Ottawa Veg/Yoga Fest 2013

Posted by Denise Deby.


Heather Garrod of Planet Botanix sent us word that the fifth annual Ottawa Veg Fest is teaming up with Ottawa’s first Yoga Fest this year.

At the Ottawa Veg/Yoga Fest,  local businesses will have displays on vegan food, yoga and related products and services. You can see the list of exhibitors here. Two films, Forks Over Knives and Vegucated, will also be shown.

Admission is by donation, with proceeds going to the National Capital Vegetarian Association, which founded Veg Fest, and Prevent Cancer Now. This year the festival is organized by the group Ottawa Local Motives.

The festival runs June 22-23, 2013 at Saint Paul University, 223 Main St., from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. If you go on Saturday you can also catch the Main Farmers’ Market from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

The Ottawa Good Food Box

Written by Denise Deby.

Veggies by Shannon McAdam, Creative Commons licence
Veggies by Shannon McAdam, Creative Commons licence

If you’re keen to have more fresh vegetables and fruits on your table but are short on funds, don’t live near a market or can’t commit to a CSA share, don’t despair; there’s another option.

The Ottawa Good Food Box allows you to purchase a box of fresh fruits and vegetables at wholesale prices. The Good Food Box pools your order with others it receives, meaning it can buy in bulk from local farmers and wholesalers.

The boxes contain “staples” such as carrots, onions, apples, tomatoes, lettuce and potatoes as well as seasonal produce such as green beans, mushrooms, strawberries, asparagus or mangoes. Not all the produce is local, although they try to source local where possible. You can sign up for a large, medium or small box, a “fruit bag,” or an organic box. The Good Food Box includes recipes with every order in case you’re not sure what to do with that eggplant or Swiss chard.

The Ottawa Good Food Box is a non-profit program run through the Centretown Community Health Centre. It began as a way to make fresh food affordable. The program is open to everyone, and there’s no fee to participate.

You pick up your order at a local distribution site (check the online map for a site near you). If you can’t find a nearby site, the Ottawa Good Food Box will create a new one as long as they have 10 customers and a volunteer site coordinator for it.

The Good Food Box relies on volunteers, so if packing boxes, running a site or getting to know your neighbours interest you, check out the opportunities at

From the Ottawa Good Food Box website:

The Good Food Box is open to anyone and everyone who is interested in participating in the program, whether your reasons are to increase your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, introduce variety and new food experiences, cooking more from scratch or building community spirit!”

Our Little Farm CSA

Written by guest blogger Geneviève Grossenbacher of Notre petite ferme – Our Little Farm.

Photo courtesy Our Little Farm
Photo courtesy Our Little Farm

Get fresh, local & organic veggies: Sign up for a CSA box!

Want to eat fresh, local & organic vegetables this summer? Our Little Farm will be delivering Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) vegetable boxes in Ottawa and Hull again this summer and we still have a few spots left! CSA directly supports local farmers and is the best way to access fresh local organic food. To join our CSA farm, you, as a consumer, pay in advance for a share of vegetables. In exchange, each week or every other week, depending on how many veggies you like to eat, we deliver our farm fresh veggies in five drop-offs throughout the city and one drop-off in Hull from late June to late October (check out our drop-off map here). On top of getting healthy and great tasting veggies, you will get our weekly e-newsletter with farm news and recipes, and will be invited to different farm events during the season (garlic braiding, vegetable treasure hunt for kids, etc.) Hurry, as the number of spaces are limited; contact Jim Thompson: or check out for more info and to get a feel for our farm.

Organic Farm Field Trip

Written by Denise Deby.

Learning about organic farming - photo by Denise Deby

If you grow up in the city, don’t have a garden and buy most of your food from a grocery store, how do you gain an appreciation of what it takes to produce food?

Arlee and Diane Sheets are busy fourth-generation farmers at Rock-N-Horse Farm near Almonte, but they also take time to share their knowledge of growing food with people who are interested in knowing more.

I met Diane and Arlee in April while on a field trip to their farm with a group of elementary school kids. Arlee, Diane and their staff made the students feel right at home as they guided them in exploring how vegetables are grown, how animals are raised and how maple syrup is made. The kids got to identify, choose and plant cucumber, tomato, carrot and other seeds, ride a horse-drawn wagon, feed the horses and hold chicks and ducklings. They loved it, as did I and the other parent volunteers.

Rock-N-Horse Farm uses organic principles to produce the vegetables, eggs and meat that it sells to the public and at the Carleton Place Farmers’ Market. The farm also offers Community-Shared Agriculture (CSA) to customers who can order produce from the farm and pick up their shares at locations in Stittsville, Kanata and Ottawa. More information on their CSA program is at

Thanks to Rock-N-Horse Farm for helping us connect with the land and for getting us excited about healthy food.

Rock-N-Horse Farm (photos by D. Deby)
Rock-N-Horse Farm (photos by D. Deby)

Local food through Community-Shared Agriculture (CSA)

Written by Denise Deby.

