Friday, March 29, 2013

UN Convention to Combat Desertification must be really important science if Harper has pulled Canada out

Good Morning Everyone,

On the Christian calendar, today is Good Friday, and it will be Easter in a few days.  I hope that if you are celebrating you have a fine weekend.  And if you have another celebration or just a regular weekend, I hope that is fine too.

And now I'm going to launch into a rant.  I woke up this morning with Rick Mercer's voice in my head, and the radio wasn't even on in the background.  So here goes.

Truth be told, I had no idea there was a United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (, and that every country in the world supported its efforts at finding out about why drought occurs and how to not have so many drought areas.

But now that Prime Minister Harper has ordered his environment and international minions - er ministers - to take Canada off the list of signatories, I know that this undertaking must be something really important and positive as far as environment issues goes ... and something I'm going to pay attention to.

There'll be a big conference April 9 -19 in Germany on the topic of combating desertification and at that conference the attendees are supposed to come with (or maybe it's supposed to have supplied ahead of time) their country's statistics about poverty and areas of land where there's drought, or threat of drought, or more drought than there used to me.

Because that's what "desertification" is really about.  It doesn't mean that a country has a desert and that desert is getting bigger.  No, it means that  in an area where water has been available, something in the environment has changed and there is less water going to the land and the entire ecosystem is being changed and conditions in the area are become like a desert.

Another thing I haven't done the research about - because I haven't time! and wish I had time! - is whether Canada has areas where this is happening.  Where aquifers are being messed up because of changes in climate (increased erratic weather) or because of a big project that is polluting a lot of water and somehow making it unavailable to the land and therefore to every living plant and animal that depends on it.  Doesn't that sound like a situation to call a desert?

Wait a minute!  What's that big project out in Alberta?  The one the Harperites and the oil industry don't like calling the tar sands?  Yeah, the oil sands.  That massive project to dredge up sludge that has oil mixed into the soil.  That massive project that has toxic holding ponds covering acres and acres of land. That massive extraction project that uses huge amounts of water from the local rivers and watersheds to perform the chemical magic that takes the oil out of the sludge. 

Whether the science is complete on how the watersheds are affected, enough data is in, and enough people just know from their experience, that bad change is happening out there. 

Sounds close enough to desertification for me.

And who lives in that zone?  What are their incomes?  There's gonna be some poverty too.

Maybe the tar sands is something the "Harper government" doesn't want to report to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.  It's the sort of story likely to make the news, and show yet another way that they're trying to destroy the sciences in Canada and deny climate change.

Maybe that's what's behind the Harper government's withdrawal from the UN.

Steaming through my ears,

Best regards,

Why's Woman

p.s. And I bet Steve's office won't be having an event for on June 17, the world day to combat desertification

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

The Conference (has long title) The Third Special Session of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST S-3) with the UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought and the Eleventh Session of the Committee for the Review of Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 11) will take place from 9-19 April 2013, at the World Conference Center in Bonn, Germany.

Canada quietly pulls out of anti-drought convention.  CBC report, March 28, 2013

World Day to Combat Desertification, Monday June 17, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Joan Gussow - Think Globally Eat Locally

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all well ... and remember the mantra: there are live plants under the snow ... growing happens!

The other day I ran across an article by Joan Gussow, professor of nutrition, gardener and advocate for local food.

I nodded my way through the article, agreeing with her as she said talked about why we should be concerned about where our food comes from and that we should be particularly worried about the loss of farmland and the reduction in numbers of farmers ... and that this meant we are losing the ability to feed ourselves.

Then she referred to her "new" book, This Organic Life, (which I love and recommend!) and I realized that the article was not written in 2012, it was written in 2002. 

And somehow, her comments became even more relevant. 

How can we - shoppers, eaters - realize that what we buy affects the health of the land near us, and land and farmers in other countries?

What needs to be done so we recognize that a wide variety of local food can be grown? And that we may need to do some adjusting of diet, but can appreciate more the seasonal food?

How can we get to know who grows our food? Face to face?

Gussow talks about how her own commitment to - and enjoyment of - growing her own food has developed, and that it reminds her that "food is the generous outcome of a collaboration between our species and the rest of nature, not simply another product of industrial civilization."

Gussow's article of 11 years ago - like Rachel Carson's Silent Spring of 50 years ago  - shows us that problems were known about long before many of us ever thought of them. 

Relocalizing the food system may seem hard to do, but contemporary chemical monoculture is not feeding one billion  - or is it 2 billion? - people, and contempory agriculture and food processing has made another one billion overweight and sick. 

I remind myself that interest by young people in having small-hold organic farms, and programs such as FarmStart and Everdale are encouraging.  There is an ever-increasing interest in urban agriculture.  I hope that some days Michael Levenston, of the City Farmer website ( feels swamped by the good news he's able to pick up, and the number of cities in Canada and beyond that are looking at urban agriculture policies.

Agriculture needs to be organic, and local ... in our backyards and urban spaces.

I hope you enjoy Gussow's article.

Best regards,

Why's Woman

Gussow's article, Think Globally Eat Locally,  is absolutely worth reading.  Mother Earth News, February/March 2002

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Wolf Tree Farm

Hello everyone!

Hope you are well.

I've just discovered Rebecca Hosking has a blog.  Rebecca made the wonderful documentary Farm for the Future -

It's about her return to the family farm in Devon UK, and her exploration of permaculture as having possibilities for making it more sustainable, and less reliant on fossil fuel. 

I've watched it maybe 8 times, and have been wanting to know how she is, and how the farm is doing.

I did some more serious searching and discovered she has a blog!

I'll be reading all the entries over the next while.  Hooray!

Best regards,

Why's Woman

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hayes Valley Farm of San Francisco

Hello!  How are you this evening?

I took some bread out of the oven half an hour ago.  A burst of accomplishment.  I'm really going to try to bake bread regularly.  We all like it so much better than anything we buy at the store.  And it smells so good!

Over on The City Farmer website ( I spotted a clip from a documentary that is being made, titled Promises of Urban Agriculture.

The clip features the Hayes Valley Farm  of San Francisco, which Jay Rosenberg (who may be its coordinator) describes as a community centre that just happens to produce food.  He and the Hayes Valley gardeners realize that the space is temporary. But it has given use to land that would otherwise sit idle, provides a community centre and teaching space, and - when they have to move from the space - there'll be the biggest "fire sale" ever seen as they move stuff. He says it'll be like fireworks going off and spreading gardens to all sorts of other locations.  And that seeding of other spaces is what will make the whole thing sustainable.

Rosenberg's is such a positive attitude, and really gets one thinking.

I'll look forward to seeing the full documentary by Joseph Redwood-Martinez when it's finished and out in 2014!  I hope you'll take 8 minutes to check the Facebook page for Promises of Urban Agriculture:

Very best regards!

Why's Woman

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Faith in a Seed

Hello everyone,

Is it sunny where you are?  I hope so.
It's actually warm in the breakfast nook today, which must be a real treat for the seedlings.

Seeds and seed saving has been on my mind a lot the last couple of weeks, and this past weekend I even got up in front of two dozen people and talked about seed banks and seed saving networks.

This nifty seed storage idea is a photo I just found on the Seeds of Diversity site

I'm experimenting with putting photos in here, trying to see if some functions that I learned about from PowerPoint work with this blog stuff. If I could remember how to get to a batch of photos I used for the PowerPoint, I'd be better off.  Getting this in here is a surprise! 

The machine is sending me an error message in pink background and red print.

I'll try to post this before it all disappears.  I'm melting! I'm melting!

Why's woman