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Posts Tagged ‘Food’

From the Georgia Straight:

What if you woke up one day and found that the world as you knew it had ceased to exist? It’s a thought that has probably crossed the minds of many and perhaps been quickly dismissed by most as silly.

For Brennan Wauters, this prospect is real. That’s why he’s preparing for what he describes as a “collapse”.

From Wauters’s perspective, the game changer is peak oil. He believes that in the past five years, the world has reached the point of maximum production of oil, and that the supply of this fuel source is on the decline. One day, the pumps may run dry.

But the 42-year-old Vancouver man is not the type to hunker in a bunker. He isn’t storing food, buying gold, or stocking up on weapons to survive in a post-oil world.

“I’m more a survivalist in the sense that I think we have to be psychologically prepared,” Wauters said. “I concentrate on being able to do things with as little as possible. It’s also an exercise to me, like there’s many things that I could just go to the store for. But I deliberately take a harder route just to test my own capabilities, to give me confidence that whatever happens, everything will be fine.”

Read the whole article here.

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Hey, the Farmhouse isn’t alone in unfair persecution by city officials!

What constitutes a “natural” garden to the City of Toronto?

Grass, apparently. Just grass. Plus, perhaps a few flowers. But certainly not vegetables.

That’s what Sylvie and Vic Oliveira discovered this summer after they turned their Bloor West Village front yard into a vegetable garden.

Read the whole story here: The real dirt: City squashes front yard veggie plot

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First of all, my extreme apologies to the followers of the Farmhouse Blog. I’ve been … busy. Lots of fun life stuff. Haven’t spent more than three nights at the house in the past two weeks. Consequently I’m ridiculously behind on an update! But the garden is looking a-maz-ing and I will take pictures as soon as I can.

But until then, I’ve got a few links for your reading pleasure!

 

Is vegetarianism always worse for the environment? The bacon lovers and the soy huggers square off.

 

Cycling is sexy. Don’t deny it; it’s true. Mmm, sexy cycler ass.

 

Print this list out. The foods at the top are the most pesticide-free while the ones at the bottom are not. Food closer to the bottom has the most risk of being coated with chemicals and it’s recommended you buy organic versions whenever possible. (Check out your local farmers’ market for them!) The Farmhouse has a similar checklist hanging in our kitchen.

 

Alright. That’s it. Short and sweet. Hope you are all having beautiful summers!

Much Farmhouse love!

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(Text from Ander!)

There is lots of work to be done, and we’d love your help and company!

Since our boulevard was removed without any notice, and all the dirt put in the front yard … well … let’s just say we can’t get into our front door anymore. All that soil must be sorted and placed onto existing garden beds.

Also, all the city hoopla has caused us to fall behind in our planting schedule. Come dig, plant, and play with soil with us! We are also looking for someone who will come and cook for the hungry workers. Vegetables and other ingredients provided (some improvisation required).

When: Wednesday, May 5 from 11 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. … or whenever we are too tired to work any longer.

Where: The Farmhouse, 470 E. 56th Avenue

Please bring if you can:
-empty wine bottles
-cardboard with low amounts of ink
-a vegetable to contribute to lunch

Thanks, friends! See you there!

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Hello beautiful community!

First, a quick note. News 1130 contacted me last night about the imminent destruction of our yard. The story is currently the most popular story on the site! Thank you so much to Graham for putting them in touch with me and to Renee for writing the article.

Also, there has been an incredible outpouring of support for our yard from the general community. So many people have let me know they are writing letters to council in favour of our project. I really couldn’t have imagined so much support and encouragement from Vancouver residents. It’s really helping during this tough time. Thank you and many Farmhouse blessings to each and everyone one of you who has taken the time to write to the City and passed our story around!

 

Sara, Ander, and I met with Mrs. Carlene Robbins, manager of the Property Use Inspection branch and Property Use Inspector Tom Hamilton this morning. There were many things said, the most important of which is that we have until May 15 to get the yard together. Wouldn’t concede us an inch on planting the boulevard (“It’s City land! Who said you could use it?”).

This is growing just in the space between the sidewalk and the street in July 2009. We were growing borage, kale, and poppies. The dandelions we used for tea.

