Essential for our survival: water. Learn more this week about the threats to water globally and locally, and what we can do to address them.
A Tale of Two Cities and Water Warriors
This film screening and talk presents A Tale of Two Cities and Water Warriors, which look at community action to protect water from industrial development and privatization. Speakers are Algonquin Elder Verna McGregor from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui, and video appearance by one of the Story of Stuff filmmakers. Free event (donations welcome) to mark World Water Day, organized by Council of Canadians’ Ottawa Chapter, on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 7-8:30 p.m. at 251 Bank St. (2nd floor).
Protecting your Rights to Swim, Drink and Fish the Ottawa River, a talk by Riverkeeper Meredith Brown
Hear from Ottawa Riverkeeper Meredith Brown about the work that the Ottawa Riverkeeper, along with an array of other organizations and community members, are doing to protect rights to a clean and safe Ottawa River. This World Water Day talk will be held on Thursday, March 22, 2018, 2:45-3:45 p.m. at 182 University Centre, Carleton University. Organized by the Global Water Institute and Carleton University’s IWA/WEAO/OWWA Student Chapter. (Check out this and other upcoming GWI “Water Conversation” Series events on their website.)
World Water Day 2018 / Journée Mondiale de l’eau 2018 Event – Blue Drinks Ottawa
Blue Drinks Ottawa hosts this evening of refreshments and discussion on nature-based solutions to water challenges. Pizza and networking start at 5 p.m., followed by a panel discussion with James Brennan (Ducks Unlimited), Sara O’Neill (Smart Prosperity) and Eva Katic (National Capital Commission) at 6 p.m. The event takes place on Thursday, March 22, 2018 from 5-8 p.m. at the Ottawa Public Library Main Branch Auditorium, 120 Metcalfe St.
Also check out Council of Canadians’ suggestions for action on World Water Day here, and The Story of Stuff campaigns here.
What does it mean to protect “the commons” when “the commons” is stolen land? This will be the focus of a conversation between author Craig Fortier (Unsettling the Commons: Social Movements Within, Against, and Beyond Settler Colonialism) and writer and activist Fiona Jeffries (author of Nothing to Lose But Our Fear: Resistance in Dangerous Times). The launch of Unsettling the Commons takes place on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at 7 p.m. at Octopus Books, 116 Third Ave.
The LISF-LEILA 2018 Thought for Food Interdisciplinary Conference, hosted by the University of Ottawa’s Laboratory for the Interdisciplinary Study of Food, has an impressive agenda that includes critical and historical perspectives on food policy in Canada, the roles of the finance industry and of community engagement in Canada’s food systems, shifting towards agroecology, movement building towards food sovereignty, food insecurity and food accessibility, and more. The free event takes place on Saturday March 17, 2018 from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the University of Ottawa, Fauteux Building (FTX), room 147A.
Just Food and The Sacred Gardener co-host the Story of the Madawaska Forest Garden on Sunday, March 25, 2018, 1-3 p.m. Steve Martyn, who co-founded the Sacred Gardener Earth Wisdom School, created the Algonquin Tea Company and much more, will give a sure-to-be-inspiring talk about his journey and humans’ relationship with the gifts of the Earth. Don’t miss it!
“Learn about organic vegetable, herb, and edible flower gardening with experienced and qualified instructors. Three half-day, Saturday morning seminars will cover 9 different topics designed to help you plan, plant, grow, and harvest your own little slice of organic paradise in the city.”
Seminar topics include garden planning, seed starting, container and small space gardening, soil, compost, organic pest and disease management, seed saving and more.
See the COG website for details and registration. All seminars take place at the Hintonburg Community Centre (1064 Wellington St W.).
Thanks to Caitlin Carrol, Canadian Organic Growers, for the information.
March has arrived, and spring is in the air. Time to think about planting—seeds, ideas and plans for improving our city.
Planning for Urban Tree Conservation By-law Review
Despite some protections, Ottawa’s trees are at risk—including from development and infill. The City of Ottawa is slated to review its Urban Tree Conservation By-law this year. Join other community members to plan for public input into how the by-law can truly protect Ottawa’s trees, including mature trees. The meeting will be held on Saturday, Mar. 3, 2018from 1-3 p.m. at the Champlain Park fieldhouse, 140 Cowley Ave.
Seedy Saturday Ottawa
Stock up on seeds for your garden at Seedy Saturday, Ottawa’s annual seed sale and exchange. It’s a great place to find heritage seeds and other garden-related stuff, and learn from local farmers, gardening and environmental groups. Talks cover growing tips, worm composting, and seed diversity around the world. Seedy Saturday takes place on Saturday, Mar. 3, 2018 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre.
Potluck and Workshops at the Just Food Red Barn
Starting Wednesday, Mar. 21, 2018, Just Food will host monthly potlucks in their new Red Barn community space, followed by workshops on food topics. The March 21st workshop is on seed saving with Kate Green. Participants will learn effective seed garden planting, and how to access seeds through the Ottawa Seed Library. Potluck 6-7:30 p.m., workshop 7:30-9 p.m.; see the website event page for details. (For more upcoming events and news related to Ottawa’s food system, be sure to sign up for Just Food’s newsletter.)
Something is happening right now that might be easy to miss. It’s the door closing on the possibility of reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and Canadians. We need to understand this, and address it.
Injustices against Indigenous people have been a reality since well before Canada became a country, and ongoing injustices are well documented. Still, somehow there has been hope of renewed positive relationships among Canadians and Indigenous peoples and of a better understanding that we are all treaty people residing on Indigenous land.
Recent events have underscored the gap between where we are now and where we need to be in this relationship. On February 9, the man who shot and killed 22-year-old Colten Boushie of Cree Red Pheasant First Nation was acquitted, despite the evidence. On February 22, the man accused of murdering 15-year-old Tina Fontaine of Sagkeeng First Nation was found not guilty. The injustices of these decisions, and of the circumstances leading to the deaths of both young people, are compounded by the expressions of racism that have been unleashed as Indigenous people and allies speak up about injustice.
Many of us are horrified by these racist responses as well as by the injustices, but it’s time we acknowledge and address the racism embedded in our social, political and justice systems.
Creating a positive relationship with the land and environment—our goal as people committed to sustainability—requires that we understand Canada as a society and political entity built through colonialism, on land that does not belong to most of us, and sustained through inequitable and unjust relationships. There is no way forward without that understanding.
“As a lawyer & law professor, I understand the law, but I don’t see justice in it. The truth is that there is no real justice for Indigenous people. The systems that purport to bring justice fail us over & over, time and again.” The brilliant Aimée Craft. https://t.co/bzNRAhs918
(StittsvilleCentral.ca Editor’s note: I recently went for a walk with Paul Wilson around the site of the future Blackstone Community Park near his home. Like many new parks in our community, city staff are planning to build a play structure, a swing set, a splash pad, some sports fields, and so on. But when Paul looks out over the field of dirt and snow, he sees potential for a permaculture food forest. In this letter, he explains what the concept is all about. -GG.)
I would like to see all new community and district parks include food forests. The initial Blackstone food forest can become a community engagement destination and support charity and educational engagement. The food forest, and nearby park features, can provide outdoor community spaces for numerous activities, including quiet reflection or picnics, in a setting conducive to education on the benefits of planting edible trees. It is intended to develop close ties to the other synergistic groups in the region.
My goal is to establish organic food forests within Stittsville and City of Ottawa with an emphasis on permanent, restorative agriculture. By design, a permaculture approach in these forests builds soil structure, uses less water and can yields a dramatic amount of highly nutritious food per square meter.
Caveat: I am using many words, definitions and images created by others.
While I’m not an expert, there are a few things I’ve discovered about creating more sustainable forests, in particular why permaculture is important. While the name is tossed around or omitted sometimes (as it is assumed), it’s important because it is the design system for food production that can be sustainable and minimizes the maintenance issues associated with forest management. For it to be used in city parks, low maintenance costs can make a difference. For any volunteers, less work is better.
Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centred around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. Let nature do what nature does best: grow and evolve.
A food forest is a gardening technique or land management system which mimics a woodland ecosystem by incorporating edible trees, shrubs, perennials, mushrooms and annuals. This is more than a garden with trees. It is a seven-layer system where a key aspect is diversity: a polyculture of native plants with careful selection of non-native and non-invasion varieties; promoting a symbiosis, less disease, longer grazing period for pollinators.
Permaculture food forest principles emphasize plant selections that are edible by people and support natural ecosystems such as bees, birds, and native inhabitants.
I think of the 3 P’s: Plants, Participants and Produce. Key is a good design of plants and in establishing the forest, the multi-year approaches to creating synergies between the layers (it is easier than it sounds). The participants are the people/volunteers, insects, birds, animals – the community enables the forest to thrive. The produce is more than all the wonderful edibles and includes the environmental benefits, soil enrichment and all what may be viewed as intangibles – the ways the participants thrive in the forest… some claim, a “breathable, life enhancing, realm”.
I’ve always liked the following image to show the seven layers:
As described in the image, these are the edible polyculture layers:
Canopy layer consisting of tall nut and fruit trees.
Low-tree layer of smaller nut and fruit trees on dwarfing root stocks.
Shrub layer of fruit and nut bushes such as currants and berries.
Herbaceous layer of perennial vegetables and herbs.
Rhizosphere or underground dimension of plants grown for their roots and tubers.
Ground cover layer of edible plants that spread horizontally.
Virtual layer of vines and climbers
The plants selected would be appropriate for our local community and climate zone, and suitable for a public park.
On Thursday, February 8, 2018 from 6:30-8:45 pm there will be a public information session on the proposed design plan for the Blackstone Community Park at the Goulbourn Recreation Complex. The current proposed plans for this park have recently been posted (you can see them here) but this current proposal does not fully establish a food forest; rather a provision for a future community garden and the initial planting of fruit and nut trees.
If you are interested in seeing a food forest in our community, please provide your input and if possible, attend the meeting. I’m hopeful many members of our community will take the time to express their views. The city is encouraging residents to provide their feedback on the proposed plans to: