Newsletter 132, 20 March 2018

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Improving your garden soil

Transition Brockville and the Brockville Public Library

In spring every gardener dreams of a beautiful, productive garden. The best way to realize that dream is to make sure your garden soil is healthy.

Following its presentation of the documentary Symphony of the Soil last month, Transition Brockville has invited Master Gardener Mary Ann Van Berlo to lead a lively discussion and demonstration on how we can improve our garden soil. She'll present a short slide show at the next Transition Brockville get-together, Sunday, March 25, 2 p.m., at the Brockville Public Library. Then she'll demonstrate how organic matter can improve the soil porosity of both clay soil and sandy soil.

Van Berlo has created a garden showplace on her riverside property near Maitland. From shady hosta gardens on the waterfront to sunny gardens along the highway, she has dealt with different soil conditions and made her gardens bloom. A past president of the Brockville and District Horticultural Society, she has a wealth of knowledge to share with all garden lovers. Bring your questions about soil improvement to this Transition presentation and join the discussion.

Also at this month's meeting, Transition Brockville will be selling a special rose fertilizer as a fundraiser. This "Fritz Mix" was concocted by Paul Fritz for the roses in his beautiful rose gardens on Oak Leaf Road near Athens. Using his recipe, Transition Brockville hopes to help rose lovers feed their roses while supporting Transition's efforts to encourage gardening and more sustainable living. Each $5 bag feeds one rose bush for the season.



  • BPL launches new Seed Library
    Brockville Public Library / 20 February 2018
    Sprouting from Seedy Saturday, the Seed Library will offer free fruit, vegetable, herb and flower seeds for anyone to plant in their own gardens. Participants are encouraged to harvest seeds and return them to the library in the fall. The Library also has growing guides and garden books to help new gardeners and budding green thumbs …
  • Ottawa could see 2C increase in 2020s: Report
    CBC News / Thomson Reuters / 08 March 2018
    Ottawa is among 13 cities worldwide that are projected to see temperature hikes that could exceed 2 C over the next decade or so, according to a new report. The Russian capital, Moscow, faces the highest potential increase among more than 100 cities included in a report several years in the making by the Urban Climate Change Research Network, based at Columbia University. “It’s all alarming,” William Solecki, one of the study’s editors, told the Thomson Reuters …
  • Frontenac Co. seed companies: And then there were three
    NFU Local 316 / Newsletter / 18 March 2018
    A new partnership of three experienced seed producers (Kathy Rothermel, Frank Misek and Annie Richard), Kitchen Table Seed House offers certified organic herb, flower and vegetable seeds grown on Wolfe Island. With Kathy’s market garden experience, Frank’s culinary expertise and Annie’s plant breeding interests, Kitchen Table seeds will be “putting flavour on the table”. Their seeds will be available at Riley’s in Kingston, Sun Harvest in Glenburnie, …


  • First Climate Change Action Plan progress report
    Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change of Ontario / March 2018
    The Minister's Progress Report provides a description and update on progress and outcomes for CCAP initiatives which have authorized funding commitments as of December 31, 2017. The Progress Report details progress on a total of 63 initiatives, which range from our Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF), which is helping researchers, entrepreneurs and companies create and commercialize new, globally competitive, low-carbon technologies, to the Green Ontario Fund (GreenON), which helps consumers and …
  • Ontario building owners: How does your building stack up?
    Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency / Volume 5, Issue 2 (February 2018)
    Energy and water reporting for large buildings In Ontario, if you own a building that is 250,000 square feet or larger, you may need to report its energy and water use once a year. The first deadline to submit your report, using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, is July 1, 2018. Reporting how much energy and water your building uses can help you identify ways to reduce costs and greenhouse gases. You can also use the benchmarking information about your building's energy and water use to see how …


