food miles

Garlic

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I used to think that garlic was an exotic food. I thought it was like the mango - something so full of flavour couldn't possibly come from nearby, could it?

I couldn't have been more wrong. Garlic is in fact easy to grow in Edmonton and impossible to grow in the tropics. Ha! Suck on that year-round-luscious-food-having tropical countries!

Since it also stores very well, Edmonton could be self-sufficient in the stinking herb if it wanted to be.

It's time to plant your garlic for next year. Here's how:  read more... »

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... »

Greater Edmonton Alliance

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The Greater Edmonton Alliance (GEA) is the most exciting thing to happen to Edmonton, sustainability-wise, in forever.

The alliance, composed mostly of churches and unions, has taken on local food and energy efficiency retrofits for existing houses as its two main initiatives.

They have produced some amazing results so far. Among other things,  they packed a city hall meeting with almost 700 people to help save some of Edmonton’s priceless agricultural land last year, and they also organized the very high-profile potato giveaway last summer.

Sustainable Works Launch on Wednesday

If you’ve wondered how to go about retrofitting of your older home, the Sustainable Works program is for you. GEA plans to help retrofit thousands (thousands!) of homes in Edmonton over the coming years. The big launch is on Wednesday . I’ll be there, and I hope that you’ll consider showing your support.

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The Greater Edmonton Alliance (GEA) invites you to the launch of  read more... »