Monday, April 28, 2008

Permaculture Workshop

On Saturday we hosted a permaculture basics workshop, facilitated by Tracie Seedhouse of EarthChild Designs. She covered wide ground, beginning with defining what permaculture is (from the roots "permanent agriculture") and then focussing on what we can do in urban settings. She stressed that permaculture involves sustainable ecological land use, but also includes buildings, animals and all living things. All things have inherent value in a permaculture approach, which looks at the positive attributes and resources, often turning obstacles into benefits (for example, a boggy swamp which can't grow produce, is seen as a wildlife sanctuary or for growing cranberries)...

Tracie talked about urban permaculture being key, because most of us do live in urban settings and permaculture allows us to produce higher yields on less land. Permaculture is not energy, labour or resource intensive, but does involve much observation, study, information and research. Observing nature's patterns and trying to mimic this design is the beginning of permaculture. So, to begin with your own backyard, observe (and map out or photograph) where the snow melts first and last, where the sun shines hottest, where the water pools, where the first buds come up in spring, and you will learn much about the conditions of your property (slope, drainage, soil conditions, sunlight, and so on). By making lists of both resources and problems of your site, you can start to use the resources to help solve the problems. A famous permaculture saying is "the problem is the solution"...

Permaculture looks at zones, growing things like frequently used herbs closest to your kitchen door, whereas fruit trees or livestock could be several zones further from the house. Edges are valued, where two microclimates or ecosystems come together in a dynamic way to create maximum benefit and yield. The goal of permaculture gardening is to create as many edges as possible, and in a small urban setting this can be done by using "keyholes", spirals, scallops, waves or curves around gardens and ponds rather than circles or straight lines. Tracie concluded with the idea of learning to be quiet with the land and allowing it to tell you. Thanks to Tracie for this highly informative and useful workshop!

Good permaculture resource books include:
- Bill Mollison's works on permaculture
- Toby Hemingway's "Gaia's Garden"
- Rosemary Morrow "The Earth User's Guide to Permaculture"

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rawkit Roll: Raw Vegan Sushi Workshop

Announcing a new workshop from Rawkit Foods, to be held early this summer as part of our ongoing urban homesteading workshop series...(soon to be posted on our website, so this is a sneak preview).

For those of you who attended the previous raw food workshop (Power Snacks & Palate Pleasers), which featured the all-time favourites raw chocolate mousse and raw bean burritos, you will not be disappointed! This workshop is coming by special request as there was so much interest from the previous workshop attendees to have more food-related events. Beth Weisberg, of Rawkit Foods, is happy to accommodate and has come up with this amazing description:

Rawkit Roll: Raw Vegan Sushi
Sat, July 5, from 1-3 pm
Cost $25

Expand your cooking repertoire by learning how to prepare flavourful raw foods. Move beyond the traditional into other delicious sushi fillings, ideal for a quick and easy summer meal. Dipping sauces and pickles are also included. Samples provided.

To register contact Karin at:
Space limited to 10 people - dress for the outdoors as we will be learning and tasting outside in on the garden patio...

Little City Farm in the media...

Well, we made it into a small feature in the City Life Magazine's "green issue". They list 20 green people & places in the greater Toronto area, and we are pleased to be one of those highlighted. To check out this small article, see:

Call to neighbourhood artists!

Exciting news! There is a new walking studio & artist/crafter tour being organized for our neighbourhood. There are already two very successful studio tours in town, in the Frederick St & Mary-Allen neighbourhoods. This one hopes to capture that inbetween space, located centrally just on the cusp of Kitchener & Waterloo. It will encompass the streets bounded by Belmont to Weber, and Union to Victoria - a fairly large area, on both sides of King St.

The Central Art Walk...will be held Sat, Oct 25 from 10-4 pm, and hopes to attract interested painters, potters, jewelers, photographers, knitters, stained glass artists, woodworkers, etc who are interested in participating in this neighbourhood event. Artists would invite the public into their homes and studios to view and purchase art.

To sign up - if you want to be a vendor, or join in another open house in that area, contact: Email name, address, and a short description of your art (or 1-2 photos). There will be a small fee to help with signs and promotion of this event.

The cut off date for entries is May 31!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Spring basil!

Took a few hours to transplant our basil plants into larger containers today - we have about 150 plants, and various varieties. We usually keep about 50 genovese (pesto) basil to fill one of our raised beds, but as basil is a popular seller at our seedling sale I made sure to plant lots this year! The thai basil is so fragrant, and the purple (dark opal) basil looks especially beautiful.

Our 6th annual seedling sale coming up on Sat, May 24 from 9-12 noon. There will be about 15 varieties of tomatoes (including red, yellow & orange cherries, mennonite orange, green zebra, polish pink, red slicers, yukon red early, some good determinate container varieties, and many more); eggplants, various kinds of hot peppers, flowers, brassicas, basil, other herbs and so on... Our friend Angie, from Fertile Ground CSA, will also be there for the day selling seedlings and leading a workshop on biointensive gardening. If all goes well, there will be freshly baked wood-fired bread and other baked treats available too...The seedling sale is one of our favourite days of the year, and makes for a nice kick-off to the garden season, and feels like a little neighbourhood festival.

Rain Barrels

Had someone inquire about best places to get rain barrels in this area...

As it happens, the Region of Waterloo is having their annual free rain barrel give-away (200 litre size) on Sat, April 26th starting bright and early at 7:30 am, on a first-come basis at the Conestoga Mall, Fairview Park Mall, and Cambridge Centre parking lots. We have not gone to get a rain barrel there, and from what we hear it's very popular and you need to come early to get a barrel. In our experience, we've had good luck sourcing other types of large barrels - olive barrels or grape barrels are great, and often available or free from local shops. We have sourced about 6 barrels this way, and replaced the lids with mosquito netting secured over the top. Spigots, taps or spouts can be purchased at the local hardware store, and we've drilled a hole through the barrel to attach the spigot near the bottom (just high enough off the ground to be able to hold a watering can underneath).

On the note of Waterloo Region garden-related activities, there will also be a Vermicomposting workshop on Sat, June 14, and general composting workshops (providing tips on backyard composting, setting up worm bins, and distributing free backyard composters) on Sat, May 3, June 28 and Oct 18. For more details call: 519-883-5100

April Salad Greens

Weather was around 15 C today! Here' s an inside shot of the grow tunnel, which was planted full of seeds in October. The tunnel felt like a sauna when I opened it up, and as our greenhouse was over 30 C today the tunnel was probably that or even warmer. It really heats up well on sunny days. There are herbs, various lettuce varieties, tatsoi, choho, chard, arugula, and more! Ready to harvest soon. That's a soaker hose running through the middle of the bed. We also planted our first spinach in the garden, under another cold frame today.