The City says it has had three neighbours complain over the last two years (two complaints this year, two complaints last year, with one was a repeat complaint. Part of the City’s “evidence” were photos of our yard from last summer. Remember when it was really dry and most yards were dying? We put straw and other materials over the soil in our yard to keep moisture in (permaculture!) so our plants wouldn’t die. Yep, taking photos during the driest part of the year is surely going to include a little ugly. And it’s funny that the city’s photos don’t match the photos I took myself during that time.

The other photos the City presented us with were from March. MARCH. It’s not March anymore! We’ve done a lot of work on the garden in the last week! You can’t use old pictures from the off-season against us.

This weekend, we collect over a page worth of signatures (I’m guessing at least 20) from residents of the block who are all in support of our yard. Why does the word of three complainants outweigh the rest?

When asked if she would speak directly to the five points contained in the legal notice we received, Mrs. Robbins completely refused, stating she “isn’t going to plan [our] yard for us”. Then she said if we built a fence two feet into our yard, we’d be free to do whatever we want within the confines. Um, how is that fair? You think we can afford a fence? She also pointed out the container garden at City Hall.

“Why can’t you make your yard look like that?” she asked. Maybe because we don’t have thousands of dollars for pressure treated lumber, an in-ground irrigation system, and fancy plaques delineating what garden belongs to whom? Part of the reason we grow our own food is because we are POOR!

Mrs. Robbins admitted to us that if we lived on Commercial Drive, our yard wouldn’t be an issue. Hypocrisy, hello? I asked her why she didn’t see the larger issue at stake—a vaguely worded bylaw that is selectively applied to a subjective notion of beauty and order. She asked me why I was continuing to be argumentative.

Why am I argumentative? Because it isn’t fair. We can’t afford to live on Commercial Drive. We can’t afford to build container gardens. In fact, we don’t want container gardens because we think they are ugly. Plants grow better in a natural state. You put different kinds of plants together for support, to improve the soil, to mimic the natural growing system. Most of our supplies are donated. We have to haul a wheelbarrow eight blocks roundtrip to get free woodchips. We had wonderful people donate their time and energy to help us last weekend. This is not a money-making enterprise. This is about food security. This is about food as a right. This is about a hypocritical city that brands itself as some sort of green leader yet won’t support five hippies who want grow their own food.

So much irony is coming out of this process. The City of Vancouver has
Guidelines for Planting City Boulevards
program where residents are ENCOURAGED to use the boulevard for planting!

 

Planning to Plant

* There must be reasonable pedestrian access between the curb and the sidewalk. If there is no City sidewalk, access must be provided so pedestrians are not forced to walk on the road.
* Plants should be perennials or shrubs that will grow less than one metre (3′ 3″) in height to ensure good sight lines.
* Several of the plants should be evergreen or have winter interest for those months when the rest of the plants are dormant.
* Contaminants from the roadway may affect consumables, therefore vegetable gardening is not encouraged.
* No trees are allowed other than City-planted street trees.
* No structures or ornaments are allowed since they can interfere with public safety and the City’s ability to quickly access underground services.
* Permanent installations such as in-ground irrigation systems are not permitted.
* Plants should be set back at least 30 cm (12″) from a) the sidewalk to avoid overgrowth and b) the curb to allow for car door opening.
* Fire hydrants must be easily visible and accessible from both the street and the sidewalk. A clearance of 1.5m (5’) must be maintained around hydrants for access, visibility and to ensure that plants do not interfere with the operation of the hydrant. Outside of the Fire Department, Waterworks and Sewers staff use the water from hydrants for a number of purposes.

 

I can totally 100 percent get behind those guidelines. Last weekend’s work project was all about getting the boulevard presentable. Nowhere on that Web page does it say you need City permission to grow anything in the boulevard.

But the extension is a goodness. The legal notice we were served is dated April 15 but we didn’t receive it until April 19. There goes one weekend. May 1 is Saturday. There goes another weekend. So, with the May 15 extension, we get two more weekends to get things together.

