Archive for January, 2010

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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