment Committee to have a moratorium on ash cutting, while further information about TreeAzin program was being done. Cutting will resume. However, a three week ahead notice will be given to people and neighbourhoods where cutting is taking place.

The London Free Press Coverage of this Council decision is found at: http://www.lfpress.com/news/london/2012/05/02/19708936.html

Recommendations from the April 16/12 Planning & Environment meeting: a)         a moratorium BE PLACED on the cutting of ash trees, unless they pose a safety hazard, until such time as the Civic Administration reports back on the communications dated April 9, March 27 and April 16, 2012, from the Westmount Rate Payers Association; it being noted that the Civic Administration met with the Westmount Rate Payers Association on March 14, 2012 to discuss and respond to the issues and those comments will be included in the Civic Administration’s response back; and,

b)            a special meeting of the Planning and Environment Committee BE HELD on Tuesday, May 1, 2012, to receive a legal opinion on the proposed moratorium on tree cutting;

Emerald Ash Borer and Neem-based pesticide TreeAzin

WE THANK THE TORONTO BOTANICAL GARDENS for this item from its May 2/12 newsletter! TBG adapted it from LEAF organization. Websites are below the main text.

How to Save Your Ash                   April 30, 2012
(Adapted from Melissa Williams’ blog post on the April 16 edition of the LEAF (http://www.yourleaf.org/) e-newsletter—and no, this is not an ad nor are we being paid for it. It’s good information.)

By now, most of you will have heard of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), which is infesting ash trees throughout metro Toronto, Scarborough and York Region. Unlike the scourges that affected elm trees and chestnuts, the good news is that there is an effective alternative to removal—a systemic insecticide called TreeAzin ™ which may also save you money in the long term.

There are approximately 860,000 ash trees in the City of Toronto and an estimated 2,800,000 growing in York Region. All are at risk of infestation and, if left untreated, most will succumb to this pest. This will create huge gaps in our urban forest canopy, a vital resource that cleans the air and conserves energy by shading our homes.

It is also important to remember that the larger a tree grows the more benefits it provides. It will take up to 30 years for a newly planted tree to fully take the place of a mature ash—and the cost of removing a mature tree is high.

If applied in a timely fashion, TreeAzin ™ Systemic Insecticide may be able to save your ash. This Canadian product was developed by Bioforest Technologies Inc. through the Canadian Forest Service, and is produced from an extract of Neem tree seeds—it is not Neem oil, however. It is the only effective pesticide available to control EAB in Canada, and works by being injected under the bark, where it is drawn upward with the flow of water and nutrients inside the tree. It will kill EAB larvae that feed on conductive tissues within the tree, and will also reduce the adult female’s fertility and egg viability when it feeds on the leaves of the tree. Injections are carried out in early summer, and treatment needs to be repeated every two years to remain effective (as long as the EAB is in the area).

According to the manufacturer’s website, in the year of treatment, 95 per cent of EAB larvae are killed, significantly fewer eggs are laid, and of those that are laid, 98 per cent are not viable. In the following year, larvae hatching from the few viable eggs that are laid will not complete development, and the length and number of galleries that larvae have created from feeding underneath the bark of the tree will be fewer and shorter in length, compared to those in ash trees left untreated.

Because the insecticide is injected under the tree’s bark, the treatment does not present a health risk to those carrying out the injections or to the surrounding environment. Studies show that TreeAzin ™ has low toxicity to mammals, birds, bees and other non-target species and low-to-moderate persistence in waters, soils and foliage. It is registered as a Class Four pesticide, which means it is the “least hazardous that is commercial.”

