Friday, May 15, 2015

NEWS! Plane & Simple Home Repair and Renovations

We have launched our new business, Plane & Simple Home Repair and Renovations! Please take a minute to check out our new website at!

After more than 25 years experience in construction, general contracting, home renovations, and also green building (strawbale, cob, earth plasters, eco flooring), as well as community development work, Greg brings all these skills together to offer his services in home repair and renovations to our local Kitchener-Waterloo community.  The Plane & Simple home renovation company will focus on three main areas to create living spaces that are productive, energy efficient, functional and beautiful:
  • Home Repairs/Renovations (decks, patios, kitchens, bathrooms, fences, etc); 
  • Natural Building/Green Building (eco flooring, eco paints and finishes, strawbale, earth plasters, etc); 
  • Garden Structures (greenhouses, raised growing beds, pond construction, trellises, arbours, etc).  
Please contact us if you have a job in mind, large or small - and would like our help with design or a quote!

Monday, April 27, 2015

In the garden today

What's coming up in your garden?  Here are a few snapshots of the greens I've seen around here, just starting to peek out of the soil - chives, garlic greens, onions, nettle, dandelion, kale, sorrel, rhubarb, budding currents and gooseberries, herbs like bergamot, lemonbalm, catnip and peppermint for tea making, and of course the forsythias, lilacs and willows nearly in bloom...

In the greenhouse today

Things are buzzing around here.  There are seedlings everywhere, the greenhouse is filling up with transplants as they move into larger containers, and we are gearing up for the annual Organic & Heirloom Seedling Sale coming up May 23 from 9-12.  After this sale, we will continue to have heirloom organic seedlings (tomatoes, basil, herbs, lettuces, kale, and more) available here for the Saturdays in June as well.

Here is a glimpse of what we have going on in our greenhouse one month away from the sale.  We're enjoying spinach, lettuce, mustards, mesclun, chives and bunching onions from the greenhouse raised bed, fresh chocolate & ginger mint leaves in our tea, and thai basil in our meals from seedlings that are now big enough to harvest.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Wild edible spring flowers - wild violets!

There have been lots of spring showers (and snow, and sleet) lately - but the spring flowers have finally arrived.  We've been picking lots of wild edibles to add to our salad mixes from the greenhouse - dandelion greens, fresh nettles, wild garlic, and these delicate violets. 

Here is a great article from the website of renowned herbalist Susun Weed about the medicinal and health benefits of eating wild violets.  The flowers and young greens are edible, and are a great blood purifier for a spring body detox.  They stimulate the immune system and the lymph glands to help the body get rid of toxins.  Wild violets are loaded with minerals, vitamins A and C, and add beautiful bold colour into salads.

We'll be hosting one more Wild Spring Edibles Workshop here on May 16 for those who are interested in learning more about gleaning the nutrient-dense delicious wild foods that are all around us! 

Seeds, Soil & Sourdough celebration

Despite the snow today, and sleet yesterday! We did manage to have a lovely gathering here on Saturday for the Seeds, Soil and Sourdough! Thanks to everyone who came out to enjoy the warm sunshine, talk gardening, eat wood-fired baking, make seedballs, and celebrate the coming of spring with us.  I was so busy talking with people that I only got a chance to snap a few photos ahead of time.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring-Fall 2015 Workshops at Little City Farm


Date: NEW DATE ADDED! Sat May 16
Time: from 1-3 pm 
Facilitator: with Jackie McMillan, local wild foods educator

Description: Discover the world of wild spring foods readily available in your own backyard and around the city.  Wild harvested foods provide many benefits, including being nutrient dense, healthful, toning and medicinal for our system (especially after the winter months), and free!  During this workshop learn how to properly identify wild edible foods in our area, and how to carefully and safely wild harvest and prepare them.  Come prepared for some delicious and surprising tasting!

Cost: $28 (includes all materials, instruction, handout notes, and samples) 

Please choose one date:


Date: Sat June 13
Time: from 1-4 pm 
Facilitator: with Amaryah deGroot, local fibre artist from Sew Oiseau

Description: A felted play mat is a fantasy land made only from unspun wool and water.  Participants will learn basic wet felting techniques to design and create a child’s play mat complete with three-dimensional shapes (such as bridges and caves) and different surface textures, guaranteed to deliver hours of imagination play.  Using 100% pure merino wool we will each create our own felted play mat during this class.  Please bring along an old towel.  

Cost: $68 (includes all materials, instruction, handout notes, and take home your own felted wool play mat) 

Please choose one date:


Date: Sat June 27
Time: from 1-3 pm 
Facilitator: with Michelle Morin, local beekeeper

Description: The Top-Bar method of beekeeping provides a holistic, respectful and purposeful approach to beekeeping that is less expensive, less work, and less intrusive than other beekeeping methods.  Join this workshop to learn more about the Top-Bar method of tending bees, which is focused not so much on yield of honey but on natural hive management, organic practices, and the relationship a beekeeper can develop with the amazing organism that is a beehive.  We will specifically be discussing the responsibilities of an urban beekeeper.  Viewing an active hive and learning about basic beekeeping tools will also be part of this class. Check out the website Gaia Bees to see if this approach to beekeeping appeals to you. 

