Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Hi all !
It's a busy and successful season out there for Mac Students who are learning how to run an organic vegetable production ! This is why this blog has not been so active lately !
Instead, please visit our website since it is updated more regularly !

We are serving two markets this summer :
- a farm stand at the Macdonald Campus on Tuesdays rom 11am to 3pm
- the St Anne de Bellevue Market on Saturdays from 9am to 2pm -
We have also been selling over 20 weekly vegetable baskets to the Macdonald community!
 From August 30th until October 25th we will also be selling our veggies at the McGill Farmer's Market, on McTavish Street from nooon until 5pm

Also, a big thank you to Les Jardins Carya  who help us so much with their knowledge, resources and moral support ! It's a pleasure to farm next to them and  Ferme du Zephyr and Santropol Roulant ! What an amazing organic community ! We now have a blog with stories of the 4 farms combined : check it out -->

We have had many volunteers come on Saturdays and during the week ! Elementary school children and teenagers have visited our fields as well ! If you would like to come and help out, learn, visit contact us at

To a fruitful future !

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Catalyst Award for Lessons Learned in Sustainability

The Macdonald Student-run Ecological Gardens (MSEG) won the Catalyst Award for Lessons Learned in Sustainability ! Read about it here. The MSEG project is, indeed, full of lessons to learn ! We would like to take this occasion to thank the Office of Sustainability and Lilith Wyatt in particular, as well as Caroline Begg for their amazing support.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


I saw a cool documentary a few weeks ago called "Forks Over Knives": (you can find it streaming online for free, but I think it's illegal so I won't post a link here)

Also, this summer I read a book called "The Thrive Diet" - it's by a triathlete who decided at a young age that he wanted to be an athlete who excelled on a totally plant-based diet. He started experimenting on himself with what works best, and his books/diet recommendations reflect his own personal experience. Despite it's 'slick'ness, I really liked the message and the information.

And, when I was a kid, I inexplicably was always convinced that lemons were the cure to cancer.

Where does this all lead? The basic linkage I'm making is in the message that our bodies function best when slightly alkaline. The ideal range is between 7.35-7.45 according to this website: Check it out because it has a full list of different foods that fall to one side or the other, and it's pretty comprehensive.

The pH scale goes from 1 to 14, with 7.0 being absolutely neutral, anything lower being acidic, and anything above being alkaline. So, for example, vinegar is around 3, while your average soap is around pH 9.

Though the foods we eat will test at a certain pH before we eat them, once they're in our bodies the way that we digest them can change the total pH effect they have- so when talking about eating we describe alkaline-forming or acid-forming foods, not just 'acid food' or 'alkaline food'.

Anyway! I thought I'd share this because it really, really corresponds to my own life experience with food. And, we're the best guinea pigs! I'm learning how to feed myself and listen to my body. Over the past few months I've really seen how eating fruits and veggies for most of the day has SUCH a different mood, energy level, etc, than if I eat mainly chocolate, bread, or other treats/convenient food items that cause my body nutritional stress.

Nutritional stress? I heard about this from that thrive diet guy - some foods are easier to digest, and some are harder. The harder, longer and more energy it takes for our body to digest something, the more nutritional stress our body undergoes.

Why is this important? Because we already have a lot of other stressors in our lives... anything you stress about causes a stress reaction in your body - (by the way, chemicals released during our natural stress reaction make our bodies more acidic) - which is added on top of the nutritional stress caused when we don't take care of what we're feeding ourselves. If you don't think you have a lot of psychological stress in your daily life - why add nutritional stress?

I'm sure we all sometimes feel tired or irritable during the day, often we don't really know why or we think "ah, bad sleep last night" or "ah, stressed out about work/school/home.." in reality, a lot of this is connected to what we are or aren't eating.

Test it out! Try for a day, or a week, really planning your diet around things that are easily digestible, which are mainly alkaline-forming. See what happens!

Cheers :)

Monday, August 08, 2011

Good neighbours

I have been thinking a lot recently about how lucky we are to be working next to two established organic farms as we progress in this project. Not only for obvious reasons, like the privilege of working on certified organic land (even if we ourselves are not certified) and gaining access to machinery that we otherwise would not have, both farms being nice enough to till our fields and retill once weeds took over some beds.  Side note, last year we spent a good day turning over our soil with shovels and manpower in only two beds before asking to use the Hort Center’s tractor. What I am thinking about is the access to knowledge and support on a level that we probably wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere. Getting advice, for example about how to make beets grow (stomp on them, they love good contact with the soil) and how to keep lettuce fresh on sweltering market days is certainly a plus. It’s great to share in the glory of the first summer squash, the first red tomato. I get the feeling that people are into this project and are happy to see us doing well. It’s interesting to think that in other types of work these farms would be our “opposition”. We sell our vegetables right across form Ferme Carya at the Ste Anne farmers’ market. Chances are if someone buys our carrots they won’t be going to Carya, and vice-versa. Where you would expect competitiveness there is instead a strong sense of community. It makes me think that even though technically we all need money to keep our businesses and projects afloat we are in this more for the movement toward more healthy land, food and people, first and foremost. 