Here is a list of e-mail addresses for Vancouver city councillors if you have the desire to lodge your opposition to the city (via Christina).

clrreimer@vancouver.ca

mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca

clrdeal@vancouver.ca

clrcadman@vancouver.ca

Gregor.Robertson@vancouver.ca

clranton@vancouver.ca

clrchow@vancouver.ca

clrjang@vancouver.ca

clrlouie@vancouver.ca

clrmeggs@vancouver.ca

clrstevenson@vancouver.ca

clrwoodsworth@vancouver.ca

 

Also, if anyone wants to contact the Farmhouse about this, please call 604-628-9509 (the house), 604-762-6557 (my cell), or e-mail farmhousepress@gmail.com.

We love you!

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Ah, yes. I’m being negligent again about the blog. But I’ve got lots for all you animals today!

First up, Rin was featured in the Powell River Peak this week!

There’s a new farmer in town and she’s uber urban. Rin Innes is offering the community seasonal shares of her urban farm harvest. With pre-season commitments she plans and plants to fill members’ weekly bins with fresh, organically grown produce through the entire harvest season. Everybody wins and everybody eats.

This quote is also from the article. Keep it in mind. It’s entirely relevant to the next part of this blog post today.

Innes believes healthy communities need healthy farms. Aside from the obvious benefits of eating locally-grown food, such as freshness, taste, nutrition and the knowledge that the food has not been sprayed, irradiated, waxed and transported great distances, she believes that when people make a direct connection to their food they build strength in their community. Supporting farmers means stronger food security… [emphasis mine]

Got it? Good. Hold it in your mind, then read on.

 

So, there’s a lot of stuff going on at the Farmhouse right now. I’m too weary of the subject to get into all the details, so here’s the gist: Neighbours complain about the state of the yard. Neighbours call city. Bylaw enforcement office threatens us with a huge fine if it’s not cleaned up by May 1.

But … it’s a GARDEN. We grow FOOD. It disgusts me that Vancouver touts itself as some sort of green leader—a model of sustainability—but as soon as someone tries to live that way, it gets shut down for being an eyesore.

Seriously, the rhodo is beautiful. I suppose if we planted only flowers our neighbours would be okay with it?

New smoking area. I'll concede we need to move that pile of bricks.

This? Gorgeous! But it's within two feet of the sidewalk so it's got to be moved. Ooh, and I should sweep the sidewalk and tidy all that up.

As Ander put it: 'If the city bylaw says all yards must conform to the prevailing standards of the neighborhood, and your neighbors all have square, manicured lawns, then it is simply not possible to grow your own food in most parts of Vancouver.' I'd like to point out that the house to the left of us currently has nothing but dirt in their front yard. And the yard beyond that gets covered in chemicals on a semi-regular basis.

I just don't see how anyone can find this ugly.

A bed all ready to be planted.

See, we use the leaves for mulch. Like in a forest. It's called permaculture; look it up.

One of the complaints levelled at us was that we have a number of plastic buckets laying around. Guess what's in them.

DIRT!

Two feet. We've got to move the garden two feet from the sidewalk. Also, the boulevard can't be planted without city approval. Apparently.

The city also complained about the palettes we have laying around. You know what we're using them for? Firewood and building compost bins.

Oh, look. More buckets full of dirt! And that tarp? Covering more palettes. Aren't we just the worst?

All I know is that Garden Buddha is not amused.

I don’t want to direct my anger towards all of my neighbours, since it seems like the majority are supportive of the garden. We have lots of curious people stopping by and asking about what’s going on. Despite a language barrier, an older man was trying to give Max gardening tips last week. One of our neighbours thinks we are awesome because we drink and play guitar on our porch sometimes. And several have been open to Ander’s idea for a block party.

Here’s to hoping we can do some serious community building in the face of opposition.

Since there are some things that must be done for us to avoid this fine ($250 minimum, up to $2000 plus an additional $50 each day past May 1 that we don’t “adhere to the prevailing standards”), we are having a yarden work party on Saturday. We’re going to clean up what we can, collect mulch and woodchips, clean out the garage, and whatever other yardening that needs to be done. Feel free to stop by our little hippie house to lend a hand or just to chat. We can’t pay you but there will be beer to drink!

Location: The Farmhouse (470 E. 56th Avenue)
Date: Saturday, April 24
Time: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

And now some links.

