community supported agriculture

CSA Sailboats, Power Shift Advocacy, and Environmental Poetry

This week, we hear from a CSA project in Creston, BC that’s making waves rather than fumes; a Power Shift organizer about advocacy in the quest for climate justice; and a slam poet on the role of the artist in a time of environmental crisis.

No more Mr. Gneiss Boat!

Sailing is a well-known past-time for grain farmers. [Photo credit: ritaoksa, via flickr]

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Creston Grains Setting Sail

CSAs – or Community Shared Agriculture – let you get a more personal experience with the farmers who grow your food. You buy a share in their harvest at the beginning of the season, before the seeds have even been planted; growers have a guaranteed market, and shareholders get some certainty about where their food is coming from. But BC’s Kootenay Grain CSA goes above and beyond. If you bought a share of this year’s harvest, you can get it delivered by sailboat. Roy Lawrence has been a grower with the Kootenay Grain CSA for five years now. He speaks to us from Creston, BC.

More on this story: Kootenay Grain CSA

Gearing up for Power Shift

A few weeks ago, we filled you in on Power Shift—a climate justice gathering that’s launching in a matter of days. With activists across the country climbing onto trains, hopping into planes, and banding together in buses and carpools, we decided to get an update. Terra Informa contributor Trevor Chow-Fraser was interested in the advocacy aspect of Power Shift, so he phoned up the organizers to find out more.

More on this story: Power Shift

Environmental Poetry

Beginning this week we will be featuring poetry on Terra Informa. To start us off, Kathryn Lennon caught up with slam poet Johnny MacRae at the 2012 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Saskatoon. Johnny is the inaugural Underground Individual Poetry Slam Champion of Canada, and two-time Vancouver Poetry Slam team member. He is joined by Shayne Avec I Grec, Poet Laureate of the Brandon Folk Music and Art Festival in Manitoba. Johnny shares some of his poetry, and thoughts on the role of poets in a time of environmental crisis.

More on this story: Anthropocalyptica

What’s Happening

The Trick or Treat for Climate Justice

A family-friendly march will be taking place at Ottawa’s Parliament Hill on Monday, October 29th at 11:30 AM. If you’re attending Power Shift, we’d love to see what kind of costumes you’ll be wearing as you trick-or-treat for climate justice. Live tweet us a picture of your green or gruesome getup @terra_informa #terrorinforma!

More information: Power Shift

Environmental Art Talk

On October 24, Bill McKibben, a renowned environmentalist, will be speaking at the University of Alberta at 7:00 PM. His free talk is called “Changing Hearts as well as Minds: Art in the Environmental Movement,” and it will take place in the McMahon Pavilion Auditorium, Campus Saint-Jean.

More information: University of Alberta

Mining and Cell Phones Conference

On October 25th, a first ever inter-community conference entitled “Cell phones good partners, but its mining’s sources affects humanity” will take place at 5:00 PM in the Grand Salon in Edmonton’s Campus Saint Jean. This conference will look at the source of the materials that make up common electronics, and the high cost of mining these materials to human life.

More information: The Edmonton Sun

or call 780-200-3917 / 780-901-3778 / 780-803-1132

2012 Food Secure Canada National Assembly

On November 2, a Food Secure Canada event will take place at the Edmonton EXPO Centre at 7:00 PM. Come hear speakers Eriel Deranger, Pat Mooney, Michael Lewis and Augusta Henriques talk about “Energy, Resilience, and the Future of Food.” This public event is part of Food Secure Canada’s 2012 National Assembly, which brings together different groups collaborating to improve food security in Canada and all over the world.

More information: Food Secure Canada

Community Supported Agriculture and Yangtze River

Today we take you on a tour of a different kind of community supported agriculture. David Adler coordinates one of only two community supported fisheries in the country, and he describes how it works and why it’s important. From Nova Scotia’s coast we move to one of China’s largest rivers. Dr. Larry Wang tells us about his work to restore the Yangtze after years of ecological damage.

