A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘agriculture

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • Centauri Dreams notes new studies suggesting the flares of red dwarf stars damage potentially habitable planets.
  • The Crux notes that the wild apple is going extinct.
  • D-Brief notes that recent high winds in Europe helped push energy prices there to negative territory.
  • The Frailest Thing considers Neil Postman’s thoughts on the intersection of mass media and childhood.
  • Inkfish argues in favour of accidental wetlands in urban areas.
  • Language Log looks at the trope of the repeated character in some recent Chinese advertising.
  • The LRB Blog considers the costs, environmental and otherwise, to the United States’ leaving the Paris climate agreement.
  • Marginal Revolution wonders what assumptions about deep history the news of Homo sapiens‘ longer history overturn.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that, in the area of energy costs, mid-20th century Uruguay was worse off than New Zealand.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at polling on Russian opinions about the Russian Far East and its future.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell is skeptical about Jeremy Paxman’s claims about privacy in modern journalism.

[NEWS] Ten links, from human evolution through cultural diversity to the Toronto Islands

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  • The Atlantic‘s Ed Yong notes the discovery of dated Homo sapiens fossils 300k years old in Morocco. (!)
  • The Atlantic reports on Twitter-driven science that has highlighted the remarkable visual acuity of the spider.
  • The Economist notes that multilingual societies can encounter more difficulties prospering than unilingual ones.
  • Torontoist notes a Thunder Bay park devoted to the idea of First Nations reconciliation.
  • The Inter Press Service reports on how gardens grown under solar tents in Bolivia can improve nutrition in poor highland villages.
  • The Toronto Star‘s Christopher Hume trolls Rob Ford’s supporters over the new, well-designed, Etobicoke Civic Centre.
  • Metro Toronto calculates just how many avocado toasts would go into a mortgage in the GTA.
  • MacLean’s hosts a collection of twenty photos from gritty Niagara Falls, New York.
  • The National Post shows remarkable, heartbreaking photos from the flooded Toronto Islands.
  • Edward Keenan argues that the Toronto Islands’ flooding should help prompt a local discussion on climate change.

[URBAN NOTE] “The House that Riesling Built”

Torontoist’s Andre Proulx looks at how Ontario’s wine industry is continuing to develop.

Cave Spring Cellars made their first vintage in 1986. It was a small 500-case batch of wine. This date is a reminder of how early we are in the history of wine in this province. It was one of the first eight wineries in the province and second on the Beamsville Bench.

I recently had a chance to speak with Len Pennachetti, the president and founder of Cave Spring Cellars (and brother of Toronto’s former city manager). He got his start in the wine industry when he was tasked with working vineyards that were purchased by his father.

Not all grapes are created equal; neither are Canadian wines. Prior to the founding of Inniskillin in 1974, Ontario wines were made using labrusca grapes—those Concord grapes found in farmers’ markets at the twilight of summer.

Today, the European grape, vinifera, is used to make most fine wines. Even by 1986, 10 years after Inniskillin had been founded, there were still only a handful of farmers who had made the switch. The challenge with growing vinifera in Ontario isn’t so much the summer but the punishing winters. When the temperature starts to dip below -15, frigid temperatures begin to cause damage or even kill vines.

As one of the founding members of VQA, Pennachetti had a hand in crafting the rules that determine the quality of Ontario wines. The VQA ensures not only that the grapes are 100 per cent Ontario grown, but also that the grapes are vinifera.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 19, 2017 at 5:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Two centuries and counting for Toronto’s last farming family”

Chris Bateman described how the Reesor family in north Scarborough remain the last farmers active within the borders of the city of Toronto.

Dale Reesor figures he’s the last farmer in Toronto.

Since his elderly neighbour Jim Murison passed away in December, Reesor’s family is the only one he knows of that’s still growing crops commercially in the city.

From their 136-year-old farmhouse on the south side of Steeles Ave. E. in north Scarborough, Dale and Lois Reesor and their five kids work about 350 acres of land within the Toronto city limits under the name Sweet Ridge Farms. They grow mostly sweet corn, about 10 to 12 varieties, plus soybeans and wheat.

It’s a way of life that stretches back more than 200 years.