Cost: $28 (includes all instruction, handout notes) 

Please choose one date:


Date: Saturday in June or early July, Date TBA
Time: from 1-3 pm 
Facilitator: with Erin Anton, local fibre artist

Description: Pinks from lavender, reds from St. Johns Wort, burnt orange from goldenrod.  Vibrant gorgeous colours come to life on your fabrics and fibres, simply from combining dye plants with mordants in the natural dying process.  In this workshop Erin will walk participants through the step-by-step process of dying with flowers, vegetables, roots and bark, demonstrating with various plants that can be grown in your garden or wild-harvested locally.  Participants will each make a hand-dyed natural creation to take home.

Cost: Registration available shortly (includes all materials, instruction, handout notes, and take home project) 


Dates: Saturdays June 6, July 25, August 8, August 15
Time: from 1-4 pm 
Facilitator: with Jackie McMillan, local educator

Description: Join us for one or all of these Urban Wilding Workshops, in the first ever "Family Summer Nature Series" at Little City Farm.  In this series we will explore four traditional earth-based crafts, using materials found in nature.  During each session participants will learn a new hand-skill, and work on their own projects to take home.  Children aged 6 and up are welcome to attend, if accompanied by one adult per child (workshop registration fee includes one child + one adult, but materials fee are per person).  Please let us know if you are registering with your child so we know how many people to expect.

Sat, June 6 - Moccasin Skills - Make a medicine pouch from genuine buffalo hide, while learning skills to make your own pair of moccasins.  (+$12/materials fee per project for this workshop)

Sat, July 25 - Cordage - Have you ever wondered how you'd replace a broken bootlace on a long hike?  In this workshop you will learn which plants to find and how to twine them so they form a strong cord.

Sat, August 8 - DIY Wooden Spoon - Using a shell, a fire, and some other natural materials you can easily make a spoon or ladle!  Please bring a stick or two that you like, minimum of 1 inch around.

Sat, August 15 - Birch Bark Containers - Birch bark is long-lasting, as well as naturally anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-viral.  Come to this workshop to make a birch bark box or other food container.

Cost: $35/per workshop (price includes one adult + one child)

Please choose one date:


Dates: Fridays July 17; July 24; Aug 7; Aug 14
Time: from 10:30 am-12 noon
Facilitators: with Karin, Greg and Maya from Little City Farm
Description: Join us for one or all of these four exciting summer homesteading workshops for kids!  Children aged 7-12 are invited to attend, and will learn hands-on practical skills such as working with herbs, baking wood-fired bread, seeding plants to attract pollinators, and building a bird nesting box with hand tools.  These workshops are intended for kids!  If parents wish to stay for the workshops please let us know at time of registration.  For all four workshops plan to dress for the outdoors with a sun hat, water bottle and appropriate clothing, and please wear clothes that can get messy.

Fri, July 17 - Herbs: Herbal Lipbalms - During this session we'll tour the garden to taste and pick herbs for a delicious herb and flower sun tea.   Then we'll work together to make a healing herbal lipbalm.  Take home samples of lipbalm you have made.  Please bring an apron.

Fri, July 24 - Baking: Wood-fired Bread - Learn about grinding grain, mixing, rising, shaping and baking bread.  During this workshop we will each make a small loaf of bread with organic ingredients that we'll bake in our outdoor wood-fired oven.  Please bring an apron.

Fri, August 7 - Pollinators: Making Pollinator-Friendly Seedballs - In this session we'll talk about different kinds of pollinators, why they are important, and what plants are useful to grow to attract pollinators to our gardens.  Then we'll make up a batch of seedball mix using clay, compost and organic flower seeds, and each make a pile of seedballs to take home.  Wear clothes that can get messy.

Fri, August 14 - Building: Build a Bird Nesting Box - Birds are losing their habitat due to growing cities, and loss of forests.  In this workshop we'll talk about different birds that might find nesting spots in our yards, and use basic hand tools to each make a simple bird nesting box out of reclaimed wood.  Please bring along your own hammer. 

$25/per session (per child)

Please choose one date:


Date: Sat Sept 19
Time: from 1-3 pm
Facilitator: Jackie McMillan, local wild foods enthusiast

Description: Back by popular demand - Jackie led us through a spring wild edibles class and will now cover the different roots, barks, leaves and flowers that are abundant in the fall season.  We'll do some tasting and explore what's growing wild at Little City Farm, and also discuss proper plant identification and ethical wild-harvesting strategies. 

