Despite being the shortest month in the year, February has been a full 28 days of exciting events. We’ve entered into the year of the tiger (according to the Chinese lunar calendar), the Olympics came to Vancouver, and a whole bunch of stuff happened both personally and professionally (see below for a recap and review). If I could summarize February in one word, it would be “excitement”.
1. Seedy Saturday (on a Sunday)
One of the most memorable events happened on February 21st, which was Seedy Saturday (on a Sunday) hosted by the Toronto Community Gardening Network at the Wychwood barns. This was an opportunity to meet hundreds of people interested and involved in the local gardening scene and a fantastic opportunity to help spread the word of Young Urban Farmers and tell people about who we are and what we do. I’ll know for next time to bring more flyers, handouts, and other marketing materials as I was just so overwhelmed by the response that we ran out of things to give out about halfway through the show. One thing that worked out quite well was a promotional raffle draw for a free 20″ shiitake mushroom log. This was a great way to draw people into our display, sign up for the chance to win a free prize, and start talking to people about our urban gardening initiatives. Overall, the day was exhausting, with people arriving much earlier than the advertised start time, and the flow of people not letting up until right towards the end of the day.
What I learned from this event was that it’s better to bring more marketing materials than you think you’ll need, to continue to use promotional raffle prizes or other fun things to draw people into your event, and to get a good night’s rest before the event. We’ve got another similar event coming up next week (Seedy Saturday Scarborough) though this event is supposed to be much smaller than the main Toronto one.
2. More media coverage for Young Urban Farmers
This month, I had the chance to talk to a couple different journalists who represent local, community-oriented newspapers. We got featured in the Riverdale Town Crier (http://www.mytowncrier.ca/urban-farmers-look-to-grow-in-the-city.html), and may be featured in some more upcoming local articles in the future.
What I learned from this experience is that when talking to the media, I really need to know what my talking points are and stick to them. Speak in simple terms and if I do get sidetracked on another topic, to make sure that the reported understands how it relates to our overall mission and bring it back to the key talking points. I think I need some more training and practice in dealing with the media.
3. Chinese New Year
I spent most of Chinese New Year with my family and it was great to relax and take in some of the Olympic events on TV. As a side note, we also reconnected with some relatives we’ve been out of touch with for years and years. Up until a couple months ago, I had no idea I had more cousins and relatives living here in Toronto.
While my family isn’t very traditional in terms of following the customs and events to celebrate the new year, I like how this is a time to connect/reconnect with family and relatives, and hope to continue this in the future.
4. YUF manager training
At the beginning of the month, we had a traning session for our new managers. Overall it went quite well and one of the things that I think worked the best was the interactive “voice training exercise” we did. It turned out to be a fun event and good break from the lecture-style presentations we had for the majority of the training.
This was the first official training session that we held and I’m sure that as we continue to plan and hold more sessions in the future, I’ll become a more effective facilitator and communicator. After all, practice makes perfect.
5. Sales and marketing has started for our 2010 season
Our sales and marketing efforts have started for the 2010 growing season. It’s time to hit the streets and start
booking jobs for us to have a busy, fun, and productive summer.
If you know anyone who is looking to have an edible garden setup this summer, please let me know!
6. TYFPC events
At the beginning of the month, I attended my first meeting for the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council. It was a great chance to meet other people passionate about local food in the city of Toronto and start to contribute my ideas on where local food can continue to grow/change/improve. There’s a great group of people here with a variety of backgrounds I’m happy to have joined the council get involved with a new and fun group of people.
We had a fun social event at the end of the month for a bring-your-own-toppings pizza party complete with homemade dough and sauce. It was awesome pizza and it seemed like there was just pizza after pizza coming out of the oven – there was so much food! One of the secrtes I learned about making good pizza sauce – slightly caramelize your onions, add in a touch of sugar, then start to mellow out the flavours with your wine, tomatoes, and herbs.
7. More reading
This month, I finally took some time to update my Goodreads account (http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/830164 if you want to be my friend) and also my Facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=app_2373072738&gid=60294210107) with some of the exciting and interesting books I’ve read and/or skimmed through recently. My favourite book so far this year is definitey “Drive”, by Daniel Pink. It talks about how our current carrot and stick system of motivating people just doesn’t cut it anymore and how we need to create a new model (validated by science and real world examples) of motivation.
Reading is one of my favourite past-times and something I wish I spend more time doing. You can learn so much through the writings of other people, I really think it’s a great investment in terms of time spend vs. concepts learned.
8. Mastermind meeting
Towards the end of the month, I got together with JP and a couple other people for one of our “mastermind” meetings. These are informal meetings that we’ve held sporadically in the past as a way to get Toronto entrepreneurs together to discuss challenges, opportunities and other things related to the field of entrepreneurship. It’s still a very loose coalition of people, but maybe with a bit of time, we’ll be able to turn it into a more regular event and have more people involved in our meetings.
9. Hot Yoga
Also at the end of this month, I had a chance to attend a hot moksha yoga session. While I thought I’d gone through some hot climates and done my fair share of sweating, it didn’t really compare to what it was like inside that room. I’d like to think that I was able to hold my own (there were some really fit and intense people in my class!) and get through that 90 minute session.
I think I’d definitely like to try it again though for now, I’m happy to continue with swimming, biking, and playing frisbee.
One of the things that has struck me more than usual this month is a feeling of gratitude. I feel so blessed and
privileged to have so many opportunities to do what I do and have such a supportive and encouraging group of friends and family. Really, I wouldn’t be able to do this without all of your encouragement and support. Too often, I think we go through life on auto-pilot that and don’t stop to really think about how fortunate we are and how many opportunities are available to us. Even simple things like freedom of speech, living in a democratic and multicultural society, and having access to clean water are things that we barely give a second thought to. I’ve found that as I’ve taken more time to reflect and be grateful, many of the things we work ourselves up over pale in comparison to the many opportunities we do have. So thank you to everyone who has helped to shape my life into what it is today. I could write for a little while on this, but I’ll leave it here for now.
For March, I’m looking forward to doing more outdoor physical activities, continue learning, trying new things, and participating/attending in a whole variety of events (Canada Blooms, National Home/Garden Show, Seedy Saturday Scarborough, and more). I think March will be the month of networking, though we’ll see how the next 31 days actually shape up.