Happy Plants and Sad Plants

a happy plant : )

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a container gardening workshop at SFU Burnaby hosted by the SFU Local Food Project. It was by donation and I walked away with a few lovely plants (tomato, mustard [which is very tasty] and something else that I can’t identify). It was a bit of an adventure getting there (I was in the wrong building oopse! You know you are a Surrey Student when… haha, but that explained why I room I was looking for didn’t exist).

It was hosted by Matthew Kemshaw of the Environmental Youth Alliance. He was very knowledgeable and answered many of my silly beginner questions (ie: what is a good starter plant that I would be likely to not kill?).

One thing that surprised me is that gardening can have the potential to be non-vegan. He had one soil enhancing product made from fish remains from a factory fish farm. Gross! The good news is you can avoid this product by using your own properly made compost. Much more fun.One thing that I found confusing was all the talk of “happy plants” and “sad plants”. As someone with little gardening background it can be confusing to tell the difference between the two. In my limited study of permarculture I have also had this issue. It can be difficult to partake in observation if you don’t know what to look for. I asked some people for their advice and made this list of thing that contribute to plant-itude (that’s plant + attitude).

a sad plant : (

  • Colour: Happy plants look alive and bright with their leaves and growth
  • Posture: Slouchy, droopy plants are often unhappy
  • Decay: Are the leaves being nibbled at by bugs or are they full and lush?
  • Odor: Bad, rotting smells can be signs of an unhappy plant

Insects: Do you see bugs attacking your plant?Some other resources that were recommended include pfaf.org and the books Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway and Growing vegetables west of the cascades : the complete guide to organic gardening by Steve Solomon.

Review: The 100 Mile Diet

I recently read The 100 Mile Diet, a book about a year of local eating. I was disappointed with this book. It made local eating sound very difficulty (nearly impossible) and depressing. Also most of the recipes they featured were not vegan which is a problem for me. The biggest draw of this book is not the writing itself (which I found to be voiced in an ancient and at times out of touch way), but the movement it has inspired.

Reading this book has forced me to think much more about eating locally and consumption in general. When the concept of eating locally was first brought to my attention (Buy Local or Die anyone?) I thought it would be impossible in the Vancouver area. Sure, it is easy for someone who lives in a tropical avocado paradise to eat locally but what about those of us who live in a place where the closest thing grown locally to a pineapple is a pine cone? The book greatly surprised me with the abundance of local food available here in BC. This book has really been revolutionary in changing the local marketplace as well. Just today I read an e-mail proclaiming that the local SFU Pocket Farmer’s Market will now carry local flour (something the authors searched far and wide for). As the demand for local food grows so does the marketplace, it’s amazing. The more I learn about local foods the more enticing they become.

Go visit a farmer’s market. Make a trip to a U Pick this summer. Cook at home. Make things. Blog about them.

You might even want to live on a farm for a while. I’m certainly considering it. Check out World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.

PS: Did you know they grow Stevia in BC? COOL!

Review: No Impact Man + Promises

This is from a while ago. I am just finishing it now… Enjoy!

No Impact Man Book CoverI had a somewhat sleepless night last night. I think I was up past 4:30AM, however because of my restlessness I was able to finish reading Colin Beavan’s book “No Impact Man”. Coincidentally (or magically? : P) he responded to the e-mail I wrote him yesterday as well with a simple “Thanks Jenni!”. I found the book to be much better than the movie but they compliment each-other well. The book explains some of the things that were unclear in the film. I’d like to share a short selection from my favorite passage:

“…the question isn’t wether or not I make a difference. The question is wether I want to be the type of person who tries. We can all make a difference. We all have the responsibility to make a difference.”

This mentality kinda relates back to a thought i’ve been having lately. I think, in general, in is better to break promises than not make them at all. Of course, if you can keep your promises that is even better but by making a promise you show that you care. Let’s look at a few examples. When I was little my Dad promised to take me to Disneyland. I am 18 now and have never been to Disneyland with my Dad. It’s too bad that we haven’t been able to make this trip together but by him making the promise it showed me that we wanted to take me and that the desire/thought was there. For another example, I was talking with this boy a while back (ooo scandalous aren’t I hehe). I remember him saying to me “I’m not making any promises but…” and I remember thinking that I don’t really want to spend a great deal of time with anyone who doesn’t care enough to make me a promise. Someone who doesn’t care enough to try, or doesn’t have the desire to, isn’t the best choice of friend. But enough about promises, back to No Impact Man.

The book was really well written, which is probably why I finished it so quickly. It was very funny and entertaining while still communicating the information. My only criticism would be it was a little vague at times. For example, he never really talks about what they used instead of toilet paper. While I understand his need for privacy, specific information about parts of the project would have been helpful to me, as I would like to implement portions of it in my own life.

They’ve started a site where people can take part in a “No Impact Week” Challenge. I don’t know that i’ll be able to take part in this until my show is done but this summer I PROMISE I am going to have a no impact week. And i’ll be sure to blog about it : )

How to Be Green Without Being a Prick

“There are far too many ways to be green, in the smallest and biggest ways for anyone to tell you how to do it. The only way is to understand the problems that we face so you can make intelligent decisions for yourself, be informative to your friends, and help promote and create the solutions that will truly allow this world to become sustainable.”

– HANK GREEN

I think I really needed to see this. I agree with what Hank is saying, however I wish he gave more suggestions about how to be informative to others without coming off negatively. I’m struggling with that right now.

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September 18 – 26, 2010

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