Wednesday, March 25, 2015

City Farmer ,,, ever hear of Harrowsmith? 1984

Hello Everyone!

Hope this note finds you well!

I've just had the darnedest thing happen: I ran across an article by Michael Levenston.

Now, if you follow these columns, you'll have heard me mention - thank - Michael Levenston for articles I've run across on his site City Farmer. City Farmer must surely be Canada's longest running urban agriculture website, and even non-profit (1978!): City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture.

The article I just ran across is titled Red Celery in the Sunshine, and is from Harrowsmith, April/May 1984.

For those of you below a certain age, or outside Canada, Harrowsmith, was a great Canadian magazine that began as what I'll call a Canadian counterpart to Mother Earth News or Organic Gardening.  It told us about gardening organically, how to live with less ... it was great.  Along its journey it got rather upscale, there were some falling outs, and then it disappeared. 

And I've just found a treasure trove of old issues of Harrowsmith ... right in my own kitchen.  Oh, I knew they were there ... lurking in a cut-down detergent box, on the bottom shelf of a pretty inaccessible shelf.  The ones from the 1980's were from the committed organic gardener who owned our house before we took it on.  The ones from the 1990s came from my husband or myself. 

Well, what brought them out (to dust!) to browse is my Christmas gift ... just finished now because everyone in the house got sick just before Christmas with the 3-week flu and it's taken months to catch up: a beautiful 5-shelf shelf, built by my brilliant husband, smooth as silk, stained a lovely reddish gold, sturdy, functional, fitting the space.  I love this shelf!  Thanks Chris!

Red Celery in the Sunshine talks about setting up City Farmer's gardens in the backyard of the Vancouver Energy Information Centre, near Maple Street and Sixth Avenue ... where it still is!!  The article talks about urban agriculture, biodynamics, food in the community, the importance of living soil, volunteers ... all the things some of us are trying to get across to some people today!

Back when the article was written, plans were afoot for a solar greenhouse!  Talk about City Farmer being ahead of the trend!  Apprenticeship programs had been in place since the garden began in 1981, under the management of Catherine Shapiro; 

Check the link to Michael's interview with Catherine, in 2007!
     .... (I haven't found a site for Catherine Shapiro yet)

and the well-archived City Farmer site has Red Celery in the Sunshine online here:

The article gives inspiration to just get going on a project.  The history of City Farmer shows what happens when you do!

So, once again:  Thank you Michael!

Best regards to all!

Why's Woman

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Terry Pratchett ... We are left to rage and write

It’s not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren’t doing it. 
                        Terry Pratchett, from the foreword to The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy, by David Pringle

Hello Everyone,

I'm sitting, rather stunned ... browsing 'round the internet reading variations on the same reality:  Terry Pratchett died today, at home, in England.  
He must have set up ahead of time the announcement that went out over his Twitter feed ... one of his most important characters, Death, saying in unmistakeable capitals: “AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.”

... and the curiosity of the author as he began his next journey: “Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.”

Pratchett was good friends with author Neil Gamon, who wrote a while back about the coming death of Pratchett:

 “As Terry walks into the darkness much too soon, I find myself raging too: at the injustice that deprives us of – what? Another 20 or 30 books? Another shelf-full of ideas and glorious phrases and old friends and new, of stories in which people do what they really do best, which is use their heads to get themselves out of the trouble they got into by not thinking? ... “I rage at the imminent loss of my friend. And I think, ‘What would Terry do with this anger?’ Then I pick up my pen, and I start to write.”

So far, this little note is all I've written ... and, of course, most of the words aren't even mine.  I'm feeling a little numb.

But I'm sure I'll start raging about something soon, as soon as I read the news or my emails, listen to the radio or television, start thinking about Prime Minister Harper ...

... I'm feeling energy already.

Much love,

Why's Woman

Monday, March 9, 2015

Food related programs - saving the world in their own time


I hope this note finds you well. How's the weather your way?  We've finally had some temperatures over freezing!  And all our seed orders have arrived.  There has to be spring!

I've been thinking about the title here - Saving the World in My Spare Time -and thought I'd just put down some of the organizations and events that have crossed my path lately, because they are all saving the world, in the spare time of volunteers and some paid staff.

The Pod Knowledge Exchange -
Online, you can find out about food issues, styles of local food security organizations, and find resources to help you find ways that your community can be more food secure.

The Pod is a part of the work of Community Food Centres Canada ( which helps community food centres across the country share information and celebrations, and learn about issues and how to do more effectively the work they do.

USC-Canada is focused on building agricultural resilience through ecological agriculture. Programs are in areas of seed security and diversity, climate change adaptation and mitigation, rural economies, gender equality, and young farmers.  Its core values of rights, resilience and respect have been with USC Canada since its beginning, which is all the way back to 1945 when a Czech refugee, Dr. Lotta Hitchmanova, founded the organization to help children suffering after the second world war.
USC-Canada has a new program, I Am a Seed Saver, to celebrate the importance of seeds for food security. To meet some seed savers: check here.

The Bauta Family Initiative on Seed Security in Canada is a partnership of USC-Canada and Seeds of Diversity Canada, working to find which farmers are saving seed across the country, encouraging more seed saving, and educating about its importance.

All those programs have volunteers ... saving the world in their spare time.

Ah! It's good to remember these good things sometimes!

Very best regards,

Why's Woman