Sunday, March 30, 2008

Raw! Raw! Raw! food workshop

Had a savoury workshop here at the farm yesterday, facilitated by Beth Weisberg of RawKit. She specializes in raw foods, and presented a highly informative workshop on "power snacks and palate pleasers" - basically simple raw foods (appetizers or snackables) which require minimal special kitchen equipment to prepare.

Of course, we have all eaten raw to some extent whether we have called it a raw diet or not (green salads, fresh carrot sticks, guacamole, fresh salsa, pure fruit juices, fresh fruit). With this workshop we learned some new creative recipes using the dehydrator, mandoline and food processor, tools that are not too expensive or hard to come by. We discussed what "raw" diets mean, and some of the benefits of raw, including the live enzymes which help with proper nutrient assimilation and digestion. Beth made the good point of saying that a 100% raw diet is not necessary (or even desirable), that some raw chefs have described foods at optimum eating potential when their colour is most brilliant (e.g. lightly steamed broccoli, compared to raw broccoli). She also mentioned the value of eating in season, using local and organic foods rather than "exotic" raw items which has travelled far distances.

The above photo is of her black beans (made of dehydrated sunflower seeds); avocado guacamole (which could be made with local peas); crispy spicy corn chips; sourcream (made of sprouted cashews); and mango salsa (which could be made with local peaches, apricots, other herbs)...endless creative opportunities! She advocated to slow down when we prepare to eat, smelling the aromas, appreciating the beautiful presentation which brings our mouth to a water, and then eating with slow intention until we are satisfied (not over-filled). The other big hit of the workshop was the raw chocolate mousse, served with a dash of hot powdered cayenne pepper...served soft, or frozen....mmm.

Future food workshops on the fall horizon may include:
* fermented foods (sauerkrauts, crock pickles);
* sprouted foods;
* raw vegan sushi;
* raw decadent desserts, and more!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Dreaming of Dandelions

The ground is still covered in snow, but spring is just around the corner - in fact, it's literally here in just two days! I'm dreaming of the first fresh wild greens in our yard - nettles, purslane, and dandelions...which start to poke out their leaves in the next few weeks.

All parts of the dandelion are edible, and have long been used for medicinal and culinary uses. Dandelions are liver tonics, best taken in the spring when our overburdened winter livers need a good toning and cleansing. The roots can be steamed, sauteed or fried, or dried and used as tea (great with chickory root); the leaves fresh or steamed in salads, spanikopita, and stir-fries; the flowers battered or chopped into salads, even made into drinks (dandelion wine) or icecream! The leaves are rich in potassium, antioxidants and vitamins A and C. Harvest leaves and flowers when small and tender, generally mid-April to end of May, so they are not too bitter - and remember that urban harvesting should be done carefully in non-sprayed, non-toxic areas (and away from dog walking zones too).

Here are some recipes taken from the latest Mother Earth News, featuring dandelions as the main ingredient!

Wilted Dandelion Salad
1 block firm tofu, cubed and marinated, then fried until crisp
1 small red onion, diced
2 tsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 bunch dandelion greens, wash and dried, stems removed
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Fry tofu in skillet until crisp. Add onion and stir in sugar and cider vinegar. Pour hot dressing over the greens, tossing greens so as to coat them with dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Dandelion Salad with Fresh Goat Cheese and Apples
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 bunch dandelion greens, washed and dried, stems removed
1/4 lb fresh white goat cheese, crumbled into pieces
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped and dry roasted (if desired)
1 apple, cored and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

Whisk vinegar, oil, mustard, honey, salt and pepper together. Pour over greens and toss lightly. Top with goat cheese, nuts and apples.

Dandelion & Mushroom Calzone
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 lb mushrooms (shiitake is best), sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch dandelion greens, washed and dried, stems removed
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 lb whole wheat pizza dough
1/2 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 500F (or fire up your outdoor cob oven, as we do for best pizza results!). In large skillet heat 2 Tbsp oil. Add mushrooms and garlic, and cook overmoderately high heat, stirring occasionally until mushrooms begin to brown. Add dandelion greens and cook until wilted, stirring occasionally, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt nad pepper and set aside.

