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 …

Continue reading

Permaculture or Spermaculture?

Confronting patriarchy in permaculture (Photo - TMoyles)

For Halena Seiferling, a master’s of policy studies student at Simon Fraser University, it’s a question generated not from facts or statistics, but from one of the most essential principles of permaculture: observation. “I started to wonder about some of the voices, typically male, that were leading the conversation about …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

‘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,” …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

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, …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

Compost Philosophy

P1110373

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 …

Continue reading

Negotiating Nature’s Edge – Swamp & Safari Land vs. Small-Scale Farming

Guide at community-run Bigodi Swamp.

I was standing at the end of a wetland sanctuary, and the beginning of a farmer’s field of sweet potato and maize. I was at the edge of ecosystem. In the “interface between two mediums”…stepping through the space that permaculturalists describe as “interesting and beautiful” and even “more productive” (Mollison, …

Continue reading

Painting the Roses Red – Global Flower Industry

roses

“Oh, we’re painting the roses red and many a tear we shed because we know they’ll cease to grow, in fact – they’ll soon be dead! And yet we go ahead, painting the roses red!” *Disclaimer: This is a belated Valentine’s Day and premature Mother’s Day rant at the Hallmarks …

Continue reading

Searching for the Shaggy-Maned Ones

Shaggy-maned mushrooms in the Peace Country, AB.

A couple of weeks back, I went out on a mission for coprinus comatus – those colony-sprouting shrooms that go by the street name of shaggy-maned-ones. After a mad bout of rain had hit the hills of the Peace, I got a hot tip from my fellow mushroom-loving-friend, Ms Jess, …

Continue reading