Archive for November, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007
CBC News

The site design for Toronto’s Brick Works, a unique project that
involves restoring nature in the city while incorporating heritage
buildings and an art component, was unveiled Tuesday.

There are 16 old industrial buildings on the Brick Works site in
Toronto’s Don Valley.
(du Toit Allsopp Hillier)
Evergreen, a non-profit group devoted to developing greener cities,
has approved a $55-million plan for the 16-hectare site — a former
quarry and the Don Valley Brick Works, which provided millions of
bricks in the 19th and 20th centuries to build Toronto.

Seven design firms, including landscape planner du Toit Allsopp
Hillier and architects Diamond and Schmitt collaborated on the plan,
which involves transforming 16 aging industrial buildings formerly
used to make bricks.

Those buildings are currently “a giant swath of asphalt,” according
to Joe Lobko, a partner with duToit Allsopp Hillier and lead designer
on the project.


“The first thing we have to do is heal the site and create a range of
outdoor public spaces,” Lobko said.

Part of the quarry has been restored by Evergreen over the past 10
years and the usable green spaces on the site are to be expanded.

There is almost no precedent for this kind of transformation of an
urban industrial site into green space within a city, said Evergreen
executive director Geoff Cape.

“It is unique in the world. I don’t know of anything that explores
green cities like we do,” he said.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announces funding of $20
million for Evergreen at the Brick Works last December.
(Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)
Evergreen has won $20 million from Ottawa and $10 million from the
province for this project and is still fundraising for the remainder.

The first phase of the project also involves transforming two of the
brickyard buildings for use in nature interpretation, historical
displays and as a play area.

Also part of the plan is a Diamond + Schmitt redesign for one of the
buildings as headquarters for Evergreen and a community building for
meetings and conferences.

The architects have devoted one façade of the building for treatment
by artists.

Cape said he drew inspiration from Barcelona in incorporating art
into the project. “I was blown away by how art is woven into the
city,” he said.

“The façade of the building will be a giant art piece — a tapestry of
screens that is constantly changing,” he said.

Evergreen foresees incorporating everything from children’s drawings
to fabric art to multimedia works by internationally known artists
into the outer wall of the building.

Toronto’s Gardiner Museum of Ceramics is among those taking space in
the building, possibly to provide studios for working with clay, the
original material taken from the quarry.

The complex plan for the site, which could be ready by 2010, involves:

A seasonal farmers market, which began operation this past summer.
Community gardens.
Local food merchants and ethnic foods.
A restaurant.
A place to study geological and natural history.
A children’s play centre.
Community conference facilities and meeting areas.


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Barbara Kingsolver has some interesting data about the percentage of people
involved in feeding a population directly or indirectly.

It turns out that if a large number of people farm/ garden directly,  it takes about
50-60% of the population to feed themselves.

If it’s done using industrial agriculture and highly mechanized methods, it still takes 50-60% of the population to do the work.

An exerpt from her fabulous article:

“Industrial farming — however destructive to the land and our nutrition —
has held out as its main selling point the allure of freedom: Two percent of
the population would be able to feed everyone.

The rest could do as we pleased.  Vandana Shiva sees straight through that promise.

“Most of those who have moved off of farms are still working in the industry of creating food and bringing it to consumers: as cashiers, truck drivers, even the oil-rig workers who generate the fuels to run the trucks.

Those jobs are all necessary to a travel-dependent, highly mechanized food system. And many of those jobs are menial, life-taking work, instead of the life-giving work of farming on the land.

The analyses we have done show that no matter what, whether the system is highly technological or much more simple, about 50 to 60 percent of a population has to be involved in the work of feeding that population. Industrial agriculture did not ‘save’ anyone from that work, it only shifted people into other forms of food service.”
Waiting tables, for instance, or driving a truck full of lettuce, or
spending 70 hours a week in an office overseeing a magazine full of glossy
ads selling food products. ”

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Full article at


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Great article about growing local food here.

(and don’t forget, if you want to get on the garden listserv, see post below for address).