On lightly floured surface, roll or stretch out dough to form two 10 inch rounds. Transfer dough rounds to floured baking sheet or pizza pan. Sprinkle a layer of shredded cheese on half of each round, leaving 1 inch border. Add dandelion and mushroom mixture to the cheese layer, and top with remaining shredded cheese. Fold the dough over to enclose the filling, forming a half circle. Press and crimp the edges together to seal. Using a knife, poke a hold or two in the top. Brush calzones with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Bake for 11 minutes or until calzones are crisp and turning golden. Cut them in half and serve hot.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Going Green Workshop Series with the Grand House

There is a great series of sustainable building workshops happening this spring at the new Grand House, a strawbale student co-operative in Cambridge. Greg is taking part in various workshops - radiant flooring, claystraw and wattle & daub, and waste water treatment & living machines (all projects we hope to be incorporating in our new strawbale addition, so these workshops are very timely for us!) - and we'll both be there on April 19th, to lead the "urban agriculture" workshop. Here's the full schedule:

Going Green Workshop Series with the Grand House
A sustainable building and lecture series:

A free or low-cost workshop and lecture series on green-building construction and design beginning February 2nd until May 10th 2008. Learn about a variety of green-building techniques and technologies from the experts, including straw-bale construction, renewable energies, eco-home design, rainwater harvesting, plastering, earthen building, solar hot water, and much more!

Space is limited, so please register to reserve your spot.

Download a registration form and email or mail it back to us

Feb. 9 Solar power workshop
Rescheduled - TBD Radiant flooring: Installation and Theories
Feb. 26 Earth Energy Talk (CREW)
March 8 Green Roof Workshop
March 15 Clay-Straw and Wattle and Daub
March 29 Introduction to Green and Natural Building
April 5 Sustainable and Non-Toxic Materials
April 12 and 13 Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Saving Workshop
April 19 New! Urban Agriculture
April 26 Making Concrete Countertops
May 3 Wastewater treatment and living machines
May 10 Natural Landscaping: Design and Installation
May 17 Cob Building: Freeform Mud/Straw Construction
TBD Inovative Green Insulation: Icynene and Mineral Wool

*Dates are subject to change
**Please click on a title for a description or see below

March 17

Environmental Symposium
all day@ the School of Architecture

March 27 Introduction to Straw Bale Constructions
April 3 Green Building Design
Resceduled for May LEED for home

Please contact Laird at or 519-721-2014
for more information or to register

Song written for Little City Farm

February has been a busy month at our B&B and we've had many wonderful guests come to stay with us! It seems that as with any business, it just takes a bit of time for the word to get around and the business to establish itself. This reinforces that it's the right decision to build the strawbale addition to our house this summer, to keep this business growing and provide an increased facililty for our guests.

Most of our guests leave a little message in our guestbook, and many have said incredibly beautiful things that both humble us and encourage us to keep living in the way that we are. The latest guest, a visitor from North Carolina, also happened to be a dulcimer builder and player. We heard him practicing music upstairs each evening, and it was very lovely to have this gentle sound floating through our house. He carried his long flat handmade dulcimer in an old rifle case, and in his words this was the only "proper use" to ever us a gun case for! As a farewell, he wrote a simple little song about our place and sang it for us - here are the words.

A black squirrel runs above the chicken house,
at Little City Farm.
I awoke from a peaceful sleep,
Feeling rested and warm.

Fresh fruit nestled in a wooden bowl,
Fair trade coffee steaming...
Country living in the middle of town,
at Little City Farm.

The hectic city has a rustic setting,
cultivating peace.
At Little City Farm,
cultivating peace, cultivating peace.

