Posted on

Inspirational Tuesday ~ ‘Hope in a Changing Climate’: A Compelling Documentary

“Hope in a changing climate” is a documentary film by Jhon d Liu
produced in collaboration with World Permaculture Association (WPA).

This fascinating and inspiring documentary gives clear insight in to the connection between a damaged environment and poverty. It describes the process of soil degradation and the resulting cycle of impoverishment. Poor farming and agricultural practices, too much carbon in the air and short-term thinking have created unprecedented challenges.

Can these current, destructive patterns be reversed? Will the strategies and techniques shown in the documentary work anywhere in the world to regenerate damaged soil and help to pull excess carbon out of the air?

There is hope that food insecurity, poverty, climate change, poor agricultural practice can be reversed now and in the long-term. It is a matter of making a choice to do so.

Please share this 27 minute documentary to help others understand what we can all do, collectively and individually, to make a difference now and for future generations.

 

~The earth matters~

 

Posted on

Growing Urban ~ Progress on our Front Yard Garden

“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small-scale, in our own gardens. If only 10 percent of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” 

~Bill Mollison, Founder of Permaculture

January is almost over, the snow bells are in bloom and spring is around the corner. It is so exciting to start working on our urban garden in earnest.

staked-out-garden-pic-1
This is our green (and somewhat weedy) front lawn. 9 feet by 40 feet. Soon to be a Vegetable Garden, a Bourgeoning Ecosystem and a Sensory Garden.

Growing Urban

  • How much produce can 360 square feet yield?
  • Can this feed a family of 5 for an entire 22 week growing season and beyond?
  • Can growing our own save us money or even make money?
  • Can this small garden also provide fresh produce for our neighbors?

Thinking & Acting Locally

If we think globally and realize our interconnectedness, we will realize how important it is to act locally. While working to change the political and economic situation which creates the causes of hunger in our communities and internationally, we must also cultivate grassroots food projects which help people build food security.

The most powerful grassroots force is communities coming together to take back some control over their access to a variety of nutrient-dense food.

Food security and the food system affect everyone in some way. As the world population increases (currently around 7.5 billion), new solutions to hunger including the maldistribution of available food and the cost of large-scale agricultural production (economic, environmental, physiological and social) will most certainly need to be addressed some time soon.

The terms local, sustainable, locavore and others are relatively new, at times, misunderstood and even ridiculed. But if we truly look at and honestly assess the impact that our shopping/consumer patterns are having on the entire system, we would walk away knowing that seeking out local, small-scale food producers or growing our own is an integral part of the solution.

“Grassroots projects in and of themselves do not change the forces that create  high unemployment and inadequate social assistance rates. However, people’s lives are improved immediately through these projects by reducing food insecurity and enabling people to experience the power of working in coalition with others. It then becomes possible for them to envision themselves as activists for social change, working to create a just society in which hunger no longer exists. It is their critical perspective and understanding of the food system ‘from below’ which can shape a compelling vision and effective action for change.” Laura Kalina, Building Food Security in Canada: From Hunger to Sustainable Food Systems: A Community Guide, Second Edition, pg. 19

A Garden Starts with Seeds

Planning this year’s garden brings a smile to my face. Growing our own food last year was a liberating and joyful process, but I didn’t really have a plan. Last year was an experiment to see what would grow and where (in the different microclimates around the house) and what we actually used in the kitchen. We used a lot of tomatoes, kale, lettuce, spinach, sorrel, carrots, cucumber, borage (both the fuzzy leaves and the beautiful edible flowers), pumpkins, summer and winter squashes and zucchini.

Fresh herbs are essential in our kitchen and this year I am growing them using ‘hugelkultur‘, which is growing food on a mound or what I call my ‘herb hill’. Basil, oregano, verbena, thyme, marjoram, flat leaf parsley, cilantro, dill and lemon balm are some of my favorites.

blog-slide-show-borage-flower
Dazzling purple borage flowers and sunflowers in our garden last year. Borage refills with nectar every 2 minutes, no wonder the bees were all over it. Photograph by Jane Grueber Copyright 2016

Although I saved many seeds or shook dry seeds directly back into our already existing garden beds, I ordered some new Heritage seeds for our front yard urban garden project. My goal is to save most, if not all, seeds that grow well in our climate each season.