  • Some good news about Canada’s 2020 climate target
    National Observer / Barry Saxifrage / 06 March 2018
    Remember our 2020 climate target? Turns out, the overwhelming majority of Canadians are close to reaching it, but our progress has been wiped out by oilsands pollution. Back in 2009, Stephen Harper flew to Copenhagen and pledged that Canada would reduce climate pollution by 2020. And (almost) all of us did. As my first chart shows, the vast majority of Canada has reduced climate pollution roughly in line with our pledge. You can see this in the falling black line on the chart. This national …
  • Power utilities forced to adapt to wilder weather
    CBC News / 15 March 2018
    The increasing intensity of storms that lead to massive power outages highlights the need for Canada’s electrical utilities to be more robust and innovative, climate change scientists say. “We need to plan to be more resilient in the face of the increasing chances of these events occurring,” University of New Brunswick climate change scientist Louise Comeau said in a recent interview. The East Coast was walloped this week by the third storm in as many days, with high winds …
  • Western Canada’s risk of water shortages rising
    CBC News / Erin Collins / 14 March 2018
    It’s a situation that, if prolonged, could lead to the kind of water shortages being seen in Cape Town and parts of California in recent years. “That kind of extreme water shortage hasn’t happened here, but it’s not impossible that it can,” he says, noting that the shortages facing Cape Town today were once unimaginable. Glaciers are also an important part of the equation, and receding ice sheets are affecting annual water cycles in the West …
  • Big step forward on agricultural pesticides in Quebec
    CAPE / Randall McQuaker, Kim Perrotta / 07 March 2018
    On February 19th, the Quebec Minister for Sustainable Development announced a new law for pesticides which represents a huge leap forward for provincial laws in Canada. It includes a ban on five pesticides that are commonly used in the agricultural sector – three neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics), atrazine and chlorpyrifos. Neonics are harmful to bees and many other living organisms in the ecosystem, chlorpyrifos was recently named a "toxicant" to children's development by the State of …
  • Reopening the penitentiary farms
    Save Our Prison Farms committee / Dianne Dowling / 27 February 2018
    Yahoooo! Today’s budget included a paragraph about the prison farms: Reopening the Penitentiary Farms at Joyceville and Collins Bay Institutions To provide federal inmates with training opportunities to acquire new skills, while preparing for employment and successful reintegration and rehabilitation into the community, the Government proposes to invest $4.3 million over five years, beginning and 2018–19, to support the reopening of the Penitentiary Farms at the Joyceville and Collins Bay …


  • Arctic has warmest winter on record
    The Guardian / AP / 06 March 2018
    The Arctic winter has ended with more news that is worrying even the scientists who watch the effects of climate change closely. The region experienced its warmest winter on record. Sea ice hit record lows for the time of year, new US weather data revealed on Tuesday. "It's just crazy, crazy stuff," said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, who has been studying the Arctic since 1982. "These heat waves – I've never seen anything like this." …
  • Global warming and extreme cold: How one leads to the other
    TheRealNews / 10 January 2018
    Research on the connection between extreme weather – such as the severe cold snap that hit the US Northeast – and global warming, shows that these are intimately connected …
  • Global warming will trigger steep decline in ocean fisheries
    Digital Journal / Karen Graham / 09 March 2018
    The effects of climate change on the world’s oceans will trigger a dramatic decline in global fisheries output if the current warming trend is left unchecked, a new study has suggested. Researchers from the University of California, Irvine are projecting increases in greenhouse gas emissions could suppress marine biological productivity for a thousand years or more in a study published in the journal Science on May 9, 2018. The study points out that most studies on climate change risks …
  • Microplastics found in 90% of bottled water
    The Guardian / Graham Readfearn / 15 March 2018
    The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after a new analysis of some of the world's most popular bottled water brands found that more than 90% contained tiny pieces of plastic. A previous study also found high levels of microplastics in tap water. In the new study, analysis of 259 bottles from 19 locations in nine countries across 11 different brands found an average of 325 plastic particles for every litre of water being …
  • The curse of energy efficiency
    The Tyee / Andrew Nikiforuk / 26 February 2018
    Energy efficiency is a technological illusion that secures and sustains what is arguably a one-way freeway to resource depletion and atmospheric chaos. Contrary to Carr's fairy tale notions, energy efficiency actually encourages the use of more energy and more resources. As such it merely sustains the dangerous status quo, albeit one illuminated by lots of energy-efficient digital signage. Even Canadian government reports unwittingly acknowledge the starkness of the problem while calling for …
  • Old age and societal decline
    Museletter / Richard Heinberg / February 2018
    People grow old and die. Civilizations eventually fail. For centuries amateur philosophers have used the former as a metaphor for the latter, leading to a few useful insights and just as many misleading generalizations. The comparison becomes more immediately interesting as our own civilization stumbles blindly toward collapse. While not the cheeriest of subjects, it's worth exploring …
  • We need a richer picture of the human 'economy'
    Paul Arbair / 17 February 2018
    Mainstream economics seems to have learned little and changed nothing in the last decade, despite the fact that the financial crisis and its aftermath laid bare a number of important issues with its theories and models. Failure to address these issues is making the economics discipline increasingly incapable of informing us about the trajectory and situation of our world …


