Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Paige Inglis at Just Food for the information.

farmer info session_socialmediasquare (2)

Last month I posted about Just Food’s Start-Up Farm Program, which makes land, equipment and training available at the Just Food Farm site for people to try local, organic farming for a year.

Just Food is hosting more information sessions for anyone who’d like to learn more about the program or is interested in applying this September for the 2017 growing season. The sessions are on Thursday, Aug. 25 and Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016 from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Blackburn Hamlet branch of the Ottawa Public Library.

More details on the program are at

For other ways to learn about and get involved in supporting Ottawa’s local food system, check out Just Food’s other great programs, including the farm stand which sells fresh produce on Sundays from 10-3. Just Food is also hosting a picnic on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Just Food Farm picnic

Posted by Denise Deby.

Image via Facebook/Ecology Ottawa

Image via Facebook/Ecology Ottawa

Last month’s spill of oil from a Husky Energy pipeline into the North Saskatchewan River contaminated drinking water systems in communities and cities along the river, killed fish, birds and other species, and polluted soil and vegetation.

It’s a scenario that people opposing the Energy East pipeline want to avoid. Energy East would carry tar sands bitumen from Alberta to New Brunswick, with risks to ecosystems and waterways along the way.

Participants in the March to Save Our Rivers, organized by STOP Oléoduc Outaouais, are travelling this week from Saint-André d’Argenteuil near Montreal to Ottawa, along the Ottawa River and the proposed Energy East route.

Ecology Ottawa is encouraging people to come out to welcome the marchers to Gatineau and Ottawa, and join them for the final leg from Major’s Hill Park to Parliament Hill. They’re expected to arrive in Major’s Hill Park on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016 at 2:30 p.m. For details and to RSVP, see or

From Ecology Ottawa’s invitation:

The March to Save our Rivers highlights the pipeline’s risks while underscoring the resolve of groups in Quebec, Ontario and elsewhere who are committed to preserving our shared natural environment…. Let’s all come out and show the city and the country that Ottawans do NOT want their climate, land and water threatened by this pipeline, and that we stand in solidarity with all opposition in the country.”

Written by Denise Deby.


Now showing: the Asinabka Festival, Ottawa’s annual celebration of Indigenous film and media arts.

The Asinabka Festival, which offers film, art, music and more by and/or about Indigenous peoples, runs Aug. 10-14, 2016.

A few highlights:

  • A lecture on reclaiming Indigenous histories, identities and images through Maori film (Friday, Aug. 12 3:30 p.m.);
  • Compelling films from around the world (Friday, Aug. 12-Sunday, Aug. 14)—a huge variety, from a vanishing pink dolphin, to new takes on Star Wars and Goldilocks, to the legacy of the Oka crisis, and much more;
  • A “gallery crawl” of Indigenous art, a music night, a BBQ and outdoor film night, and a festival after-party. (See schedule for details.)

Check all that and more out on the Asinabka Festival website.

Written by Denise Deby.

wild berries by liz west on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

wild berries by liz west on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

This blog has always aspired to be solutions-focused. We try to provide practical information, but we also hope to change the narratives around environmental challenges, so that the framing of problems leads not just to despair but to ways forward.

Sometimes, that’s a walk in the park. Other times, it’s hard, especially when the horror and injustice that our world–and our city–sometimes manifest become overwhelming.

Local herbalist and educator Amber Westfall, in her wonderful blog The Wild Garden, wrote a moving post recently about taking inspiration and strength during difficult times from the wild things that grow in nature. Her dandelion, with its ability to “crumble concrete” and heal damaged earth, provides a beautiful and hopeful metaphor for improving an unjust and unsustainable world, even through small acts. Here’s a link to the post, Resist:

Nature is resilient because of its diversity. This past week in Ottawa, we’ve witnessed heartbreak and deep divisions. We’ve also seen people come together to mourn, insist on solutions and find, in their diversity, the strength to demand change and create a better way.

That’s what keeps me hopeful.

Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Francis Dellosa, B∆LANCE, for the information.

Image courtesy B∆LANCE Clothing

Image courtesy B∆LANCE Clothing

Two Ottawa companies are getting together to spread the word about their products and the benefits of collaboration among sustainable local businesses.

