Backyard garden

Posted in stories on June 25th, 2012 by brooke

I haven’t shared pictures here yet, but our backyard garden is going pretty well! The space is small, typical for urban Montreal, but we’re using the space well! Here are pictures of the garden over the last few months. Scroll down to view the images or click on one to see a slideshow.

Below: Bringing home the seedlings

Below: The seeds are starting to sprout

Below: The pallet garden has to sit horizontally for a week or so

Below: The first harvest of kale

Below: The pallet garden is vertical!

Below: The snap peas are starting to grow

Below: The kale is very happy

Below: The garden still looks empty, strangely

Below: The pallet garden is getting full

Below: Tikka loves hunting bugs

Below: A fresh harvest of greens and herbs

Below: The snap peas are super happy

Below: The cucumbers are starting to flower

Below: The garden is looking a little wild

Below: The pole beans are flowering

Below: The tomato plants are getting big

Below: Lunch in the garden, eating the garden

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Getting back into blogging

Posted in rants on December 2nd, 2011 by brooke

It’s been a loooooong time since I’ve posted on my blog, The Eco Advocate, and have since posted so many ideas, frustrations and inspirations on Facebook that I’ve pretty much turned it into a blog… But Facebook really doesn’t do it justice, so with all these things going around in my brain, I’m about to explode.

‘I need a blog!!!’ I was thinking. But, wait. I have one! Silly me.

Time to remember my login and start typing again. Even if it’s just for me. : ) If anyone out there is reading this, hope you like it!

Some things I’ve been sharing on Facebook lately:

Windowfarms let you grow fresh vegetables at home by taking advantage of natural light and climate control indoors. (Via windowfarms.org / Kickstart)

Windowfarms let you grow fresh vegetables at home by taking advantage of natural light and climate control indoors. (Via windowfarms.org / Kickstart)

Brand New Windowfarms- Vertical Food Gardens
Grow fresh food in your windows even during the winter without dirt!
via Kickstarter

This file photo released by Greenpeace shows the boat Arctic Sunrise reaching the ice bridge in the Robeson channel, near the border between Greenland and Canada on September 14, 2009. Research published in a top scientific journal says Arctic sea ice has declined more in the last half-century than it has any time over the last 1,450 years. (AFP PHOTO/HANDOUT/GREENPEACE/NICK COBBING (Via Huffington Post)

This file photo released by Greenpeace shows the boat Arctic Sunrise reaching 'the ice bridge' in the Robeson channel, near the border between Greenland and Canada on September 14, 2009. Research published in a top scientific journal says Arctic sea ice has declined more in the last half-century than it has any time over the last 1,450 years. (AFP PHOTO/HANDOUT/GREENPEACE/NICK COBBING (Via Huffington Post)

Arctic Sea Ice Decline Greatest, Longest In 1,450 Years: Study
“No matter how good we are, no matter how much we respect women, the biases the women in our lives struggle against are the same biases fueling our success.”
via The Huffington Post

15 Food Companies that Serve You ‘Wood’
Not sure if this applies in Canada, but at least in the US, there’s a lot more in your food than you’d like to know. Like tree fibers. Yum…
via Food Freedom

The EU has provisionally imposed penalties severe enough to make it difficult for Canada to sell tar sands oil in Europe, but Britain is working to undermine that stance. Photograph: Jeff Mcintosh/AP (Via The Guardian)

The EU has provisionally imposed penalties severe enough to make it difficult for Canada to sell tar sands oil in Europe, but Britain is working to undermine that stance. Photograph: Jeff Mcintosh/AP (Via The Guardian)

Britain’s promotion of Canada’s tar sands oil is idiotic
Now that the US has temporarily declined the Keystone pipeline, Canada pressures the UK to import our oil – and for some idiotic reason they seem to be bowing to that pressure. I think Harper’s a bully. Not cool.
via The Guardian

James Schwartz/CC BY 2.0 (Via Tree Hugger)

James Schwartz/CC BY 2.0 (Via Tree Hugger)

Re:Cycling- Bike Activists Use Trash To Prove That Bike Lanes Work
Sadly, it sometimes takes a tragedy for real change to happen…
via TreeHugger

Ok, that didn’t really count as a real post but I’ll soon get back into the swing of things, I promise!!! Stay tuned.

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Great inspiration for food sustainability

Posted in news, stories on October 31st, 2009 by brooke

The winners of the Brower Youth Awards have been announced. This programme, established by Earth Island Institute in 2000, rewards “six young people for their outstanding activism and achievements in the fields of environmental and social justice advocacy.” This year, two of these six winners received awards for their work in the area of food sustainability.

Hai Vo, a student at the University of California at Irvine (UCI), received his award for co-founding the project the Real Food Challenge (RFC). Now spread to many schools throughout the Sates, the Challenge is working to bring real, healthy and fair food to campuses across the country.

Diana Lopez also received an award for the Roots of Change community garden, which she helped co-launch in the Eastside of San Antonio, Texas. Working within a low income-community, this project brings fresh, organic food as well as a strong sense of community to people who need it the most.

As these two award winners show, taking action is about perseverance, dedication, and passion. I hope these stories can inspire others to do the same!

