flora and fauna


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 (www.bumblebeewatch.org) 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.

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.)

Westfest

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.

Ottawa tulips - D. Deby

There are plenty of reasons to get outdoors this weekend:

The Canadian Tulip Festival (May 12-23, 2016) has gorgeous floral displays as well as plenty of art, music and other activities;

The Ottawa Children’s Festival (May 10-15) offers fun live performances, theatre, music and activities–including a 100 Watt Earth Stage–for all ages;

Nature Canada’s Bird Day Ottawa (May 14) at Brewer Park hosts guided bird walks, birds-of-prey demonstrations, and information about International Migratory Bird Day;

The MacSkimming Centre NatureBlitz (May 13-14) has a program of nature walks and activities;

MEC’s Bikefest (May 14) hosts bike workshops, group rides, a gear swap and more;

apt613’s #Grow613 Day (May 15) brings you together with local farmers, makers and brewers to discover and celebrate local food;

The 100% renewable energy paddle with Greenpeace volunteers (May 15) invites you to bring your canoe or kayak out to Dow’s Lake;

Sunday Bikedays (starting May 15) open up more than 50 km of car-free parkways every Sunday morning;

Many Farmers’ Markets are open.

Don’t forget May is also the 30×30 Nature Challenge and Bike to Work Month–two more good reasons to get outside.

While you’re out this weekend, consider snapping a few photos for EnviroCentre’s Spirit of Sustainability photo contest. The contest closes Sunday, May 15, 2016.

Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Carol Burnup, EnviroCentre for the information.

EnviroCentre is holding its first photo contest on the Spirit of Sustainability in Ottawa.

You’re invited to submit photos that celebrate how people in Ottawa are making the city more sustainable.

From EnviroCentre, here are the categories for entries:

Healthy, efficient homes

Show us how you improve everyday energy use in your home!

It can be something like changing to LED lighting, using Energy Star appliances, or making grand scale green renovations.

Connected, environmentally-aware businesses

Does your business have a green team? Are you turning computers off at night to save energy? Or providing incentives to staff to take transit or bike to work? Show us what you’ve done or are doing!

Engaged, sustainable communities

What are you, your family, friends or community members doing to make your neighbourhood a better place to live? Are you using your bike to get around or building a community garden? Show us your sustainable community or what you’re doing to create one!

Entries are due May 15, 2016.

Find out more at http://www.envirocentre.ca/photocontest.

 

Written by Denise Deby.

This wonderful weekend to discover the city is happening on Saturday, May 7 and Sunday, May 8, 2016.

Jane’s Walk Ottawa-Gatineau is a weekend of walks that explore and create conversations around the history, culture, ecology, design, politics and communities of Ottawa.

The walks this year include edible plants in the city, the potential of Stittsville Main Street, the turtles of Petrie Island, an Indigenous perspective on Lansdowne Park, the Poets’ Pathway in the Sawmill Creek wetlands, the history of the Deschenes Rapids, the parking lots of Parliament Hill, the Ottawa tool and seed libraries, conservation in the Pinhey Sand Dunes, l’art et la nature sur l’Île-de-Hull, and many more. All walks are led by knowledgeable and engaging volunteers.

Check out the full program and more about Jane’s Walk at http://www.janeswalkottawa.ca/.

 

 

Written by Denise Deby.

David Suzuki Foundation 30x30 Nature Challenge infographic http://30x30.davidsuzuki.org/#ut-portfolio-details-wrap-4991

David Suzuki Foundation 30×30 Nature Challenge infographic http://30×30.davidsuzuki.org/#ut-portfolio-details-wrap-4991

I’m in! I’ve registered again for the David Suzuki Foundation’s 30×30 Nature Challenge during May.

The Challenge: to spend at least 30 minutes a day outside in nature, for 30 days.

The purpose: to reconnect with nature and reap the benefits—including better health, lower stress, more energy, increased happiness and connections with other people.

It might sound difficult to fit in, but it doesn’t have to be. Options include going for a walk, having lunch in a park, holding a walking meeting, sitting by the river, birdwatching, stargazing, or checking out a recreational path or any of Ottawa’s wonderful greenspaces. The 30×30 Nature Challenge website has daily tips and other suggestions. (One suggestion is not to worry if you can’t get out every day; every little bit helps.)

You can register on the site; workplaces and schools can also register to participate.

With the 30×30 Nature ChallengeBike to Work Month and Jane’s Walk Ottawa, there are lots of good reasons to get outside this month.

Written by Denise Deby.

Could spring finally be here? If you’re ready to start your garden soon, there’s help available.

Canadian Organic Growers Ottawa – St. Lawrence – Outaouais (COG-OSO) is running their Urban Organic Gardening Seminars series Apr. 12-May 3. Topics include growing organic vegetables, herbs, fruit and nut trees, bed and container gardening, seeds, soils, disease and pest management, and more. Sign up for one or more seminars, or do all 7. Check the website for the schedule and location.

The Community Gardening Network at Just Food is holding spring gardening workshops. The season starts Apr. 12 through May, and includes Herbal Tips & Tricks, Working with Nature in the Garden: Permaculture Principles & Design, Natural Pest Control and Companion Planting and Beginner Organic Vegetable Gardening. Dates and details on the website.

Friends of the Farm hosts Master Gardener Lectures from Apr. 5-May 17. They also offer gardening tours, a rare and unusual plant sale (May 15) and other resources.

Master Gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton provides lots of help for gardeners of all skill levels. Check out their workshop on Garden Design for Evolving Realities (Apr. 23), and links to other advice and resources on their website.

Gardening workshops offered through the City of Ottawa include “Parent n’ Me” on May 7 and Organic Gardening on May 14.

Interested in creating a pollinator-friendly neighbourhood? A child-friendly fairy garden? Check out these and other events with the Ottawa Horticultural Society.

Want to delve into ecological gardening through permaculture? Check out the courses at http://www.eonpermaculture.ca/about-courses.

The Wild Garden has plant walks and workshops—see the website for details.

There’s a talk on “The Science behind the Amazing Things Plants Do” by author and horticultural professor Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott on Apr. 28. See the poster on the Just Food website.

The Ottawa Citizen maintains a comprehensive list of gardening events at http://ottawacitizen.com/category/life/homes/gardening.

Know of other events or sources of advice on gardening? Please let us know in the comment section!

 

 

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