List of Heritage Seeds (vegetables & herbs):

  1. Hopi Red Dye Amaranth – this ancient grain grows well in pots and dried seeds can be easily ground into flour
  2. Calabrese Broccoli
  3. Chieftan Savoy Cabbage
  4. Scarlet Nantes Carrots
  5. Beit Alpha Cucumber
  6. Lacinato Kale
  7. Crisp Mint Lettuce
  8. Black Hungarian Peppers
  9. California Wonder Peppers
  10. Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach
  11. Yokohama Squash
  12. Ronde de Nice Squash
  13. Golden Zucchini

b30c2-img_20160904_073828

~Grow with the Flow~

Resources

Kalina, Laura (2001).  Building Food Security in Canada: From Hunger to Sustainable Food Systems: A Community Guide, Second Edition.

 

Posted on

Surprisingly Simple Baklava Recipe (Gluten Free Option Included)

It’s been a while since I delved into recipe creation. The winter has a way of sending me into cooking hibernation. Now that the days are getting longer and I have taken a bit of a reprieve from cooking, I feel refreshed and ready to go.

Dessert is my first love. It is a pleasure in life that I never avoid.

I revel in creating desserts that utilize simple and natural ingredients. It is a way to honour both my needs and desires. It goes without saying that dessert brings a smile to my face.

When we lived in Edmonton, I was a frequent visitor to the European Bakery on 135th Avenue and 113 Street where the tantalizing sights and smells of phyllo pastry, syrupy gooeyness, nuts and spices warmed my dessert loving heart.

It has been a long time since I have encountered Baklava so the situation called for DIY time.

I have made this recipe vegan (all plant-based). A light olive oil makes the pastry light and flaky though butter does produce a more delicate pastry.

I did not put any sugar or sweetener into the filling itself. I found the sweetness of the syrup that is poured over the baked pastry sweet enough without being cloying. I found that the pinch of nutmeg in the filling provides an adequate ‘sweetness’. If you feel like  you need to add some sugar to the filling, a 1/4 cup of organic cane sugar or coconut sugar should do the trick.

For those of you who are gluten free, here is a recipe from my go-to gluten free blog Gluten Free on a Shoestring for Gluten Free Phyllo Pastry. Nicole has worked hard to develop an excellent recipe and for that I am thankful.

You can also request that your local health food store bring in pre-made gluten free phyllo pasty or use gluten free ‘puff’ pastry which is more readily available with very similar results.

If you don’t have lemon rind, cinnamon sticks or cream of tartar on hand, do without. Don’t let perfection get in the way of greatness.

Recipe

2 cups mixed nuts, chopped (walnuts, cashews, pistachios)

1 tsp cinnamon, ground

1/2 tsp mixed spice (pinch of nutmeg, cardamom)

pinch of cloves, ground

10 sheets of phyllo pastry

light olive oil for brushing

Syrup

1 cup real maple syrup

2 tablespoons organic coconut nectar

pinch of cream of tartar

1 cup water

2 strips of lemon rind (use a peeler)

1 cinnamon stick

2 cloves, whole

How To

  1. Combine Nuts, spice and sugar (optional) and process in a food processor until you nuts are chopped up. Cut each phyllo sheet in to 3 even strips along the width.

    baklava-2
    quickly process nuts and spices to combine
  2. Brush each sheet with oil. Place approximately 1 heaped tablespoon on the end closest to you. Fold pastry over the filling and then roll up to make a cigar.
    baklava-6
    place spoonful of mixture at one end of phyllo pastry

    baklava-7
    carefully fold phyllo pastry over (it tears easily) and  roll
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 C). Place cigars on a greased baking sheet. Brush with oil and bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden.
  4. For the Syrup: combine maple syrup, coconut nectar, cream of tartar and water over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add lemon rind and spices. Bring mixture to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Do not stir once it starts boiling.
  5. Pour syrup over baked phyllo cigars and garnish with finely chopped nuts or ground cinnamon. Can be server hot or cold.