  • Make the best seed starting and potting mix
    GrowVeg / 23 February 2018
    Seed starting mixes are essential for sowing many vegetables, herbs and flowers. But with so much to sow over the coming weeks and months, they can be expensive – unless you make your own.
  • The repair cafés waging war on throwaway culture
    The Guardian / Kate Lyons / 15 March 2018
    A vacuum cleaner, a hair straightener, a laptop, Christmas lights, an e-reader, a blender, a kettle, two bags, a pair of jeans, a remote-control helicopter, a spoon, a dining-room chair, a lamp and hair clippers. All broken. It sounds like a pile of things that you'd stick in boxes and take to the tip. In fact, it's a list of things mended in a single afternoon by British volunteers determined to get people to stop throwing stuff away. This is the Reading Repair Café, part of a burgeoning …
  • The inconvenient truth about convenience
    Treehugger / Katherine Martinko / 22 February 2018
    Do you throw clothes in the dryer instead of hanging them out? Do you buy takeout coffee on the run because you haven’t got the time to make your own? Do you put your kids in the car and drive them to school because you’re running late? Even when we know what is best, the vast majority of people still do what is easiest. Ever since I read Wu’s thought-provoking article earlier this week, I’ve been mulling it over. It felt particularly relevant, since I just finished …
  • Transforming lawns
    West Coast Seeds / Mark Macdonald / 05 April 2017
    While recreational field turf has its uses, most urban and suburban lawn leaves the Earth with a net loss. Space that could be used for growing food or feeding pollinators is dedicated instead to demanding, non-native grasses. Lawn grass is challenged by animals that prey on European chafer (and other) beetle larvae in the winter and spring, and then it dries out and turns brown in the summer due to watering restrictions. We think it's time to consider transforming lawns to more sustainable …
  • Exercise is the best anti-aging therapy
    CBC Radio / Bob McDonald / 09 March 2018
    The multi-billion dollar anti-aging industry provides a cornucopia of products that promise to fight off the ravages of time with special food supplements, diets, creams, oxygenated water and a host of gadgets that supposedly remove toxins from the body. It makes it sound like all we need to do is pop a pill and our lives will be extended. And when our bodies do begin to slow down and diseases creep in, another huge industry of pharmaceuticals and therapies take over to fight it off. Our aging …
  • As climate changes, we need the arts more than ever
    Ensia / Richard Heinberg / 01 February 2018
    As we move closer to what surely will be unprecedented ecological, economic and social disruption, meaningful art can and must express the turmoil we encounter and help us process it intellectually and emotionally. In this sense, our need for truly great artists has never been keener …
  • Air travel and climate change
    David Suzuki Foundation / 05 October 2017
    Although aviation is a relatively small industry, it has a disproportionately large impact on the climate system. It accounts for four to nine per cent of the total climate change impact of human activity. But at a time when we urgently need to reduce our impact, greenhouse gas emissions from aviation continue to grow. For example, since 1990, CO2 emissions from international aviation have increased 83 per cent. The aviation industry is expanding rapidly in part due to regulatory and taxing …
  • Low-impact options for a more sustainable wedding
    Mother Earth News / Marissa Hermanson / 02 February 2018
    If you've made a vow to reduce your carbon footprint, you and your sweetheart can embrace sustainability on your big day, too. From saying "no" to shipping to cutting back on travel, you easily can throw a low-impact wedding celebration with environmental and social responsibility considered. Here are a few points of entry …