Waterloo Hen Association by-law proposal

There is a new local citizen's group called the Waterloo Hen Association, which has formed to create a new City of Waterloo by-law allowing small-scale chicken raising in the city. The group sees many examples in other cities, including Victoria BC, London ON, and Niagara Falls ON, where city chickens are encouraged and offer a positive contribution to the growing need for local initiatives around food security. A copy of their proposal is attached here - if you wish to support the group, or find out more, contact:

Facebook: Waterloo Hen Association
Phone 519.578.2416 or email

Small-Scale Urban Chicken-Raising

By-Law Proposal for the City of Waterloo

Submitted by the Waterloo Hen Association, March 2008


• To create a new City of Waterloo by-law that would encourage and regulate small-scale
chicken-raising within the city.

Why keep chickens in an urban area?

• Chickens are productive . they provide eggs for personal consumption and fertilizer for gardens
• Chicken-raising is a fun and educational hobby
• Chicken-raising is an easy and accessible way for average people to contribute to local food security
• As food prices go up, people are looking for affordable ways to feed themselves

Why keep chickens in the City of Waterloo?

• Most citizens in Waterloo are looking for tangible ways to contribute to environmental
sustainability on a local, neighbourhood level
• Through the increasing number of community gardens in Waterloo, local food production
is already happening throughout the city . small-scale chicken raising can be another
concrete step toward local food security
• Waterloo identifies itself as an .environment first. community in which environmental
matters are assessed at the forefront of all activities
• .There is a strong belief that the path towards global environmental improvement begins
with local-level initiatives. (Waterloo.s Environmental Strategic Plan, p. 1)

What resources are available?

• Models from other cities: e.g. the City of Portland holds an annual .Tour de Coops. as a
way of educating Portland citizens about urban chicken-keeping . check out

• Media exposure: e.g. USA Today article at
• Urban chicken groups: e.g. .The City Chicken.

• Organizations: e.g. Hen Keepers Association at
• Urban chicken advocates: e.g.
• Books: e.g. Keep Chicken! Tending small flocks in cities, suburbs, and other spaces by
Barbara Kilarski (available at Waterloo Public Library)
• Local chicken farmers
• Waterloo residents who still have memories of when chickens were raised in the city
What are the concerns?

Regarding noise: Laying hens sometimes make .clucking. sounds which many find
enjoyable . noise only becomes an issue when there are more than 15 or 20 hens, or
when a rooster is introduced into the mix
Regarding mess: Chickens are relatively easy to care for. By regularly maintaining the
chicken coop, mess can be kept to a minimum.
Regarding disease: Proper disposal and/or composting of chicken feces prevents the
spread of disease.
• By-laws can be written to ensure a simple, common set of standards for the safe and
sustainable keeping of poultry in an urban area

Some examples of urban chicken coops (photos not included here)

What are some examples of by-laws in other cities?

Niagara Falls, ON

No owner shall allow or permit his or her chicken to be at large. Roosters are not permitted
within the Urban Boundary. The total number of chickens permitted within the Urban Boundary
shall be as follows: (a) On and after July 15, 2002 - maximum 20 chickens; (b) On and after July 15, 2005 - maximum 10 chickens. All chicken coops shall be located only in the rear yard and
must fully enclose the chickens and prevent them from escaping. The chicken coop shall be
designed and constructed to ensure proper ventilation and sufficient space for the chickens and
maintained in accordance with good animal husbandry practices and shall keep all vermin out.
All dead chickens must be disposed of immediately and in any event, within 24 hours. There
must be hygienic storage of and prompt removal of chicken feces. The chicken’s food supply
must be protected against vermin.

Victoria, BC

Farm Animals are prohibited with the exception of chickens, ducks & geese. These fowl can
only be kept as pets or for personal egg consumption. Eggs cannot be sold for any reason.
Excessive numbers of fowl will bring into question intended use. Roosters are prohibited.

London, ON

Class 2 animals (chickens) shall be kept in a building, structure, yard, coop, pen or run. Every such building as required under section 6.3 of this by-law (other than a dwelling), structure, coop, pen or run in which any such animal, bird or fowl is confined, kept or allowed to run, shall be no less than 15 metres (49.2 feet) from any school, church, public hall, or store, dwelling or
premises used for human habitation or occupancy other than premises occupied exclusively by the owner or keeper of such animals, birds or fowl or members of his immediate family..All refuse resulting from the keeping of Class 2 animals (chickens) shall be kept in substantial air-tight containers until it is removed from the premises or dug into the earth in such a manner as to prevent odours arising therefrom. All feed or other animal food shall be kept in rodent-proof containers.