 

Posted on

Inspirational Tuesday ~ The Very Invisible Food System

“As there is enough food in the world, hunger is a result of political decisions. Food insecurity results from ineffective policies (social, agricultural, economic and health) at local, national and global levels and from decisions which do not consider the elimination of poverty, hunger, and food insecurity , and the development of sustainable food systems to be priority issues.” ~Laura Kalina in Building Food Security in Canada: From Hunger to Sustainable Food Systems: A Community Guide 2nd edition.

Do we take food for granted?

Cheap food, cheap energy, cheap water. Where does it come from? Who grew it? How was it grown or raised? Who is eating it? Does it matter?

Food security refers to the availability of food and one’s access to it.

Food Security – it’s in Your Hands is a poignant documentary about the current food system and where to go from here. I encourage you to pick it up at the library on the way home.

There isn’t much public or community discussion about food security in North America. Simply searching ‘food security’ returns a results page filled with government statistics and definitions; however, there is no in-depth discussion or notable distress over the issue of equal access to a balanced diet. Whether we realize it or not, we are all a part of the food system. Information gives us the power to see the issues around us and to create needed change.

This documentary from 2012 is well worth watching and sharing with your friends, young people and children.

The history of food, food security, the rise of inorganic, synthesized fertilizer use and overuse are presented and discussed by farmers, soils scientists and newby farmers in a very engaging way.

The business and economic side of farming is also discussed. Currently, 4% of the Canadian population is engaged in producing our food. Can farming be a viable occupation for young people and families today?

This documentary was mostly filmed on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, just 15 minutes down the road from where we live.

~To Grow A Garden is to Believe in the Future~

Posted on

The Power of Inclusion ~ A Story of One Woman on a Mission

“Taking care of my little plot with mindfulness, awareness and consistent presence is the best I can do to help mother earth and mankind. Being a responsible citizen of the world, taking care of my family and my health creates one less crisis for an already burdened system.” ~ Cheryl Gittens-Jones, Author, ‘Sister Survivor’ and my friend

As I am watching the women and men give speeches in Washington D.C., I am moved to continue to share in the grassroots positive action that is gaining such momentum around the world. Large or small, action matters. Voices, big and small, matter.

Grassroots action is the only way to set into motion the potential for larger political change. This action is the bridge from grassroots projects to the lager complicated issues that affect almost everyone on this planet.

Let’s lead by example, use our skills and voices to build the bridge for top down, systemic change.

pexels-photo1

I want to share a powerful example of grassroots action that inspires and supports positive change.

Last week, I made a trek to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to attend the Gluten Free Expo for the second time. Last year, I met Dr. Theresa Nicassio at the Expo. She was one of the vendors and, on a whim, I purchased her book YUM: Plant-based recipes for a gluten-free diet. I read YUM on the ferry ride home to Vancouver Island. I was immediately struck by the gravity of the content. Not because it was a heavy read but because, for the first time, I felt like I was reading information that made sense.

Frankly, YUM was my first plant-based cookbook. It was the first time (or the first time in a very long time) reading a bold message of inclusivity in any genre; a book  that overtly stated the intention of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who suffer from disease, food allergies or food sensitivities. It was a book for anyone about using food (plants) as a way to heal and nourish the body; a book that acknowledged the difficulties inherent in changing one’s diet; a book that acknowledged human love of pleasure and preference to avoid pain; a book that made growing my own food seem possible.

YUM accepts, embraces and honours these inherent elements of human nature….it acknowledges life as it is, instead of rejecting, judging, or trying to control it (efforts that are typically futile and not sustainable anyway). ~YUM pg. 2

yum-cover-best-in-world

This is not just a cookbook, it is a blueprint for the way forward in all realms.  Whether intentional or not, Theresa not only made her debut in the culinary world, she blasted a way for a new way of thinking. In my opinion, YUM’s underlying message and motivation is really about social, political, economic and environmental justice, healing and love.

It is Theresa’s infectious light, positivity, love and shear determination that I want to briefly share with you. Her life and work have inspired me and opened my mind to the world of infinite possibilities. She is a renegade and this is my way to honour a woman who has inspired me to step outside fear and self-limitation and to embrace the power and responsibility I have to live out the values of acceptance, justice and equality and pass them on to my children.

sunset-hands-love-woman

Theresa’s love and care permeates the book. Her writing sharpened my vision for my future, including my blog and writing endeavors as well as my eating habits and overall approach to stewardship and care for our planet. YUM honed my vision of vibrant health, vitality, and longevity as well as the desire to help others achieve the same.

Soon after meeting Theresa, I had the pleasure of interviewing her. Theresa was my first interview for my blog.

Almost exactly one year later, I am so thrilled and humbled to call Theresa my friend. After several conversations over the phone and email exchanges, we made plans to meet up at the Gluten Free Expo and to check out Zend Conscious Lounge in Vancouver.

Theresa says she’s a small town girl from California but her presence left us starstruck and amazed. First of all, she is a calm force of nature (so is water) and second, she looks at least a decade younger (BTW this seems to be a theme with these wonderful women who eat plant-based diets – they all look at least 10 years younger than their chronological age).  In her humble way, Theresa responded to our adoration with “I’m just a normal person on a mission to inspire and help people”.

powerofnature2happyfeet (2).jpg

True to her words, Theresa spent the entire Expo doing Facebook Live with various new and start-up companies, connecting new entrepreneurs who are engaged in sustainable product development and taking in all the flavours.

Theresa’s gratitude and appreciation for life is palpable. She used food as her medicine after suffering for many years with autoimmune diseases, debilitating pain and uncertainty about her future. During her toughest days, Theresa’s goal was to make it to her oldest daughter’s high school graduation. She now shares that which she has found through her struggles with those around her selflessly.

The seriousness and ethereal beauty of her book which she painstakingly and loving brought into the world – taking all the photographs and carefully developing the recipes – is balanced by her gregarious, easy-going nature and her predilection for being a ‘shit disturber’ with a naughty sense of humor.

Since the launch of her book, Theresa has traveled to China and to Germany, won the Best in the World Gourmand Cook Book Award in the category of Diet as well as many other accolades for her tireless work.

It turns out that YUM was merely a platform for Theresa’s highly contagious spirit and determination to be of service. She is not only the ‘inclusive chef’, she is an example for humanity. Inclusion is a rare commodity and an ideal rarely espoused by society. Those who model such behavior and uphold such a personal philosophy are extraordinary.

These days, Theresa is busy with her new radio show, The Dr. Theresa Nicassio Show on healthylife.net, as well as writing key-note speeches, giving talks to aspiring, would be self-published authors and, as I witnessed first hand at the Gluten Free Expo, a wind in the sails of up and coming, fledgling companies and businesses.

Through her radio show and her Facebook Lives, she gives a voice to those who have not found theirs just yet. This all positive talk radio show casts a weekly spotlight on and celebrates everyday heroes; regular people from all walks of life who take grassroots action to help the world be a better place. This opportunity to do a radio show presented itself about two weeks before it was go time. I’m glad Theresa seized the opportunity to bring her hopeful message to a new and larger audience.

show-poster-radio-show-theresa-slider-e1482532280977-366x366

Topics include the power of art, teaching kids with mindfulness, the impact of sharing joy, environmentalism, healthy aging, mood & brain health and list goes on. All broadcasts, starting from December 2, 2016, can be heard on demand here. Live shows are broadcast every Monday at Noon Pacific Time.

“When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” ~ G. K. Chesterton, Novelist & Poet 1874-1936

 

pexels-photo

Posted on

Inspirational Tuesday ~ 4 People Who Make the World a Better Place

Here are some amazing people in the world of permaculture, gardening and urban agriculture whose stories and creative endeavors are truly inspirational. They share their knowledge, experience and skills to make the world a better place. I hope that you too find inspiration here and some kernel of information to take with you on your journey  of living a life well nourished.

