Archive for June, 2007

this week (Jun 25-30)

This Thursday, 5:30 – 8:30, come-on garden!  Lets start a couple of sheet composts and re-organize our resources;  we will do some bed preparation, some clean-up, and hang another window.  Also, bring a seal-able glass jar and some oil if you would like to make a comfrey salve for yourself.

If we manage to get the fence up in the next couple of days, I will bring in some hole-y pipes that we can think about suspending to create a vertical garden.  Yes, fun!

On Saturday we should be getting an influx of lovely herbs from Riverview, by donation.   Yeah!!  So we can plant those up and do some beautification of the perennial edge.  10:30-1:30, all welcome.  Bring your lemonade and laughter.

People are starting to bring by some pots and other usefuls that people can take.  Currently available:

  • leek transplants
  • small pots
  • some compost

And so if you see any pots up for grabs, please bring them in.  Pots, plants, seeds, soil, barrels, tins….  bring ’em in.  May the urban agriculture resource hub help create local-organic gardens all over town!


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Here are a bunch of tasty tidbits that have passed through across my screen lately that may be of interest.

First up, Spin Farming. Small Plot INtensive farming is a business model out of Saskatechewan to do successful organic market gardening in urban environments.  Here is a lovely article about it.

Second, SeeMore Green made the newspaper already.  Here is the link to that cute article.

And, out of BC, Every Lawn A Garden.  Hallelujah.  “The objective of “Every Lawn A Garden” is to help persons increase their capacity for gardening so that everyone can reach the stage of growing some of their own food supply”, because when the borders close and grid fails the Superstore is no longer so super.  This site is a fantastic compilation of resources.

I recently bought the book Guerrilla Gardening: A Manualfesto! (What a juicy read.  The author, David Tracey speaking in Vancouver for Necessary Voices.

Guerrilla Gardening: A Manualfesto 

"The term "guerrilla" may bring to mind a small band of armed
soldiers, moving in the dead of night on a stealth mission. In
the case of guerrilla gardening, the soldiers are planters, the
weapons are shovels, and the mission is to transform an
abandoned lot into a thing of beauty. Once an
environmentalist's nonviolent direct action for inner-city
renewal, this approach to urban beautification is spreading to
all types of people in cities around the world.

These modern-day Johnny Appleseeds perform random acts of
gardening, often without the property owner's prior knowledge
or permission. Typical targets are vacant lots, railway land,
underused public squares, and back alleys. The concept is
simple, whimsical and has the cheeky appeal of being a not-
quite-legal call to action. Dig in some soil, plant a few
seeds, or mend a sagging fence -- one good deed inspiring
another, with win-win results all around.

Guerrilla Gardening outlines the power-to-the-people campaign
for greening our cities."

And, last but not least, here is a link to an interview with Derrick Jensen in Common Ground, titled Mayday For the Planet.

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this week (Jun 18-23)

In the garden this week:

– sometime Tues or Wed evening:  Shane the carpenter is going to help us raise and strengthen the fence so that we can trellis grapes on it.

-Thursday evening:  5:30 – 6:30  planting and doing.
6:30 – 8:30  *Gardening 101*
Get a grounding in gardening basics.  Planting, transplanting, soil care, mulching, watering!  Perfect for you sweet folks who think that it is you that kills houseplants and worry that you have a ‘black thumb’;  or anyone who wants a refresher in organic gardening.  Come learn how easy it is to make plants to love you and for you to love them.  Free.

– Saturday June 23.  10:30 – 1:30  workparty.
There is lots of planting to do.   Riverview Herbs is giving us a bunch of herbs that we can plant, and we have some grapes, bulbs, and onions to get in the ground.   If there are any plants/vegetables you want to grow in the garden, bring ’em,  (if you keep looking at those rainbow chard transplants for sale at the market and think, ‘but I have no where to grow them’;  buy them, and bring them;  their home awaits). We can also start some sheet composts and extend some beds.     We also need to make a sweet sign, so bring your paints and brushes;  we have the wood.


– next week Thursday is a garden workparty from 5:30 – 7:30,  then…. there is this fantastic even event put on by *Musicians for Farmers*

Musicians for Farmers: A celebration of local food!

