The Power of Comfort Food – Apples in the Midwest

Picking the foods that you love; that define "comfort" (Photo Credit: ATrefry)

By Amy Trefry Renowned chef Jamie Oliver recently released a new cookbook and TV series entitled “Comfort Food”. During an interview on CBC’s Q, Oliver expressed his thoughts on what makes comfort food, well, comforting. “For me, when you respond to not just cook what you want from the book, …

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Maya-Mam Market Culture – Living Local in Guatemala

Sunday was market-day in Comitancillo with farmers from all over the region converging, and transforming the quiet streets to sell their goods. Here are a variety of regional chile peppers and dried fish.

They arrived at 4 o’clock in the morning. Outside my hotel window in the cobbled streets below, men and women arrived from the countryside, or from smaller towns and villages around Comitancillo, with their tables and poles and blue and black tarpaulins and their bulging sacks of whatever it was …

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Women Who Dig – Research with Refugee Farmers

Nakivale Camp in southwestern Uganda, (Photo by Matt Darvas)

Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to interview women from Nicaragua, Guatemala, Canada and Uganda about their lives as farmers. The writing process has been a journey in itself; listening to the recordings of many women’s voices, over and over again, and hearing what I didn’t hear the …

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16 Ways to Say “Banana”

Atayo carring "matooke" -food bananas, from the garden.

When I first came to Kabale, a small town-centre tucked away in the south-western corner of Uganda, I was determined to learn Rukiga, a dialect belonging to the Bakiga ethnic group. I remember flipping through a copy of a friend’s English-Rukiga dictionary and scouring the pages for agricultural related words …

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Let’s Talk About Canadian Immigration

Canadian doctors for refugee care protest

“They said his tourist visa was rejected because he’s not established enough,” the MP’s secretary voice says meekly over the phone. “Established?” I huffed. “But he’s a student…we have a letter from his university. We even have a letter from a future employer in Uganda.” “Well, that’s what they said,” …

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Indigenous Farmers Confront Canada’s Goldcorp

Tomasa at her home in Comitancillo, Guatemala (Photo Credit - KJ Dakin)

Lines etch across Tomasa Perez Jimenez’s tawny features as her eyes study her floor. The cracked earth contrasts with the party pink of her traditional blouse. Her voice is quiet and steady as she discusses the mine that has been operating on her doorstep for more than a decade. “In …

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On Becoming a Bird Watcher

Be like the (yellow vented) bulbul - stop, observe and listen...

When I was a child, it wasn’t at all an uncommon experience to come home from school and find a wounded owl in the basement. The other kids in our neighbourhood in Lower West Peace were pretty sure my parents were running a zoo out of our small home. In …

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Ghost Water Taps and the Failure of Development in Southwestern Uganda

A "not so fun" water play-pump in Rusoka -- in disuse (Spencer Huchulak)

By Spencer Huchulak “One tap…two taps…three taps.” This is what I was hoping to count to myself on Monday when I walked through town. Unfortunately, my optimism would be squashed. The day before, mzee, my host grandfather, described the water project he hoped to start in Kabasheshe. Currently, the closest water source …

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The Art of Yarn Bombing

(Kay Niedermeyer)

By Kay Niedermeyer Yarn bombing, or “knit graffiti” is a thing I’ve always appreciated but never created or participated in myself until very recently. My inexperience with yarn bombing would probably surprise people who know me both as a rabble-raiser, and also a gal whose hands have been pretty much …

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The Chicken Feather

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It all began with the slashed crops. They lay dead in my tracks, barricading the pathway through the garden. The thick maize stalks were severed at their base. No way a cutworm could’ve sawed its way through the hardy stalks. No jagged evidence of goat teeth, either. I knelt to …

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Keeping Beekeeping in the Family

Me and a stingless male drone bee.

There’s no secret about the Mugabi family’s sweet success story in the small town-center of Kabale in southwestern Uganda: honey bees and lots of them. “How did you come to raise bees?” I asked Miracle, a young man in his mid-twenties who was tending to the counter of the Bungoni …

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Un poco de todo agriculture

Diversity is key: evident in the garden and the harvest.

A little bit of everything equals diversity. Diversity, say agroecologists worldwide, is key to resilience. And resilience, as we all know, is what’s required to cope with and adapt to changing weather patterns. Large-scale agriculture, mechanized agriculture, industrial agriculture, modern agriculture, Monsanto inspired agriculture; however you wanna call it, I’m talking …

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A Complicated Cup – Coffee & Poverty in Uganda

Early morning contemplations on a complicated substance.

I’ve been brewing (pun intended) over the subject of coffee in Uganda since the first morning I woke up and enjoyed a strong cup of Nescafe – coffee that was produced in Uganda, processed in the US and shipped back to Uganda for my own consumption. I haven’t yet written …

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The Cocoa Connection in Rio San Juan, Nicaragua

(Photo Credit - KJ Dakin)

What I recently learned from las campesinas (women farmers) living in the lush rainforest region of the Rio San Juan department of southern Nicaragua tasted pretty sweet. Money doesn’t grow on trees, but chocolate sure does. The raw form of chocolate, anyways. In the Rio San Juan department, women and their husbands …

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Compost Philosophy

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Everyone, of course, wants to eat from the garden — but not everyone is prepared to bend under the hot sun and (re)build the soil that gives birth to human sustenance. I write loosely, referring to love and community and food systems and social equality, in the same breath, the …

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Oysters in my Closet – Propagating Food and Environmental Solutions

Planet Awesome.

A wee childhood dream came true last week: I’m growing oyster mushrooms in my closet. I was somewhat of a strange child, disturbed by Barbie dolls with their pointy tits and, instead, obsessed with pug-nosed trolls with electric blue hair. On camping excursions with my family, I’d scurry off into …

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Community Organization – Love, Chaos & Some Kind of Change

2007 - Team in Esteli, Nicaragua

If there is one thing that I’ve learned it’s this: it feels good to be a part of something bigger than my own individual goals in life. Milestones that I’m supposed to celebrate: individual accomplishments like graduating from high school, university, and entering the world of long and annoying job …

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Behind the Canadian Flag – Mining in Central America

Mother and daughter farmers with their children and grandchildren in Comitancillo, Guatemala.

Seven years ago, I broke the stitches that secured the Canadian flag to my bright blue backpack. It was a symbolic act. It was a traveller’s coming of age moment when I realized that I was no longer proud of my country’s political reputation abroad. When I was 19, I …

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On CBC Radio – Book Project About Women in Agriculture

How are women farmers contributing to food security worldwide?

I was thrilled to be invited by CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon program to share more about the process of researching and writing a book about global women in agriculture. Check out my interview that was aired on May 8, 2014 at around 14 minutes into the program. Thanks …

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Vertical Growing – DIY Pallet Garden Project

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Inspired by last week’s kitchen garden project with the school kids in Rubira, I’ve been motivated to continue experimenting with vertical growing projects in our garden in Kabale, so we see what works and pass along the technologies to youth, too. I’ve always been a fan of using waste materials …

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