Archive for March, 2008

We have seeds.

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Tanny is finished her maternity leave and is busy writing lesson plans so I’m handling the blog tonight.

Seeds for sale Seedy Saturday

This weekend we all headed down to Seedy Saturday in Toronto. It was the first time for all of us and I was really blown away by how many people were there and the variety of vendors. We saw some familiar faces from the Dufferin Grove Market – the people from whom we buy our perogies and the sprouts guy and many other organic activists and entrepreneurs. We thought the stuff at the You Grow Girl booth was pretty clever and cute. She has a well written and established blog as well (as I write this I just noticed she also has a post about Seedy Saturday). Did I mention there were a lot of seeds for sale?

We talked to a guy from Seeds of Diversity. A very interesting project that is cataloguing, preserving and distributing heritage Canadian seeds. For a small donation we picked up a packet of Blanche Beaute tomatoes.

I had a very interesting chat with a women who was campaigning against terminator seeds. I must admit to being in the dark about the issue before and I’m determined to find out more information now. The quick summary from my conversation is that seed companies are creating GM seeds that will be sterile after one harvest. The upside for the seed companies is that people need to continue buying seeds year after year. You can imagine the effect of this on 3rd world farmers. For me the issue has similar ethics to big pharmaceutical companies patenting drugs. Yes, they need to be paid for their research, but at what cost? And seriously – didn’t they watch or read Jurassic Park? Those dinosaurs were supposed to be sterile as well! For more information (on terminator seeds, not Jurasic Park) see this link.

Tanny has ballet class on Saturday so we split our visit to the show into two (with lunch at Magic Oven in between). Unfortunately we didn’t get back until 2:30 and had only 30 minutes to dash around finding seeds we wanted to buy.

Here’s what we have:

  • Blanche Beaute tomatoes
  • McMullen tomatoes
  • Sweet basil
  • Black cherry tomatoes
  • Mammoth melting sugar peas
  • Mary Washington heirloom asparagus
    • Apparently you have to wait a year before you can eat the asparagus. 🙁
  • Chanteny carrots
    • These carrots are 7″ long, 2″ wide. I grew really stubby carrots last year so I’m hoping for big ones now.
  • Harris model parsnips
  • Golden midget watermelon

As Tanny just mentioned to me, “we forgot we have a 5×5 plot”!

We also learned that “sweet peas” are not the same as “sugar peas” and are in fact toxic. My farmer roots are not showing here. No pun intended.

Reminder – Seedy Saturday Tomorrow!

Friday, March 14th, 2008

If you’re in Toronto tomorrow, don’t forget to check out Seedy Saturday! I am very excited to shop for some seeds for my garden.


Saturday, March 15, 2008, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Scadding Court Community Centre 707 Dundas St. W (southeast corner of Dundas West & Bathurst)

There’ll be vendors selling seeds and organic gardening products, free seminars and workshops.

Would it be red, white or … green?

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

I finally picked up the spring issue of LCBO’s Food and Drink magazine today. And I actually got a chance to flip through the whole issue – front to back. I love reading the articles and I always get inspired to try new recipes. One of the featured wines, 20 Bees Growers’ White, boasts 100% homegrown (Ontario) grapes. This reminded me of a conversation I once had with a friend who told me that wines marked “Ontario wine” can contain up to 90% imported grapes. I thought that sounded ridiculous, figured it was exaggerated and didn’t put too much thought into it. Until today. So I decided to look into and figure it out, once and for all.

Here’s the scoop (from Grape Growers of Ontario):

  • If a wine is labelled VQA, it is always 100% Ontario grapes, specifically, in Niagara Peninsula, Pelee Island, Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County.
  • At one point in time, a wine could be labelled “Ontario” with up to 90% imported grapes. That was to compensate for a grape shortage. That was back in 1993.
  • If the wine is labelled “Product of Canada”, it contains at least 75% Canadian grapes.
  • If the wine is labelled “Cellared by/in …”, it contains at least 30% Ontario grown grapes.

The only wines that are guaranteed to be local (to Torontonians) are the VQA ones. That’s what Josh and I drink most of the time, specifically the ones for which I get bonus Airmiles. That’s another reason for us local eaters to buy VQA.  (Do you VQA?  Why, yes, I do!)

On a side note, there is also an article about Ontario wineries that are going “green” – “The Greening of Ontario”. Wineries are reducing their environment impact by using alternatives to pesticides, reducing bottle weight, reducing waste and using geothermal energy to heat/cool buildings. There are even organic wines! It’s always nice to learn of different industries going “green”.

Overpackaged organics

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

Since Tanny and I began seeking out more organic food options I’ve noticed an alarming trend for overpackaging of those foods. In particular, eggs and bananas seem horrendously overpackaged. I’d like to know why organic bananas require a plastic bag over them and organic eggs typically come in a three-fold plastic container. Is it because they sell for more so some of the extra profit is put into more expensive packaging? A case of marketing the eggs better?

In the case of bananas I could see that the bag protects the organic bananas against the pesticides that remain on the outside of non-organic bananas during shipping. Or maybe they somehow grow the bananas in the bag and this is how they can avoid pesticide use. Google wasn’t able to justify it for me.

Luckily the locally-grown eggs we buy at Fresh From The Farm come in reused containers. Alas there are no locally-grown bananas so once the winter ends and we tighten up our local-eating I may not need to worry about overpackaged bananas.

Tree vs Garden

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

When we bought our house, one of the things we fell in love with was the yard.  There’s a lovely perennial garden and lots of mature trees. In fact, one of our favourite things to do in the summer is relaxing in the shade. However, we also blame this shade for the poor yield in our vegetable garden. We have these overgrown elm hedges that are over fifteen feet tall, our garden gets full sun for about five hours at the height of summer. In the past two years, we’ve produced one medium size fuzzy melon, a handful of tomatoes (they almost never make it to the kitchen), three peas, some radishes that are the size of marbles, and stumpy carrots. Quite sad, really. We hope to have better yield this year so we’ve decided to cut those hedges down to a more reasonable height.  I really hope to grow some vegetables to supplement our local food diet.

Any suggestions for vegetables that are easy to grow from seeds?

Website New Feature: Search for CSAs

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

We’ve added a new searchable category in our resource map – you can now search for Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) in your area. We’ve also added a few more resources in the Ottawa region.

Thanks to everybody who has contributed so far! Our database is growing everyday!