Thursday, November 4, 2010

RealiTEA Update

The garden is nearly put to bed, with a great first season despite the setbacks and challenges we encountered along the way (late planting, loss of some seedlings due to missed watering, a tree falling on half the garden...)

We produced a cool couple wheelbarrows worth of daikon radish, and a decent quantity of tea is now drying in the almost-completed tea racks in the Hive Cafe (shout outs to Jessica for the design and the fall FSG interns for the construction!)

We had many enjoyable and well attended workshops through the summer and have gotten the campus thinking about what's possible other than... grass. 

Lennard made this short film about the project in September for the Sustainable Food Festival - enjoy!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's Big

Leah Chandler, Fall FSG Intern, loads the daikon harvest into a wheelbarrow for transport while other interns look on. Photo: John Kenney for the Gazette

We made the papers last week, part of a feature article in the Montreal Gazette exploring food security movements on Montreal campuses (McGill, University of Montreal, UQAM, and us).


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Upcoming Events - Part of ASFA/CSU Green Week @ Concordia

Finished Product - Yum!

Come learn how to harvest and preserve daikon radish, a companion crop planted in the RealiTEA garden out at our lovely Loyola campus.

We'll meet at 3pm at the RealiTEA garden behind Hingston Hall (walk to the back of the campus, near the smaller soccer field behind the Science Complex, and you'll find the Solar House and the Garden). We'll harvest our daikon radish and then head over to the Hive Cafe to undertake the preparation and pickling of the radishes!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Add some poison, makes it last longer / pour thicker / taste good

It's the night before the Food Festival, and me and Morgan Pudwell, the VP Sustainability for the CSU, have just finished putting together our additives series. We've covered a decent amount of ground:

  • Carageenan
  • Aspartame
  • MSG
  • Soya Lecithin
  • Maltodextrin
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Artificial Flavour
  • Natural Flavour
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
I've learned a lot doing this - because distilling the information down to the basics has required a fairamount of sifting, reading, filtering... There's a lot out there. On top of the wikipedia entries, the health food sites, the doctors' sites, the academic papers and the blogs, there's the industry groups and companies manufacturing the stuff.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What is Hunger?

I got a link to this new campaign, One Billion Hungry. Their goal is to get a billion people to sign a petition against hunger, to "put pressure on politicians to end hunger." I wish it said "put pressure on politicians to radically change the organizing principles of society" or "put pressure on politicians to redistribute my wealth and place limits on what I am allowed to access by recognizing the inequity the so-called free market perpetuates."  Just something a bit more nuanced, a bit more realistic, then "make the people in charge stop the problem and eliminate me from the equation."

Reading through the site, I am struck by their argument on why hunger exists.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's a Sad State of Affairs...

...when you have to divide up your shopping list into foods more or less likely to kill you. But that's essentially the jist of the 'Dirty Dozen' list proposed by the Environmental Working Group, a San Francisco based chemical watchdog organization, which is carefully documenting and raising awareness about toxins in our food, air, water, and environment. They advise buying the following organic as often as possible, because the selected fruits and vegetables tend to take on a heavier pesticide load, through increased exposure and retention.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

RealiTea sprouts into life!
Ground view of the RealiTEA garden and the Solar House
The RealiTea Garden Project was conceived to better understand the journey from production to consumption within our food system. What better to link us to our food system then the production and consumption of organic, locally-sourced, and sustainably produced herbal and medicinal teas, such as Mint, Lemon Balm and Camomile?

Water IS a human right!