The Reesors “came to the Toronto area, Markham and Scarborough, in 1804,” Dale said. “It’s a Mennonite family. They came from Pennsylvania. They travelled up and bought land in this area. It’s been the same family ever since.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 11, 2017 at 8:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • Beyond the Beyond shares Yves Behar’s thoughts on design in an age of artificial intelligence.
  • blogTO makes the case for the east end of Toronto.
  • The Big Picture shares photos of a family of Congolese refugees resettled in New England.
  • Centauri Dreams hosts an essay looking at the prospects for off-world agriculture.
  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of the beauty created by graffiti removal.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks for signs of possible cryovolcanism on Europa.
  • Joe. My. God. shares audio of the new Blondie track “Fun.”
  • Language Hat remembers the life and career of linguist Leon Dostert.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money argues protest is needed in blue states, too.
  • The LRB Blog warns people not to forget about Pence.
  • Marginal Revolution considersa trends in the British economy.
  • Neuroskeptic shares disturbing findings about the prevalence of plagiarism in science.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russia does not expect Trump to take all the sanctions down at once.

[ISL] “White wine and canola oil: N.L.’s budding crop opportunities”

CBC News’ Cherie Wheeler reports from western Newfoundland, where an experiment in growing canola and wine grapes in this historically non-agricultural province has yielded success.

Thanks to the success of some unconventional crops grown last summer, western Newfoundland might soon add canola and grapes to its list of agricultural products.

Working with independent farmers, the provincial Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agrifoods experimented with the two crops that aren’t traditionally grown in the province.

The hope was those first-time crops could sow the seeds for new farming industries.

While canola farming is big business in the prairies, it’s unheard of in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Yes, we’re a lot different from Saskatchewan, but perhaps we might have a little better conditions than Iceland or northern Norway,” said Kavanagh, the province’s alternative feed co-ordinator.

[. . .]

It turns out she was right. Planting 12 hectares on private farmland on the island’s west coast, in Pasadena, Kanvanagh said the yield was ¾ of a metric tonne per acre — which is on par with the rest of Atlantic Canada.

[. . .]

Like canola, the idea to grow grapes in Newfoundland was germinated in another province.

“There was a huge opportunity for grapes [in Nova Scotia],” says Newfoundland and Labrador’s fruit-crop development officer Karen Kennedy. “And there was no one commercially growing grapes here.”

Buoyed by stories of backyard gardeners growing grapes, Kennedy planted the first experimental vines four years ago in Humber Village, a small community in Humber Valley, as well as in Brooklyn, on the Bonavista Peninsula.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 12, 2017 at 6:30 pm

[LINK] “Agroecology Booming in Argentina”

The Inter Press Service’s Fabiana Frayssinet reports on the popularity in Argentina of agroecology, a variant on organic agriculture.

Organic agriculture is rapidly expanding in Argentina, the leading agroecological producer in Latin America and second in the world after Australia, as part of a backlash against a model that has disappointed producers and is starting to worry consumers.

According to the intergovernmental Inter American Commission on Organic Agriculture (ICOA), in the Americas there are 9.9 million hectares of certified organic crops, which is 22 per cent of the total global land devoted to these crops. Of this total, 6.8 million of hectares are in Latin America and the Caribbean, and three million in Argentina alone.

The Argentine National Agrifood Health and Quality Service (SENASA) reported that between 2014 and 2015, the land area under organic production grew 10 per cent, including herbs, vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals and oilseeds.

Legumes and vegetables experienced the largest increase (200 percent). In Argentina there are 1,074 organic producers, mainly small and medium-size farms and cooperatives.

“The organic market is starting to boom. We have been producing since 20 years ago, when this market did not exist in Argentina and we exported everything. Now we sell abroad, but about 50 percent remains here,” said Jorge Pierrestegui, manager of San Nicolás Olive Groves and Vineyards, an agroecology company that produces olives and olive oil on some 1,000 hectares in the Argentine province of Córdoba.

“Opting for organic was a company policy, mainly due to a long-term ecological vision of not spraying the fields with poisonous chemicals,” Pierrestegui said.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 28, 2016 at 2:30 pm