Organic produce from Roots and Shoots Farm at Westboro Market - D. Deby photo

Spring in Ottawa brings many wonderful things—including more fresh, local food choices. Farmers’ markets start opening in May, community gardening is underway, and if you have your own garden you’ll know that it’s planting time. If you need help finding food that’s produced in and around Ottawa, check out Just Food’s “How To Eat Local” guide and its Buy Local map.

One way to eat local is through Community-Shared or Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA). With CSA, you sign up with a local farm to purchase a share of their produce over the season. In many cases, you’ll receive seasonal produce every week. Farmers benefit by having confirmed clients for a period of time, and purchasers benefit by having an ongoing source of fresh food. CSAs are also a way for farmers and consumers to connect with each other. A variation of CSAs, food boxes, can be an affordable or flexible option, too.

I’m getting my first CSA order in a couple of weeks, and can hardly wait. (We’re sharing a Roots and Shoots Farm CSA with another family to make it more manageable over the summer.) I’ll be telling you more about CSA options as Green Living Ottawa has received a few guest posts on CSA and local farms which we’ll be posting over the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, for more information about how CSA works, check out Just Food’s website or watch this video courtesy of Dawghaus Studios and Apt613:

CSA: Community Supported Agriculture in the National Capital Region from Dawghaus Studios on Vimeo.

Jane’s Walk Ottawa May 4-5, 2013

Written by Denise Deby.

Ottawa - photo by D. Deby

I’m a big fan of Jane’s Walk. The annual event celebrates cities as places for people. It honours Jane Jacobs, an urbanist and activist who carefully observed how cities function and called for cities to be planned for, with and by people and communities. Her work has had a significant influence on thinking about city planning and urban engagement.

Jane’s Walk, started in Toronto by people who wanted to keep Jane Jacobs’ legacy alive, has spread to over 90 cities around the world, including Ottawa.

During Jane’s Walk, local residents lead free walking tours of urban places and neighbourhoods. The walks allow people to get to know their city, reconnect with nature and the built environment, and meet each other.

In Ottawa, dozens of residents have stepped forward to make Jane’s Walk happen. They’re volunteering their time to lead walks—and cycling tours–through many of our city’s hidden, historic, or intriguing areas. They’re people with a passion for the area and with insights to share, so bring your interest and your own perspectives.

There’s bound to be a Jane’s Walk in Ottawa for everyone. Just for example, you can:

  • Learn about the Pinhey Sand Dune micro-environment off Woodroffe with Henri Goulet, a retired scientist and a specialist in biodiversity and conservation;
  • Contemplate Ottawa’s neglected waterfront with storyteller and community activist Dennis Van Staalduinen;
  • Discover Ottawa’s Great Forest with naturalist and educator Martha Webber;
  • See the Byward Market area from a homeless person’s perspective with activist Jane Scharf;
  • View turtles and learn about turtle habitat protection on Petrie Island and surrounding wetlands with Al Tweddle, chairman of the Friends of Petrie Island;
  • Explore the social fabric of the Somerset West area with Jackson Couse, multimedia artist;
  • Get to know “Wellboro” (Westboro and Hintonburg) through the eyes of artist Andrew King;
  • Walk for health on Parliament Hill with Kelly McKay and Penny Burton of Ottawa Public Health’s Healthy Living Team.

These and other walks will explore nature, art and culture, history, urban issues and more. There are walks in English and French. You can find the full list and more details at the Jane’s Walk Ottawa website.

No one can find what will work for our cities by looking at … suburban garden cities, manipulating scale models, or inventing dream cities. You’ve got to get out and walk.” Jane Jacobs, Downtown is for People, 1957 (from the Jane’s Walk main website).

Food for Thought at the Ottawa International Writers Festival 2013

Written by Denise Deby.

Beans are Up photo by OakleyOriginals, Flickr Creative Commons
Beans are Up photo by OakleyOriginals, Flickr Creative Commons

The Ottawa International Writers Festival brings a wealth of writers and ideas every spring and fall (and sometimes in between). Often there are environmentally-themed sessions, and this spring highlights sustainable food in particular.

On Saturday, April 27, Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis will speak about innovative food centre The Stop. The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement tells the story of the Toronto food bank that transformed into a multi-faceted food centre complete with gardens, a greenhouse, educational activities, advocacy programs and more, and a focus on dignity for those seeking healthy food. Nick Saul is former executive director of The Stop and president and CEO of Community Food Centres Canada; Curtis is a writer and editor. It’s at 4 p.m., Knox Presbyterian Church, Lisgar at Elgin. Details here.

On Sunday, April 28, Sarah Elton (Locavore and Consumed) joins Lorraine Johnson (City Farmer) and Barry Estabrook (Tomatoland) for a discussion of The Future of Food for a Crowded Planet. The three writers have all looked at our food system and how people are changing the way they source, eat, prepare and share food. It’s at 6:30 p.m. at Southminster United Church, 15 Aylmer Ave. Details here.

Sarah Elton will also be appearing at a lunch on Sunday, April 28 at 11 a.m. at Table 40 at Fraser Café, 11 Springfield Rd. The event is a fundraiser for the Festival’s children’s literacy programs.

See the Festival website for ticket and other information. Bon appetit!