B∆LANCE Clothing uses organic cottons, bamboo blends and other eco-conscious materials to produce its hand-printed, made-in-Canada clothes. B∆LANCE’s team, led by Kim Kirton and Francis Dellosa–both international development specialists–wanted to create an ethical and sustainable alternative to the “fast-fashion industry.” A social enterprise, B∆LANCE supports the team’s efforts to build awareness about ethical and socially responsible consumerism. (Kim is also behind Sprout, an initiative to get fresh produce into convenience stores around town.)

My Sweet Tea offers bubble tea, fresh fruit smoothies and other enticing products as well as a place to socialize, with locations in Chinatown and the ByWard Market.

The two businesses are hosting a pop-up showat My Sweet Tea in the ByWard Market (11 William St.) on Saturday, Jul. 30, 2016 from noon-8 p.m. It’s an opportunity to meet the people behind the businesses, sign up for giveaways featuring products from other local businesses, and check out B∆LANCE, which doesn’t have a retail store yet. They’re online at


Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Paige Inglis at Just Food for the information.

farmer info session_full

Ever wanted to try growing food for a living? Interested in scaling up your gardening or farm experience, or want to be part of Ottawa’s sustainable local food system?

Just Food’s Start-Up Farm Program is preparing for the 2017 growing season and will be hosting an information session on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Blackburn Hamlet library branch.

Just Food is a great organization that works on all things food security and sustainability in Ottawa, from farm to fork. They’ve been running the Start-Up Farm Program for several years, and some wonderful local producers got started through the program.

Participants get access to land, shared equipment and workshops on everything from crop planning to organic certification to harvesting to business planning. It’s a less risky way of exploring the field, so to speak–plus a way to meet other farmers and tap into Just Food’s networks.

See Just Food’s Start-Up Farm Program website page for more information about the program and criteria for applicants. You can also email with questions.


Guest post written by Mike Gifford, OpenConcept Consulting.

Le Coeur Noir ( by Mike Gifford on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic

Le Coeur Noir ( by Mike Gifford on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic

If you live in Ottawa and care about the environment you’ve probably purchased something from companies like Beau’s All Natural, Bullfrog Power, African Bronze Honey. Whether it is beer, green power or honey, it isn’t just that they are good companies. You may have also heard about MediaStyle, the Business Development Bank of Canada or even my own company OpenConcept Consulting which you’d probably only hear about if you were looking to hire services from an organization. All of these companies are Certified Benefit Companies, or B Corp.

B Corps are companies that have articles of incorporation that value all stakeholders, not just the owners. Unlike most corporations, B Corps have a mandate to serve the triple bottom line of serving people, the planet and profit.

This on its own wouldn’t be a huge shift for some organizations. Running a company is a lot of work, but most business owners care about their employees, their community and the environment that we all live in. What is different though is that B Corps are committed to measuring what matters. Every 2 years, these businesses need to complete an assessment that addresses their environmental footprint, the corporate governance structure, social justice issues and more. This impact assessment is fairly general in that it needs to be able to support a range of businesses from small family businesses to large, globally recognized brands.

In taking this survey I have been impressed to find ways to make my company better. The culture of business is focused almost exclusively on profits. It is uncommon to see a business explicitly state that they are carbon neutral or have equal opportunity hiring policy. When looking around it is easy to assume if you just switch to LED lightbulbs you’re already doing more than most. This might well be true, but if we are going to address global warming we need to do a lot better.

Fortunately, by joining the B Corp movement, a business can associate themselves with some of the most forward thinking companies in the world. Rather than simply aiming to be slightly higher than the lowest common denominator, companies can compete with each other to really be the best that they can be.

Any organization can take the Impact Assessment created and managed by the NGO B Lab, but only for-profit businesses with a high score can become a B Corp. B Corp believe that business needs to be a force for good. Still, any organization seeking to be more environmentally friendly could benefit from taking the Impact Assessment. This assessment provides a framework to help organizations look at their environmental impact in a way that they can measure year after year.

One of the many great ideas within the B Corp movement is having a green supply chain. B Corp are encouraged to buy local where possible and also from other B Corp. By purchasing from one B Corp, you can affect a larger supply chain.

As consumers we have learned the importance of the Fair Trademark and Certified Organic brands. Many consumers are willing to give preference to products which feature these brands. The B Corp logo is much like this, except for the whole business.

Please take some time to learn more about B Corps through some of these videos. As consumers we can all do more to see that our purchases can go to support the world that we need.

OpenConcept provides sustainable IT services for organizations looking for interactive websites or apps which are customized to meet your unique needs.


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