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.

Guest post from Frances Fyfe, Friends of the Earth Canada.

Bumblebee photo by Mireille Gauthier (used with permission)

Bumblebee photo by Mireille Gauthier (with permission)

Summer is upon us and that means plenty of exciting events in and around the capital. With that buzz of activity comes another type of buzz: one from bumble bees. Summer is peak activity time for bumble bees all across Canada, including in Ottawa. However, in recent years, bumble bee populations have taken a nosedive. The Rusty-patched bumblebee, once abundant in Southern Ontario, is now almost extinct and officially designated as endangered. Six more native bees are critically at risk, with scientists advising the Federal Minister of Environment to take steps to protect them. This news is alarming, since bumble bees are essential pollinators to many of the crops we grow, and without them, our food supply is critically threatened.

Friends of the Earth Canada, an environmental advocacy group headquartered in Ottawa, has launched an exciting new campaign that blends public participation with scientific research. The Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count kicked off on June 1 and will continue until August 15, 2016. It’s a cross-country citizen science campaign that asks people to take pictures of bumble bees when they see them in their yards or in public spaces. People are then asked to upload them to an online database ( and identify what type of species they are (no identification skills required- the photos will be verified by a team of experts.) This way, scientists will be better able to track the number and distribution of bumble bees over time. It’s an easy and fun way to do your part to protect the bees!

Need inspiration for where to begin? Head down to your local park, or turn The Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count into a family trip to the Mer Bleue bog or the gardens around the Museum of Nature. Alternatively, you can hone your bee watching skills in your front lawn or on the back patio. Bumble bees love sunflower, echinacea, lavender, and of course, bee balm. Other initiatives from the Friends of the Earth Bee Cause include the Let it Bee campaign, which asks gardeners to make their gardens friendlier to bees by using different planting and maintenance techniques, like planting native flowers and providing stems and sticks as nesting sites.

You can learn more about the campaigns at one of Friends of the Earth’s lunchtime workshops, which includes the showing of a new documentary film (A Ghost in the Making: Searching for the Rusty-patched Bumble Bee) and more information on how to participate in the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count (July 7, 14 and 19 from 12:00 – 1:00 at 251 Bank Street). Another workshop will take place at Fletcher Wildlife Garden on July 13 at 7:00 PM and July 17 at 9:00 AM, the latter time with an opportunity to go look for bumble bees afterwards. All events are free and more information on how to register can be found at the Friends of the Earth’s and Fletcher Wildlife Garden’s respective websites.

It’s all part of the many ways you can help protect bumble bees this summer, and they’ll be thanking you for it.

* * *

View the trailer for “A Ghost in the Making: Searching for the Rusty-patched Bumble Bee” below. More on Clay Bolt and “Beautiful Bees” here.

Posted by Denise Deby.

It is sacred poster

Three Four upcoming events are focused on protecting the area around Chaudière Falls in the Ottawa River.

They’re prompted by concerns about development proposals for the area, which is considered sacred by many Indigenous peoples.

On Wednesday, June 8, 2016, a panel discussion will take a critical look at the “Zibi” development project. “Reconcilation Needs Justice – Stop Windmill’s ‘Zibi’ Condos on Sacred Algonquin Land” will be at 7 p.m. at the Ottawa Public Library’s Main Branch (120 Metcalfe St.) Speakers are Algonquin Elder Albert Dumont, former Ottawa city councilor Clive Doucet, and Stop Windmill group co-founder Cathy Remus.

On Monday, June 13, 2016, Albert Dumont will talk about the protection and restoration of the Sacred Site at Chaudière Falls and the Islands, through the lens of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It’s at 7 p.m. at First United Church (347 Richmond Rd.).

Added: On Thursday, June 16, 2016, Circle of All Nations will present Elder William Commanda’s vision for the site. It’s at Rideau Park United Church (2203 Alta Vista Dr.).

On Friday, June 17, 2016, a Sacred Walk with Anishnabe / Algonquins Elders will travel from Victoria Island to Parliament Hill. Everyone is welcome to participate and show support. Details and RSVP at and

From the website:

Did you know that Canada has its very own ancient and crucial sacred site of waterfalls and islands right behind Parliament Hill? Akikodjiwan is the Algonquin name of our Sacred Site – the Chaudière Falls & islands; the area is also known as Asinabka.

As the Traditional Elders who represent customary and traditional leadership in the Algonquin Nation we request your support. Grandmothers and Elders are the knowledge and wisdom-keepers and it is our responsibility to protect the traditions of our sacred site since time immemorial.

