4 posts tagged with “food”

  • Get growing: Find a community garden in Niagara

    My column, Eating Niagara, runs every second Wednesday in the St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review and Welland Tribune.

    Call me a keener, but soon after the calendar changed to Jan. 1, I bought myself some squash seeds to grow in my garden this summer.

    I got a seed catalogue in the mail the week before, so I figured I had the all-clear to start planning what I’d like to do months from now with my tiny patch of earth.

    I won’t be planting those butternut or bush delicata seeds in my backyard, though. That’s the domain of a big, old silver maple casting shade over my postage stamp lot. It’s heavenly if you’re a human sitting outside on a hot July day, but not so much if you’re a tomato plant clamouring to catch some sun rays.

    Those squash, along with a handful of tomatoes, perhaps a melon, and most definitely some kale will take root in my own 10×20-foot plot behind Grantham Mennonite Church in St. Catharines instead. My tiny tract is part of a sunny swath behind the church that’s used as a community garden run by Links for Greener Learning.

    This will be my third summer as a community gardener with Links for Greener Learning, an non-profit dedicated to providing newcomers to Canada with experiential learning opportunities. Links is one of a handful of local groups running community gardens in the region. It’s currently taking applications from green thumbs who need a place to plant this year.

    Selfishly, Links fulfils my need to feel like a master gardener with every vegetable I successfully harvest. (I hoist each haul skyward like baby Simba from the Lion King and celebrate by snapping a pic.) But that community garden has given me more than fodder for Instagram and fishing hole-type stories about giant tomatoes I’ve grown.

    It’s given me one of my favourite ways to while away a lunch hour, take a break from writing or spend an evening outdoors. I get to be in the company of ambitious amateur horticulturalists who have a whole world of experience growing eggplant, tomatoes, sesame seeds, corn, herbs and leafy greens.

    It was the highlight of my summer last year to pull weeds around my peppers while my gardening neighbour from China tended to her sesame plants, the family from West Africa tied their prolific tomatoes, and a couple from the Middle East raked between fertile rows of inky black eggplant.

    We broke ground together in our fertile mosaic, and broke bread together at potlucks and other events Links held to celebrate the growing season.

    Read the rest of the story and find a community garden in Niagara.

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    Category Food Security, In the Garden

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  • Peach Tree
  • One, two, eat tofu (cheeseburgers)

    Barbecued tofu burger with cheddar and arugula.

    When I was in Grade 4, I made up a skipping rhyme about tofu for a creative writing assignment.

    Growing up in what was then a very German Kitchener, no one in my class knew what tofu was. I had the unfortunate experience of trying the stuff when my mom brought some home from a night course she was taking at OISE for her master’s degree. Her professor was a hippie who treated his students to a vegan meal at the end of the term. My mom got the leftovers. 

    Among them was tofu and seaweed stew, which made my nose wrinkle. I had never heard of tofu and seaweed conjured images of the slimy stuff that harboured all kinds of mysterious underwater life in the lake at our cottage. Continue reading

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    Category Reviews

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  • Peach Tree
  • Six made-in-Niagara summer essentials

    Sweet Potato Johnny's sweet potato and black bean burger topped with Niagara Aquaponics sprouts.

    If this summer goes by any faster, I may get whiplash.

    I always find the August long weekend, just days away, mildly depressing because it means the unofficial end of my favourite season is nigh. Only a few weeks until Labour Day and from there, it just snowballs into you-know-what. Not to sound like a Debbie Downer but I adore summer and the thought of it ending always makes me a little melancholy. I think it’s residual dread from my younger days and that looming return to school. It’s only been 12 years since I finished university and yet that feeling hangs on, like a stubborn cough after a cold. Totally annoying and unpleasant.

    OK, now to conjure the return of the Glass-is-half-full Me. There are still several weeks we usher fall’s arrival. So, focusing on that, I bring you a handful of made-in-Niagara summer essentials that have been making the best time of year even better for me. They’ve become regular features on my plate or in my daily routine and I share them with the thought that if I like them, there’s a good chance you will, too.

    So without further blathering, here goes:
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    Category Food Finds

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  • Peach Tree
  • Writing the book on Niagara

    I got this fortune with my lunch shortly before an email arrived with an opportunity I couldn’t resist. Fingers crossed it’s true. Otherwise, I’ll have to try my luck at those lottery numbers.

    Eggshells would have been doomed a few weeks ago if I had to walk on them.

    My feet were heavy, weighted down by leaden thoughts that kept me preoccupied every step I took.

    That week, about the middle of July, was one of those stretches of time I wished had just passed already, even when it had barely taken its first few breaths.

    A puzzling fallout with someone I had long thought the world of. Job cuts at work. The loss of a cornerstone to my freelance work. Seeing talented people lose their jobs. The resulting tension at the office and elsewhere. The anxiety created by the uncertainty ahead.

    And of course Mother Nature just added to this pile-on with an overbearing heat that felt like I was the lead singer of an opening act at a summer concert and some hooligan whipped a can of Bud at my chest. It could leave a person winded during those first breaths outside of the climate-controlled comfort of the great indoors.

    The universe felt off-kilter.
    Continue reading

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