Edible City is where I muse about urban gardening and share tips from my new book City Farmer

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Busted: Working for Chicken Bylaw Change

A year and a half ago, I was busted for my backyard chickens. Two Toronto bylaw officers knocked on my door and gave me a Notice to Comply--thirty days to move my chickens out of the city or face a fine and forced removal.

As it turns out, I was moving house that day--the moving van was in my driveway. If the bylaw officers had shown up the next day, my chickens and I would have been gone. I moved and didn't hear from the bylaw folks again. (I'm sure they had much better things to do than track me and my gals down, and I appreciate that.)

Backyard chickens have been in the Toronto news again recently. A report on allowing backyard chickens in Toronto will be presented to the Licensing and Standards Committee on February 24, 2012. It is a crucial time in the effort to allow the safe, humane keeping of hens in Toronto.

The councillors who sit on the Licensing and Standards Committee need to hear from people who support urban hens. There are many myths and conceptions out there, and those who support urban hens need to speak up. I hope you'll consider writing to the councillors on the Licensing and Standards Committee (see names and emails below) and tell them that you support safe and humane backyard egg production in the city! (And if you don't support it, please feel free to post any questions or concerns here, so we can have an exchange of ideas on the subject.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Royal Decline at the Fair

When I was in university, I skipped class to go to the Royal Winter Fair. Arriving back at school for a late-afternoon tutiorial, I sat in the room thinking "what's that smell?!" It was me--the barnyard odour had seeped into my sweater and there was fresh manure on my shoes. I didn't mind. These are the sorts of things you should take home from an agricultural fair.

A few days ago, I returned home from the Royal Winter Fair with a bag full of sanitized, processed, packaged goodies (cheese crackers, skin cream, birch syrup), and zero in the way of animal smells--unless you count the dwarf-goat slobber on my palm, from the petting zoo.

The Royal is now, pretty much, a marketplace of fudge and funnel cakes, where you're hard pressed to find Ontario's agricultural bounty. Sad.

But I did delight in the poultry, once I managed to look past the display of chickens dyed baby blue, pink and yellow (yes, I'm serious). I met a farmer who raises Chantecler chickens (a uniquely Canadian, heritage breed on the Slow Food Ark of Taste) and I plan to contact him in the spring to get a couple of hens. So all was not lost in this outing to the fair, but something significant has certainly been lost if the smell of french-fry grease in the Royal's food court overpowers the smell of soil and barn.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Another growTO event on Tuesday, Nov 15, 2011

On Tuesday, Nov 15th, 2011, from 6 to 8PM, at the Architecture Building, 325 Church Street (just south of Gerrard), at Ryerson University in Toronto, the fourth session of the growTO speakers series will be held. With a great line-up of speakers (a couple of whom are from out of town), it should be a wonderful event.

As one of the series organizers, I hope you can come out to take part in this event!

The topic is
Making the Case for Urban Agriculture

Nevin Cohen
The New School, New York NY

Harry Rhodes
Growing Home, Chicago IL

Aimee Carson
Evergreen, Toronto ON

Rhonda Teitel-Payne
The Stop Community Food Centre, Toronto ON

Moderator: Lauren Baker

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fundraising Dinner

A great event is coming up: the Charles Sauriol Environmental Dinner for the Living City. It's being held on November 3rd, 2011, and takes place in Brampton, Ontario. Chef Michael Smith is the special guest. All funds raised go towards the purchase of environmentally sensitive lands. To purchase tickets, go to www.charlessauriol.ca.

Friday, October 7, 2011

City Farmer Event

On Wednesday, October 12, I'll be reading from City Farmer: Adventures in Urban Food Growing at an event sponsored by the Beaches United Church. (Admission is free but donations are encouraged to support Goodwill's Interfaith Lunch Program.) The reading starts at 7:30 and is being held at Juice and Java, 2102 Queen Street East (Queen and Winona), Toronto. Hope you can make it!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beyond the Tomato

This summer, I was very excited to grow a number of vegetable plants I'd never grown before, such as okra, ground cherries, and cardoon. Farmers (along with gardeners) in Ontario are expanding their palettes to include "world crops"--that is, vegetables available in grocery stores as imports but that can (and should!) be grown commercially here in Ontario.

On Tuesday, October 4, 2011, from 6pm to 8pm, I'll be moderating a panel discussion in Toronto (at Ryerson University, 325 Church Street) on growing world crops. The evening is part of a series called growTO, which will take place over four evenings in October and November. (See www.toronto.ca/livegreen/getinvolved_speakers_growto.htm for details.)

The event is free of charge and will, I'm sure, be lively and engaging. Hope to see you there.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sex Life of Trees

There's a great event coming up in Toronto this coming Tuesday, June 7, 2011:

The Secret Sex Lives of Trees

Presented by LEAF – Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests

Date: Tuesday June 7, 2011, 7:00 to 8:30pm
Location: Royal Ontario Museum, Level 1B, Signy and Cléophée Eaton Theatre, 100 Queen's Park, Toronto
Speaker: Tony Fleischmann
Cost: $12 per person, $10 for ROM members

Purchase advance tickets

From tempting potential pollinators with alluring colours and luscious nectar, to brandishing ripe fruits and berries before eager birds, trees will go to great lengths to multiply. Join us as Tony Fleischmann, long time arborist and tree enthusiast, reveals the "seedy" side of the urban forest. Recommended for those who don't blush easily!


Tony Fleischmann has worked in the commercial, municipal and utility arboriculture field for over 25 years.  He is a Certified Arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture and a Past President of the Ontario Chapter.  Tony has presented a variety of seminars, workshops and tree talks to various organizations including the ISA, Canadian Forestry Service, OMNR, Ontario Urban Forest Council, Landscape Ontario, HGTV, Rogers TV, Ontario Parks Association, Composting Council of Canada and Canada Blooms as well as a number of educational institutions.