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.)
(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:
We pride ourselves on being a city with an impressive amount of green space. However, unless we have a clear vision, commitment and political leadership to protect those green spaces, they will continue to disappear.
Rochester Field is one such space. It’s about 3.8 hectares of open field between Richmond Road and the Ottawa River Parkway, next to the historic Maplelawn Garden and estate.
The field is well used by residents as a route to the recreational pathway along the Ottawa River and to the Transitway, and as a place to run, explore nature, fly kites and walk dogs.
Its status has been in limbo for many years. The City zoned it as Parks and Open Space, which the National Capital Commission appealed in 2003. During negotiations about the western Light Rail route, the City agreed to change the zoning of part of the Field to allow development, in exchange for use of the Parkway for the LRT.
The plan has been adjusted since then, so that currently 80 per cent of the Field would be preserved as park and open space, with the rest, two areas along Richmond Road, up for development as Traditional Main Street. An intent to protect existing mature trees is also expressed.
The preservation of green space is laudable, but there is little rationale for the proposed development—why extending the Westboro Village main street is preferable to parkland, and why the parkland needs to become a manicured area. There are alternatives that would make better use of this natural, active, connecting space, but these are not being considered.
Community groups including the Westboro Community Association and the McKellar Park Community Association, and many residents, are opposed to the plan, as is the local city councillor.
These objections have been noted by City staff, which nonetheless will recommend to the City’s Planning Committee on January 23 that Rochester Field be rezoned to permit the development that the NCC intends. The Planning Committee and Council do not have to approve this rezoning, though. They could take more time to consider the alternatives that would enhance the safety and accessibility of the site while not detracting from the benefits it provides as a relatively large and intact natural space, in an area where green space is already being eroded through intensification and redevelopment.
Residents can express their views at the Planning Committee meeting, on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. in the Champlain Room at City Hall, or through written submissions. Further details are here or here.
Several of Ottawa’s ancient Bur Oaks will be recognized as heritage trees on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, National Tree Day.
Forests Ontario is holding a ceremony to mark the significance of four trees, and the community of Bur Oaks, in the Champlain Park neighbourhood. The neighbourhood is home to at least 60 Bur Oaks that were once part of a forest along the Ottawa River.
An impressive number of the older trees have survived residential development, but the Bur Oaks of Champlain Park continue to face risks. Infill development has destroyed or damaged trees, even those that are supposed to be protected as “distinctive” trees under Ottawa bylaws.
Fortunately, the Champlain Oaks Project has been documenting, nurturing and advocating for the Bur Oaks of Champlain Park. They’ve been encouraging the City of Ottawa to recognize and protect heritage trees, an approach that is under consideration as part of the Urban Forest Management Plan recommendations.
The Heritage Tree Recognition event starts at 124 Cowley Ave. at 10:00 a.m. and will visit several other nearby trees. Bur Oak saplings, grown from heritage trees, will be for sale at the event, with proceeds going towards tree planting in the neighbourhood.
Find out more about the Bur Oaks and the Heritage Tree Recognition event at The Champlain Oaks Project website, which also has stories about each of the trees being recognized.
Here’s another opportunity to see the Bur Oaks of Champlain Park and other magnificent urban trees. Community group Big Trees of Kitchissippi is organizing neighbourhood walks to learn about urban trees and their importance, and efforts to map and to protect them. There’s a Champlain Park Tree Walk on Sunday, Oct. 15, and a Hampton Park Tree Walk on Sunday, Oct. 22. Find details on their website.
National Tree Day Challenge
Tree Canada is hosting an online tree planting campaign to mark National Tree Day and their 25th anniversary. Until October 1, if you plant a virtual tree online, they’ll plant a real tree on your behalf.
Fall Rhapsody in Gatineau Park
Fall Rhapsody, from Sept. 30-Oct. 22, showcases the changing colours of Gatineau Park. New this year are shuttlebuses that run 1) between downtown Ottawa and several Park sites including Pink Lake, King Mountain and Champlain Lookout, or 2) between Champlain Lookout and Camp Fortune. Check the NCC website for details.
A highlight is PhotoSynthesis 2, a photo exhibit portraying the resilience, beauty and contributions of trees. Following the successful PhotoSynthesis exhibit in 2015, Photosynthesis 2 presents photos selected from submissions on the topic of celebrating trees.
The free festival includes an eclectic series of workshops, with topics ranging from forest therapy and foraging to the art of doodling and the ecology of Brewer Pond. An Indigenous Walk (Sat.), a guided tree walk (Sun.), morning yoga (Sun.) and tree planting (Sun.) are also planned. Check the website for the full schedule.
Throughout the weekend, there’ll be music and drumming, all-ages activities (including storytelling, a nature trivia contest, henna art, crafts and outdoor games), and local and tree-sourced foods.
The Fall Tree Festival happens at Brewer Park, by the pond, from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. both days. Hope to see you there!
Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Christine Earnshaw, Tree Fest Ottawa for the information and poster image.