However, you need to act before the crown of the tree shows 30 per cent damage. LEAF recommends that you get quotes from at least three different registered service providers before choosing which company to hire. The cost of the treatment will depend on facts such as the size, health and location of the ash tree, but may be more affordable—even over a number of years– than the costs of removal, disposal and replacement of a diseased ash tree—not to mention the time it takes for one to grow to maturity. Additionally, this cost will be spread out over years, as opposed to one lump sum for removal.
For more information about the Emerald Ash Borer, TreeAzin ™ and licensed service providers in your area, visit the Bioforest Technologies Inc. (http://www.bioforest.ca/) website

- end of article - resources follow -

Toronto Botanical Garden has lots of great things going on, year round and the website has lots of interesting articles! http://torontobotanicalgarden.ca/

Davey Tree - London
Zone(s): 1
Servicing: London
Phone: (519) 660-6271
Email: Tim.Holley@davey.com
Web: davey.com

Davey Tree (London) is the only London tree service using Neem-based TreeAzin pesticide.  It sounds like TreeAzin is a licenced pesticide... and seems to be licenced through BioForest Technologies Inc. in Ontario and Quebec.  BioForest Technologies Inc.  www.bioforest.ca

LEAF - Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests  http://www.yourleaf.org
Mission: We envision a city that is healthier because every citizen cares for the urban forest.
As an organization that champions the urban forest our mission is to... (1) Raise public awareness;
(2) Foster a sense of ownership; (3) Engage diverse communities; (4) Provide educational tools and resources; (5) Facilitate urban forest stewardship.
Contact information
Phone: 416-413-9244       email: infor@yourleaf.org
Artscape Wychwood Barns
601 Christie St, Suite 253
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M6G 4C7

Attracting Bees as Pollinators and building nesting sites

The latest newsletter of Seeds of Diversity Canada has a useful article with links to articles about different types of bees and several "how to" encourage them and build nest sites projects. The different articles outline the various types of bees and their nesting requirements and place in the natural web. http://www.seeds.ca/int/doc/docpub.php?k=8b7776006b6924027499a34fa695ec2e00000540
Our gardens benefit from having many different beneficial and pollinating insects around. If we provide plants that bloom at different times through the year, some habitat, and some food sources for their babies we'll keep the insects coming back and the gardens growing.

Seeds of Diversity Canada "supports the work of seed saving and food biodiversity protection across Canada. Volunteers are involved with Seedy Saturdays and other events, seed growing and saving, article writing and translation, and a wide range of other project and event administration activities." Check out its website at www.seeds.ca

London Co-op Store - 42 years strong

For 42 years, The London Food Co-op has lived by the words "Food for People, not for profit."

The London Co-op Store is a non-profit, member-owned, co-operatively governed natural food store which supplies its members with natural, healthy and organic products, at fair prices. As one of the oldest Food Co-operatives in Ontario, some long-time members have lived their interest in healthy, local food before most of us ever thought of it! Members may use their talents to the betterment of the Co-op by volunteering time working in the store; this work can take the place of weekley membership fees. A member may contribute to the direction of the Co-op by committee work too.

Orientation sessions are held regularly, every second Saturday, so you can take a tour of the store and be briefed on the mutual responsibilities and enjoyment that comes from membership. For more hours of operation and other information check out the website at: http://londonfoodcoop.org/ or get in touch at generalinfo@londonfoodcoop.org

The 621 Princess Ave
London ON N5W 3L9

London Bicycle Festival - call for video/film-makers!

May 25 through June 10, 2012

Calling all videographers who always wanted to prepare a film about bicycles and their impact on our culture and environment.  Videos should be taken locally and be no more than 5 minutes in length. Winners to be aired on a Rogers TV Special. The Grand Prize is a mentoring session with an experienced Rogers producer.

follow the London Bicycle Festival blog at http://londonbicyclefestival.tumblr.com/

Like London Bicycle Festival on FB at https://www.facebook.com/groups/149187751818050/

Growing Chefs Ontario Growing!

Growing Chefs Ontario program expanding

Growing Chefs Ontario is a not-for-profit organization that gets local chefs volunteering in elementary classrooms, growing vegetables and cooking.  Its mission is to have chefs and food growers "engage in the community and to support food sustainability" and to encourage children's involvement in urban agriculture.

Andrew Fleet brought the project to London in 2008 from B.C., and this season the project is expanding to 20 schools. 

During the six to eight week program, volunteers visit a classroom four times.  The children sow and grow an in-class windowsill vegetable garden, all the while learning about healthy eating and tasting fresh vegetables.  On the last visit the children's own grown food is cooked for them by the chef volunteer.  A wonderful way to learn about growing and good eating!