The urban gardener

Kingston Whig-Standard (ON)
Mon 05 Nov 2007
Page: 1 Section: Front
Byline: Jennifer Pritchett – Environment Reporter

A Queen’s researcher has found that if Kingston residents grew some
of their own fruit and vegetables, they could reduce greenhouse gas
emissions annually by up to 14,000 tonnes – or the equivalent of
taking 4,700 compact cars off the road.

Sunny Lam, who recently completed his Master’s thesis on local food
production, spoke about urban agriculture at Kingston’s first Local
Food Summit, held over the weekend at St. Lawrence College.

“There just aren’t enough farmers out there to meet the demand for
food,” he said, in an interview.

Lam’s answer to the shortage is growing fruit and vegetables in
backyards, parks, green spaces, community gardens and even vacant
lots instead of trucking it in from other places. Not only would this
help meet the demand for local produce and reduce air emissions from
transportation, but would create up to 800 jobs, he said.

He also said Kingston has a total of 2,000 acres of accessible land
on which to grow food.

Kingston citizens spend around $325 million each year on food and
most of that is spent on items that are brought into the city from
somewhere else, states his research.

Local residents consume about 11 million kilograms of 39 common fresh
fruits and vegetables that could be produced locally, according to Lam.

Those items that are currently trucked in but could be grown here
include apples, beans, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, cheese, corn,
garlic, tomatoes and peas, to name a few.

He said only about seven per cent of those items are currently
produced locally.

He proposes that the number could be much higher if local residents
grew more of their own food and if an emerging brand of farmer called
the “urban farmer” would grow such produce on donated or leased land
and then sell it locally in farmer’s markets and in grocery stores.

“They wouldn’t be like your typical farmer – they wouldn’t need a big
tractor [because they work on such a small scale],” said Lam.

The urban farmer, said Lam, is the answer for many working families
who want locally grown produce but are simply too busy to grow their

“Urban agriculture will contribute to Kingston’s ability to adapt and
thrive in a changing world where expensive energy and dwindling
natural resources are becoming pronounced,” states a summary of his
research he presented to Kingston’s city council earlier this year.

About 28 per cent of Kingston residents currently have some kind of
edible garden, according to Lam’s research.

If more people had a fruit and vegetable patch on their property, he
said, the city’s environment, health and quality of life would improve.

Lam, who is also a volunteer with the Food Down Road project, which
organized the food summit, used Statistics Canada data to determine
how much food is trucked into Kingston on an annual basis and how
many kilometres it has to travel to get here.

Based on those figures, he calculated that cutting the amount of food
transported in could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 14,000
tonnes, or the equivalent to 4700 compact cars driving over 18,000
kilometres per year.

Peter Dowling, an organic dairy farmer on Howe Island and a local
representative for the National Farmers Union, which was also
involved in the summit, said the event was a big success with all 18
workshops selling out on Saturday and more than 300 people – mostly
local farmers – attending.

“As we look forward, we’d like to see a community council on a more
permanent basis developed for guiding the process [to develop a local
food system] and become a sounding board,” he said, in an interview.

Plans to develop such a community council will take place in the
coming months.

Dowling said the whole idea of promoting community gardens was a
common theme during the weekend conference.

“People can connect with their food by actually growing it – you
can’t get any more local than that,” he said. “If you have a
community garden, people can learn from each other. It’s all
possible. We’re all quite optimistic about what we can accompish as a


© 2007 Osprey Media Group Inc. All rights reserved.

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So, it is november, and while the garden collapses into winter, there is still a lot going on for the garden. Yes indeedie, some exciting news!

First, there is a garden listserv: gardenHalifax!
to subscribe: gardenhalifax-subscribe<at>lists.riseup.net
to unsubscribe:
It is there for collective gardeners, guerrilla gardeners, native plant lovers, and all land stewards in the area to share ideas and support each other. Join up if you wish.

Second, there are some fun projects happening around the garden this winter. We are working on expansion, program development, and networking. I don’t really have the time to get into it all right now, but now it is thriving and if you want to talk about it, let me know.

Also, if you are a writer looking for some things to write about, let me know. We can use you! There are a bunch of things we could use writers and editors for.

Oh yeah, and remember that you too can post blogs on here. Please do. Follow the ‘access’ tag and you can get it.

More soon….

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