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A lone boat sails down a gorge on the Yangtze River

Floating through the Wu Gorge on the Yangtze River. Photo Credit: Perfect Zero

Community Supported Agriculture
With the summer in full swing, a lot of people are turning to local farmers for their produce. One approach to finding local groceries that’s gaining a lot of popularity is Community Supported Agriculture. CSAs are a model of farming where community members buy shares in a farm’s crop at the beginning of the season. Then throughout the summer, usually once a week, they receive a basket of produce, and what comes in that basket depends on what happens to be in season. Members of the CSA get food that’s incredibly fresh and which has a smaller carbon footprint since it’s grown close to where they live. Plus they’re supporting their local economy. Today we talk to a group which has taken the CSA model and put a bit of a different spin on it. David Adler works with Off the Hook, a community supported fishery in Halifax, and he tells us why community support is so important.

Yangtze River

China’s Yangtze River is one of the biggest and longest rivers in the world. With its base in the glaciers of Tibet, it flows through China all the way to Shanghi. Despite its immense importance to the Chinese, both culturally and economically, the many competing uses of this river have left it in a deteriorating state. Dr. Larry Wang, a professor at the University of Alberta and recent recipient of an honorary degree, set out to restore this precious ecosystem and to transform the lives of farmers in China’s Yunnan province. With his childhood friend, Sam Chao, he co-founded ECO, the University of Alberta Ecological Conservancy Outreach fund. Our correspondent, Kathryn Lennon, caught up with Dr. Wang, and they spoke about his work with the Yangtze River.

More on this story: University of Alberta (1)University of Alberta (2)YouTube

News Headlines
Civil society groups call Rio+20 “a hoax summit”
World leaders left Brazil with not much to show from the UN’s Rio+20 summit. Development organization Oxfam said governments were too paralyzed by vested interests to seriously commit to environmental sustainability and reducing poverty. 20 years have passed since the first UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, and this year, states came out with an even less ambitious agreement to meet those goals. Indigenous and civil society groups, unions, and farmers channelled their frustration at the process through a parallel People’s Summit also being held in Rio.
House of Commons passes omnibus budget bill
The federal government’s omnibus budget bill passed through the House of Commons. The bill changes and removes dozens of other laws, including removing most of the Species at Risk and  Fisheries Act protections and removing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Opposition parties staged an around-the-clock debate to propose over 800 amendments to the bill, but the government voted down every single one. The Senate is expected to pass the bill this week, before Parliament takes a summer recess.
More on this story: The Province
Food price protests across Nunavut
In Nunavut, hundreds of protesters marked National Aboriginal Day by demonstrating against the very high cost of food there. Locals held up signs with slogans like ‘True North Strong and Expensive’ outside stores in communities across the territory, where a loaf of bread can cost you seven dollars. Leesee Papatsie protested with her son in Iqaluit. She rallied thousands to join a Facebook group called Feeding My Family. This week, government departments and local Inuit organizations are meeting to discuss long-term solutions, like getting the federal government to build more ports to lower shipping costs, and improving the federal Nutrition North retailer subsidies.
More on this story: NunatsiaqCTVCBC News
Leak of the Week: Enbridge pipeline near Elk Point 
Alberta’s oil and gas regulator announced that an Enbridge pipeline near Elk Point spilled about 1500 barrels of oil. The pipeline ships heavy crude from the oil sands to Hardisty, Alberta. The Energy Resources Conservation Board said the pipeline was shut down to contain the spill and no waterways were affected, unlike the Plains Midstream spill the week before which entered the Red Deer River. Enbridge blamed the spill on a failed flange gasket. Energy Minister Ken Hughes told the Toronto Star that with the number of pipelines in the province, the hundreds of oil spills a year simply cannot be avoided.
More on this story: Toronto StarThe Globe and Mail

Food Security Special

This week Terra Informa comes to you from the kitchen! As we cook up our dinner we look into the origins of the ingredients we’re using and the environmental impacts of our food choices. But that’s not all! We will also look into the debate over community supported agriculture as well as delving deeper into the People’s Food Policy Project.

Download this week’s show.

Dave, Steve, Rebecca, and Kathryn gather for their home cooked sustainable meal.

Stone Soup Recipe!