June 17th, 2016 is one of those moments in history where we must all act together. We reach out to you and to all levels of government (Canadian and Indigenous) as the traditional spiritual voice committed to holding the sacred – sacred – a place for our great-grand-children and yours.

We ask for your support, your attendance, your prayers, your banners, flags and your act of listening and witnessing. Please: on June 17th join us in large numbers for a ceremony and walk.”

Also on the website:

There are many alternatives for the site that could be developed by engaging Algonquins in the actual visioning and planning process. The federal government has a responsibility to make this happen.

As it turns out, moreover, there has been a long-standing plan on the books that is consistent with the Gréber Plan for the capital: Algonquin Elder William Commanda’s vision for the falls. Commanda’s Asinabka vision calls for a city park, historic interpretive centre, a “peace building meeting site”, and an aboriginal centre. The federal government even commissioned famous Aboriginal architect Douglas Cardinal, who designed the Museum of History in Hull-Gatineau, to produce a plan consistent with this vision for the islands. The City of Ottawa website also hosts a report on this alternate vision.”

For more on the issue, see:

Maurice Switzer’s op-ed in the Ottawa Citizen.

Douglas Cardinal’s interview in Canadian Geographic:

A backgrounder and overview:

Update: Letter from Suzanne Keeptwo calling for a Talking Circle to reach consensus on a way forward for the site among all stakeholders:

Written by Denise Deby.

Porch View Dances 2015

Porch View Dances 2015 – D. Deby photo

Some fun things coming up this weekend:

Doors Open Ottawa

For a look inside some of the city’s interesting places, including some not normally not open to the public, check out Doors Open Ottawa on Saturday, Jun. 4-Sunday, Jun. 5, 2016.

You’ll get to see buildings of architectural, historical, scientific and other significance—and those that are just plain intriguing: the Central Experimental Farm (including the Saunders building with “a complete collection of all plants found in Canada”), Maplelawn Historical Garden, Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind National Training Centre, Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre, Parkdale Food Centre, the Hydro Ottawa generating station on Amelia Island (“believed to be the oldest operating hydroelectric generator in Canada”), Suntech Greenhouses, Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health (with “awe-inspiring architecture by Douglas Cardinal”), numerous embassies and more.

There’s a free shuttle bus that goes to 50 of the 120 participating Doors Open sites; or you can see 5 sites on a bicycle tour with Escape Tours (it’s a fundraiser for Trips for Kids Ottawa).

Check the Doors Open Ottawa website and guide for opening hours of buildings, and other information.

Canada Dance Festival

See part of the Canada Dance Festival—outdoors. Kaeja d’Dance presents Porch View Dances in Westboro on Saturday, Jun. 4 and Sunday, Jun. 5, 2016 at 4 p.m. The audience moves through the neighbourhood to watch local families perform dances created by professional choreographers—extremely fun. (For more outdoor dance, check out Aeriosa’s aerial performances and La Grande Fente’s pop-up dances in the Byward Market on Thursday, Jun. 9, 2016.)


The wonderful Westfest happens Friday, Jun. 3-Sunday, Jun. 5, 2016 in its new location, Laroche Park (52 Bayview Rd.). The free festival includes live music, art programming, an Indigenous pavilion, an artisan area and local food trucks, performance artists, spoken word artists, kids’ activities and more. See the website for the full lineup.

Prose in the Park

Another fun (and free!) outdoor event is Prose in the Park, happening on Friday, Jun. 3 (at Origin Studio) and Saturday, Jun. 4, 2016 at Parkdale Park. There’s a great line-up of authors, so check it out.

Great Lemonade Standemonium

On Saturday, Jun. 4, 2016, look for the Great Lemonade Standemonium, where kids around town will be running lemonade stands in their neighbourhoods, to raise funds for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. There’s more information and a map on the website.


Written by Denise Deby. Thanks to Michael Calvert, Ottawa Veg Fest for the information and post suggestion.

Veg Fest composite image

Ottawa’s annual celebration of all things vegetarian and vegan happens Saturday, June 4 and Sunday June 5, 2016.

Ottawa Veg Fest is an exhibition of local plant-based food–including non-dairy cheeses, ice cream and chocolate, baked goods and meat alternatives–and other products and services. There’ll be samples of food, cooking demonstrations, speakers and information about local organizations and businesses.

