Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Morning Garden Stroll

Here is a little glimpse of what is going on in the garden right now. 
I've been planting for six weeks or more now and will continue. And continue.
Crops come out, crops go in.

There is really nothing I like better than wandering around my garden to see what has changed overnight. This is doubly so after a night of rain, because things really change then. Things double in size, weeds sprout and it is just different. 

My dad always told me that things grow more overnight than during the day. I think it's true.

Am I admiring my hard work? Yes, I really am and I am feeling a sense of accomplishment. 
What the garden gives you is so very real. You plant a seed and it grows. 
Simple and so very good for the soul.

Pinwheel marigold

Red Marietta marigold

House tomato

Creeping Jenny (which grows wild by the river!)


Costata Romanesca zucchini

Stupice tomatoes

Kalibos cabbage

Green Sausage tomato

more potatoes


test garden petunia


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

[cban e-News] GM Food Safety Study Reignites Call to Overhaul Canada’s Regulations

The long-term safety study on a GM corn, from the French team of scientists led by Giles-Éric Séralini, has been republished. Please see below today’s press release from CBAN. Health Canada approved this particular GM corn from Monsanto, NK603, in 2001. CBAN will post more background and analysis in the coming days, please check for updates at:

Please distribute widely.

Press Release - Canadian Biotechnology Action Network

GM Food Safety Study Reignites Call to Overhaul Canada’s Regulations

June 24, 2014. Ottawa. The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) is calling on Health Canada to place a moratorium on approving new genetically modified (GM) foods, to re-evaluate the safety of GM foods already on the market, and to initiate a complete overhaul of the regulatory system.

The call comes in response to the republication of a long-term study of a GM corn that exposes a lack of scientific rigour in Canada’s regulatory system.

“Many Canadians may be surprised to find out that Health Canada doesn’t require any long-term safety tests on GM foods and that this study is the first of its kind,” said CBAN’s Lucy Sharratt.

“The results of this study are a real concern, especially in Canada where we’ve been eating this GM corn since 2001.”

The long-term safety test on GM corn was conducted by a team of scientists in France, led by Caen University molecular biologist Giles-Éric Séralini. It was first published in September 2012 in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, which then retracted the paper in November 2013. The paper is published today in Environmental Sciences Europe. The research team has now also released their raw data.

“We clearly need more independent and critical review of safety claims made by industry. There is too little independent science examining questions of GM food safety,” said Sharratt.

The GM corn, called NK603, is “Roundup Ready” which means it is genetically modified to be tolerant to Monsanto’s pesticide formulation called Roundup, the most widely used pesticide in the world.

Monsanto published a 90-day feeding trial of the GM corn in 2004, three years after Health Canada’s 2001 approval. The French team conducted their feeding trial over the full two-year lifespan of rats. The rats were fed three different diets: the GM corn alone, the GM corn grown with Roundup (with Roundup residues), and Roundup alone.

The study reported adverse effects including organ damage, tumor growth, and increased mortality in rats fed both GM corn with and without Roundup, and in rats fed low levels of Roundup.

“Canadians need to know about this study before they buy their sweet corn this summer,” said Thibault Rehn of the Quebec coalition Vigilance OGM, “Without long-term studies like this one, we don’t know enough about the safety of GM corn. Its important to remember that there’s no mandatory labelling of GM foods for consumers.”

CBAN tests of sweet corn samples in October of last year found GM sweet corn in grocery stores, road-side stands and farmers markets across Canada.

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For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, cell: 613 809 1103, office 613 241 2267 ext 25; Thibault Rehn, Vigilance OGM, cell: 514-582-1674.

The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) is a campaign coalition of 17 organizations that researches, monitors and raises awareness about issues relating to genetic engineering in food and farming. CBAN members include farmer associations, environmental and social justice organizations, and regional coalitions of grassroots groups.
Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)
Collaborative Campaigning for Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice
Suite 206, 180 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2P 1P5
Phone: 613 241 2267 ext. 25
Fax: 613 241 2506

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ramblings of a (tired) Hippie Farmer

After a month long absence from this spot, I'm back.

It's been a super busy time here on my small farm as I till the soil, plant the gardens and sell my seedlings.
I can't even begin to tell you all the places my head goes when I am out working in the garden all day.
Stuff happens, I examine it from every possible direction, mull it over and reach conclusions.
I imagine when I write here over the next while my random thoughts will pop up from time to time, but first the garden.
Does it surprise anyone in Niagara when I advise you it has been a super late spring? My sale weekend was chilly, with hail and frost to add to the fun. It was all really okay though. People were not deterred and came out in droves to get some pretty cool plants.