Come for your fill of local food and music in support of Heliotrust, an Ecology Action Centre affiliate – whose projects include: farmland conservation, sustainable farming practices, biodiversity, and conserving and imparting rural wisdom. Music performances by: The Orchid, Sudden Fancy, TFC, Michael Schimp’s Neighbors, Free Hugs, Food Trio and more…

$10 includes cover, donation to Heliotrust, and a plate of delicious local organic food! Drinks and desserts are available.
Thursday June 28th @ The Bus Stop Theatre 2203 Gottigen Street, doors open at 7pm

If you want to help out…email jeff_torbert@hotmail.com.

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Well, what a week hey?!   All those protests and reading all of the media response sure gave us a lot of fodder for dinner talk.  I hope all homes in the nation felt so inspired.

The garden saw some great changes this week.  Alex Denicola came to the garden Saturday and from the four wood raised-bed frames, we made a fifth bed.  We increased the garden-able area by 25%.  He also brought us some golden cherry tomato plants, some celeriac transplants, and some cucumber babies.

Miller compost, the company that handles the city compost, donated and delivered 4 cubic yards of compost.  If you need a bit of compost for your good guerrilla gardening  efforts, it is available.

Ted Hutton, beloved organic veggie supplier at the market, gave us some transplants:  kale, leeks, and beefstake tomatos.  There are plenty, so if you would like a few, some are available.  We will plant them in on Thursday, and any that remain are up for grabs.

And, big news.  There is a development going in somewhere around St. Margarets Bay that will destroy 10 to 15 acres of native plants.  While we cannot stop it, we can save the plants, and bring them to our garden.  I will keep folks updated on this.

Also, one of the most knowledgeable folk around in traditional Mi’kmaq plant usages, Laurie Lacey, got in touch with me, is supportive of the project, and willing to consult and do a workshop with us.  Sweet goodness.

Alright earthworkers, earthlovers, may we spin creativity with as much passion and determination as the other prevailing forces.  May we listen hard enough to let the land know we are listening, so we may begin to hear again.

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we’re organized we’re pissed. we’re here to resist.

I was down at the Resist Atlantica protests this morning to welcome the delegates to the big business brainstorm for a sick and short-sighted plan to use public investment for the creation of more corridors and trade routes to import cheap asian goods and export more raw natural ‘resources’.

Last night Steven Sinclair and Maude Barlow spoke about how this plan is flawed, even from a business perspective. Using mass amounts of our (presently) cheap remaining oil to build highways that need oil to be used and maintained for mass trade of consumer goods that will likely not exist in 20 years is a pretty horrible idea. Unless, of course, it will make you rich in the meantime, which frankly, is not a perspective that I can understand.

So our mission, as I see it, is to emphatically resist that which we don’t want, and to passionately build what we do want. We need to stock our cities full of food and medicines, (and fibre, fuel, resin, receptacle, and dye plants), so that we can survive, even thrive, without the dominant system.

SeeMore Green is one of many hubs that we can create. It is a place to cultivate knowledge, skills, strategy, compost, and plants. The more food and medicines we have in our city, the more of us are going to survive.

Dismantle globalization, renew locally.

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I am in the planning stage of the garden.  According to the ideas of Permaculture, it is of primary importance to Observe a site before implementing big changes, especially permanent changes.  Permaculture is all about “careful and protracted thought rather than careless and protracted labour” (Quinney, 9).  Permaculture has a bunch of principles which are related to ethics in that they are “culturally evolved mechanisms for a more enlightened self-interest” (Holgrem, 1).  The first principle is Observe and Interact.  It is important to observe a site, carefully and without judgement, for a whole year, at least a year, before making big changes.  I have not even been in province for a month! But actually, I see that as an advantage in sharing the process of learning how to garden successfully here, as many of us barely know the place we live at all.   To suppliment a year of observation, permaculture suggests to talk to lots of neighbours to hear, carefully and without judgement, a diversity of ideas and opinions.  So, the first folks I managed to invite to the garden were, Brad, the cute market mushroom man, and Alex Denicola, beloved organic-permaculture-activist market gardener who sets up beside Brad at the market.  They came by the garden on Saturday.

We are all coming from a similar perspective; we are all familiar with the ideas of permaculture, and passionately believe that we, meaning the collective we, are going to need to get serious about producing our food for ourselves, soon.   To do this we need to think carefully, act wisely, use what we have, and employ a diversity of tactics.  We need to maximize our use of space, which also means reconsidering our relationships to (non-productive) shade trees and (non-productive) lawns, pathways, and all other spaces.  We need to shift what and how we see.  If we imagine Superstore not being accessible, then this re-visioning takes on a sharp poignancy, perhaps something like a hunger pang.

