Welcoming Ottawa Week 2018

African Caribbean Canadian Multiculturalism Day Festival in Strathcona Park, WOW 2017 – D. Deby photo

Welcoming Ottawa Week (WOW) is an annual festival of arts, cultural, sports and other activities that celebrate the city’s diversity and the contributions of the many newcomers who have made Ottawa home.

This year’s WOW includes more than 75 free activities across the city from Monday, Jun. 18-Saturday, Jun. 30, 2018. They include photo exhibits, soccer and basketball tournaments, a community picnic, a barbecue and bike fest, the design of a community mural, “myth-busting” events about immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, and several multicultural celebrations. The Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival and the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival are also participating.

Other events of note:

Check out the WOW calendar for more events.

With one in four Ottawa residents having been born outside Canada, it’s more important than ever to embrace our diversity and get to know each other.

WOW is organized by the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership in collaboration with 50+ partners across the city.

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Jane’s Walk Ottawa 2018

Get to know your city and your neighbours; explore a new corner of Ottawa, or see a familiar, well-trodden area in a new light. You can do all of that and more at Jane’s Walk Ottawa, taking place on Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6, 2018.

Jane’s Walk is one of my favourite events every year. It offers free walking tours, led by knowledgeable and engaging residents, to explore different areas of the city.

For more on Jane’s Walk Ottawa, what it’s all about and what’s on offer this year, check out this guest post.

Jane’s Walk Ottawa always includes numerous walks that explore Ottawa’s green spaces; consider how we as residents live in nature; cast a sharp eye on our land use and built environment choices; and look at what could be, as well as what has been. Here are some examples from this year’s schedule:

These are just a sample of the many historic, scenic and intriguing walks taking place during Jane’s Walk Ottawa weekend. Check out the full schedule and interactive map. Don’t forget the after-parties!

Old Home Earth Day Event 2018

Here’s an opportunity to celebrate Earth Day while discovering more ways to green your home and energy use: the Old Home Earth Day Event on Saturday, Apr. 21, 2018 brings organizations, businesses and the public together for a free fair on reducing your carbon footprint and living more sustainably.

Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op, the Ottawa Tool Library, Nugrocery and EnviroCentre are among the groups on hand. The day includes free workshops, exhibits and a DIY space. Topics include improving home energy efficiency, renovations, sustainability through transportation and food choices, and more.

This second annual Old Home Earth Day Event is organized by the Glebe Community Association’s Environment Committee along with SMARTNet Alliance, the Peace and Environment Resource Centre, Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op and Bullfrog Power. OHEDE takes place at the Glebe Community Centre (175 Third Ave.) on Saturday, Apr. 21 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Thanks to the Glebe Environment Committee for the information and images.

The Basics: Food

Dig deeper into Ottawa’s food system at these upcoming events:

An Agrifood Policy for Canada: A Recipe for Food Justice?

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 Events

Just Food has plenty of great events coming up. Their First Monthly Red Barn Potluck (6-7:30 p.m.) and workshop on garden planning for seed saving (7:30-9 p.m.) happen on Wednesday, March 21, 2018.

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!

Just Food also celebrates its 15th anniversary with a host of fun events on Sunday, April 29, 2018 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Just Food Farm. See their website or Facebook page for details and registration for these and other upcoming events.

 

Urban Organic Gardening Seminars 2018

It’s that time of year—time to hone those gardening skills.

The Canadian Organic Growers, Ottawa Chapter is once again hosting its Urban Organic Gardening Seminars. From the organizers:

“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.

Signs of Spring: Seeds and Plans

Photo by Quartzla on Pixabay CC0 Creative Commons https://pixabay.com/en/nature-ottawa-outdoor-spring-tree-735679/

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, 2018 from 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.)

 

Food Forests in Ottawa

Looking west towards the future Blackstone Community Park. This sign is close to the Monahan Drain, part of the neighbourhood’s stormwater infrastructure. Photo by Glen Gower, reposted with permission from StittsvilleCentral.ca: http://stittsvillecentral.ca/letter-a-field-of-dirt-and-potential-in-blackstone/

Guest post written by Paul Wilson and reposted from StittsvilleCentral.ca with kind permission from publisher and editor Glen Gower. Check out StillsvilleCentral.ca for more great stories!

LETTER: A field of dirt and potential in Blackstone

January 29, 2018

(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:

Seven layers of forest gardens. Via Wikipedia.
Image via Wikipedia

As described in the image, these are the edible polyculture layers:

  1. Canopy layer consisting of tall nut and fruit trees.
  2. Low-tree layer of smaller nut and fruit trees on dwarfing root stocks.
  3. Shrub layer of fruit and nut bushes such as currants and berries.
  4. Herbaceous layer of perennial vegetables and herbs.
  5. Rhizosphere or underground dimension of plants grown for their roots and tubers.
  6. Ground cover layer of edible plants that spread horizontally.
  7. 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:

Paul Wilson
Stittsville