The Circular Economy with Dr. Warren Mabee

Sustainable North Grenville
WHEN: Tuesday, March 20, 6:45 pm [THAT'S TONIGHT!]
WHERE: Grenville Mutual Building, 380 Colonnade Drive, Kemptville

We are all familiar with the take/make/dispose model that we experience in our daily lives. What if we could regenerate products instead of disposing to the landfill? What if we used renewable energy and materials to make our products? The concept of the circular economy is one that is both new and old. We are beginning to see aspects of circular planning in multiple sectors, including energy production.

Dr. Mabee's talk focuses on the evolution of the circular economy, the application of circular concepts, and the ultimate potential of the circular economy to both sequester more carbon and increase jobs in a rapidly growing world. Dr. Warren Mabee is Professor and Head of the Department of Geography and Planning at Queen's University. He is the Canada Research Chair in Renewable Energy Development and Implementation, with a specialty in bioenergy technology and policy. As the Director of Queen's Institute for Energyand Environmental Policy he has interest in the intersection between energy issues and other aspects of environmental management. Dr. Mabee's research is networked through the International Energy Agency to initiatives around the world.

Come and join us for an interesting conversation! Free.

Gardening Workshop (1 of 3): Getting Started in Vegetable Gardening

Community of Gardens Project
WHEN: Thursday, March 22, 6:30 pm
WHERE: Country Roads Community Health Centre, 4319 Cove Road, Portland

Picking a garden type (container, raised bed, etc.), deciding what to plant, starting seeds, and preparing an in ground site. OPEN TO EVERYONE - new and experienced vegetable gardeners. Contact Anne at 613-359-6000 or

A2A AGM and Partner Gathering

Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative
WHEN: Saturday, March 24, 10:00 am
WHERE: Mallorytown Community Centre and Library, 76 County Road 5, Mallorytown

Come and hear about all the work of A2A in 2017 and help us plan 2018. The theme this year is working across the international border with:

  • A presentation on the A2A Trail end to end trek
  • A presentation on student research on both sides of the border
  • A working session on collaborating and growing the A2A on the US side

We hope to see you there! RSVP to or call 613-220-7482.

Beauty and the Eats

Brockville & District Horticultural Society
WHEN: Monday, March 26, 7:00 pm
WHERE: Brockville Wesleyan Church, 33 Central Avenue West, Brockville

Presenter: Judith Cox, Master Gardener. As past gardener of the culinary garden at Saunders Farm in Munster, Judith is well qualified to share tips on growing vegetables and edible flowers as she provided tasty, fresh produce to the chef daily. Non-member fee: $2.

Good Food In Schools Forum 2018

The Table Community Food Centre and foodcoreLGL
WHEN: Wednesday, March 28, 9:00 am - 3:30 pm
WHERE: Smiths Falls (exact location TBA)

Welcome to our 2nd Good Food In Schools Forum! We had a lot of fun at the first forum in 2017, and we invite you to join us as we continue to build our capacity in Lanark, Leeds and Grenville to encourage healthy eating, gardening and food skills development in our schools. At this year's forum we will explore a wide range of topics and local experiences from students, teachers and supporting organizations including:

  • School garden implementation and support
  • FoodCore LGL in our Schools
  • Healthy snack and lunch programs
  • Other food accessibility programs geared to children and youth

In response to feedback from last year we will be having even more breakout discussions, an opportunity to connect with others on their experiences and good food dreams, plus discussions on a potential School Gardens Network in our communities.