Ingredients: 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 cups onions, 3 cloves garlic, 2 carrots, 2 cups sweet potato, 2 tomatoes, 1 bell pepper, 1 stalk celery, 1 cup corn, 1/2 cup dry quinoia, 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas, 1 pinch cinnamon, 1 pinch cayenne, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp dried basil, 2 tsp paprika, 1 bay leaf, 4 cups water

Directions: 1. Chop the veggies, 2. Heat the oil and add onion, garlic, carrots, celery and sweet potato to saute for 5-7 minutes, 3. Add salt and saute another 5 minutes, 4. Add herbs and spices, quinoia and water and simmer for 15 minutes, 5. Add tomato, bell pepper, corn and chickpeas and simmer covered for 10 more minutes or until veggies are tender, 6. Adjust herbs and spices to taste and serve warm!

Community Supported Agriculture: Under the CSA model of farming, community members buy shares in a farm’s crop at the beginning of the season. Then throughout the summer, usually once a week, they receive a basket of produce, and what comes in that basket just depends on what happens to be in season. Members of the CSA get food that’s incredibly fresh, it many cases organically grown, and which has a small carbon footprint because it’s grown close to where they live. Plus they’re supporting their local economy.

Today we talk to a group which has taken the CSA model and put a bit of a different spin on it. David Adler works with Off the Hook, a community supported fishery in Halifax, and he tells us why community support is so important to the local fishery.

People’s Food Policy Project: “When Canadians sit down to their evening meal tonight, two key ingredients will be missing: a coherent national food policy in the public interest, and active participation in the food system.” (from “Resetting the Table: A People’ Food Policy for Canada”)

The People’s Food Policy is the first Canadian policy to be advanced based on food sovereignty principles — an approach where food is viewed as a foundation for healthy lives, communities, economies and ecosystems. Over the course of two years, over 3500 Canadians participated in answering the questions:  what would you like to see changed about the food system, and what recommendations would you make to the federal government? Their ideas and opinions were combined with documentation backed up by research, and distilled down to ten themes, to create a final document called  “Resetting the Table: A People’s Food Policy for Canada”. Correspondent Kathryn Lennon speaks with Susan Roberts about food sovereignty, food systems change, and the need for a national food policy. Susan is a coordinator for Growing Food Security in Alberta, and a steering committee member of Food Secure Canada.

More on this story:Via Campesina, The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food (a book by Wayne Roberts)


Salmon virus spreads to four species in British Columbia: Several different species of salmon in B.C. have tested positive for an infectious salmon anemia. Alexandra Morton, a biologist in B.C. who collected the fish from the Harrison River, has stated that the nature of the discovery is concerning. Certain strains of infectious salmon anemia are capable of killing around 90% of infected fish.

More on this story: CTV, Vancouver Sun

Green belt around Montreal: Experts in environmental and urban planning issues signed a declaration which demands creation of a protected green belt around the Montreal region. These experts were aiming their message at Montreal Metropolitan Community politicians who will be amending the Land Use and Development Plan for greater Montreal soon.

More on this story: Montreal Gazette

Alberta to hold discussions on scarce water resources: In Alberta, StatOil, a Norwegian based energy company, has been fined $190,000 for breaking the terms of its water license issued under the Alberta Water Act. StatOil’s license allowed for the diversion of up to 10,000 cubic meters, but provincial estimates show that the project likely used upwards of 13,500 cubic meters.

More on this story: MSN Video, Edmonton Journal, CBC, Canoe

Improvements to wastewater treatment plant in Ontario: Plans to improve a wastewater treatment plant in the Halton region have been announced which will help protect Lake Ontario. These plans will ensure that the wastewater reaching the lake will continue to meet high standards, while still maintaining safe and efficient treatment of wastewater.

More on this story: Inside Halton

Canadian Wheat Board versus Harper government: The Canadian Wheat Board has ramped up efforts recently to combat the Harper government’s attempts to abolish the Board. On Friday, the Wheat Board announed a $1.4 million television ad campaign to entice supporters of the Prairie Provinces sole marketer of wheat and barley. The federal government says that by next summer farmers will be able to sell their own wheat and barley to which ever market they choose.

More on this story: CTV, Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun