Putting Yards to Good Use: Capital Greens

Image courtesy Capital Greens Urban Farm https://www.facebook.com/pg/CapitalGreensUrbanFarm/photos/

If you’d like to enjoy fresh, homegrown vegetables, make better use of your yard or garden and contribute to a local, sustainable food system in Ottawa at the same time, here’s an opportunity.

Capital Greens is a local business that transforms space in backyards into pesticide-free vegetable gardens. They do all the gardening work, and in exchange, yard owners receive some of the harvest every week. Capital Greens sells the rest to neighbours and local restaurants.

Capital Greens owner-operator Mathew Levinson started operations last summer in the Westboro/McKellar area, converting sections of lawn in area yards into gardens to grow leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, beets, herbs and more.

Interested? Not sure? Capital Greens will provide a free yard appraisal to make sure the conditions and space will work. There’s more information and a contact form on their website. Some great pictures, too.

Let us know if you check it out!

 

Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Mathew Levinson, Capital Greens Urban Farm for the information.

Just Food Start-Up Farm Program Information Sessions

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 http://justfood.ca/start-up-farm-program/.

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

Just Food Start-Up Farm Program

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 startupfarm@justfood.ca with questions.

 

Seedy Saturday in Ottawa

Posted by Denise Deby.

Poster courtesy Seeds of Diversity https://www.seeds.ca/Seedy-Saturday/volunteers
Poster courtesy Seeds of Diversity https://www.seeds.ca/Seedy-Saturday/volunteers

It’s Seedy Saturday!

Shake off the snow and come out to buy or swap seeds–and meet some of the people and organizations promoting heritage seeds and local food production in the area.

The day includes workshops on:

  • Gardening even when you’re away during the summer;
  • Growing edibles;
  • Starting seed libraries;
  • Getting to 50% local food production in Ottawa by 2050.

Seedy Saturday happens at the Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre at Britannia Beach (102 Greenview Ave.) on Saturday, March 5, 2016 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Details and schedule at https://www.seeds.ca/events/. (You’ll also find links to Seedy Saturday and Sunday events in Brockville, Pembroke, Perth and other locations.)

Gifts That Give Twice

Written by Denise Deby.

Spruce needles by AKuptsova on Pixabay CC0 Public Domain https://pixabay.com/en/spruce-needles-tree-macro-branch-847388/
Spruce needles by AKuptsova on Pixabay CC0 Public Domain https://pixabay.com/en/spruce-needles-tree-macro-branch-847388/

In this busy season, we often worry about doing enough—seeing everyone we want to see, making enough food for holiday meals, finding just the right gifts for family and friends.

Of course, the most important gift this time of year—or anytime—is time.

Sometimes, though, you do want to give a little something to people. If you’re still looking for those last few gifts, why not consider thingless giving, or other ways of giving sustainably?

Or how about a sustainable gift that gives twice? A few examples:

Gifts that donate: Through USC Canada’s Gifts That Grow, you can send your loved one a card while supporting a farmer or school gardens. UNICEF Canada, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and many other organizations have similar arrangements for contributing to sustainability on behalf of someone else.

Gifts that reuse: Recycled gifts, chosen with care, can be a great option. Right now, when you purchase used clothes, toys, Christmas decorations or other items from Ottawa Neighbourhood Services, you’re contributing to their work to make needed goods available to low-income, refugee and other people in Ottawa. Ten Thousand Villages has good fair trade items, like ornaments made from recycled paper, or jewellery made from reclaimed materials. Ottawa has lots of other places to find art and crafts made from upcycled materials.

Gifts that support local: When you buy local, sustainable products, you’re substituting earth-friendly for mass-produced “stuff,” while supporting local businesses. How about terra20’s suggestions of Winter Hand Balm from Purple Urchin, vegan soap from saaboon or recycled glassware from Out of Ruins or Artech Studios? Check out Planet Botanix, Rainbow Foods, the Natural Food Pantry, Whole Foods, Green Tree Eco-Fashion, Twiss and Weber and other shops for eco-friendly local goods.

