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Edible Landscapes

Posted by Emma Baron on

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Song of the Week - The Garden by Cut Chemist

This song captures the feeling of being in the lushest garden you have ever had the pleasure of witnessing, on the sunniest day, with the most perfect breeze. All the plants are dancing in the wind, and you are dancing too, for that is the power of Bossa Nova - and the remixing of world beats. This week, we're talking about gardens, and remixing the your city's beets.
The Long Form - 'Small Victories' Gardens


"The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway." - Michael Pollen


As creeping urban development swallows the last views of green from our condo balconies, backyards become laneway housing, and the waiting lists for shared city garden plots stretch on for decades, there is still an immense amount of pleasure to be derived from the small victories of an urban garden.


Far from the Victory Gardens of WW2 or the 'Relief Gardens' of the Depression, we abandon any pretense that our tiny modern personal plots will completely save the world, reduce all the pressure on the local food system, or dramatically change the amount of global food transportation, but there's one common garden denominator that remains: the morale and pleasure derived from a few moments playing in the dirt every day.


The thing about a garden is that unlike joints, private jets, and jewelry, size doesn’t matter. Whether it’s three little plants on your window sill or the entire square footage of your yard, you will derive much enjoyment from whatever time you spend there. There’s always a little puttering to do - the kind of activity where your brain is mostly free to roam.


Now, if you want to think about big gardens and the big picture, there’s room for that too. Most large cities have or are developing Urban Agriculture plans - Calgary, St. John’s, Edmonton, Montreal, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Moncton, Victoria - they all recognize that farms and gardens are an essential tool for cities. They’re a Swiss Army knife of tools, really: community-building activities; use of all that city compost from the tons of organics we throw away; plant education for all ages; a better food literacy (i.e. - knowing what you could make for dinner from the sad looking veggies in your fridge or why 400 calories of veggies will take you much further than 400 calories of sugar); and preservation of green spaces.


It seems that cities (ahem, looking at you, TORONTO) are all cranes and condos in development, they are still concerned about how food gets to your table - or doesn’t:

"Our concern is about food security in the broadest sense," Dr. Stahlbrand explains. "When we say 'food insecurity,' people think about hunger and lack of access, but food security is a much broader concept of having a food system that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable – and urban agriculture is a great way of addressing that.”

A gem of urban agriculture in Canada is the Black Creek Community Farm. It’s success stems from the strong ties to the community, who are an essential part of the decision-making process. The property features organic vegetable fields; a forest trail and food forest; 4-season greenhouses; an outdoor classroom, pavilion and bake oven; as well as a mushroom garden, chickens and beehives. Rather than a top-down approach where the government facilitates basic crops like the diagram for the victory garden above, the community has created a space to grow plants that hold significance in a variety of cultures, and the plants and produce are therefore understood, used, and appreciated.

Doesn't that sound like heaven? Encouragingly, many Canadian cities are reaching out to Black Creek to model their own urban farms. It's the community-based projects that take us from small to bigger impacts on our local food systems. It's a great thing to get a couple super-tasty salads from the planters on your balcony, and it's an even greater thing when a bunch of neighbours come together to feed people who wouldn't otherwise have a meal. Whether it's in your own little 500 square feet in the sky, or the back 40 acres of your lot, or 5 acres surrounded by a high-rise neighbourhood, we hope you're inspired to watch things grow.

The News

Quebec is at it again with the heavy-handed approach to... everything except wine and cheese? In very sad news this week, they've decided there will be no bonbons after dinner... even if you eat all your brussel sprouts! The province won't be allowing candy as a form of cannabis edibles, nor will they be permitting cannabis topicals. All we've got is a singular raised eyebrow... mais pourquoi?!
The Social Calendar
Do you grow flowers... or do you grow FLOWERS?!... or do you grow the most beautiful roses one could ever smell?... or the tastiest lettuce known to humanity? Invite us over please. We'll bring the salad dressing.

- Emma & Carol
Milkweed website

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