Permaculture vs. Gold Mining in Guatemala

Indigenous seed saving in Tuixcajchis (Photo by KJ Dakin)

In the arid mountain village of Tuixcajchis, Aurelia Jimenez Zacories is always growing something on her small but productive tract of land. She spends her days coaxing vegetables and the staples of corn, wheat and potatoes from the soil, raising livestock, building organic soil, planting trees and saving her seeds …

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West Coast Women – Down on the Farms

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past couple of weeks spent doing research on Canada’s west coast it’s that women and agriculture are growing together hand-in-hand. West coast women are, very much so, down with getting their hands dirty, trading in desk jobs for rural and urban plots …

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Women Who Dig – Runner-Up in Briarpatch’s Creative Writing Contest

Woman from Comitancillo (Photo by KJ Dakin)

Before we talk, we eat. Aurelia has laid out lunch on the long skinny table. She’s prepared dishes that give homage to maíz, corn – the food that defines Mayan-Mam cultural heritage of the Comitancillo highlands of northwestern Guatemala. There’s sopa de res y maíz, beef and corn soup, and heavy …

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Local Author to Focus on Women Farmers

Comitancillo, Guatemala (Photo by KJ Dakin)

While resting in the frozen hills of the Peace Country a couple of weeks back, I was happy to digest my travel and research experiences and share more about my story with local reporter, Kristjanna Grimmelt. Here’s a link to a story Kristjanna wrote and published in the Peace River …

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Her Worth, Her Work on International Women’s Day

Women digging, Uganda.

She may not seem significant to you because she’s holding the hand-hoe, feeding the pigs, or hauling broken laundry basket filled with carrots still clinging to the soil. But her work is the definition of work in the truest sense. She puts her intellectual, physical, emotional and according to some …

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Forget ‘Farmer Joe’ – Who Are the Young Women Farmers of Canada?

Jess standing in front of her future chicken coop.

The cluster of white poplar trees stood static as the raised fur on the back of a dog’s neck, and the sun beamed blinding light off the crusted snow banks. I squinted my eyes against the glare and looked down at the metallic snowshoes – light as a feather – …

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Ugandan Grasshopper Season

Nsenene is a cultural delicacy in East Africa.

November is a month to harvest, de-wing, fry, sell, devour and celebrate a Ugandan cultural delicacy. Grasshoppers, or nsenene as it’s locally known, flood the humid airs of the year’s second rainy season, and Ugandan trappers take to the fields and streets in the masses. The days of November mark the rising …

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Got ‘Underdeveloped’ Milk? – Part III

Nutrition assessment at KIHEFO. (Photo - Nikki Janzen)

There’s a queue of thirty-some people who are hoping to bring home milk for dinner at the corner store dairy, and only four employees behind the counter who are busy grabbing weathered notes and heavy coins from hands whilst filling plastic bags with what let’s call ‘white gold” in Uganda. …

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Got ‘Underdeveloped’ Milk? – Part II

Milk - 32 flavours and then some.

I’m growing fat and nourished on unprocessed milk these days whilst living in Uganda.  I don’t have much of a choice, at least, not like I do in Canada when I go to the grocery store, and see shelves stacked with yellow, purple, blue and red plastic-capped jugs of milk, representing homogenized, 1%, …

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Got ‘Underdeveloped’ Milk? – Part I

My cornerstone dairy in Kabale, Uganda.

One of my culturally-absorbed addictions in Uganda would be considered a highly contraband substance in Canada. It’s white, creamy, and delicious – and I “take it” straight from the cow’s teat. Raw, unpasteurized milk. Three boiled cupfuls a day. What’s illegal in Canada – to sell or buy raw milk – …

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On Wildness, Saskatoon Berries and Prairie Identity

Photo - Kay Niedermeyer

This summer, in an effort to “permaculture-out” my mom’s yard and build a fruit forest at the back of her property, we planted saskatoon bushes. This is really neat for many reasons – not only does it pays homage to the prairies surrounding her home, but it also provides her with one …

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Small

(Photo - Trina Moyles)

As G8 leaders are shaking hands over food security deals with the private sector, patting themselves on the back, and smiling to flashing cameras that will transport their sureness, their smugness to media all over the world – I’m in my garden, pulling carrots.  The G8 leaders, as they say …

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My Three Sisters – Outliers Against Conventional Agriculture

Mural in Managua, Nicaragua.

My good luck last week came with the rain. It had been bone dry in Kabale for over three weeks. The sun had baked the clay soil hard as a hockey puck. My garden was thirsty. And I was thirsty (and exhausted) from hauling water up the steep concrete steps that led …

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Monsanto and The Seed – Sowing an Uncertain Future in Uganda

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I didn’t march against Monsanto last weekend. It would’ve been me marching against the dust of the dry season here in southwestern Uganda. Small village farmers would’ve looked up from working in their gardens, weeding sorghum, hand-watering vegetables, and handing their child a sweet potato. They would’ve wondered. Who’s Monsanto? I …

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I Dreamed of [Death By Mangoes] in Cuba

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Two summers ago, on the map maker’s spec of a Caribbean island called Cuba, I dreamt of bicycles, turkeys, death by mangoes and murals (and not necessarily in that order) – amongst other magical symbols and sensations. I close my eyes and move through memory… …coasting backwards…pedaling my bicycle along the skinny …

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