Sunday, August 07, 2011


I went on a Wikitrail

/Wikitrail/: n. A haphazard path traced through the internet from subject to subject, with no particular aim in mind, mainly orchestrated by the phrases in a Wikipedia article which lead to other pages, and by the Google search engine

this morning, and I found out about a few things and people - best shared by sharing the links that lead me there:

Fukuoka Farming, "Natural Farming" or "Do-Nothing Farming":

The Soil and Health Library: This is an ONLINE library!!! You can get digital copies of books that are in the public domain, or out of print. I really hope you click this link and just see the kinds of books they're carrying.

Lady Eve Balfour & her Haughley Experiment:

The book "The Value of Voluntary Simplicity" by Richard B Gregg. (you can access it through the soil and health library for free, or buy a lifetime membership, which I did today :P)

Looks like I've got to go catch my ride (visiting some farms in Arundel today), even though my zucchini bread is still in the oven and has the dampest center I've ever seen! (I added too much zucchini, so it has too much water) What happens when you leave a half-baked bread in the oven and finish cooking it later? ..... I guess I'll find out this afternoon!


Friday, August 05, 2011


Such a nice week, so much sunshine. And Thursday morning was the perfect weather to harvest - clouds keeping us from burning up, air not too cool. Keeps the vegetables from getting soft while we clean them since our wash station has no roof.

Found out how to make a donate button using a secure payment carrier! Now on our website we can receive donations through Paypal. We also have a call out for ongoing donations of rubber bands, wicker baskets, and reusable grocery bags.

Also, found out about a family that's in the business of individual composting toilets - if you check out the Humanure Handbook (there's a link to it in the right side of our blog) you can see what they're all about.

Since the first time I ever used a composting toilet inside a building (not an outhouse, the Ecolodge in Moose Factory in northern Ontario: Cree Village Ecolodge) I've been imagining ways to retrofit all our buildings to allow for composting toilets. The experience of learning about composting toilet systems, combined with my first visit to a large scale water treatment plant in a typical city a few years ago, has made me yearn to live somewhere long enough or conscious enough to have composting toilets, or greywater systems, and stop using anywhere from 8-20 litres of FRESH water when nature calls.

An intermediate option is to modify existing toilets to have the 2-flush setting, which I bet you've seen at least once before. I was cruising the web and found a provider of a DIY (do-it-yourself) toilet adaptation to make your toilet have adjustable flushes. Great! See The Twoflush website. There are probably a lot of other ones out there. I've never known someone who changes a typical toilet so I don't know if it's 100% successful. If you try it out or have an idea of whether these modifications work, please comment!

When reading about the adjustable flush systems it seemed there were a lot of comments about how these systems are more common abroad than in North America. What exactly is it about our lifestyle, our social environment, the way we're taught and live, that we keep building and installing the less sustainable options?

Bye for now!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Midsummer update...whew!

If there is one thing I have learned this summer it is that time flies when you are farming. We had said we would be doing weekly blog updates but so far things are happening so quickly that putting it all into writing seems impossible. I will try. Here goes!

The main field has absolutely exploded with plant life. Our first summer squashes are appearing and all of our lettuces are either big and juicy or have bolted (made a crazy-looking upward spiralling mass in the heat, kind of a stress response "ah I'm boiling alive must make seeds!"). The peas came for two sweet weeks and are now yellowing, with the beans in full flower ready to be picked in the next week. I'm a little nervous about the upcoming cucumber explosion, there are thousands of beautiful yellow flowers that will soon be producing fruits as fast as we can pick them. We were a little late pruning and trellising the tomatoes, so those had to be cut to 1/3 their original size and strung up, a job that took a couple of us pretty much all week. But now instead of lying pathetically on the ground they are swaying in the July breeze. Everything looks great!

We have started selling at the Ste Anne's Market, which has been wonderful. We get up at 5 am, harvest and clean everything and make it to the market by 8:30 am (ideally, and usually). This experience may sound hellish to any non-morning person but most of us actually like it a lot. I myself am definitely anti-waking-up-early but at 5 it doesn't feel like an early morning, it feels like some other-worldy adventure. Being out in the deserted streets, getting to the field in the first light of the day, is actually quite pleasant. It's also really great talking to the other farmers at the market, commiserating over deer predation of lettuce and, of course, this crazy heat wave. This market helps to link us to the community and we already have people asking us about our produce, like our awesome candycane beets, and everyone seems to be into trading recipes and gardening advice. Definitely one of the perks of this project.

On a more personal note, we are all learning a lot about how to do this kind of work. When you are working with your friends and live close to the field it's hard to separate work time from down time. Maybe backyard barbeques aren't the most socially acceptable place to fret about how to suppress weeds, and maybe if you have already worked seven hours in the heat it isn't wise to keep going even if you physically can.

Farming is this infinite challenge in that there will never be a time when there is nothing left to do. You can be leaving the field and spot a patch of nefarious-looking weeds and spend the next two hours trying to get rid of them. You can always improve, always do something else, but sometimes it's a good idea to just take a break and take care of yourself. We're learning, but it's hard to just say enough is enough when you are passionate about what you are doing.

Okay enough about us, happy July and thanks for reading!