sustainable food

Farming in Canada’s North


This week on Terra Informa we discuss sustainable agriculture and what its like farming in the north. How much sun do they get?!

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Photo by: Le Refuge Farms

Geoengineering and Vandana Shiva on Seed Freedom

A figure in an orange space suit walks along rocky striations along the coast.

Geoengineering may transform our relationship with the planet. (Image credit: jacques fou)

This week, we dig into views on transforming landscapes. Calgary sustainability writer Chris Turner shares his take on using planet-scale engineering to solve the climate crisis. Then, Boston’s Brian Swett talks about an eye-opening relationship that encouraged him to aim higher on green building. And world-renowned physicist and ecologist Vandana Shiva opens up about advocating for the freedom to plant what we want and restore our relationship with the land. Listen close, and you might just hear the world changing.

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Floods, Warnings, and Exciting Proteins

Calgary has been in the news lately after it’s disastrous floods, and a couple of our contributors happened to be caught up in the chaos. Then we’ll be hearing about ‘climate change warning labels’ and what they could do to change perceptions on climate change, and then about a newly developed source of food in ‘plant-based eggs’, a type of egg made of plant protein that tastes “kind of herby”.

Floods, Warnings, and Exciting Proteins

East Village in Calgary, during the Alberta floods 2013 (credit: Ryan L. C. Quan)

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Climate Change Warning Labels

Rob Shirkey, is the founder of Toronto-based advocacy group Our Horizon.
He wants us to connect the dots between our actions and climate change, and he’s doing it in a unique way. We’ve all seen those cigarette warning photos of diseased gums and lungs. Shirkey takes this idea on a larger scale.

What’s Behind Alberta’s Floods?

It’s brought together a mayor, a premier and a prime minister.
It’s forced over a hundred thousand people from their homes.
Chris Chang-Yen Phillips and Trevor Chow-Fraser have the story on what’s behind the disaster that’s hit Alberta, and what’s ahead.

Links to more information:

Plant-Based Eggs

Which came first? The chicken? Or the egg? In Josh Tetrick’s California-based facility, the eggs they’re scrambling are coming to you from broken-down plant protein. Hampton Creek Foods was founded on the
sensibility of sustainability, and concern for the planet. How to feed a rapidly growing population of more than 7 billion people? Food technology is an undeniable part of our future and Tetrick shares his motives behind creating the first plant based egg.

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What’s Happening

Pet Waste Composting Workshop

On Thursday, June 4th, Hearthmakers Energy Cooperative in Kingston Ontario is hosting a hands-on workshop teaching pet owners how to safely dispose of pet waste.  By outlining how composters, manure digesters, and mini-septic systems work, pet owners can safely break down the waste in their own back yards and provide fertilizer for non-edible trees and bushes. The workshop is free, and all participants will leave with a completed pet waste composter ready to install at home.

Register here.

EPIC: The Sustainable Living Festival (July 6 – 7)

This upcoming weekend of July 6 and 7, EPIC: The Sustainable Living Festival is happening in Vancouver at the VanDusen Botanical Garden. It’s the newest outdoor summer festival celebrating sustainability, culture and community. Join in on an awesome weekend of live music, dozens of beer and wine vendors, delicious eats provided by Green Table restaurants and on-site food trucks, and a huge sustainable living marketplace.

Learn more and buy tickets: or follow the twitter feed @EPIC_Fest

Logging on Cortes Island & Winona LaDuke

Today we investigate plans for logging on BC’s Cortes Island and talk to locals who are pushing for more sustainable harvest practices. We also hear from renowned activist, economist, and writer Winona LaDuke, who explains why locally based sustainable development strategies are critical to our future. All the that, plus your wrap up of the week’s news headlines!

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The old growth forest of Cortes Island. Photo by TJ Watt of the Ancient Forest Alliance.

Winona LaDuke
Winona LaDuke is an aboriginal environmental activist, economist and writer. She has spent her entire career as an outspoken, engaging and unflagging advocate dedicated to issues of food and energy sustainability. After running for U.S vice president as the nominee of the United States Green Party in 1996 and 2000, Winona has continued to espouse her critical perspectives on food and energy consumption and has become a leading proponent on issues of locally based sustainability development strategies. But what will happen if non-sustainable consumption practices continue? Terra Informa correspondent Matt Hirji speaks with Winona LaDuke from her home on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota.

