Ottawa’s Local Food Scene


Written by Denise Deby.

It’s a great time to thank local food producers and to celebrate the many sustainable food initiatives in our region.

Food markets are wonderful places any time, but particularly enjoyable when they’re so filled with colourful and diverse produce. OttawaStart has a list of local markets here. This is also an excellent time to visit an apple orchard or pumpkin patch.

Check out Ottawa’s new Seed Library, which launched at the Ottawa Public Library’s Nepean Centrepointe branch this year. You can find out more here, or in this article. The Seed Library is part of the À la carte Food Literacy Project, a partnership of the Ottawa Public Library, Ottawa Public Health, MarketMobile, Ottawa International Writers Festival and Just Food bringing food information and activities to various spots around town.

As part of À la carte, the Ottawa Public Library and the Ottawa International Writers Festival are also teaming up to host three events on food literacy on Oct. 14-15, 2016. Authors and community leaders will look at antidotes to mass-produced, chemical-laden food, and ways to foster healthy, sustainable and accessible local food. The events also support the Parkdale Food Centre.

It’s discouraging to see the growing need for food banks in Ottawa, but heartening to see the increasingly diverse and creative ways that food centres are connecting people with fresh, healthy food–like the Community Harvest program, in which local growers produce food for centre clients, and other initiatives to enhance knowledge and raise awareness of nutritious food and food justice.

Chew On This! is a campaign to raise awareness about the hundreds of thousands of people in Canada who don’t have access to healthy food, and the need for a federal anti-poverty plan. Watch for volunteers around the city handing out snacks and information on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016.

Just Food is a hub for local food knowledge and action. The organization hosts everything from a working organic farm and farmer training program, to Ottawa’s community gardening network, to a local food guide, and more. They’re also behind Local Freshness, a new site that connects consumers to local food, brought to you by Savour Ottawa Online, Le Marché de l’Outaouais and Ottawa Valley Food Coop. Just Food’s newsletter has comprehensive coverage of what’s happening in Ottawa re local and sustainable food—you can sign up for it here.

Another great way to keep up with all things local food is Edible Ottawa magazine. The photos alone are swoon-worthy, but there’s also great coverage of the places and people who produce and prepare our food. For example, check out recent articles on social enterprise Thirteen Muesli,  local forager Scott Perrie and permaculture farm Rainbow Heritage Garden. The magazine is available free at food-related shops around town, or you can find it online.

Let us know of other good food initiatives you’re aware of. Et bon appetit.


Organic Master Gardener Course


Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Julia Dupuis, Canadian Organic Growers for the information.

What better time than the fall to upgrade your gardening skills?

Canadian Organic Gardeners is once again hosting its Organic Master Gardener course, running Saturdays from October 22 to December 3, 2016.

The course is for seasoned and new gardeners—really, anyone interested in and willing to invest in learning how to maintain a vegetable garden, container garden, ornamental garden, lawn or other patch of soil in an eco-friendly way, without pesticides or a lot of watering. The course helps understand the connections between soil, plant, human and environmental health, and shares practical knowledge such as plant selection, watering and composting.

For details and to register, visit COG’s website, or email them at office[at] or phone 888-375-7383.


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

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 with questions.


Gardening Help—Spring 2016 Edition

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

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

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



Dry Skin Solutions (That Work for Hair, Too)

Written by Denise Deby.


There’s an upside to the seemingly endless winter we’ve been having. It’s that I’ve had the chance to try several products that help ease dry skin—the kind that results from cold weather and dry indoor environments—and I’m sharing this with you.

Granted, I tried only a few of the many eco-friendly products available now in Ottawa, but here are three that worked well (depending on one’s skin and hair type, of course):

Purple Urchin Winter Hand Balm was very effective in calming my dry, cracked hands. It contains natural ingredients and has a piney-lavendery scent. (It includes almond oil–I mention that in case nut allergies/sensitivities are an issue–and you’re advised not to use it if you’re pregnant.) It isn’t billed as a hair product, but it gave my hair shape in the way a texturizing creme or styling wax would. I picked it up at Westboro Organics, but you can find it at other places around town including Ottawa-based Purple Urchin itself.

worldBuzz hair (and body) dressing, made by Toronto-based WORLD, contains just beeswax, jojoba oil, coco crème and olive wax. Just a small amount works like a pomade or wax—but without the parabens, phthalates, sulfates or fragrances that many conventional products contain. It’s great for dry skin, too. I found WORLD products at terra 20.

Coconut oil is a great all-round moisturizer for skin and hair. When not warmed up, it’s in solid form, but quickly melts in your hands. As with the other two products above, a little goes a long way. (I picked up some Now solutions “100% natural” vegan unscented coconut oil ages ago at Whole Foods, and still have half a jar left.) You can find organic, non-GMO coconut oil in many stores, from Kardish to Bulk Barn to Loblaws, too.

Bonus tip: olive oil and argan oil also work well for both skin and hair.

In general, look for products without harmful chemicals: take along a guide to the “toxic ten” or “dirty dozen” substances to avoid, and check ingredient lists when you shop. Often, the fewer ingredients the better.

Seedy Saturday in Ottawa

Posted by Denise Deby.

Poster courtesy Seeds of Diversity
Poster courtesy Seeds of Diversity

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 (You’ll also find links to Seedy Saturday and Sunday events in Brockville, Pembroke, Perth and other locations.)