Source: www.organicnation.tv

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The cost of living ‘green’

Posted in rants on October 19th, 2009 by brooke

I was just recently asked about living ‘green’ on a budget. Or, “more specifically, how to live modestly with rising costs for food, clothing, etc.” I guess it’s a good question, since it really got me thinking!

What’s interesting about this question to begin with is that it indicates the bizarre mentality around ‘green’ living. That is, that it’s expensive.

People tend be weary of the current environmental direction because it’s perceived as being costly. However, when you compare the short and long term costs of ‘business as usual’ versus ‘action to curb climate change’, the long term costs of the former are way more. To me, the longer-term savings of living ‘green’ in the financial, personal and environmental senses are undeniable.

While it does seem hard to live green on a budget if you’re thinking that you need to retrofit your house or buy a hybrid car. However, if you don’t have the money to begin with, those are out of the question. If you are looking for immediate savings with environmental benefit, it’s totally possible, and simple.

Living green to me means so many things. Invest in your local economy; encourage green, sustainable, ethical businesses; minimize unnecessary consumption of goods that have a limited life span (look up planned obsolescence); consume less goods generally; purchase used goods when possible; avoid creating excess waste; cut down on energy use and switch over to renewable energies; eat less meat and eat locally grown food; walk, bus or bike more; etc. etc.

To put it bluntly, the key factor here seems to be about buying and producing less crap.

All of these things also involve saving money and spending money wisely. There are so many things that facilitate this, like thrift stores, health food and bulk stores, eco-quartiers, websites like craigslist.org, public transit, etc.

These resources exist, you just have to know they are there.  In places that aren’t as eco-minded as parts of Montreal are, maybe these resources are harder to find. In such cases, people must be innovative and create them together, or demand them from the local government. (I see a future blog post here… hmm.)

There are also tonnes of little ways to be eco-friendly around your home, work and school that involve simply being creative and resourceful. This includes things like reusing your plastic bags, having shorter showers, not leaving your fridge empty, printing less documents, turning unused lights and appliances off completely, etc. I could go on and on (I guess that’ll be another blog post too)!

But really, if you are smart enough to recognize that things need to change, you are certainly smart enough to figure out what you can do. And don’t just think about it. Do it. Your wallet, your health, your community and your earth will thank you.

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Why farmers’ markets are fantastic

Posted in stories on August 11th, 2009 by brooke

Recently I’ve started going to a newly-established, local farmers’ market on Sunday afternoons. It’s really a fantastic experience, even though the first time I went it was during a torrential downpour… But really, there are about a dozen or so little tents, each with a local farmer’s produce beneath, waiting for you to drool all over them (or their food, at least).

That’s pretty much what I did. I went from stall to stall, eying the goods, inhaling the sweet-yet-earthy smells of fresh, local produce. Eventually I decided on a bunch of things and wandered home with dreams of good food to come.

Fresh food from the local market

Fresh food from the local market

I’ve always supported fresh, local food, but didn’t always think about what it meant to me. It’s been within the past few years that I really started to recognize my super strong food values. Often I’m afraid that I’m preachy and over-bearing about it, but I just really care about the food that I, and the people around me, eat!

Why do I care? Well, I believe in supporting local economies. I don’t believe in pesticides. I think that transporting food across the world from developing countries to over-developed countries is a crime. I am hearing more rumours about the degrading quality of such food and the increasing number of food-related allergies and ailments. I believe the drastic increase in obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other diseases is largely due to poor food quality and poisonous additives. And, for all of these reasons I won’t touch more than half the things on the grocery shelf!!

It pains me to see people walking out of Burger King with their greasy McWhatever (I know, wrong store, but you get the point). I can just imagine their bodies screaming out: ‘NOOOOOOO, don’t do it!!’ I don’t even want to think about the trouble people have taking a shit because of all the high-starch, high-protein diets they are eating. Honestly, that just can’t be comfortable!

But more importantly than just being grossed out, I actually think access to good food is a right, and access to the knowledge around such food is a must. Starting with schools, prisons, workplaces, and other institutionalized locales, we need to replace the food systems. Grocery stores need to carry more local produce, increase the variety of local food and use less packaging.

That said, forget the grocery stores. We need markets, and lots of them. Each community should have access to fresh food, without the need for a car to get there. They need to be supported municipally and promoted vigorously.

I just came across a blog post on GOOD called “Project: Redesign Your Farmers’ Market.” It’s a sweet idea, and it makes me really happy that other people are thinking about this need. I do, however, wonder what it’s going to amount to.

I must admit, we tend to be idealistic about our causes, and pessimistic about those who don’t support them. Since I haven’t yet come up with a fool-proof solution for this crappy-food-phenomenon, I’m just going to be momentarily content ranting about the situation while I digest my grilled local veggie salad.

Some related links:

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I do love umsteigen!

Posted in stores on July 11th, 2009 by brooke

Ok, so maybe being a consumer makes it hard to be an eco advocate, but hand-made clothing designed by a Montrealer-moved-to-New-York is pretty damn cool. A friend of a friend told me about this designer, who’s stuff is really beautiful. If I lived in New York, I’d be all over this (they do ship, but I’m avoiding unnecessary  carbon output). Visit: www.iloveumsteigen.com

umsteigen purple bamboo tshirt from www.iloveumsteigen.com

umsteigen purple bamboo tshirt from www.iloveumsteigen.com

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