As this new fall semester kicks off so too does one of the biggest sustainability campaigns to ever hit Concordia University. The battle against bottled water has come to a head this year - Concordia's exclusivity contract with Pepsico is due to expire in December 2010 and the support for a bottled water campus and a better (more environmentally and socially responsible) beverage contract has come pouring in from students, student associations, faculty members, staff and Concordia's own Environmental Advisory Committee.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Watching the Food Movement Grow

Robyn Rees, one of our amazing interns here at the Concordia Food Systems Project, has spent much of her time over the past few months plowing through the world wide web in search of films, resources, stories, youtube clips, news shows, tv shows, maps, and more for evidence of the growing food movement we all know is out there. Over the past few days she has sent me a couple of really amazing trailers for incredible films that have just recently been released or are being edited as we speak. Watching them has literally brought tears to my eyes and strengthened my conviction that what we are attempting to do here at Concordia is so vital, so important, and so much bigger than we know, and I am so thankful to her for that. And so, without further ado, embedded for your viewing pleasure, are a few of the choice cuts (and I know y'all love all them food puns I'm using :)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Launch Photos

Many thanks to Graham Bradley, who photographed the launch on June 16th. 

Our Presentation Document

Monday, July 5, 2010

creating a space for dissent

Today is filled with promise. The sun is shining, the wind is gently ruffling the leaves of the squash and tomato plants that are growing steadily on my rooftop and I'm polishing off the letter that will be sent to Concordia President Judith Woodsworth tomorrow, with over 30 faculty signatures of support, as part of the Better Beverage Contract and Bottled Water Free Concordia campaign. It seems as though everything is quietly and patiently on its way.

There is time for patience and there is time for action. There is a time for reflection, to consider how to achieve a balance between the two.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

To be productive, to change, to accept and to grow

What would a productive downtown campus look like? This is a question I have begun asking myself, as I become more fluent in the concepts and theories of permaculture.

It's interesting how the meaning of productive has been changing and deepening, at least in my lexicon, over these past few months. It has broadened to encompass the landscape I find myself in, the relationships I'm part of. At the same time, I'm working to lose the original meaning, or at least the one I got ingrained with, the one that burdens, that eliminates humanity, that narrows existence down to simple questions of quantity regardless of quality, dare I say it, the capitalist's definition. It's what resonated with me on the last page of Rowan Jacobsen's Fruitless Fall (discussed in my post last Wednesday).

"The sun's disk touches the western hills. Shadows reach toward infinity across my meadow. I let it go wild this year. In the past I brush-hogged it every summer, but now that i know how many bumble bees make their homes in the tussocks of thick grass, I couldn't bear to do it. If there's one thing I've learned by paying attention to bees for a while, it's that we need to get rid of this false dichotomy between productive land and unproductive land. There's no such thing as unproductive natural land. There's only a failure of human insight to recognize the ways it contributes, a failure of human imagination to recognize what we need."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Let us create something that we understand

Today is the day after the launch of our project. Seeing a large group of people celebrating the achievements to date and looking with us into the future felt rewarding and motivated me to continue on the path that I chose.

A few weeks back I flushed out a little concept for this post. I was going through some intense reflections about myself,what I acquired with my degree and my purpose after graduation, about value systems and how they can encourage us to engage in certain ways but also prevent us from seeing opportunities around us.

One thing every student realizes once getting involved in extra-curricular work is how big the divide between the reality that surrounds us and the ideal reality actually is. I studied Geography and Political Science and was amazed by how far academics have come and how little is actually applied in practice. Obviously there are so many factors (economic, social, etc) influencing this slow development, but here I would like to focus on the path itself rather than the problems along in. I would like to explore that space between now and a utopian reality that we are going for. This space in my eyes is creation, in the sense of making or invention. Before introducing my view on creation however I would like to give a little background in some systems theory that frames my thoughts.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Launch, Logo, Dreams, Fears...

It's Wednesday morning, at 8am. I've been awake for an hour. We have our launch today, this afternoon in the Rooftop Greenhouse. I'm excited and, of course, nervous. Will it be enough? I've had many people send their regrets, people I hoped would be there - the Provost, the President, some professors. There wasn't a lot of notice for the invitation, so I understand. Still, I'm sad. These individuals have a great power to wield change for the better within our community. Opportunities to connect with them and share our work seem too rare. Especially given the magnitude of this crisis... more on that in a second.

Monday, May 31, 2010


Welcome to the provisional website for the Concordia Food System Project. Please take a moment to look around and send us any comments, questions or ideas. We look forward to hearing from you!