Ottawa Veg Fest happens at the RA Centre, 2451 Riverside Dr., from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. both days. Admission is by donation, with proceeds going to local non-profits (last year the Ottawa Food Bank’s Community Harvest Program, and the National Capital Vegetarian Association).

Here are a few things the organizers would like you to know:

  • There are more places than ever in Ottawa to find great vegan and vegetarian food and other products—including new businesses Little Jo Berry’s, Rawlicious, Grow Your Roots and Thirteen Muesli, well-established options such as The Table Vegetarian Restaurant, Simply Raw and Planet Botanix, and lots of other food and personal care products and services. That’s reflected in the large number of exhibitors—more than 80—at this year’s Veg Fest.
  • Ottawa Veg Fest is for everyone, vegetarian or not: it’s a great place to discover local food producers and vendors.
  • Vegan food is anything but boring: “In reality, vegan food can be incredibly creative, flavourful, and reflect virtually any style of cuisine.”

Some things you can try at Ottawa Veg Fest:

International Foods

Very often international cuisines are a plant-food lover’s best friend. From Indian to African to Japanese, international foods open up new ways to eat your veggies. Visitors to Veg Fest will be able to sample and purchase food from Asian Stars, Baccanalle, and All About the Soup – which has a huge range of international flavours covered with its soups.

Comfort Foods

Sometimes it’s all about the presentation, but other times you just want filling and hearty options that remind you of the warming dishes of your childhood. Panago Pizza will be there serving vegan pizza, and The Table Vegetarian is renowned for its delicious and hearty whole foods comfort dishes.

Raw Foods

Just in time for summer, Veg Fest will be a great place to learn about the lighter fare that our bodies often want during the warmer months. You don’t want to miss SimplyRaw Express, returning as a sponsor, as well as new Ottawa vegan restaurant Rawlicious.

Baked Goods

Who doesn’t want to sink their teeth into a succulent cupcake, or enjoy the guilty pleasure of a cookie? You can find those at Veg Fest too! Both Strawberry Blonde and Sweet Cheeks bakeries offer entirely vegan and gluten free treat menus, and will be at Veg Fest with an array of their offerings.

Gourmet Foods

If you want the taste of dairy cheese but without any of the bad stuff, Nona Vegan Foods Limited and Fauxmagerie Zengarry are must-hit booths. Nona makes amazing cheesy sauces from cashews, and Zengarry is the country’s largest producer of fine cashew cheeses in nine different flavours! If it’s ice cream you’re craving, Oat and Mill will be there serving up and selling their oat-based ice cream, made right here in the Ottawa area. Last year they were one of the most popular attractions! And finally, Snell House Foods will have a great array of sauces and dressings – vegan and locally made!”

For more information about Ottawa Veg Fest, see their website.


Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Gabrielle White, Ecology Ottawa volunteer, for the information.

Ecology Ottawa's Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale 2012 FB photo httpsecologyottawa.caannual-eventsgarage-sale

Ecology Ottawa’s Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale 2012

Every year (for 9 years now!), Ecology Ottawa organizes the Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale during the Glebe Community Association’s Great Glebe Garage Sale. This year it all happens on Saturday, May 28, 2016.

The Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale is a garage sale, fundraiser, vegetarian BBQ, family activity spot and party all rolled into one. There’s baked goods and coffee, a water bottle refilling station, massage therapists and live DJs. Even better, proceeds support the great work of Ecology Ottawa (90%) and the Ottawa Food Bank (10%), and the event helps raise awareness of environmental issues in Ottawa–not to mention keeping reusable items from the landfill.

Ecology Ottawa is looking for volunteers to make the GGGG sale happen:

Everything is coordinated by more than 100 passionate volunteers, without whom this event would not be possible. This year we are looking for volunteers of all ages for various jobs, including:

– People with access to a vehicle (or a bike with trailer) to pick-up donations ahead of the sale, and to distribute leftover items to worthy organizations after the event (May 23-31).

– Folks to sort donations in the days leading up to the event (May 23-27).

– Lots of help at the actual event, including some brave souls to help set everything up at the crack of dawn, salespeople, folks to run the BBQ, people to paint kids’ faces, and plenty of other help to make the event run smoothly (Saturday, May 28).

– Help in the days following the event, to sort the leftover items, distribute them to worthy local organizations, return items borrowed from our supporters, and tidy the venue (May 29-31).

… and many more volunteer roles.”

Find out more, or sign up to volunteer, donate or bake goods for the sale, at, or contact



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