Posts Tagged ‘growing your own food’

World Food Day – October 16th

October 16th is World Food Day.  Developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of The United Nations, the purpose is to raise awareness about food security issues, agriculture, poverty and hunger around the world.

Each year a different focus is taken in an attempt to encourage dialogue, highlight areas of concern, and as a call to action. In 2011 the theme is Food Prices -From Crisis to Stability. Food Security is on the minds of everybody these days. From shopping local at farmers markets and growing food in community gardens, to  buying sustainable and fairly traded foods.  The media is saturated with stories and images about hunger, from the horn of Africa to our local elementary schools.The story is the same, poverty leads to food insecurity and in the poorest nations, death.

Yesterday I went down town to Occupy Vancouver, to stand in solidarity, and bear witness to this important movement.

What do the Occupy Protests have to do with food security?  The movement is a voice for us all, it is students, and families and seniors. It is the unemployed, and the underemployed. It is a global call to action for every person who feels the system needs to change, starting now.Occupy Wall Street is the direct result of the dissatisfaction felt by  millions of people.

The issues are varied, but one message is clear; We can not continue to consume and exploit natural resources.

The famine that exists today is a direct result of greed. Will we allow this to continue?  Sometimes these issues seem far away and we can feel overwhelmed and helpless to make a difference. Action speaks louder then words.  Grow some of your own food, volunteer in any capacity working with food. Help people in your own neighbourhood, donate to local food banks, and organisations around the world that are helping the most vulnerable. You can make a difference.

CSA : community supported agriculture

earth dance 2009 photo credit: Katia Somerville

earth dance 2009 photo credit: Katia Somerville

Community Supported Agriculture is not a new concept. what began in North America in the 1960′s is now  flourishing 50 years later. It is one of the fastest growing forms of agriculture in North America!  Community members buy shares from a local farm, in some cases tending crops,  and collecting a weekly box of produce.  It is a popular way for people to get back to the earth and be a part of the food chain at a basic level.

CSAs help farmers by guaranteeing a market for their produce and supplying funds upfront which can be used to plant and establish a harvest. Community supported farms encourage local agriculture; in an ever growing population, where food security is questioned,  this alternative is very appealing and gaining momentum.

Across North America hundreds of local farming initiatives are taking root. The benefits of local, organic, seasonal fresh food can not be praised enough. Our landscape of food has changed dramatically in our lifetime. Positive steps are being made by farmers and consumers alike to create a food culture that is sustainable and accessible.

rooftop farm eagle street website

In New York City, an old warehouse roof top now contains  200 000 ponds of soil and 30 varieties of crops. It  has been transported into an urban oasis!  A working 6000 square foot roof top farm! Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is relatively new at only two years old. There is a farmer’s market each week, free workshops and potluck meals shared together.

Back here in British Columbia UBC Farm has been operating as a CSA for six growing seasons. UBC is unique in that it is the only university in Canada to have an organic farm running on a large school campus. Honey bee hives and fruit orchards also abound. Farm festivals, and social events gather the community together to celebrate the abundance and create a sustainable and innovative food system.

veggies from royal city farmers market fall 09

veggies from royal city farmers market fall 09

However people choose to grow their own food, one thing is certain; we all must be a part of the food revolution. These are just two examples of real, tangible change that is taking place.

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Need Food To Live

Need FOod To Live

I was looking through my photos for some other picture, and I came across this old photo I took last year.  Need food to live. With the asterisk on either side. This sign is poignant.

I posted a link on this website for The World Food Programme after the disaster in Haiti. The world food programme, in conjunction with The United Nations, is the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger world wide, so states the website.

People die every hour of every day from hunger. The problem however is not “their” problem on another continent, it is right here in every small town and big city across the world.

Food security and local, organic and sustainable food choices are hot topics today. Our Landscape of food in the developed nation is skewed by the over abundance of food choices. Books, magazines, and  ultra sheik “Iron Chefs” revolutionised the food scene years ago.  You can’t open a paper or turn on the T.V. today without being assaulted with the colourful images and tantalising descriptions of food. Fast food, slow food, food culture, food revolution, obesity, anorexia, the list goes on.

People are building communities around food, co-operatives, farmers markets, community gardens, food banks and community kitchens abound. The scarcity of food has not touched everyone personally.  We are however only one  disaster or two away from being faced with real hunger. We rely too much on the system to take care of us. We need to take care of ourselves and others.

Helping to feed hungry people is one way to show them they matter, that someone cares about them, our brothers and sisters.

30 years ago a group of pop stars got together to sing and raise awareness about people dying of hunger in Africa.

Today the problems in Africa still remain. Now people realise it is also in our own school grounds, church basements and out reach centres. What we choose to do to help people is a personal decision, with a consequence that reaches far beyond ourselves.

Whether it is volunteering at the local food bank, cooking at a soup kitchen, donating canned goods or money, growing your own food and sharing with your neighbours, there are endless ways to help build a more secure food system in our own backyards.

People need food to live.

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.

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.

garden_on_patio

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.

fall09-harvest

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.

Local fruit in abundance!

08-16-09-plums-003

This years unusually warm summer has left us with tans  and a bumper crop of yellow plums!  We have a neighbour on one side of the house with half a dozen fruit trees, and many branches are on our side so we have been gifted with many, many plums!

The trick has been to try and get them daily so not to attract too many wasps!

I have already made plum jam with a batch of red plums from the front garden, so now we move on to plum sauce!

08-16-09-plums-002I was looking at some history of plums and read that plums are the second most cultivated fruit in the world, second only to apples. Chinese are said to believe plums symbolized good fortune.  It has meant good fortune for us so far as well. I will post my recipe once I have canned all these sweet plums this week!

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!

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