flora and fauna

Written by Denise Deby.

Organic Green Spring Plant Seedlings in Natural Window Light by Pink Sherbet Photography on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Organic Green Spring Plant Seedlings in Natural Window Light by Pink Sherbet Photography on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

If you’d like to hone your gardening skills, check out these spring opportunities.

The Community Gardening Network of Ottawa is holding workshops on several useful topics:

  • Beginner Organic Vegetable Gardening – no-pesticide gardening basics
  • Natural Pest Control – chemical-free ways to deal with what ails your garden
  • Square Foot Gardening – growing in a small space
  • Herbal Tips and Tricks – growing plants that heal

The CGN workshops take place between April 8 and May 12, 2015 at various community sites. See http://justfood.ca/blog/2015/03/18/spring2015_cgn_workshops/ for details and registration information.

Canadian Organic Growers Ottawa – St. Lawrence – Outaouais is holding its Urban Organic Gardening Seminars series from April 14 to May 5, 2015:

  • Basics of organic growing – Soil and Composting
  • Organic Seeds, Germination and Seed Saving
  • Organic Container Veggie Gardening
  • Organic Edible Ornamentals including Edible Flowers and Herbs
  • Organic In-ground Veggie Gardening
  • Designing an Urban Garden to support Pollinators, Pest Eaters and Pest Deterrents

With the COG-OSO seminars, which take place at City Hall, you can sign up for any of the sessions, or all seven as a package. See http://cog.ca/ottawa/urban-organic-gardening-seminars/ for details and how to register.

Master Gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton offers a few gardening workshops, as well as advice through their free help line.

Kinburn Farms (about half an hour from Ottawa) hosts hands-on workshops on seeds, basic gardening and more.

If you’re interested in learning about wild edible plants, check out The Wild Garden’s spring plant walks and classes on healing plants.

Some inspiration while we wait for spring!

Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Ottawa Bird Count for the information. (Post edited March 4: changes in italics.)

Poster Chirps Tweets Trills 2015 lowres

Spring means the return of birds and also the return of the Ottawa Bird Count‘s seven week course called “Chirps, tweets and trills 2015: Learn your local bird songs.”

Participants will learn to recognize the songs of the most common bird species in the Ottawa area. They’ll also find out “tips, tricks and technology” for learning bird sounds, and methods for monitoring bird activity in order to be able to participate in Ottawa Bird Count surveys.

People are welcome whether they’re new to bird identification or are experienced birders.

The course runs Saturday mornings from Apr. 11-May 30. It’s free, but you have to commit to doing all 14 hours of the course. There’ll be both indoor lessons and outdoor field work.

Click here for more information and to register.

The course was extremely popular last year, so check it out soon.

Ottawa Bird Count is an environmental and educational charity that runs a volunteer-based bird survey in Ottawa, with the intention of making our city more bird-aware and more biodiverse.

Written by Denise Deby. Thanks to Lise Guevremont, City of Ottawa, for information.


Image via City of Ottawa

“Wildlife” isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Ottawa, but our city is home to hundreds of species.

The City of Ottawa is hosting Wildlife and a Liveable City on Monday, Mar. 2, 2015 at City Hall. There’s an “environment trade show” starting at 6 p.m., and a panel discussion on cities and wildlife conservation and co-existence at 7:30 p.m.

Speakers include David Chernushenko, city councillor and environment committee chair; Janet Mason, Ottawa Stewardship Council; and Brenda Van Sleeuwen, Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Register here.

The event coincides with World Wildlife Day, celebrated on March 3.



Written by Denise Deby. Thanks to Jacqueline Littlewood for the information.

Every Leaf Counts logo by Julia Escott Albert (via Hopewell Yard Campaign)

Every Leaf Counts logo by Julia Escott Albert (via Hopewell Yard Campaign)

Hopewell Avenue Public School has big plans for its yard: to create a vibrant space for kids to play, with shaded green space and welcoming play structures. Unfortunately, right now the yard is mostly asphalt. A number of large trees were cut down last summer due to damage from the emerald ash borer. The aging play structures have to be replaced. As is the case with most schools, there’s no budget for these changes. The school community has launched a campaign, Every Leaf Counts, to raise funds for new trees and new play spaces. One of the fundraising events is a screening of the documentary Project Wild Thing. The film is about a dad in the UK who, frustrated by his kids’ focus on screens and consumer products, creates a national marketing campaign to get kids outside.