  1. Geoff Lawton – he and his team have just launched a ‘Permaculture Village‘ online.

    Although not new to Permies, the work of Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton were new to me. I came across their work during an online Homesteading Summit in November. I happened to watch a lecture by Geoff and later watched one of his videos on how he and his team turned the most arid land – a small part of the Jordanian desert that was below sea level, high in salt content and bone-dry – into arable, productive land through the use of permaculture principles. They used nature’s design and patterns to regenerate the soil and grow a food forest that feeds and supports the local community.

    Watch this transformation for your self (video is 3.5 minutes long)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FK0XFvxGxU

“I envisioned a place where anyone and everyone with an interest in Permaculture – young, old, beginner, experienced – could enter, lose themselves in a sea of Permaculture resources, and engage with others who share a similar passion.

A place that could serve as a modest “haven” online, away from the pessimism and negativity encroaching around us; one that would nurture our best selves, and help us actualize the things promised by Permaculture.

A place whose only price of admission is curiosity, civility, and compassion for each other and the earth entrusted to us.” ~ Geoff Lawton

pexels-photo-212324

2. Marisha Auerbach is an ubran agriculture revolutionary hailing from Portland, Oregon. Her website Permaculture Rising  is a hub of practical information for anyone interested in growing their own. See how she has turned her urban home into a food growing haven.

In the following video, Marisha talks about seed saving – why saving seeds helps the local food system in the face of climate change and why heritage open-pollinated seeds are desirable.

“[It is important to]build seed banks locally so that we have great genetics to support our diet as the climate changes. Having seeds that are adapted for our area [ensures] they can survive in the area and provide nourishment.”  ~ Marisha Auerbach

3.  Stacey Murphy is an engineer turned backyard gardener who has taught me much about increasing my crop yield while keeping gardening low maintenance and mostly hassle free. Get her farmyard bootcamp resources to help you increase your yield this year.

Check out Stacey’s YouTube Channel for practical information on how to increase your yield in 2017, tips for growing great tomatoes and three mistakes to avoid to get the best basil crop ever. Basil is my most beloved herb but it is also the bane of my existence.

Download Stacey’s latest book and watch the video on making herbal oils in your own kitchen. It is one thing to grow these natural healing plants but it is another to utilize them in a way that extends their healing power beyond the growing season.

blog-slide-show-victoria-blackberries

4. Colette O’Neill is surely a Goddess in her own celestial right, living in her truth and spreading light. Her Bealtaine Cottage is the ‘Home of Goddess Permaculture and Earth Healing’ in the West of Ireland.

She lives at Bealtaine by herself along with her animals amidst her permaculture haven. Colette has single-handedly transformed an unwanted piece of land into a fertile sanctuary that nourishes her body and soul. I love to follow her adventures and musings on her blog, listen to her soothing voice on podcasts and admire the infinite beauty of Bealtaine Cottage on her joyful videos.

“This is about one woman deciding to do something very dramatic and revolutionary in Ireland…taking three acres of wet, rushy, north-facing land and planting trees like her life depended on it…it does!” ~ Colette O’Neill

 

~Share the Love~

Posted on

Talking Urban Gardening on the Radio

The main dangers in this life are the people who want to change everything…or nothing. ~Lady Astor

I am a lover of all things sustainable, local and organic. I am a nature enthusiast, gardener, photographer, writer and hiker. My passion lies in connecting or re-connecting people with the power of nature and the earth.

blog-slide-show-child-on-beach

On The Radio

I was invited to do a short spot on the Dr. Theresa Nicassio Radio Show on Healthy Life Radio Network – All Positive Talk Radio on January 2, 2017. Theresa asked me to come on to talk about the various urban gardening projects that are going on around the world – some of which I have been reading and writing about.

