A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘agriculture

[PHOTO] At McCardle’s Berry Patch, Tracadie, Prince Edward Island

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On my trip to the Island, I went with my parents to McCardle’s Berry Patch, a U-Pick farm specializing in mixed berries in the farming community of Tracadie.

Welcome! #pei #tracadie #berrypatch #upick #latergram #strawberry🍓

In the field, McCardle's Berry Patch #pei #tracadie #berrypatch #upick #latergram

On the scale #pei #tracadie #berrypatch #upick #latergram #scale #strawberries #strawberry🍓

Written by Randy McDonald

October 1, 2016 at 10:30 am

[URBAN NOTE] “How Local Farms Connect Torontonians With Food Security”

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Torontoist’s Catherine McIntyre reports on how Toronto and Region Conservation Authority is encouraging Torontonians to cultivate some of their own food. This is an amusing idea, but–speaking as someone who has his own pots–I doubt the contribution to overall food security in Toronto will plausibly be that significant.

A 30-minute drive from his home near High Park, Carl Leslie’s peppers are turning a deep, vibrant red. “Sweet bell pepper success!” he proclaims in a photo caption to his social media followers. “First time ever. A testament to a hot, hot summer.”

Leslie’s harvest—of peppers, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, watermelon, squash, and some 30-odd other fruits and vegetables—is also testament to the success of Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s (TRCA) near-urban agriculture projects that now span the GTA.

Since 2008, the TRCA has been partnering with agricultural organizations and private farmers to develop farm enterprises closer to the city. These farm initiatives offer farmers like Leslie, who live in or near urban centres, access to land, equipment, and mentorship needed to run a startup or family farm.

Leslie runs his half-acre plot on McVean farm, a 45-acre chunk of TRCA land in Brampton within Claireville Conservation Area. McVean, one of the TRCA’s four near-urban farms, is managed by Farm Start, which leases the land from the TRCA and rents out small plots to farmers. For some land-users, McVean is a pilot program—somewhere to dabble in farming before deciding whether to scale up and buy their own land. For some, it’s a place to grow food for their families and communities without moving out of the city. And for others, it’s simply a way to feel connected to the land.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 30, 2016 at 6:15 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “In Hong Kong, Farming Is a Political Statement”

Christopher Dewolf’s Vice article takes a look at one farm in Hong Kong and its connection to wider currents about Hong Kong identity and self-sufficiency. Fascinating stuff.

I went to a banana farm to learn about growing fruit in Hong Kong. Instead I learned about democracy.

It started with a visit to Hamilton Street in Hong Kong’s densely-packed Yau Ma Tei district, where a friend introduced me to Tam Chi-kit, who was selling bananas from a folding table on the street. “He grows them himself,” explained my friend.

These were not the ubiquitous Cavendish bananas you find with a Del Monte or Chiquita sticker on them. They were girthy, thick-skinned dai ziu—literally “big bananas”—native to this part of Asia. You can find them in markets all over Hong Kong, along with a few other native varieties. Like many local bananas, Tam’s dai ziu don’t lend themselves well to mass production, so they’re grown on a family farm that has somehow managed to survive in one of the most densely-populated cities in the world.

Though the city is most famous for its thicket of skyscrapers—it has more high-rises than any other place in the world—most of its land area is undeveloped. Much of it is reserved for country parks, but large portions are former agricultural land that has been illegally converted into junkyards and storage facilities. More than 2,000 acres are owned by property developers biding their time until they can build. Farming isn’t easy in Hong Kong.

“Can I come visit?” I asked Tam. “Okay,” he replied. “We’ll make lunch.”

Tam meets me next to a concrete pagoda. The air hums with the sound of cicadas and a chorus of songbirds. As we walk to the farm, Tam points at wild banana trees growing by the road. “Look—bananas everywhere,” he says.

The farm isn’t quite what I expected. It’s a muddy acre of land that spills down a hill to the Sheung Yue River. There are banana trees, but also papayas, soursop and an abundance of herbs. Walking down a concrete path, past two metal gates, we arrive at a cluster of tin-roofed structures. Three elderly people emerge to greet us. There’s Uncle Chan, a gangly, bespectacled man with a toothy grin. Auntie Wong, dressed in a floral print shirt. And Uncle Wong, a stout, bald man with a pugnacious demeanour and a t-shirt commemorating the Umbrella Revolution, the student-led pro-democracy movement that occupied Hong Kong’s streets for 79 days in 2014. It quickly becomes clear this is no ordinary banana farm.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 12, 2016 at 9:59 pm

