Letters from David Suzuki

David Suzuki (Photo Credit - Erin Prout)

“Come in!” Though I’ve never met David Suzuki before, his voice rings through the open door, sounding as familiar as my late grandfather’s. My guess is that many other 20- to 30-year-old Canadians would feel the same way. We grew up on Suzuki’s The Nature of Things. His voice and perspective …

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Is Canadian Policy Helping Women?

A group of women farmers gather in Ibumba, Kabale, southwestern Uganda (Photo Credit - Trina Moyles)

The global cry for gender equality has never been louder. Rural Indian women are fighting for farmland, Ugandan and Kenyan women are fighting draconian “anti-miniskirt” laws that criminalize their thighs, and Canadian First Nations and aboriginal womenare fighting for a national inquiry into the tragic deaths and disappearances of more …

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Planting Edmonton on the Urban Agriculture Map

Travis Kennedy of Lactuca urban farm, cold frames extend urban farmer's growing season in Edmonton (Photo - TMoyles)

As May approaches, Edmonton’s community of gardeners, green thumbs and food enthusiasts aren’t the only ones planting and planning for the season: the city itself is getting one step closer to amending a bylaw that would make it easier for urban agriculture to take root and thrive. It could result …

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Congolese Refugees in Nakivale Refugee Camp: “We Can Never Go Back”

More than 400,000 farmers have been displaced from the conflict in eastern DRC (Photo - TMoyles)

For over four years, *Hanna, a 33-year old eastern Congolese woman, and her family have been living in Nakivale Refugee Settlement, a UNHCR operated camp located in southern Uganda. She and her husband live in a semi-permanent house, grow maize and beans on small, scattered plots surrounding Nakivale, and are …

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‘Tis the Season to Raise Chickens

Chickens can also get frostbite (Photo - Trina Moyles)

New holiday traditions are being made—and laid—in Linda and Troy Johnson’s backyard this holiday season. Outside, the Christmas lights twinkle on the newly constructed chicken coop while inside, their family enjoys eggs harvested daily and mugfuls of homemade eggnog. “We have more eggs than we know what to do with,” …

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In Need of Light – Diwali in India

Diwali, a 4-day Hindu celebration of 'light over darkness'

Last week’s lament about small farmers was saturated in angst. It wasn’t something I spun from thin air, it wasn’t from a gut emotion, spat out for the fun of the exercise. My frustration is a product of the many conversations I’ve had over the past twelve months with small …

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A Eulogy for Family Farmers on World Food Day

WFD 2014: Year of the Family Farmer

Tomorrow, October 16, 2014, is World Food Day. On the 69th World Food Day, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has chosen to celebrate The International Year of the Family Farming (IYFF). It’s a noble gesture on the FAO’s part – considering the historical and current efforts made by family …

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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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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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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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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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