Community Gardens London thanks The Londoner community newspaper for bringing Growing Chefs Ontario to our attention through its recent article about GCO's recent fund-raiser at The Springs restaurant. Springs' chef Andrew Wolwowicz is even one of GCO's able volunteers.  http://www.thelondoner.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3523580

Like any not-for-profit, GCL appreciates your interest, your volunteer time, and your donation to continue its programs.  Growing Chefs Ontario' website is found at http://www.growingchefsontario.ca/

Food Forward - PBS series

Don't miss Food Forward’s premiere episode, “Urban Agriculture Across America,”which is airing on PBS in April

The broadcast schedule and TRAILER!     http://www.foodforward.tv/

“We’ve all heard what’s wrong with the way we eat. Our program goes beyond celebrity chefs, cooking competitions and recipes to reveal the compelling stories and inspired solutions from Americans striving to create a more just, sustainable and delicious alternative to how and what we eat,” said Greg Roden, director of Food Forward.

"Shot entirely on location...Food Forward features food rebel John Mooney, whose space-age hydroponic farm on top of a historic building in the West Village of Manhattan, is a window into the future of rooftop farming. In Milwaukee, viewers meet the biggest name in urban agriculture, Will Allen, who is inspiring a new generation of aquaponic innovators.... After a stop in West Oakland, Food Forward finishes in Detroit with Travis Roberts, an eighteen-year-old who grew up watching the city struggle with increasing urban blight. In trouble and more than 100 pounds overweight, Roberts discovers the city’s urban agriculture movement and finds a new purpose in life through urban chicken farming. Food Forward opens the door into a new world of possibility, where pioneers and visionaries are creating viable alternatives to our food system."

"Food Forward is written, produced and directed by a veteran team, ... that includes director Greg Roden (PBS, FOX, National Geographic, Lonely Planet, contributor to the LA Times, Dallas Morning News, SF Chronicle), creator-producers Stett Holbrook (Food Editor for Metro Silicon Valley and contributor to the LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Saveur, and Chow.com) and Brian Greene (Food Network, Discovery Channel, NBC) and director of photography David Lindstrom (PBS, National Geographic, Discovery)."

Food Forward website with TRAILER!     http://www.foodforward.tv/
PBS Newsroom: http://pressroom.pbs.org/Programs/f/FOOD-FORWARD

Thanks to Mike Levenson of City Farmer, for his site's reference to this!!  www.cityfarmer.info

A bit more on Hillside Church of London's community garden

Londoners have a news source that we need to be reminded of: The Reporter, an on-line publication by students of Western's graduate journalism program. 

Recently, student journalist Arden Dier was in touch with Margaret Goodyear, initiator of the community garden at Hillside Church of London.  To find out more about the vision that is changing asphalt to green, the start-up grant, and the excitement about this upcoming garden, read Ms Dier's excellent article at: http://www.fims.uwo.ca/olr/Mar2712/Gardening.html

Ms. Dier also interviewed Maureen Temme, of Community Gardens London, for this article.

Thank you Arden for you for the positive mention and for your interest in community gardening!


Composting Stories wanted

Community Gardens London would like to hear your positive composting stories and would love to have a few photos. Do you go big? Do you go hot? How does your garden grow and your compost live? With your permission, we'll post on this news site ... and your information could be helpful as we develop ideas to take to the City.


The London Community Resource Centre has a new home!

LCRC has moved to 255 Horton Street, 3rd Floor.  This is the new Goodwill Building near the corner of Horton and Wellington, and it looks like a great location.

LCRC has been awarded the contract by the City of London to be the Coordinating Agency for London's community gardens program.  If you have inquiries about a City community garden plot, get in touch with LCRC, Linda Davies executive director at ph. 519-432-1801, extension 223.  The website remains:  www.lcrc.on.ca
e-mail:  lcrc@lcrc.on.ca
Don't forget the facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/London-Community-Resource-Centre/112997211711.

Farm Apprenticeships!

Canadian Organic Growers (www.cog.ca) promotes Canadian organics and has a terrific site. It has an e-news section you can sign up for - for free.

The latest news reminds people that this is the time of year to look into farm apprenticeships!  Check these organizations for yourself and see if any pro