Now that we can be reasonably hopeful of weather seasonal enough to allow things to grow, I have begun to obsess about my garden and all those green leaves I will throw into salads directly out of my back yard. Having a garden is a commitment, but it is also a great pleasure, and there is nothing more rewarding than eating food grown ten steps away from your own kitchen. Not every garden need be a waiting game for harvest either, my personal strategy is to plant a multitude of greens and herbs, which provided me with a continuous yield of goodies for the entire growing season.
If you have the space, and really want a garden, but are feeling a little daunted by the task, you might be interested in the Calgary duo known as Leaf & Lyre. These charming farm boys will use your prime garden space for SPIN (Small Plot INtensive) Gardening. In exchange for your land, and a beautiful yard full of food, Leaf & Lyre’s charge is 50% of the veggies they produce; that sounds like a good deal to me. Want more info? Check out this profile on the duo in FFWD.
If you are craving the daily dirt and delight of your own backyard plot, the Calgary Garden Coach is a nice little site that will help you get off on the right track. One of the staples of any garden is the compost pile, to figure out how to make one work head over to Composting Council of Canada for some tips and tutorials.
The beautiful thing about gardens is that they are lovely little ecosystems; with the proper use of composting, companion planting, and water management you can create a really amazing little world of your own, that goes far beyond the cosmetics of landscaping, and actually has the potential to improve the environment around you. If that sounds like your kind of heaven, Big Sky Permaculture offers a great array of courses on the subject, and while you are at it, why not give back to your local ecosystem, providing a home for some friendly pollinators through A.B.C. Apiaries and Bees for Communities.
If you dream of a garden but don’t have any space where you live, the Government of Alberta enthusiastically promotes involvement in Community Gardens, check out the Calgary Horticultural Society’s Community Gardens Resource Network.
When harvest time comes and you are wildly over-productive, or simply have a fruit tree you cannot keep up with, the Urban Harvest Project will lend a helping-hand picking, and putting your unused produce to good use.
If gardening is not your thing, but eating sustainably is, head over to Slow Food Calgary’s Local Food Directory, or the Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association. If you would like to dine out, you might be interested in a new business initiative called L.E.A.F. (Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice). The Calgary-based business has developed a certification for sustainability in the food service industry, taking into account such things as waste and water management and support of local farmers and producers.
Happy growing and eating!
By Jennifer C.