Can I tell you a secret? It overwhelms me at times. I got rather weepy on the Saturday night as I thought about everybody that came from near and far, many people returning year after year to get my plants. My favourite comment always is "see you next year!" I hope I do. Look after yourself, stay healthy, eat your veggies and I'll see you next year.
Thank you most sincerely for your tremendous support. It is humbling.
People continue to trickle in to get tomato plants. There still are some good ones left, some of them in fact are bearing fruit, bless their little souls.
My clay was pretty unworkable for the month of May. You can't hurry clay (no, you just have to wait!), but when I got into the gardens in June, it was turning up really nicely. Minus my tractor which was at the John Deere dealer. My Troybilt Horse tiller has been by far, hands down, the best investment I have made on this farm. Out it came, and although slower than the tractor, we got through the much drier clay.  But it took the wheelbarrow and shovel to get the compost into the garden, hence my well defined arm muscles after weeks of shovelling and pushing.
In my part of Wainfleet it only has been the last week and a half or so that the big farmers have been on their fields. The tractor sounds began at 5:30 in the morning, going till midnight some nights as they scrambled to get their crops in. 

I wasn't working those hours. My days were pretty much 10 hour days begun after walking my dogs for an hour in the morning. Then again I am not sitting on a big tractor, some so big they take up the entire road with their alien looking sprayers. I imagine they guffaw at me, doing the piddly little things I do. But they make me sad, and now as I walk down my country roads I see the fields and everything along the side of the fields turning that horrible brown-orange dead colour, Round Up in action beside the Welland River. To me this is tragic.... big business and destruction. For shame. What are we doing to ourselves. No question mark there...we know if we think about it.
One thing I've been thinking about lately is money. Not the fact that there is too little or too much, but the things we do for money. Spraying the fields is part of that equation. Bigger farms, bigger machines, more money to pay for all the bigger machines and pesticides. And some crap that we really don't need although we are being told repeatedly in this consumer society that we need so very much.
We destroy our planet for money. We destroy ourselves for money. The government can't make decisions that would favour the environment because those decisions would harm the economy. In my region, as across the rest of Canada, action isn't being taken to ban neonicotinoids, known to be responsible for killing bees. "What about the farmers?" says the mayor of my small township. Banning this pesticide she feels would be unfair to the farmers. Well..tell me what the hell will farmers and everyone else do when there are no bees pollinating our food crops? It's a about it HERE
And now my friends, I am off to view the election results as they trickle in. I feel very worried for us all.

Monday, June 2, 2014

CBAN Update-GM Apples,Alfalfa and More News

Welcome to summer! The crops are going in the ground - but not GM alfalfa! GM alfalfa is on hold in Canada this year thanks to your action and, together, we continue to campaign to stop the introduction of the genetically modified apple and salmon, both of which could be approved soon…or not…

The GM apple is in the hot seat! Over 7000 signatures were presented last week to the BC legislature, asking the provincial government to stop the GM apple. In 2012, the BC government promised to review the GM apple issue and BC residents are not letting them forget their promise! You can take action in BC by continuing to collect signatures on the petition, by writing to your MLA, or writing to the head office of your grocery store. Many BC retailers are committing to not sell the GM apple if it is approved. You can see the list of BC stores who have made the pledge here: Is your grocery store not on that list? Write to the head office of your grocery store today!

Outside Canada, Australian organic farmer Steve Marsh has lost his case against his neighbour who was farming GM canola. Marsh lost organic certification for more than half of his farm after GM canola drifted onto his land from his neighbour’s farm. Steve Marsh and his wife claimed damages from their neighbour and a permanent injunction against the neighbour's future swathing of GM canola (Swathing is cutting the crop and placing it in rows directly on the cut stubble to dry).
Here is a legal opinion/summary -
What the Australian press is saying:

An incredible new report has just been published by international group GRAIN called "Hungry for land: small farmers feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland”. Small farmers produce most of the world's food - with less than a quarter of the world's farmland! GRAIN argues that we urgently need to put land back in the hands of small farmers. GRAIN researched and crunched the numbers across the world to find out:
• The vast majority of farms in the world today are small and getting smaller
• Small farms are currently squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world's farmland
• We are fast losing farms and farmers in many places, while big farms are getting bigger
• Small farms continue to be the major food producers in the world
• Small farms are overall more productive than big farms
• Most small farmers are women
You can find the report here:

The second edition of the excellent resource “GMO Myths and Truths, An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops” has been published! You can download it here:

Across the country people are taking to the streets to voice their concerns over GM foods and corporate concentration - once again, thousands of Canadians joined locally-organized “March Against Monsanto” events. Congratulations to everyone who is taking action - in the streets, by making informed choices in your grocery store, keeping up to date with our news, and by participating in CBAN's campaigns.

Happy Summer!

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator 
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) 
Collaborative Campaigning for Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice
Suite 206, 180 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2P 1P5 
Phone: 613 241 2267 ext. 25
Fax: 613 241 2506