[NEWS] Some Friday links

  • Bloomberg notes the recent challenge to one-family rule in Gabon, looks at Russia’s new Internet firewall, examines the Syrian Kurds’ withdrawal beyond the Euphrates, and reports on near-record migration into the United Kingdom.
  • Bloomberg View talks about inequality in China, looks at continuing disputes over Second World War history in Poland and Ukraine, and examines the things Texas and California have in common.
  • CBC reports on the impending release of a report on foreign workers, looks at the integration problems of Syrian refugees re: housing, and reports on Canada’s interest in more immigration from China.
  • The Inter Press Service notes how drought is hurting cocoa farmers in Cameroon.
  • MacLean’s looks at how some in the Conservative Party have not moved past same-sex marriage, describes how the new British Columbia tax on foreign buyers of real estate is deterring Chinese, and reports on the catastrophic potential of carbon release from melting permafrost.
  • National Geographic notes how the young generation sees Pluto and its classification history.
  • The National Post describes how design fans want the CBC to release its 1974 standards manual, and looks at controversy over a study claiming extensive support in mosques for extremist literature.
  • Wired has photos from the uninhabited cities of China, and describes the new prominence of the alt right.

[NEWS] Some Wednesday links

  • Bloomberg talks about Poland’s problems with economic growth, notes that McMansions are poor investments, considers what to do about the Olympics post-Rio, looks at new Japanese tax incentives for working women, looks at a French war museum that put its stock up for sale, examines the power of the New Zealand dairy, looks at the Yasukuni controversies, and notes Huawei’s progress in China.
  • Bloomberg View is hopeful for Brazil, argues demographics are dooming Abenomics, suggests ways for the US to pit Russia versus Iran, looks at Chinese fisheries and the survival of the ocean, notes that high American population growth makes the post-2008 economic recovery relatively less notable, looks at Emperor Akihito’s opposition to Japanese remilitarization, and argues that Europe’s soft response to terrorism is not a weakness.
  • CBC notes that Russian doping whistleblowers fear for their lives, looks at how New Brunswick farmers are adapting to climate change, and looks at how Neanderthals’ lack of facility with tools may have doomed them.
  • The Globe and Mail argues Ontario should imitate Michigan instead of QuĂ©bec, notes the new Anne of Green Gables series on Netflix, and predicts good things for Tim Horton’s in the Philippines.
  • The Guardian notes that Canada’s impending deal with the European Union is not any model for the United Kingdom.
  • The Inter Press Service looks at child executions in Iran.
  • MacLean’s notes that Great Lakes mayors have joined to challenge a diversion of water from their shared basin.
  • National Geographic looks at the elephant ivory trade, considers the abstract intelligence of birds, considers the Mayan calendar’s complexities, and looks at how the young generation treats Pluto’s dwarf planet status.
  • The National Post notes that VIA Rail is interested in offering a low-cost bus route along the Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia.
  • Open Democracy notes that the last Russian prisoner in Guantanamo does not want to go home, and wonders why the West ignores the Rwandan dictatorship.
  • TVO considers how rural communities can attract immigrants.
  • Universe Today suggests sending our digital selves to the stars, looks at how cirrus clouds kept early Mars warm and wet, and notes the discovery of an early-forming direct-collapse black hole.
  • Variance Explained looks at how Donald Trump’s tweets clearly show two authors at work.
  • The Washignton Post considers what happens when a gay bar becomes a bar with more general appeal.
  • Wired notes that the World Wide Web still is far from achieving its founders’ dreams, looks at how news apps are dying off, and reports on the Univision purchase of Gawker.

[URBAN NOTE] “Behind one Toronto library’s seedy initiative with a lot of growth potential”

Metro Toronto‘s Mary Warren reports on Toronto’s seed library, something I should take advantage of next year.

There’s a card catalogue at the University of Toronto’s Robarts Library that does more than help people look for books.

Instead, what people find inside can one day turn into everything from beans to watermelons.

It’s one branch of the Toronto Seed Library, where people can “borrow” seeds through a program aimed at bringing gardening to people who might not otherwise be able to dig in.

The city’s 22 branch network has been growing since 2012 and has dispensed at least 100,000 seed packets — many of them to new Canadians and people who might not otherwise be into gardening, like high-rise renters.

[. . .]

“Except where book libraries keep knowledge in the commons, seed libraries keep seeds part of the commons and accessible to everybody,” she said. “The idea is that, until very recently in history, you couldn’t buy seeds, everyone would just save and trade them amongst themselves.”

Written by Randy McDonald

August 23, 2016 at 8:29 pm

[PHOTO] Three photos from the Cavendish Road, Prince Edward Island

The Cavendish Road, connecting North Rustico with Cavendish, can be exceptionally scenic, farmers’ fields stretching to the shore and the Gulf picking up where the land leaves off.

  #pei #rustico #northrustico #gulfofstlawrence

Bales of hay on the Cavendish Road  #pei #rustico #northrustico #cavendish #bales #hay


Written by Randy McDonald

August 23, 2016 at 2:15 pm