Logging on Cortes Island
Logging is a major industry in BC, and one that employs a lot of people. But that doesn’t mean it’s without controversy. On Cortes Island, just off the BC coast, residents are raising the alarm over plans by Island Timberlands to log the area. They say that the company’s plans aren’t sustainable and they’ve gathered thousands of signatures calling for a change.

More on this story: Wildstands Alliance, Ancient Forest Alliance, Petition

News Headlines
A fire in the Fraser Valley, B.C. region knocked out power to residents in both Chilliwack and Abbotsford this past week. A BC Hydro substation caught fire on Friday morning and the cause is still under investigation- as is the possibility of any lasting environmental impact. The damaged transformer contained one-hundred and fifteen-thousand litres of insulating oil which, according to Environment Minister for BC, Terry Lake, could be a real cause for concern. Emergency environmental response officers are on site assessing any potential contamination of nearby ground water or streams. However, the NDP Critic for Environment, Rob Flemming, voiced further concerns about the release of carcinogens from the oil burning. As of yet, no environmental review has been released.

More on this story: Times Colonist, CKNW News, CTV News

The Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa is suffering controversy over Imperial Oil’s role in their exhibit entitled “Energy: Power to Choose.” The Imperial Oil foundation contributed $600,000 to the exhibit, which opened last year. Imperial’s involvement in the exhibit stirred controversy from its outset, with groups like the Sierra Club of Canada complaining that the foundation’s involvement would call into question the integrity of the exhibit. Emails recently obtained by the CBC reveal that Imperial was indeed making requests to change the “overall tone” of the exhibit.

More on this story: Vancouver Sun, CBC News, Macleans

Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent announced the beginning of discussions to re-introduce bison to Banff National Park. It has been over a century since plains bison roamed the area freely, and Kent hopes to reconnect the species with the habitat where it had previously ranged for thousands of years. Concerns have already been raised about the bison roaming into the town proper or onto the highway, but Kent seemed assured that the dangers would be successfully mitigated by the Parks Service. Resource Conservation Manager, Bill Hunt, said that the bison herds would be managed much the same way as elk are already managed in the National Park, and that precautions will be taken as the size of the herd expands. Don’t expect to see the plains bison roaming the park any time soon, though. Parks Canada is planning an extensive consultation process which could take several years to complete.

More on this story: Edmonton Journal, CBC News, Parks Canada Press Release

Documents obtained by Greenpeace Canada and the Climate Action Network reveal the federal government’s ‘allies’ and ‘adversaries’ in its bid to promote Alberta’s oilsands. The documents list the biodiesel industry, as well as Aboriginal and environmental groups to be adversaries, while energy companies, the National Energy Board, Environment Canada, and business and industry associations are considered allies. The document is a part of a strategy by the federal government to improve Canada’s image in Europe, in response to campaigns by European NGO’s, that the federal government feels “[frame] the issue in a strongly negative light.”

More on this story: CBC News, Vancouver Sun, CTV News

On Friday, January 27 First Nations from Alberta and the Northwest Territories signed the Save the Fraser Declaration opposing the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline as well as the supertanker traffic it would bring to BC’s coast. The formal legal declaration bans tar sands pipelines in the Fraser watershed, and on the north and south coasts of British Columbia. The declaration protects the world’s most critical salmon rivers, and the Pacific North Coast, from the threat of oil spills posed by the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline and supertankers.

More on this story: West Coast Environmental Law, Yinka Dene Alliance

Sustainable Food Special

Today we hear from Dr. Nettie Wiebe on the importance of small scale family farming and eating locally. She worked with the National Farmers’ Union throughout the 90s and helped found an international peasants’ movement that spans 69 countries.  Her work focuses on sustainability, food sovereignty, and gender equity.

We also investigate a small town in Quebec where residents are worried that a proposed highway expansion will be the end of the spring water they rely on. We take a look at permiculture, and we’ve even got a piece on how to make your very own seed bombs. All that and more in just 30 minutes!

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Photo by Valerie Hinojosa.

SOS Wakefield

Fresh, clean drinking water might be the most valuable resource we have, but in many communities it goes unappreciated.  Not in Wakefield, Quebec, where the community has rallied in support of the Save our Spring initiative.  Rebecca Rooney spoke with Peter Andree and Ilse Turnsen, both members of the SOS Wakefield campaign, and filed this report for our Local Campaigns series.

Find out more about SOS Wakefield here.

Seed Bombs

How to Make a Seed Bomb

Video: Guerrilla Gardener’s Seed Bomb Recipe