River City Chickens Collective

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(image source)

Editor’s Note: I’ve elevated this comment by our own Urban Farmer, Ron Berezan, into its own post. Thanks for the great work Ron!

Hello Chicken Lovers,

Most of the sites have been chosen, however it is possible we may need more. This all depends of course on whether the city accepts the proposal. You can become part of our group by going to ca.groups.yahoo.com and searching for “river city chickens” , then follow the prompts from there. We are having a meeting on Saturday, April 24 to firm up more details. You would be invited to attend.

Meanwhile, you can help this by writing a short letter to the editor of the Journal and to the city planning department expressing your support. See below.

To All Urban Chicken Supporters – Let’s Get Crackin’!

You may have seen the articles in the Edmonton Journal recently regarding urban chicken keeping in Canada, including the proposal we (The River City Chickens Collective) have submitted. The articles accurately indicated that the Planning Department of the City of Edmonton is on the verge of making a decision whether they will allow our proposed pilot project for a small number of Edmonton families to keep chickens in their yards for one year. The proposal outlines a very carefully thought out set of guidelines that reflect the best practises of municipalities throughout North America that allow chickens.

Given that this initiative has now become public, it is critical that people who support the goal of local food security voice their support for this proposal. In virtually all cities where chickens have been legalized, there has been a small, but very vocal, anti-chicken lobby (often including the poultry industry). We need to make sure that the Planning Department hears that the majority of Edmontonians support this proposal.

You can help by doing the following 2 things:

1. Send a brief email, attention John Wilson, City Planning Department to 311@edmonton.ca . Indicate that you saw the article in the Edmonton Journal and you think that allowing chickens in Edmonton would be a great thing to do. Feel free to elaborate on the reasons why. If you have not seen the article, you can see it at the address below. You may also choose to cc city councilors at Councillors@edmonton.ca .

2. Go to the Edmonton Journal at: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/Edmonton+mulls+urban+chicken+coops/2... and post a brief comment following the article. This is also an important place to continue to show public support.

3. Write a letter to the Editor of the Edmonton Journal expressing your support for the idea of the pilot project and the basic principle of being able to grow your own food and keep chickens in your yard. Emphasize that this is a safe, healthy and very common practise in most other parts of the world. Of course add any other points you would like

Thank You!

If you are interested in getting more involved in this important work, you can sign up on the River City Chickens Yahoo group by going to www.ca.groups.yahoo.com and entering “river city chickens” into the “find a group” search. Follow the prompts from there. Information about group meetings is communicated through the group list serve.

Onward and Upward!

Ron Berezan
for the Rivercity Chickens Collective

Starting Tomatoes From Seed

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Growing your own food is right up there with riding your bike when it comes to green acts. It doesn’t get more earth-friendly than the hundred foot diet.

With our short growing season, the tomatoes that we put in the ground in late May can’t be in seed form. Traditionally, Edmontonians head to their local nurseries when the time comes to buy tomato seedlings. With a bit of foresight, though, you can save yourself a bunch of money and reduce the impact of your tomatoes even further.

Seeds

A couple of weeks ago I bought some open-pollinated tomato seeds from the good people of A’bunadh Seeds (from Cherhill Alberta – they had a booth at Seedy Sunday this year). I’m no seed expert, but I believe that open-pollinated means that I can harvest my own seeds from the resulting tomatoes (as opposed to hybrid seeds).  Earth’s General Store sells some great seeds too.

Any old tomato seeds will do in a pinch though. I chose a yellow, cherry, paste and beefsteak varieties.

Soil

The way to start your own tomatoes from seed is to get a bunch of small containers, they could be anything from actual seedling containers to Tim Horton’s cups, and fill them with soil. The soil should come from your backyard. Conventional sources will always tell you to buy potting soil from your local Home Depot or nursery, but I’ve never done so.

Potting soil ranks up there with bottled water on the list of useless items that companies have manufactured demand for. One website claims “garden soil is not a good choice, as it compacts too easily and can harbour organisms that cause diseases.” So how exactly will your tomatoes grow in this disease-infested soil once you plant them in said garden? For large greenhouses that have disease problems, sterilized potting soil makes sense. For the backyard gardener, it’s just another example of diminishing returns on investment.

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(fill some containers with backyard soil)

Once you have soil in containers, plant the tomato seeds about 1/8” deep. I labelled the containers with strips from an old Venetian blind that I found in the alley.

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(pieces cut from old blinds make great signs to label plants with)  read more... »

Observations (Part 03)

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(photo courtesy of Edmonton Real Estate Weekly)

I have the first set of electricity consumption numbers for the house (see the data at the bottom of the post). Some comments about the numbers:

  • It was sunless winter. I found that sunshine had a greater effect on the performance of the house than temperature. People have commented that January was mild, but we burned a lot of wood because we only got 5-10 hours of total sunshine (92 hours is normal).
  • Our heating needs dropped off a cliff once the sun started shining on a consistent basis. In the last six weeks all of the thermostats have been turned off, and we have only burned two fires.
  • Of note: we installed water-efficient showerheads on January 12 (Bricor, 1.11 GPM versus about 2.25 GPM previously). Also, until January 12 there was another adult in the house (so  three adults, two children).

So far…

  • That said, we went through a LOT of wood this winter. We would burn for four hours straight in the evening and then another hour in the morning when it was –25 and there was no sun.
  • once the sun started shining, it warmed up, and we were using efficient shower heads, our electricity usage dropped to 8.6 kWh/day. We are very conscientious about power use, but on the other hand we cook a lot in the house.  These LAME numbers (lights, appliances and misc. electricity) are below our yearly estimate of 5150 kWh (8.6 kWh/day would be 3139 kWh annually).
  • our movable PV awnings are not yet up. The production numbers are for 12 modules out of an eventual 32 (the last 20 are bifacial).
  • the basement was not heated - it will be when someone moves in, plus they will be taking showers, etc.
  • Based on what I seen, I think that this house will be net zero house at least in the above average years. It remains to be seen if it will make the grade for an average year.

The numbers:

Total: 2009 Nov 9 - 2010 Mar 22 (133 days)
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Total Household Use:   2451 kWh
Average Daily Household Use For Period: 18.4 kWh per day
Solar Energy Exported:   405 kWh
Solar Energy Used In-House:  223 kWh  read more... »

Edmonton's 2nd and 3td NetZero Energy Houses - Mid-Winter Seminar and Tours

Saturday, March 20

  • Seminar: 10am to 12:30pm
  • Tours: 2pm to 4pm

Seminar: Designing and Owning a NetZero Energy Home

  • Grant MacEwan University, CN Theatre Rm. 5-142, 105 St. Building at 105 St. and 105 Ave
  • Peter Amerongen (builder), Gordon Howell, P.Eng. (solar engineer), Conrad Nobert (Mill Creek homeowner)
  • Seminar and tours: No need to register. Cost: free

Open House Tours - see ideas you can use on your own house

  • energy- and water-efficient construction and appliances reduce space heat by 65%, hot water by 75%, and
    electricity use by 50% for upgrade cost of less than $20,000. All electric. No need for natural gas line.
  • air and water heat recovery, LED lighting, rainwater harvesting, passive solar, active solar, solar electricity
  • sustainable materials, healthy indoor air quality, eco-landscaping, net zero emissions

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