Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We need Green for Spring ...

Wednesday, March 30/11

Hello everyone,

I've just finished sending letters and signing a petition to say that Elizabeth May should be a participant in any national leaders' pre-election debates. I hope you'll go to the Green Party's site to make your voice heard too:

It's good to direct a letter to a specific person or agency, not to just send the same one to all. And, in this situation, you might want to copy your letter to Elizabeth's assistant, Nyssa McLeod ( so they know that people are writing.

Here's my letter to Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Chief of News CBC:

Dear Ms. McGuire,

I believe absolutely that Elizabeth May should be part of any televised (or radio) national leaders' election debates. There should be no doubt that May is the leader of a national party. From the votes received by the Green Party in the 2008 election, the Green Party is a wanted voice for Canada. It is the fault of our electoral system that the opinions of a million people are missing from government; it is not the fault of the Green Party. An important Canadian asset - the CBC - with its excellent environment programs, and non-sound-bite news, is the last station that should be interfering with democracy and with a real possibility for having a leader who understands the critical environment issues we face. I am ashamed of you. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Given that the leaders of the four other national (or Quebec) parties do not object to May being on deck with them, what excuse is CBC giving for her exclusion? I look forward to seeing you personally interviewed on CBC on this; I suggest by by George Stroumboulopoulos or Peter Mansbridge.


Why's Woman

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Coffee Chicory double double

Coffee Chicory 'Magdeburg'

Good morning everyone,

Even though I remember my late mother complaining about chicory being a poor WWII substitute for coffee, Chris and I thought we'd try it out for budget and health, and ordered the 'Magdeburg' seeds listed in Richters Herb catalogue. It probably differs only slightly from a wild chicory... probably a hybrid that develops larger roots, grown for the coffee-substitute market.

I planted the seeds in cell packs on March 15, and today - the 29th - I've divided them into these recognizable alternative pots. The joke is on me, because it wasn't until Chris started to smile when I told him I'd used these that I realized the containers were just the right ones to use.

Chicory is a biennial, which means it will winter over and send up seeds in its second year of growth. I expect what I'll do is harvest most of the roots in the fall and let some winter over for next year ... see if I can get the sequence going to harvest roots and produce our own seed.

My prediction is that, as with chocolate substitutes (carob!), we need to approach this as if the chicory is a separate and different beverage - not coffee. So, we'll see!

Hope you all have a great day,

Why's woman

Richters Herb catalogue says:
Cichorium intybus 'Magdeburg'
Coffee substitute costing pennies a pound. Large roots, roasted and groun, can be adulterated with your favourite brand or enjoyed alone as a nourishing caffeine-free drink. Roasting directions included with each order.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Make your voice heard in the next election! The real statistics.

Hello every one,

Today I heard Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the radio, saying in a straightforward manner that a coalition government is a threat to Canada and that only by voting Conservative will Canada be o.k.

In the last few days, I've heard him say similar things. I know there's no threat to Canada. But today I felt personally offended by his comments. It was as if he was telling me, personally, that I am stupid if I don't vote Conservative.

I did some quick looking up of Canadian federal election information.

In the last election in the fall of 2008, only 58.8% of eligible voters even cast a ballot.

Using the figures from a Market News article [] 13,929,093 people voted, out of an eligible 23,677,639 .... this gives the 58.8% voter turnout.

The Conservatives received only 37.6% of votes cast in that election []

So .... 37.6% of 13,929,093 is 5,297,339. Taking this number as a percentage of the eligible voters, only 22.37% of eligible Canadian voters voted Conservative (with a bit of rounding) .... or that 77% of eligible Canadian voters did not vote Conservative.

Referring only to those people who did vote in the fall 2008 election, 62.4% of voters did not vote for the Conservatives. (100% -37.6%)

It may also be useful to remember that only those people in Stephen Harper's own riding voted for him.

I would personally be delighted to see some real cooperation amongst parties. I would welcome having 62.4% of people who voted actually be represented at the Federal level.

As a supporter of the Green Party, I sure would like to be represented. I look forward to a change in the voting system, away from our current "first past the post" system. Unfortunately, for the referendum of 2008, the people wanting a more representative system were unable to explain to the public how it would work. And, in the weirdness that is the current system, at least according to one set of figures, the Conservatives won more seats with fewer votes (from:

I shall do my best to memorize the percentages in this note, so I can repeat them to anyone who comes into the store where I work and starts complaining about "having to vote". We all need to vote.

I think I'll walk away from the computer for a while!

Best regards to you,

Why's Woman

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Urban Agriculture for London Ontario

6:30 p.m.

Hello everyone,

This morning I was up and out of bed early. It was a beautiful, sunny morning. Winter aconite and snowdrops, new growth kale, swiss chard and garlic were spotted last week in my garden before being re-covered by the snow.

Spring is on the way, as are two reports of importance for urban agriculture in London, Ontario.