First off, what is the vision for the space?  Who is getting educated and on what?  Is it a variety of ways to grow food, or is it to grow as much food as we can?

The vision that I have for SeeMore Green is that of a space that functions as a demonstration site, and training-learning ground, and a resource hub.  By demonstration site I mean a place to see successful urban food production;  by training-learning ground I mean a space for a diversity of people to learn a diversity of strategies and tactics; and by resource hub, (or urban ag. hub) I mean a place to get seeds, plant cuttings, ideas, compost innoculant, pots, etc, so that other garden projects are supported.

A couple really strong points that came out of our conversations were 1) we need to do some careful consideration about our use of space in Seymour green.  If we are going to be an inspirational demonstration of urban food production, we need show some good use of space.  I cannot help but agree.  My thinking on this had been to do a lot of creative container planting, vertical gardening – using vines and trellises as well as trying some of the suspended pipe beds that Solviva uses.  Alex challenged the garden’s primary layout and suggested we shift the wooden frames there now.  I have to admit, I don’t really like wood in the garden:  it can harbor insects, rob nitrogen and moisture, but mostly because it is an inefficient use of space.  And they encourage conventional thinking that plants belong in boxes.  But they look tidy, and we are on a university campus, and like to be liked by administration.  We also need to keep in mind wheelchair accessibility.

So, for sure, the grass in the pathways needs to get replaced with some more useful. And the whole area we are using to produce food needs to be critically looked at.
The second great point that Alex made very clear was that if you want to grow food in the Maritimes you need to use transplants.

Start seeds in flats in some sort of greenhouse, cloche, or other season-extender, and then transplant them out.  One can get a lot more food out of a small space, and waste a lot less time and energy that way.   (For more good info on this strategy, check into John Jeavon’s ideas on square foot gardening).

So next weekend we are going to build a cloche.  (A cloche is non-permanent greenhouse by my definition:  definitions vary, but that is how I use it.  PVC hose and plastic= cloche.  Glass and woodframe=greenhouse).  Alex has some re-useable plastics around and I have a screwdriver.  With a little cloche we can help the tomatoes and peppers grow enough to bear some fruit, start some veggies for fall crops and second successions, and hopefully demonstrate a successful strategy for growing food locally.

Brad had some great ideas about doing terracing with innoculated hardwood logs  to demonstrate how to increase surface area for small yards (because the folks with huge yards are most often wealthy enough for a while;  the majority have tiny yard and less cash).  By using hardwood logs innoculated with shitake or oyster mushrooms built up in the corner by the porch and stairs, we could possibly successfully harvest mushrooms from the cool, shady, moist area under the back deck, which is making productive use of a classicly unused space.  Pretty great ideas if you ask me: let’s hold this idea in mind and do some more observation and discussion before making such a big thing.

Jen Scott from the Food Action Committee and Heliotrust farm just gave us an elder tree and an mountain ash.  So there are two gorgeous trees to plant, and planting trees is a big beautiful decision.

And we have a load of compost coming early in the week, and a bunch of transplants and perennials coming next Saturday.  On Tuesday I go out to Acadia University to check out their native plant gardens with another super-sweet knowledgeable one, Ahktar.

Friends, we have some fun work to do.

–    get the bulletin boards up.
–   move raspberries and rhubarb away from where the compost is coming in
–    think about garden space: reframe a bed?
–     connect existing rain barrels, add spigot;  get more rain barrels for other downspout
– start sheet compost corner near house
– start getting rid of grass in walk areas and replace with lovely useables
– start sheet composting under the maple to prep for woodland garden
– flyer neighbourhood to bring us containers – and pathway plants: camomile, mints, lemonbalm, wooly thyme, hollyhocks, plantain!, calendula, even dandelions are better than grass!… I would like to learn more plants that could used – are there some appropriate natives? Hmmm…

SeeMore Green collective garden and urban ag hub. A thriving space with beautiful little gardens that inspire and provoke action, frequented by a diversity of cool folks to learn from, and a place to possibly get some plants, starts, seeds, cuttings, inoculants, and other shit you might need.  Always good for a nibble and a giggle.

If you share this vision, come add in to it.  It needs you to happen.  Yes, you.

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