Buying someone a CSA share—i.e., a weekly delivery of local produce from an area farm—is also an investment in the sustainability of our food system.

Gifts that support sustainable causes: Ottawa has quite a few social enterprises that support social and environmental good. For example, when you buy jewellery, toys or other items through Operation Come Home’s Repurpose store, you’re buying upcycled as well as supporting artists who are youth at-risk or homeless. When you buy Beau’s beer, which is sustainably made from organic ingredients, you’re also contributing to the causes they support with their profits. A purchase of greeting cards of Ottawa scenes from Causeway supports employment programs for people who are disadvantaged. (I picked some up at the Westboro Pharmasave.)

Keep an eye out for companies that donate to environmental causes. For example, when you purchase art at Studio Sixty-Six during December, 10% of the proceeds will go to the Ottawa Riverkeeper.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Ottawa’s Community Farm

Written by Denise Deby.

Just Food barn - D. Deby

Just Food has operated a working farm on Greenbelt land near Blackburn Hamlet since 2012. It supports new farmers to learn organic farming, and partners with area farmers and community groups on projects that improve access to sustainable food in the Ottawa region.

A couple of weeks ago, Just Food and the National Capital Commission signed a 25-year lease for a community farm on 150 acres of land at the site.

The agreement means that Just Food can continue to offer space and programs to support farmers, provide public education on food issues and help create a viable, healthy and sustainable local food system.

If you’re interested in seeing what’s growing on site these days, check out the Just Food Start-Up Farm Program farmers. Their vegetables, herbs, wild and forest foods, honey and other products are available to buy at the Just Food farm stand or from the farmers directly.

Just Food has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help it grow. They’re welcoming donations to upgrade the soil to make the land more productive. (The campaign coincides with the 2015 International Year of Soils.)

As well, anyone can become a member of Just Food. More information here.

From Just Food:

Just Food is a community-based, non-profit organization that has been working towards vibrant, just and sustainable food and farming systems in the Ottawa region since 2003.  In addition to the now established Just Food Farm, Just Food programs include Savour Ottawa, the Community Gardening Network of Ottawa, Buy Local Food Program (including the Ottawa Food Hub), and diverse food policy and food access initiatives.”

Update: Just Food launches the Farm Stand on Sunday, July 26! Check out the fresh, local produce grown by Just Food farmers.

More Ways to Eat Local

Written by Denise Deby.

CSA share

A few posts ago I wrote about where to obtain CSA shares of vegetables and other foods from local farms.

There are plenty of other ways to get fresh, local produce on your plate. Here are a few:

Savour Ottawa Online

Savour Ottawa Online is a weekly service that lets you select and order food from local producers and pick it up at the Parkdale Field House. With Savour Ottawa, you visit the online marketplace, choose whichever products you’d like, and your order will be ready for pickup on the designated day a few days later. There’s everything from vegetables and meats to baked goods, prepared meals and personal care products.

Ottawa Good Food Box

A group of Ottawa organizations got together a few years ago and decided to create a way for people to obtain groceries closer to home and at affordable prices. They launched the Ottawa Good Food Box, which buys in bulk so members can get fruits and vegetables at wholesale prices. Not all of the food is locally sourced, but organizers strive to obtain produce as locally and affordably as possible. Anyone can participate in the monthly service, which offers a range of box sizes and types (including an organic box). Check the map to find the closest distribution site near you.

Good Food Markets

Good Food Markets bring food to communities that are underserved by regular grocery stores. At the markets, you’ll find a variety of fruits, vegetables and dry goods, as well as music and other community activities. Check the website for locations and dates.

Market Mobile

The same group that brought about the Good Food Markets has launched Market Mobile, kind of a grocery store on wheels that brings healthy, affordable food to even more neighbourhoods. Find the schedule and locations on their website.

More local food sources

Ottawa’s numerous farmers’ markets offer fresh produce and other foods as well as a sense of community. Sometimes area farmers have farm gate stands where you can buy local, too. Check out Just Food’s Buy Local Grow Local Food Guide for more options.