By Brett Gustafson Though it sometimes seems like our evil frankenfood corporate overlords, such as Monsanto and Dow, have completely hi-jacked our food system, many people around the nation are actually creating more sustainable and viable alternatives. A few good folks in Asheville, NC are bringing…
A nice article featuring Marci Babineau and her urban farm. If you ever wondered how much food you could grow in a front or back yard, or how to keep urban chickens, this article is a good source of information.
On the sidewalk in front of Marci Babineau’s house, I craned my neck to see if I could spot the birds.
In the backyard, just beyond her root-vegetable garden and several fruit trees, a chicken stretched out a wing, then ruffled her black feathers back into place.
Not exactly what a passerby would expect to see on a quiet, tree-lined street minutes from downtown Montreal (I can’t say exactly where; more about that later).
But it’s what urban agriculture enthusiasts across North America would like to see – micro-farms where city dwellers could produce fruits, vegetables, eggs and honey, milk from goats, and meat from rabbits.
Some Montrealers have already enthusiastically embraced the growing urban agriculture movement, which took off after Michelle Obama planted a vegetable garden on the White House lawn two years ago.
Chickens are pecking away in Montreal backyards, bees are buzzing around hives in industrial areas, lettuce is growing in container gardens downtown, and the Lufa Farms rooftop greenhouse near Marché Centrale is producing enough fresh produce to feed more than 1,000 people a week.
It’s not easy, though. Municipal bylaws ban most island residents from keeping livestock, like chickens, and bees, and people are more used to seeing grass in front yards than tomatoes and peppers.
Still, if urbanites, who rely on food grown dozens, even thousands of kilometres away, want to try to become as self-sufficient as possible, how would they do it?
Using my own yard as a test case, I set about to find out.
In order to help you out with your gardening, The Coop Maison Verte has organised a series of workshops related to gardening techniques, local food and food conservation for April and May. They are all free, bilingual, and will all take place at the coop, 5785 Sherbrooke street West.
Seed saving April 13th with Nel Ewanè, agr. Msc. from Action Comuniterre 7 to 9 pm
Beekeeping workshop April 14th with Alain Péricard from Rucher Apis 7 to 9 pm
Community Farming information session April 15th with Dave Merson from Ferme Mange-tout 7 to 9pm
Compost 101 May 2nd with Julieta from Eco-Quartier NDG 7 to 9pm
Green Smoothie workshop May 3rd with Ildiko Brunner from Raw in Montreal 7 to 9:30pm
Vermi composting workshop May 10th with Philippe Robillard from Pousse-menu 7 to 9pm
Sprouting and fermentation workshop May 12th with Philippe Robillard from Pousse-menu 7 to 9pm
Bees are our collective “canary in the coalmine”. When they start to falter and die off, the global food system is under threat.
Date: Tuesday February 22 Time: 7:00 pm Location: Coop Maison Vert, 5785 Sherbrooke West
Now and then, it’s in the news : chemicals, varroa, other diseases until recently unknown (as well as the sometimes violent methods of industrial beekeeping) are threatening the bees’ very survival. But bees play a key role in ensuring the (re)production of many plants essential to our own existence. The apiary offers delicious and healthy products and apiotherapy teaches us that they can also cure many illnesses.
Alain Péricard has been a beekeeper for 30 years. A pioneer of organic farming in Quebec, he now splits his time between his Rucher Apis (in the Eastern Townships’ Canton de Cleveland), and NDG. On Tuesday February 22nd, at 7pm, he will be at la Maison Verte for a workshop on bees and beekeeping.
Depending on participants’ interests, the workshop will touch upon the hive’s lifecycle, bee products and apiotherapy. Are the current organic certification norms sufficient to protect the bees and the environment? Why not introduce beekeeping in the city? There will be a presentation and sampling of apiary products.