Friday, April 20, 2012


Friday night cooking at Kids' Kitchen.

Seems the weather still can't decide weather to be cold and blustery or warm and inviting, but spring is marching onwards and upwards at the Food Security Institute. We are partnering with the Canadian Diabetes Association to run a new session of the Food Skills for Families Seniors edition for the third time, which runs from April 25-May 30. This weekend we're hosting an Introduction to Permaculture workshop, which is the second in a series of gardening workshops we're planning for this year. We've recently confirmed a partnership with our local Vancity branch so that we'll be able to bring more high quality gardening workshops to the neighbourhood, and are very grateful to the staff at the Kingsway Vancity branch for their ongoing bottle drive, through which they collect funds for our Morning Star Breakfast Program.

Our two annual Seed Swaps generated lots of interest and enthusiasm, with several local gardeners running home to dig up bulbs and other perennials to trade for seeds and other goodies.

Customers peruse the table at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House seed swap.

The Collingwood Community Garden plots are full for the year, with several gardeners kindly sharing spaces because of the shortage. We'll be working with Jenn Phelps from Urban Dames Landscape and Design to fix the perpetual flooding at the flooding and are looking forward to learning from Jenn's extensive experience. This project will help us increase accessibility at the garden, and finish up a grant from the Vancity Community Fund which also supported the wheelchair accessible garden shed at Cheyenne Avenue, multilingual signage, and more.

Year opening work party at the Collingwood Community Gardens.

Two years after we first broke ground at Cheyenne Avenue Garden, the plots are full and the shed is complete. Gardeners have been working hard to move topsoil and to get the spring rush of weeding and seeding done, and are looking forward to working with local artists to perk up the plain wooden beds and recycled packing pallet compost bins.

"We are experiencing technical difficulties." Our topsoil delivery truck got stuck and was forced to unload the soil in order to drive away. Unfortunately for us, the soil ended up squarely on the sidewalk!

Things are also gearing up on the Rooftop Garden. Radishes, peas, carrots, chard, lettuce, and mixed Asian greens have already been planted by a group of dedicated volunteers. Our perennial friends--blueberries, rhubarb, grapes, and medicinal herbs like sagebrush--are springing to life as well.

Wednesday evening drop-in: planting and weeding on the Rooftop Garden.

A group of volunteers met at the Norquay Community Learning Orchard to clean up bits of garbage, practice pruning and shaping trees, and to spread manure to encourage growth. It is still early to expect any fruit from the young trees, but we will try to give them the best start we can.

In other tree news, the trees at Gaston Park have mostly been destroyed because of a disappointing and frustrating vandalism incident. We are regrouping and thinking of ways that the trees can be re-planted and protected. A few very generous local residents have offered to assist with purchasing and planting new trees.

Here are a few other cheery spring photos from the Rooftop Garden:

Ladybug sighting!

Overwintered heirloom carrots, ready to be picked and eaten at next week's Community Kitchen.

Rooftop Garden volunteers planted bok choy and other green vegetables using these deep trenches (April 18). They tell me this is a traditional Chinese planting method which encourages deep and broad root development by diverting water into the trenches and away from the plants.

Overwintered spinach and giant red mustard (also called Osaska red mustard).

Up close with giant red mustard.

Square foot gardening: arugula (planted March 23).

French breakfast radishes (planted March 23)

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