Archive for the ‘Vancouver’ Category

Growing Green

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Our rooftop garden is growing well!

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It is amazing just how much you can grow in a small space! We have had very warm weather for the past few weeks and our garden has been loving it!

There is something satisfying  about eating food you have grown yourself.

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I am looking forward to eating some of these peas, and the tomatoes we planted too!

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Our garden has lots of these little guys as well. I guess they are helping to keep the aphids away!

The Farmer’s Market

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The Farmer’s Market is back!

After a long cold winter, and wet spring, the farmer’s market is back in the West End.  This week, May 6th,  marks the opening of the summer farmer’s market.

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It is early in the season, but many of our family’s favourite vendors were back today!

We bought Free Range Organic eggs and apple chips from Klippers Organic Acres, huge green beans and eight types of heirloom and cherry tomatoes from Celyddon Farms, colossal green olives stuffed with cashews from the Dundarave Olive Company, thee types of local honey from Vlad’s Apiary, some dangerously delicious vegan hazelnut chocolate spread from Bad Girl Chocolates, Wild caught Salmon Indian Candy, lox, and frozen salmon from Blue Comet Seafoods , and for the firsts time, tuna from Estevan Tuna.


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Besides many of the usual vegetables and fruits, eggs, fish and dairy products this years markets promise to bring a variety of unusual and delightful new delicacies and crafts.

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Today I saw Ostrich products from ostrich jerky and pepperoni, ostrich eggs, ostrich oil, oil soap, feather dusters and leather, from Forstbauer Natural Food Farm.  Also surprising were  predatory plants like Venus fly traps from Twin Oaks Herb Farm.  Cut flowers, Performance Posture Group was there with posture screening, raw cat and dog food, granola, salsa, candy and jewelry.  Even our local MLA, Spencer Herbert was there!

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Held at Mole hill, at  Comox and Nelson Street, beside Nelson park it is an ideal shopping experience for the whole family, even the dog as there is an off leash park right beside it.

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I look forward to eating all the yummy food we bought this week and each Saturday morning to discover what the farmers have brought to us city folks!

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Bon Appetit!

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Our forests, our legacy

These are pictures from the 2006 wind storms that fell hundreds of trees in Stanley Park.

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I wondered what became of all that wood.

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While the province sold most of it to the highest bidder, one local company was able to salvage some.

A few weeks ago I volunteered at EPIC, the  largest Environmental show and convention on the west coast of Canada.

While the vendors were impressive, and every conceivable product showcased, one company stood out to me.

The Woodland Flooring Company Ltd

I met the General Manager Steve Roscoe at the show. He had a booth with beautiful wood products made from B.C. lumber and milled in B.C.

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I was interested to see some of the Blue Mountain Pine Floors

They come from wood salvaged from trees killed by the Mountain Pine Beetle.  The Pine Beetle has devastated forests throughout B.C.  The unseasonably warm weather has allowed them to thrive over the past decade and caused the death of numerous forests. The beetles leave a blue stain on the outer sapwood layers of the trees.

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The trees are standing dead in many forests, but Woodland Flooring has been able to create beautiful flooring and other wood products using these resources.The company’s  products are sustainable and produced from only Salvaged,  FSC “Eco” Certified or Small Family Owned Woodlots.They go one step further and use OSMO Hard wax oil. It’s a natural plant based oil and wax finish, specially imported from OSMO in Europe.  It is 99% VOC Free and offers exceptional durability.If you are in the market for flooring, or other wood products, be sure to check out Woodland Flooring, a B.C. company with exceptional environmental standards and quality you can see.

SHOP SMARTER

That is the tag line for EPIC the Vancouver Sun  Sustainable living expo, on now at the New Vancouver convention centre.

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EPIC is in it’s third year. and I am volunteering at this incredible event for the third year as well. I will be blogging about it on my new blog, URBNblog and writing reviews of all the products I have bought, tested and tried at EPIC.

So what does EPIC stand for? Ethical Progressive Intelligent Consumer.  This is the place  to try new and interesting products, and sample things you may have always wanted to.  There are  many contests and  give aways, as well as great bargains.  Fashion shows and  cooking demos, speakers, and a chance for people to connect  with the entrepreneurs who are driving the “green” movement in B.C ,  North America, and even Australia!

This is a exposition and marketplace of  ethical consumerism. If you already support fair trade, organic and high quality products this is an opportunity to get some great deals!

It runs from Friday May 8th – May 10th 2009

Spring time blessings!

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the night the lights went out

Last week I was at home with the kids searching on the Internet when the power went out.   I live in a major subduction earthquake zone and we are ready for anything, or kind of ready anyway.  Since it was mid day, I figured it was a good time to take the kids for a little walk and go and find some lunch. A quick listen to the portable radio revealed nothing major was underway, so we departed. We walked a couple of  minutes  and noted the power must be off for at least a few blocks. If we lived in the country it may not have felt very different at all. When the power goes out in one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods on the west coast of North America there is a different feeling in the air. The lack of electricity flowing is noticeable, and a wonderful and rare occasion.

A number of years back we had a power outage that lasted many hours in the still of the night. What fun! We could actually see stars in the city! Mid day the only notable difference was the 7/11 was closed, and a few traffic lights were out. Luckily the weather has been mild and most people do have candles and flashlights at the ready. For an hour or two, there was really not a problem.

Coincidentally, we had been out last week with posters from the WWF, no not the world wrestling federation, the World Wildlife Fund. They are gearing up for EARTH HOUR. This is the third year people around the world will turn off their lights at 8:30   for one hour to send a message of solidarity to stop climate change and to raise awareness about environmental protection issues. We have been taking posters around to local stores, community centres and libraries to ask people to join us, to turn off their lights in their shop or at home, to put up a poster and help spread the word. This little bit of activism is easy for us as we live right downtown and have access to many people and places.

I even joined the Earth hour face book group. In case you have not joined a “controversial” group on the Internet, you may not know that there are always naysayers that will  question or belittle your ideas. Earth Hour is no exception. People scoff at the idea of it. What difference will it make? Who cares? Hey there is a HOCKEY game on at the exact time… on and on people always have a reason for not wanting to participate.

So how about a reason to do it? Besides the obvious being a part of something positive. Doing something easy to send a message not only to the power company, but also to our families and neighbours that we are aware we are not alone in our thoughts and actions. How about just shaking things up a bit? Turn off the T.V. and computer, light a fire or some candles, read, play games, tell stories, play your guitar, teach the kids how to play hearts, have a picnic, sit in your backyard and look for stars, walk around the neighbourhood, have a candle lit dinner party. The possibilities are endless. If you happen to be the childless sort you can think of many, MANY, ways to spend an hour in the dark can’t you?

This will be our second year participating and we will do many of the above mentioned activities. We may keep the lights off for even more then an hour, as long as my ten year old doesn’t beat me at hearts too badly in the first hour!

The colours of spring

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Spring has arrived in Vancouver, this is what it looks like;

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Buying Green?

I know the market today has thousands of items on the shelf that claim to be environmentally responsible. Words like “organic” , “fair trade”, ” natural”, “sustainable”and “good for the earth” even “good ecology” and you know that it also means good profit margin.  It is true that most organic or fairly traded products cost significantly more then the conventional alternatives, are organic products superior?

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Yes organic food is grown without pesticides, with the environment in mind. Typically an organic yield will be smaller then a conventional one, it is more labour intensive to farm and harvest, and therefore more expensive at the grocery store.

Fair traded products are just that, traded or bought in an environment that pays a decent wage to the producers, coffee and chocolate are two products that have flourished under the name of  “Fair Trade” but what is the hidden environmental cost of these and many organic products.

They may well be “certified organic” but if a product travelled from Chile in February, how “environmental” or “sustainable” is it?

What is the answer? To buy local, in season, at farmers markets.  What about that 100 mile diet, to live on things that are grown within 100 miles of where you live.  What if there is very little grown in that radius? What if where you live has a very short growing season? What about during the winter? In generations past people, (women traditionally) would can and pickle, preserve and store food for the winter. This is not a lost art, but a lot more work and planning is required! We have gotten into the habit of just running over to the local grocery chain and picking up what ever your hearts desire, almost any time of year. Convenient yes, is this progress though? Is this sustainable or good for the planet?

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I live in a big city, weekly heavy trucks barrel down the alley toward the Safeway loading docks. Bringing the cache of treasures for you and me. Pineapple in January, okay, strawberries in February, no problem, fresh produce year round is what sophisticated consumers demand and that is what Safeway, and everyone else who is in the grocery business supply.

The fact that the ground is frozen and buried under four feet of snow does not faze us as we dive into the delicious “fresh fruit” grown thousands of miles away,  sometimes travelling further then most of the people who will eventually consume it, ever have.

Is the answer to only consume local food, well maybe if the choice is between local and organic that has trekked hundreds of miles, then is the conventional choice is better for the environment?  Should we not buy the raspberries or mangoes in the depths of winter? That choice is of course up to you. If consumers demand it, then it will supplied. If people decided to really make sustainable choices they need to look at all the factors, conventional or organic? local or from another continent?

It’s up to me and it’s up to you.

We have worms!

On our balcony we have a worm composter. When we first got it we added 300 red wigglers. We have been feeding these little worms for almost a year. I have left them alone for a few months. I  heard that the worms will eat less in the winter as they go dormant for the cold season.

Well, this winter has been quite snowy and colder then usual, but at last it seems like we are seeing signs of spring!

We saw the first flowers of the season just yesterday! springfeb08-004

I think these are called snow drops, a sure sign that spring is around the corner.

With the sights and smells of spring in the air my attention turned to the worms, and upon checking them this afternoon we were happy to find they are alive and multiplying!feb-6-09-008

We also did a little maintenance and removed more than one litre of

“compost tea”

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This is amazing fertilizer that the worms leave behind along with the rich soil in the container.

We use a turkey baster and remove the liquid from the tray under the composter.

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The worms look happy in their little home.  We are happy to reduce our garbage, help the planet, and enjoy some nature right on our balcony!

Sunny Days

Second beach Today was so beautiful and sunny, the fog finally lifted from our rainy city. Although it was cold we decided to head down to the Seawall and Second beach.

First we enjoyed veggie dogs from our favourite hot dog vendor at   English Bay, Mike.  (his veggie dogs are only $2.75, a full $1.25 – $1.75 less then  the vendors downtown).

We then walked along the seawall to Second beach and played at the two playgrounds. The kids were playing on the flying saucers (as we describe these swings)  a crow was busy looking through the top of our stroller.  As we know from many times past, the crows will steal anything they think is interesting, once including  my set of house keys! We are always sure not to leave any food there, last time they stole the bag of sunflower seeds we brought to feed the Chick-a- Dee’s! Today the crow decided to take my lip balm! I am sure it was quite a sight; me and the two kids running from tree to tree around the park as the crow led us about with the balm firmly in his beak. He even tried to break it open on the basket ball court by dropping it, then quickly picked it back up again and flew to another nearby tree! He finally decided he had enough fun with us and dropped it down to Justin waiting under the tree.

After that we headed to the sand to practise the 18 movement Qi Gong that my lovely friend Clair Rainbow taught me more then seven years ago.  It was cold, the water was very calm and the sky was clear. We also practised some Karate. Justin is almost going to grade up to his green belt, and that will mean he can start sparring! I am still working on my Katas and have a long way to go to my next belt. I have my yellow belt and have been there for a while. I love to practise Qi gong on the beach or any park.  I can’t wait for the warmer weather,  I will go barefoot!

All together it was a very sunny  and wonderful day, a great way to start a new year!

URBNgreen
URBNgreen is committed to education and environmental stewardship. Our objective is share information about what people are doing locally and around the world to create a sustainable future.
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delicate little plant in need of freedom. Einstein quote at DailyLearners.com