There are so many people growing their own food and their stories need to be shared. These urban gardeners are revolutionaries in their own right and are certainly an inspiration.

b2ee8-img_20160813_145612657

The Urban Agriculture Projects I spoke about on Theresa’s show have several things in common:

  1. they strive to reduce the environmental impact food production
  2. they promote and encourage self-reliance or some degree of independence from the current agriculture system (whose practices are destructive to the planet)
  3. they strive to reconnect communities and bring people together, connect people to nature and teach about stewardship – get people outside and active
  4. most importantly, by growing food in the public realm, they provide food for anybody who wants access to fresh, nutrient-dense food that has been grown without any chemicals

Growing food in the public realm seems, in this day and age, a subversive and revolutionary act. Millions of people in North America are doing it.

Simple food choices we make on a daily basis are revolutionary.

Listen to the Show from January 2, 2017 here.

(My bit comes in at the 30 minute mark)

 

The featured guest on January 2, 2017 was Eyoalha Baker. She spoke so eloquently on the show about the impact of sharing joy through her amazing murals.

JumpForJoyPhotoProject.com

13eb2014jumpphoto1-366x366

~Go on. Be Amazing~

Posted on

Creating The Future And Justice for All…

 

Rather than fighting the world we reject, let’s use our knowledge, skills, insights, principle and techniques to create the world we do want. ~Bill Mollison

 

Hello and Happy New Year to Everyone.

I want to start the New Year with gratitude. Last year was my first year blogging and I am very thankful to the 9K readers who visited my websites in 2016. Thank you to all those who posted comments, all of which have been wonderfully supportive and uplifting. Your kind words helped keep my focus and find my voice.

light-sign-typography-lighting

There are so many amazing people out there working to change the status quo of the food system – those who choose to eat a plant-based diet, ethically raised meat, grow their own, and those who see that food security and food safety are the truly pressing and relevant environmental and social justice issues of our time.

Fresh, nutritious foods should be available to everyone, not just those who can afford it. Growing food in the public realm is no longer a matter of choice, but necessity.

This year, my focus is on the environmental and social justice issues that exist around the ‘basics’ – food. I invite you to join me and others (whom I will be talking about and featuring throughout the year) on this journey. It is my true belief and intention that together we can make a significant, positive difference to the food system and thereby improve our health, our environment and our future one person at a time.

Not long ago I heard someone say “True revolution will happen on the plate“. Let’s make it happen together.

pexels-photo-186980

If you are looking for inspiration and further understanding of the current food system, watch “Fresh: New Thinking About What We’re Eating“. It is a docudrama by Sofia Joanes from 2009. This film is more relevant and pressing than ever before. It sheds light on the current food production systems and the alternatives from the point of view of farmers. It was the best 72 minutes of screen time I’ve spent in a long time. One farmer’s words resonated with me: “[We] fear one thing: inconvenience.”

fresh-the-movie

I am excited to be in the process of planning and gathering supplies for our Urban Front Yard Farm Project. My goal is to grow enough food to feed our family of 5 and our neighbours for a 22 week growing season and beyond all on a 9 by 40 feet front yard space. I want to experiment with a few different media (haybales vs. organic soil/compost vs. hugelkultur). Read more about last year’s growing exploits here. As the quote at the very top states, rather than fighting against something, I want to create a world that I want – one that places the culture of health, community and a vibrant ecological system above anything else.

staked-out-garden-pic-1

I spent some time creating a “vision board”for 2017. It is a compilation of things I wish to focus on this year. It is posted on my refrigerator as a reminder of what I wish to move toward.

vision-board-2017-1

January and February are getting to be busy. We’re going to the Gluten Free Expo in Vancouver Jan 14-15, 2017, meeting with Dr. Theresa Nicassio and checking out ZEND Conscious Lounge where 100 per cent of profits go to charity. I will also be doing some radio appearances on the Dr. Theresa Nicassio Radio Show on HealtyLife.com and hopefully doing another interview with Theresa. She has had a wonderfully busy year since we last spoke.

show-poster-radio-show-theresa-slider-e1482532280977-366x366

 

~Have a Beautiful Week~