Locally sourced lunch, coffee, tea and snacks will be included with a small registration fee. More details to come very shortly. We would appreciate your sharing this event your contacts. We hope to see you there! For more information please contact:

What is Good for Us: Bees, Pollinators, Native Plants, Vegetables

Yonge in Bloom
WHEN: Saturday, April 7, 8:30 am - 3:00 pm
WHERE: Mallorytown Community Centre, 76 County Road 5 South, Mallorytown

Gardening seminar:

  • 8:30 Registration
  • 9:30 Bees: John Switzer, bee keeper
  • Pollinator Plants for the Garden: Suzanne Patry, Whitehouse Perennials
  • Lunch (included): Catered by Junetown Women's Institute
  • Getting Back to Nature with Native Plants: Peter Fuller, Fuller Native and Rare Plants
  • Vegetables: Jeff Klug, Roots Down Organic Farm

Registration: $25. Call Catherine at 613-923-1571 or email to reserve your seat by March 31. Limited to 56 seats -- first paid, first served.

Gardening Workshop (2 of 3): Ensuring a Productive & Successful Garden

Community of Gardens Project
WHEN: Thursday, April 12, 6:30 pm
WHERE: Country Roads Community Health Centre, 4319 Cove Road, Portland

Simple organic techniques and soil fertility (composting, mulching, cover crops), setting out seedlings, using floating row covers, etc. OPEN TO EVERYONE - new and experienced vegetable gardeners. Contact Anne at 613-359-6000 or

Brockville Community Clean-Up

City of Brockville
WHEN: Saturday, April 21, 9:00 am - noon
WHERE: City-wide

The Brockville Community Wide Clean-up organizing committee is comprised of volunteer community members and students. Each year, the committee coordinates with City of Brockville staff and with financial support from environmentally conscious businesses, in an effort make our city clean. But the greatest effort comes directly from local volunteers and neighbours, who pitch-in armed with rakes and garbage bags. Each year this event draws a few hundred volunteers, removing tonnes of garbage and recyclable rubbish from our parks and green spaces. Can you help out? More info and registration:

Perth Tiny House & Green Home Festival

Algonquin College and The 2 Marys Events
WHEN: Saturday, April 21, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
WHERE: Algonquin College - Perth Campus, 7 Craig Street, Perth

The Perth Tiny House & Green Home Festival features affordable, sometimes quirky, energy efficient and sustainable housing. It aims to inspire and explore options to reduce the ecological footprint in constructing and furnishing homes, providing an important opportunity to promote products and services to an appreciative and informed audience. On-site, there will be six or so tiny houses for public viewing; speakers addressing Green Living and New Technologies topics; exhibitors promoting their related services and products; and background music, food and kids' activities for a relaxed atmosphere.

Ticket Price: $17 in advance (includes ticket fee & taxes) - $20 at the gate - Children under 16 are free - Free entry to Algonquin students and staff with ID card. More info:

Gardening Workshop (3 of 3): Keeping the Garden Going

Community of Gardens Project
WHEN: Thursday, April 26, 6:30 pm
WHERE: Country Roads Community Health Centre, 4319 Cove Road, Portland

Organic pest control, watering, weeding and mulching, harvesting the early crops, and succession planting for a fall crop. OPEN TO EVERYONE - new and experienced vegetable gardeners. Contact Anne at 613-359-6000 or

Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summit

EOATS Committee - City of Brockville, lead partner
WHEN: Thursday, May 10 - Friday, May 11
WHERE: Memorial Centre, Megadoma Drive, Brockville

Are you interested in living in a healthy active community? One that is safe for walking and cycling? Learning how towns are transforming themselves into a more livable place? Are you an engaged citizen interested in living in a town like this? Learn about these simple concepts that make towns healthier, more vibrant and stronger economically. Perhaps you're a downtown business person, discover the economic potential of pedestrian and cycle friendly communities? Or a town planner or staff person, learn best practice techniques of others building healthier towns. Maybe you're a resident that wants to be able to get around your community more easily and safely on foot or on a bike. Join us at the Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summit. More info and registration at

Mother's Day Tree Sale

CRCA and the Friends of Mac Johnson
WHEN: Saturday, May 12, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
WHERE: Mac Johnson Wildlife Area, Centennial Road entrance, Brockville

One of the highlights of spring at the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area! All trees and shrubs are native stock grown at the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area nursery.

Plant Sale

Brockville & District Horticultural Society
WHEN: Saturday, May 19, 8:30 am
WHERE: Brockville Senior Citizens Club, 15 Elm Avenue, Brockville

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