Portland, OR

A person keeping a total of three or fewer chickens, ducks, doves, pigeons, pygmy goats or
rabbits shall not be required to obtain a specified animal facility permit. If the Director
determines that the keeper is allowing such animals to roam at large, or is not keeping such
animals in a clean and sanitary condition, free of vermin, obnoxious smells and substances, then
the person shall be required to apply for a facility permit to keep such animals at the site.. It is
unlawful for any person to harbor, keep, possess, breed, or deal in roosters in the City of

Denver, CO

It shall be unlawful for any person to keep, maintain, possess or harbor on any property within
the city any livestock or fowl such as, but not limited to, horses, mules, donkeys, burros, cattle,
sheep, goats, swine, chickens, geese, ducks or turkeys, unless a livestock or fowl permit therefor
has been issued by the manager. Such permit is required to be renewed annually for a fee of fifty dollars ($50.00) for each application. A permit to keep livestock or fowl within the city shall not
be granted unless the owner or possessor provides facilities which will reasonably assure the
manager that the premises will be maintained in a sanitary condition, free from insects and
rodents, offensive odors, excessive noise, or any other conditions which constitute a public

San Francisco, CA

It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to keep or feed.more than a total of four
of the following in any combination: dogs of age six months or older unless part of a dog kennel,
hares, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, gerbils, chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, doves, pigeons,
game birds of any species, or cats..Any person, firm or corporation, keeping, feeding, or
causing to be kept or fed, or permitting to be kept or fed, on premises over which such person,
firm or corporation may have control, four or less hares, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, gerbils,
chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, doves, pigeons, parrots of any species, game birds of any species
or wild animals of any species except those animals prohibited by Section 50 of this Code, shall
keep same in coops or enclosures that are approved by the Director of Public Health. Where the
coops or enclosures are located on the outside of or on top of any buildings, premises or
structures, the coops or enclosures shall be not less than 20 feet from any door or window of any
building used for human habitation. (article 1, section 37)

Waterloo Hen Association

Working for the advancement of small-scale urban chicken-raising

Facebook: Waterloo Hen Association
Phone 519.578.2416 or email

So we all know that local food is where it's at - 100 mile diet, locavores...but sometimes it's difficult to source out good local food suppliers near us.

In the past year, a new website has been established - helping consumers to find local foods - you simply add your address and postal code, type in the radius of km you want to source your food in (e.g. 50 km), and a list comes up showing local suppliers of produce, bakeries, wineries, dairies, butchers, and so on. I'm happy to say the person hosting this website is also local, as he's based in Listowel (aprox. 53 km away from here).

Go to

Raj Patel

Yesterday evening Wordsworth Books hosted author and activist Raj Patel to discuss his new book "Stuffed & Starved". Raj looks at the inequity of the global food distribution system, and calls for local action - saying we just cannot keep on eating the way that we are if we, and the planet, are to survive. Raj was also interviewed on CBC's The Hour - see excerpt here and follow the link to watch/listen to his interview live:

Raj Patel

Okay, it's no secret we're getting fatter. Obesity, especially in North America, is soaring. But just how fat are we?

Well, think about this. One billion people around the world are overweight. That's a pretty staggering number. So is this - 800 million people go to bed each night, hungry. And yet, we're making more food than ever. So, why is it happening?

Well, the easy answer is - blame the rich. And by that, I mean wealthy countries. We eat too much, we waste too much, and generally, we enjoy it too much to change. But Raj Patel says it's not that simple. Raj has a new book, it's called 'Stuffed and Starved.' He says a small group of corporations control 40 per cent of the world food trade. Obviously, those corporations want to make money. So, according to Raj, they exploit poor farmers around the world.

To hear this interview on CBC radio go to "Raj Patel on The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos" at: