Archive for the ‘green gardening’ Category

Food Waste and How it is recycled

Here is a great  video about Food Waste and two options for recycling it.

Food Waste – how it is recycled from RecycleNow on Vimeo.


Earth Day 2014



We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

– Native American Proverb

Seeds Of Freedom

Seeds of Freedom charts the story of seed from its roots at the heart of traditional, diversity rich farming systems across the world, to being transformed into a powerful commodity, used to monopolize the global food system.The film highlights the extent to which the industrial agricultural system, and genetically modified (GM) seeds in particular, has impacted on the enormous agro -biodiversity evolved by farmers and communities around the world, since the beginning of agriculture.

Spring 2011

Crocuses on East Columbia Spring 2011

Crocuses on East Columbia Street New Westminster ~Spring 2011 ~ ♡ ॐ

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.  ~Proverb

A truly green Christmas tree

Many people are turning away from the petroleum based artificial trees that, just a generation ago, seemed like the most environmentally friendly option available.

If you are looking for an Eco Friendly option for a Christmas tree this year I recommend checking out this local company. Evergrow Christmas Tree Company.

Evergrow Christmas Tree Co was started by two UBC forestry grads, and specialise in delivering live trees to people who want a greener option for the holiday season.

I first learned about this option in May when I was volunteering at EPIC, the sustainable living expo held annually in downtown Vancouver.  I was in the “kids zone” as usual, making Christmas decorations with the kids!

Evergrow offers trees for homes, business and events. They even offer cut trees if you desire one bigger then 7 feet. The trees are grown locally and the cut one are collected and converted into biofuel. They will even lend you a tree stand and set it up if you wish. No more needles dropping, worrying about the tree dying up or  what to do with it after the 26th.

If you order online you can save 10%  So shop local, save a tree, and go really  green this Christmas!

evergrow tree at EPIC 2010

evergrow tree at EPIC 2010

Cutting out the noise

This was originally published on May 20 2008,  my family will be on vacation for a few weeks we are re-posing some articles that are still relevant today!

Spring has arrived and with it the return of the growing season. We don’t have to look far for reminders that it’s time to mow the lawn. A week-end view from above reveals  people  emerging from their homes ready to trim down grass and weed. They have many tools at their disposal, but foremost is the lawn mower. The gas mower emits noise and air pollutants and can be expensive to run . Difficult terrain can make a corded electric mower unmanageable. Gardeners need to remember there is another option, the push mower (also known as the reel mower).

Green mowing is an idea that has been around long before the advent of the gas and electric mower, and it  is gaining popularity. The rising gas prices makes the push mower an attractive alternative. While saving money on gas or electricity you can get some exercise, and contribute to a healthier planet.

According to the California Environmental Protection Agency, a gas mower can pump out as much emissions as 40 new cars while in use. With roughly 2.7 million Canadians mowing their lawns each summer weekend, gas powered lawn mowers can release 80 000 tones of pollutants annually, and use more than 151 million litres of gas, according to Statistics Canada. We don’t need all the statistics to highlight was is obvious. What’s old is new again!

Gardeners agree that a push mower may need to be sharpened fairly often for best results. Ultimately a green mower will leave a greener lawn because the blade slices like scissors, not pulling or tearing it as a rotary gas powered machine will do.

A reel mower may take a little longer, but the result will be a healthier lawn that needs less care, an environmentally friendly alternative and a more peaceful one.

Remember what they they say; mow high and let it lie. (leave your grass clipping on the lawn as a natural fertiliser!)

what’s in your cupboard?

Questioning the health and environmental impact of genetically engineered (GE) foods is something that has been on the radar for many people since  Greenpeace launched  it’s first campaign about it two decades ago.  The shift towards organic farming and more natural foods on the shelves in major cities and small towns across North America is undeniable.

That is why I was shocked to read in the back pages of Spring 2010 Health Action magazine that Canada has the dubious distinction of one  of the largest producers of GE crops in the developed world.


Up to 70% of the food on Canadian grocery store shelves may contain genetically modified foods, with the most common crops being corn, soy, canola, and cotton. These four ingredients are used as cooking oils and therefore hidden from many people who think they are buying otherwise natural or healthy foods.

The good news is the popularity of organic foods has increased 20% per year, every year for at least the past five years.  According to Canadian Organic Growers, and the Organic trade Association, more then 1.3 million acres of land in Canada is currently growing organic crops. with another 118,500 acres in transition to certification. 41% of the organic foods sold today are in conventional grocery stores and amounts to $2 billion a year industry, with sings that this number will only increase in the future.

veggies from royal city farmers market fall 09

veggies from royal city farmers market fall 09

According to a recent poll in the Globe and Mail newspaper, the number one  reason  Canadian choose organic food is “family health” with the environment being the second most important reason.

Whatever the reason, more people are choosing organic foods in the grocery store, supporting farmers markets, growing in their own backyards and community gardens,  and paying more for what was once upon a time just a potato.  Now with it’s “organic” certification, it has become more, it is a statement and a way of life, for  the life of the planet.

Maybe one day the organic distinction will disappear and we will all believe there is really only one way to grow sustainable crops. What starts out as novelty will eventually lead to commonality, we are moving in the right direction.

Every day  we choose the future we want to create.

GE image from the Greenpeace website

Bee Hunting

I recently discovered that in addition to an annual  Great Backyard Bird Count this spring, some people have decided to count  bees as well!

Sunflower Bee Summer 2009The Great Sunflower Project needs your help!

The idea to study urban  pollinators has been gaining popularity for the past decade. As bee populations have been threatened by the increase of pesticide use and urban sprawl in North America.  In an attempt to gain valuable insight into the habits of bees, a group of scientists have gotten together to encourage people to grow sunflowers and track the visits by bees  in urban settings.06 21 09 garden 012It is estimated that one in three bites of food eaten in North America today are products of wild pollinators.

The economic value of natural ecosystems is one reason there is much interest in finding and maintaining healthy populations of bumble bees and other bees. It has been estimated that the value of the pollinator services of wild pollinators could be as high as six billion dollars a year in the United States alone.

07 05 09 010

In addition to joining the Sunflower project you can grow other flowers and plants in your garden to encourage pollinators like bees and butterflies.  Buy organic honey and produce, tell your friends and family about why it is important.  Healthy ecosystems are vital to a sustainable food source.

Tomatoes rooftop garden

06 21 09 garden 003

Food Security

How secure is our food system? I am not talking about the Listeria outbreaks that are on the news lately, or the genetically engineered foods that also pose major health and environmental risks.  I don’t think the major risks are associated with terrorist plots, or regulations in animal husbandry either.  The most pressing issue is actually simple.  Our food source is not secure in North America! 06 06 09 farmers market 003

A visit to any major grocery store reveals that  most of the food on the shelves is not grown or packaged locally. The majority of fresh food today comes from other continents, especially in mid winter.   Not even a generation ago this was not the case.  Most of the fresh fruit and vegetables we ate growing up was grown in Canada and the United States, with a majority of the fruit coming from California and Florida.

06 06 09 farmers market 008

A simple Google search will reveal dozens of news articles about the successive droughts in California’s central valley, which has been known as the American “Breadbasket”.

No water means crops can’t grow, farmers can not continue without crops to sell, and we are forced to seek out food from central, south America, and Asia.

Most fruit that is imported has travelled thousands of miles, probably more then the average person who buys it from the grocery store.  The fact remains that if there was some type of disruption in the system , the food on the stores shelf’s would be gone within 48 hours.

Some other startling statistics are that for every dollar we spend only 6 cents goes to the farmer. In North America we spend about 10% of our income on food, while in developing nations they spend between 30- 60%!

For solutions we need to start in our own backyards. Growing our own food, buying from local farmers at farmers markets, joining food sharing projects like many that have sprouted up all over North America.

In my city there is something called The Biggest Little Garden in Town this initiative targets condo and apartment dwellers who want to grow in small spaces. Providing them with all the means and support to do exactly that.


Many communities now run “fruit tree sharing projects” that have community members picking fruit that would otherwise be waisted. This fruit is gathered and delivered to food banks and community kitchens where it is distributed and preserved in workshops designed to teach the public how to do this at home.  Literally thousands of pounds of fruit have been gathered last year alone.


Corporations are also getting involved by sending groups that want to participate in the community and build teamwork in their own companies.  Senior’s, families, people with knowledge to share, or who are interested in learning more can all come together to create and share what is inherit to all of us. Food is a staple in life, and finding a local and reliable sources is becoming a priority for more and more people.

There are many ways average people can get involved to help make food more secure. Take advantage of the abundance that is in your own neighbourhood and seek out ways to get involved in the food scene in your own city. Once you start looking you will be amazed just what you may find.

Walk to School Month – October 2009

When I was a kid growing up in southern Ontario, walking to school was not a choice but a requirement. Our family did not own a car.  My mother commuted to work in the city while my siblings and I braved the elements, be it snow, rain, sleet or extreme heat. We often lived far from our school, and the long walk would be  a form of meditation, if not endurance and triumph upon our arrival at school.

We would see other kids getting rides from their parents, and the yellow school buses trucked in a few hundred other kids from far out in the country as well.  Today parents driving their children to school seems to be  the most popular option.

When my son started school seven years ago I was amazed by the line up of cars at his school. Most were idling, dropping off the kiddies, or diligently lined up at the school at 3PM to pluck up their precious kids and drive them to soccer or piano lessons.  Had they not heard that it is bad for the environment to leave the car running while waiting for little Suzie or Billy? Do they all live so far away that they needed to bring the car to get the kids? Every day?

Recent legislation has tried to combat this problem with anti-idling by-laws. This is a step in the right direction.

To go even further, many communities around the world have now adopted the walk to school week, month,  or even a permanent walking school bus.  With kids and parents walking to school together everyone gets a few minutes of fresh air and exercise before being locked up all day in buildings.

Last week in the lower mainland, was walk to school week. All public transit was free for elementary and secondary school students! This encourages students to find their way to school with no need for a ride from parents, this option lets kids find an alternative and feel some independence.

06 16 09 car free day

Public transit was my first means of transportation.  It  remains one of the main ways my family gets around, along with walking and biking.  I am  still car free today.

I encourage everyone to celebrate walk to school week any way you can. Get out and walk with your kids to school, the library or soccer field. Take public transit to the movies or art gallery. Bike to the river or corner store.  Being active and reducing our reliance on cars is the key to lowering our personal impact and carbon footprint.  Each step you take makes a difference.

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.
delicate little plant in need of freedom. Einstein quote at