1. Urban seeds promote more genetic diversity and City of Vancouver aids the planet by collecting food scraps—a couple of excellent articles from the Georgia Straight‘s Earth Day issue.

2. Photo gallery: 420 marijuana celebration in Vancouver—a bunch of photos I took at the 420 rally on Tuesday. Yes, I’m an egomaniac. Now go look at my pretty pictures! I also wrote this: Vancouver’s 420 rally sees thousands gather for marijuana. Read it too.

3. Edible Geography—all sorts of interesting facts and history about food in interesting locations.

4. And thanks to the magic of WordPress, I found this blog: Fairview Gardens CSA, a community supported agriculture project in California. The recipes are making me drool right now. Also, they’ve got a killer blog layout ;)

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Oops, missed the links last week. Did anyone notice? The stats for this here blog say … NO. I missed them, though. And I have lots this week!

 

First, a Farmhouse update.

Our intrepid Ander wants to be in a marching band. However, because his ukulele is not quite loud enough to hold its own against the loud brass and drums, he is now the proud owner of a glockenspiel! (Well, technically a portable glock is called a bell lyre.) Made of solid metal, it just needs a strap so Ander can carry it and play at the same time. I’m super excited about it!

 

It looks pretty much like this. Because my camera batteries are dead, I'm stealing, er, borrowing photos from the Internets.

 

Other than that, I really have no idea what’s going on at the house. All I know is that several of the roomies seem to have lives (what’s up with that?) and have been spending days at a time away from the house. Me? I’m a big dork and tend to spend my evenings sitting in my room, watching things like the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice and tweeting about it. That Mr. Darcy, he’s intoxicatingly arrogant.

By the way, if you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, do yourself a favour and pick it up. Too funny for words.

 

And now I have scads and scads of links!

 

La Vida Locavore, a blog about sustainable living and local food. Be sure to check out the “Recent Diaries” feed on the right-hand side of the page; lots of good discussion and sharing going on.

 

Hyperlocavore: Billing itself as “A Free Yard Sharing Community”, this site helps connect those desiring to grow food with those who have space. Unfortunately, the Vancouver network isn’t very active. However, on the local level, check out Sharing Backyards, a Vancouver-based network. The Farmhouse isn’t listed (we’re managing our own garden … somehow) but there are lots of people looking for gardens of their own, especially residents in the downtown core.

 

I’m totally stupid for not writing about this before! Fresh Roots is a Vancouver community supported agriculture program happening right now in East Van. You buy in ($650 for 22 weeks) and, beginning in May, you get a box of food every Thursday from a local backyard! Give them a call at 778-862-FARM or visit the site and download the application form. (They’re all super wonderful people, and I’m not just saying that because I know them!)

 

In news: B.C. apple growers are feeling the economic pinch and are only able to sell their produce for 12 cents a pound to wholesalers, which is terrible when you consider it costs 22 cents a pound to grow them in the first place. The arrogance of the headline irks me to no end, though: “B.C. apple growers in crisis. Should we care?”

Um, why is that even a question? The only way we’ll have food security is if we give a damn about where our food is coming from. And that starts by giving local growers all the support we can! (Sense a theme in today’s post?)

 

A recent court case has blocked Home on the Range, a Chilliwack-based farm from distributing raw milk—even thought they are distributing it within the letter of the law, which includes putting labels on the bottles warning against human consumption. The farmowners have until April 19 to appeal the decision.

 

And in more milk news, a recent study has found that if most infants are breastfed for at least the first six months of their lives, nearly a thousand infant deaths could be prevented each year in the United States. To which I say: “NO SHIT”. Seriously, you needed a study to prove that?

The report also highlights that tens of billions of dollars would be saved as well—because obviously it all comes down to money. Oh, and that doesn’t include the money new moms would stop spending on formula.

Is anyone else boggled at how often the solution to the problem is the one that countless people have been using for thousands of years? Want healthy babies? Breastfeed them. Want healthy food? Grow it yourself. Want a non-polluting mode of transport? Walk.

 

Yes, yes. I’m over-simplifying and ranting now. So often this is what happens to me. Maybe I should change my name to MiRANTa? (Har har har.)

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