Cost: $28 (includes all materials, instruction, handout notes, and samples)  

Please choose one date:


Dates:  Saturdays Sept 26; Oct 24; Oct 31; Nov 7; Nov 14
(please choose one Saturday workshop date)
Time: from 1-4 pm on each date
Facilitator: Karin Kliewer, Traditional Herbalist and Soap Maker

Description: Learn to make beautiful, long-lasting, natural soap that is free of additives, preservatives, sulphates and other nasty chemicals that can be found in commercial soaps.  In this busy hands-on workshop you will be walked through the entire process of making traditional all-natural cold process vegan soap using organic vegetable oils, lye, pure essential oils, natural clays and organic botanicals.  We will briefly cover the chemistry of soap making, plus lye safety, calculating recipes, properties of oils, measuring ingredients, preparing soap molds, cutting and curing soap, and sourcing ingredients.  Each participant will make their own 1 lb batch of organic vegan soap to take home (aprox. 5 large bars).   All ingredients, tools, instructions, handout notes and recipes will be provided.  Upon registration for this class, you will receive an email with further workshop details.  Participants will be asked to bring a few simple items from home (e.g. a small shoe box or basic soap mold).  OR feel free to purchase one of our custom handcrafted wooden soap molds here.  Wear old clothes and an apron as soap making can be messy.

Cost: $68 (includes all materials for making your own 1 lb batch of soap to take home)

Please choose one date:


Date: Sat October 17
Time: from 1-3 pm
Facilitator: with Amaryah deGroot, from Sew Oiseau

Description: Learn to make simple dolls from natural materials such as wool, cotton and silk. In the tradition of Waldorf education, these cuddly dolls inspire children’s creativity and fantasy. Their neutral features help to develop a child’s imagination to see the doll laugh, cry, sleep, etc. Participants will work on their own doll throughout the workshop. All sewing will be done by hand, and is suitable for both a beginner or advanced sewer. The machine sewing has already been completed for you in advance.

Cost: $68/per person (includes all instruction, hand-outs, and materials to complete one doll to take home)

Please choose one date:


Date: Sat November 21
Time: from 1-4 pm
Facilitator: Karin Kliewer, Traditional Herbalist and Soap Maker

Description: Why use goats milk soap?  Goats milk makes a lovely creamy soap that has long been used as a to effectively moisturize and rejuvinate the skin.  It naturally exfoliates the skin, and creates a mild soap that is ideal for sensitive skin including children, and those prone to dry skin, eczema and psoriasis.  Using goats milk in soap making has a few tricky challenges.  In this busy hands-on workshop you will learn to make your own organic goats milk soap using organic oils, lye, local organic goats milk, pure essential oils and organic botanicals.  We will briefly cover the basics of cold process soap making (soap chemistry, lye safety, measuring, molds) BUT in this class we do expect participants to already have made cold process soap before.  We highly recommend taking our Beginner Cold Process Soap Making Class before taking this workshop.  Each participant will make their own 1 lb batch of organic goat milk soap to take home (aprox. 5 large bars).   All ingredients, tools, instructions, handout notes and recipes will be provided.  Upon registration for this class, you will receive an email with further workshop details.  Participants will be asked to bring a few simple items from home (e.g. a small shoe box or basic soap mold).  OR feel free to purchase one of our custom handcrafted wooden soap molds here.  Wear old clothes and an apron as soap making can be messy.

Cost: $68 (includes all materials for making your own 1 lb batch of soap to take home)

Please choose one date:


Date: Sat Dec 12
Time: from 1-3 pm 
Facilitator: with Karin Kliewer, from Homestead Herbals/Little City Farm

Description: Make beautiful, sweet-smelling, healthful creative holiday gifts to give to your friends and family!  In this workshop we'll make a variety of herbal bath scrubs, soaks and bath bombs, using all natural and organic ingredients, and pure essential oils.  Then we'll also show different ideas for packaging your bath products for perfect holiday gift giving.  Take home lots of samples you have made, plus ideas and recipes of everything we make during this class.

Cost: $40/per person (includes all instruction, hand-outs and samples to take home)

Please choose one date:

Friday, April 10, 2015

Seedlings, seedlings everywhere - come celebrate spring with us Sat, April 18 or Sat, May 23

The house feels like spring!  We have trays and trays of seedlings sprouting everywhere - all our grow racks are filled and brimming, the window ledges and table tops are covered as we move seed trays around the house to maximize light.  Flowers like zinnias, marigolds, sunflowers are up, cayennes, tomatoes, basils, lettuce starts, kales...We are starting to fill up the grow tunnels outside, and the new greenhouse with seedlings as well, even though it's still under renovation.  Such a hopeful time, starting to work in the soil again, planning the garden and thinking of all the good food to come.

Come on out to celebrate spring with us! - either April 18 at our Seeds, Soil & Sourdough Event from 10-12; or Sat, May 23 at our 13th Annual Organic Seedling Sale (where you will find all these seedlings we are talking about, and more - loads of heirloom tomatoes, plus culinary and medicinal herbs, flowers and much more).

Hands-on Workshops at Little City Farm: Kimchi making & cheese making

We've had some delicious workshops here recently...

and here at Little City Farm we try to keep everything as hands-on as possible.  Our homesteading classes focus on "reskilling", teaching valuable skills related to organic gardening, food preservation, baking, soap making, herbal healing, natural building, and other topics that will be useful for enhancing your own home.  We believe in learning by doing, not just following notes or watching a youtube video - but instead walking you through step-by-step with an experienced facilitator to learn the process together and take home your results.

Here are some snapshots of the wonderful hands working here during our kimchi making and mozzarella cheese making classes.  Look for more of these topics to come this fall.