London's Community Gardens Program Review is being presented at the Community and Neighbourhoods Committee Meeting on March 29/11. This report has been anticipated since last year; it is the outcome of the public consultation sessions some of you participated in last April/May concerning management of community gardens on City properties and the future of community gardens in London.

The Food Charter for the City of London will be presented at the same Community and Neighbourhoods Committee Meeting, March 29/11. This document, agenda item 20, timed for 7:45 p.m. is found at: Representatives from approximately 30 City agencies participated in putting the Food Charter together. Once taken through the City Council level of endorsement there will be a call for agency and citizen partners to form the group to get some of its suggested ideas/projects rolling.

Also, the Kingston Community Gardens Network has done a wonderful service by producing a comprehensive guide to setting up a community garden. Community Gardening 101 can be found through the Kingston website, via the How to Start a Garden menu title at:

Please visit Community Gardens London's events page for other garden related events (

Best regards,

Why's Woman

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bee Colony Disorder Concerns have reached international levels

Happy Sunday everyone... hope it is a good day for you,

I ran across an important report today on a topic I've been worrying about for several years now: declining bee populations - especially honeybees - through something called Colony Collapse disorder. Having it reach the level of a report of the United Nations Environment Program reinforces that all us home gardeners have to keep gardening ... and all us local activists have to keep "activating". The words I've quoted below from UNEP's executive director are a really serious statement from someone at his level. I guess I'll be on to sending the report to various government agriculture ministers and shadow cabinet people. I'll post addresses as I get to that over the next few days.

Global Bee Colony Disorders and other Threats to Insect Pollinators is the title of the newest report of the United Nations Environment Program - March 10, 2011

"More than a dozen factors, ranging from declines in flowering plants and the use of memory-damaging insecticides to the world-wide spread of pests and air pollution, may be behind the emerging decline of bee colonies across many parts of the globe. Scientists are warning that without profound changes to the way human-beings manage the planet, declines in pollinators needed to feed a growing global population are likely to continue. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said: 'The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century... Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature. Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less dependent on nature's services in a world of close to seven billion people.'"

The full report can be downloaded at:

Those of us who garden in private gardens and in shared and community gardens have an important role to play in encouraging beneficial insects of all sorts by providing habitat, food and reproduction sites. Far more insects are our friends - beneficials - than are harmful. During the last years, threats to the world's pollinating insects have been increasing. Colony Collapse Disorder of honeybee populations has been in the news a lot, not just in Canada. Concerns have reached international levels and to the United Nations Environment Program. Your good gardening practices are essential for pollinators, including bees of all sorts. Organic, agro-ecological, or SANER [sustainable, all natural, environmentally responsible] - call it what you will - healthy gardening based in the 4 L's of Looking around, Learning, Labour and Love will contribute.

Best wishes to all of you,

Why's Woman

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Hi again!

I just thought I'd mention why today was a good International Women's Day.

First thing this morning I was listening to CBC Radio's The Current, which led off with a panel of 3 women, including one of my personal heroines: peace activist, physicist and feminist Ursula Franklin (age 89). I'm not sure if the youngest woman on the panel 'got' anything Ursula was talking about, but give a listen to the discussion to hear Ursula's certainty that there are still systems that need changing. It can be listened to at part one.
Today is the 100th International Women's Day.

The other thing I happened upon today is the blog post by Stephanie Pearl-McFee, at Stephanie writes books about knitting and life. She's funny as anything, and I've learned one helluva lot about knitting, spinning, dyeing and life from her. I'm trusting she won't mind if I quote her first statements.

I am a feminist. I can say that unequivocally, because I know the definition. Feminism is defined, in every dictionary you will look in, as something like "the belief in the political, social and economic equality of the sexes." (It is worth noting that the word is equality. Not sameness, since the sexes are not the same, nor superiority, since that's not true either. Nor does it even define the gender of the person who would believe in this equality.) Since we do not yet have any of those things, I'm still a feminist, and I feel like were I to say I was not, I would be saying that I don't believe in equality, which I do. Firmly.

Anything I could say, she says better. Check her out, today and regularly!

All the best!

Why's Woman

Community Gardening 101

Hello everyone!

The Kingston Community Gardens Network has done a wonderful service! It has produced a document titled Community Gardening 101, and it can be found through the Kingston website, via the How to Start a Garden menu title at:

This 'how to' takes you through finding others who want to garden, establishing good relationships with your neighbourhood and the city, getting permissions, setting guidelines for gardeners and property owners, planning the garden, and more. It's easy to read and gives much to think about.

The Kingston Community Gardens Network is a partnership of Loving Spoonful (Kingston's Food Justice organization), the City of Kingston, Urban Agriculture Kingston, Oak St. Gardens, and OPIRG Kingston. The KCGN is administered through Loving Spoonful.

Contact information: Kingston Community Gardens Network, Coordinator: Susan Belyea,
(613) 546-4291 ext 1871

Best regards and Happy International Women's Day,

Why's Woman