Project Wild Thing is the hilarious, real-life story of one man’s determination to get children out and into the ultimate, free wonder-product: Nature.” http://projectwildthing.com/press

Project Wild Thing will screen as a benefit for Every Leaf Counts at the Mayfair Theatre on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. You can buy tickets here. Find out more about the film here: www.projectwildthing.com/film For more information on the Hopewell campaign and how to help, see www.facebook.com/hopewellyard. They’re hoping to raise $200,000, the estimated cost of yard renewal, by March 1, 2015. http://vimeo.com/68072823

Written by Denise Deby.

Super Bee to the Rescue by phrawr on Flickr Creative Commons https://www.flickr.com/photos/phrawr/9446571102/ Attribution 2.0 Generic

Super Bee to the Rescue by phrawr on Flickr Creative Commons https://www.flickr.com/photos/phrawr/9446571102/ Attribution 2.0 Generic

You’ve probably heard–pollinators including bees, butterflies, moths and birds are being harmed by pesticides, loss of habitat, climate change and other negative influences on their health and numbers.

Healthy pollinators mean healthy food. It’s estimated that more than a third of what we eat and many plant-derived medicines need pollinators to grow.

The Ontario government is proposing a plan to enhance pollinator health and reduce the use of neonicotinoid pesticides.

The plan, which would come into effect this year, would decrease the amount of land where neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds are planted by 80 per cent by 2017.

The proposal is open to public comment until January 25, 2015. For more details and to comment, see the website.

The David Suzuki Foundation has created a letter you can adapt and sign here.

The Ontario Beekeepers Association supports the direction of the plan and calls for additional steps to protect pollinators. See their example letter here.


Written by Denise Deby.

Sara Stem Saves the Bees book - D. Deby photo

A children’s book with a strong female character who faces an environmental challenge and takes charge with a science-based solution—that’s Sara Stem Saves the Bees.

Local author Julia Cieslukowska created the story of Sara Stem, a girl who realizes something is happening with the bees. Sara uses her knowledge and the resources around her to find and carry out a solution. The book, written for two- to six-year-olds, illustrates that individual actions can make a difference for the environment.

I had the chance to meet Julia Cieslukowska at her book launch on November 16. Julia, who’s also doing a masters’ degree in international affairs at Carleton, wanted to write a book to empower kids, particularly those who don’t see themselves often represented in literature. You can read more about Julia’s motivation for writing the book here.

Julia has set up a Kickstarter campaign where people can purchase the book as well as make copies available to kids in Ottawa who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the book. She needs to raise $3500 by November 29, 2014—the campaign is getting close to that goal, but if you’d like to check out the book or help out with the campaign you can check it out here.

(To find out what you can do to protect bees and other pollinators, check out the David Suzuki Foundation’s suggestions here.)


Written by Denise Deby.

Hog's Back Falls photo by fw42 on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic https://www.flickr.com/photos/fw42/14646653925

Hog’s Back Falls photo by fw42 on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic https://www.flickr.com/photos/fw42/14646653925

If you’re one of the lucky people who secured a ticket to David Suzuki‘s appearance in Ottawa at Centrepointe Theatre on October 17, 2014, you’re in for a treat.

If not, you should still know why he’s here. It’s important.

The esteemed scientist and environmentalist is travelling across the country for his Blue Dot Tour to raise awareness of the need for Canada to recognize people’s right to a healthy environment.

The Blue Dot initiative makes the point that we have the right to be sure that our food, water and air are clean and safe. That requires including the right to live in a healthy environment in legislation at all levels of government and in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, so that no government can undermine it.

The organizers are calling on Canada to join the more than 110 countries that have already declared the right to a healthy environment as a fundamental human right. That right includes the right to have clean air, water and food, to access nature, to know about pollutants in the environment and to participate in government decisions that affect the environment.

The thinking is that as individuals speak up, governments—from local up—will be convinced to recognize the right. According to the Blue Dot video, it’s about “ordinary people coming together to take extraordinary action.”

You can check out, and support, the effort at http://bluedot.ca/join-us/.

There’s more here about David Suzuki’s reasons for launching the Blue Dot Tour, and background here on why the right to a healthy environment is important.




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