August 2010 Review

Another month has passed and that means it’s time for my monthly review. As I come to write this review, sometimes it feels a bit weird to be putting some of though thoughts, activities, and ideas in such a public forum. The way I see it though, the main person I’m really writing for is myself as a sort of diary/journal and because of that, I don’t mind putting in the time it takes to do these updates every month. And while I have no idea how many people actually read this, for people who do want to keep up with what I’m doing, this is the place. So without further ado, here’s a recap on my very eventful month of August.

1. Jimmy’s Taco Party
One of the fun things I did to kick off the beginning of the month was to celebrate Jimmy’s birthday at his taco party. It was a tequilla and taco themed event and both of them did not disappoint. Let’s just say I gained a new appreciation of the taste and smoothness differents between a variety of types of tequilla.

2. Shooting Stars Trip to Lake Simcoe
On August 12th, a bunch of people from my Tuesday frisbee team made the late night trek up to Lake Simcoe to catch the shooting stars of the Perseid Meteor Shower. While we got ushered away from hanging out and watching the stars right by the lake, we did find another suitable location nearby to hang out and watch the meteor shower on full display that evening. While it was a late night and a bit of a drive away from the city, it was definitely worth it for the clear skies that we got. On top of that, we made some cool light pictures with a tripod, super long shutter speed and trusty iphones.

3. Day Trip to Guelph
One of the more random things I did this month was take a trip up to Guelph. A fellow member of the Toronto Food Policy Council invited me to join him and a couple other people for a trip up to Guelph to learn more about some of the OMAFRA funding initiatives. While the program being discussed didn’t really end up being relevant for me, we did get a chance to tour one of the green roofs on campus, meet with researchers who are working extensively on green roof designs, meet with a local professor, and check out some of the space-age experiments (literally!) they were conducting in conjunction with NASA there. There were a couple of chambers setup that are completely sealed off in an attempt to grow food in a completely closed environment. This is because if astronauts are to make extensive voyages into space, they will need a source of food and nutrition and growing food is one of the things they are experimenting with. Also very randomly, I ran into one of my volunteers who is now a research assistant for the professor I was speaking with earlier. All in all, it was a random, but also highly interesting trip.

4. Trip to Haliburton / Muskoka
Another day trip I ended up taking was up to the Haliburton and Muskoka region. I visited a FSC certified lumber yard and saw first hand how logs get transformed into the finished wood pieces we know and utilize today. It was also a chance to meet with one of my suppliers and start planning and forecasting for next year.

5. Conscious Food Festival
On the 14th, I found myself at the Conscious Food Festival at the historic Fort York. I wrote my experiences there in my last post here: (link being updated)

6. Newmarket Garlic Festival
The weekend after the Conscious Food Festival, I thought I would go and check out the Newmarket Garlic festival. Unfortunatley, the website ( where I saw the information about the festival was not up to date and mentioned that the festival ended at 4pm, when in fact it ended at 1pm. While we did catch a few of the vendors who were and buy a bit of garlic, it was still quite a disappointing trip and we were probably expecting too much even if we did make it to the festival on time.

7. CSA Panel Discussion
Through our non profit Young Urban Farmers CSA, we held the 3rd workshop of our summer series. It was a fun night to hear about what other people are doing with urban ag across the city and country. Our next event is on growing native edibles with Lorraine Johnson. More info can be found here:!/event.php?eid=107102596014642&ref=mf

8. Fresh movie screening
If that one panel discussion wasn’t enough, there was another panel discussion happening the following week following the film screening of the movie “Fresh.” Organized by local food activist Allison Savage of, I was asked to speak on the panel along with several other individuals involved in the local food scene: chef Brad Long of Veritas restaurant, Debbie Field of Food Share, and Tammara Soma of Sustain Ontario. The panel was moderated by Wayne Roberts.

9. Live Green Toronto Festival
Towards the end of the month, the City of Toronto hosted it’s Live Green Event at Yonge/Dundas Square. Featuring over 100 green-themed vendors, it was a fun event to see what other initiatives are happening in the city (lots of clothing related organizations, a few solar related groups, and a mixed bag of other vendors) and help spread the word about what we do.

10. Other odds and ends
Some other interesting things that happening. I met up with some interesting people at a monthly mastermind meeting. Along with another friend, our goal is to bring together other entrepreneurs in the city to share ideas, resources, and to network with like minded people. It’s still a small group, but something I hope we can continue to put together in the future. I’m also pretty excited to setup an irrigation system a friend gave to me. I’ve unofficially joined a community orchestra for the 2010-2011 season (and somehow bypassing the audition process), and started reading some interesting food-related books too (,, and

That’s it for this month’s review. As usual, there’s lots more exciting things on the agenda coming up in September. And in parting I’d like to leave you with this poem from one of my favourite childhood authors Shel Silverstein:

Anything Can Happen
Listen to the Mustn’ts, child,
Listen to the Don’ts
Listen to the Shouldn’ts
The Impossibles, the Won’ts
Listen to the Never Haves,
Then listen close to me —
Anything can happen, child,
Anything can be

Conscious Food Festival 2010

On Saturday, I had the chance to check out Conscious Food Festival  at historic Fort York in downtown Toronto. Thanks to Jonathan from for hooking me up with a free ticket to the event. Overall I found it to be a well-organized event with lots of interesting vendors and a great theme to draw people together who are interested in local, sustainable food to the event.

Pretty much all of the vendors had samples – some were for a small fee ($1-2 typically), while others were giving away samples for free. Two of my favourite samples were the cheese plate from Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co which featured 3 different cheeses from 3 different animals (goat, sheep, and cow), and in 3 different styles and the poutine from another vendor (can’t remember off hand which one).

Other vendors and interesting things included local wineries/breweries, a gourmet tofu company, an iced kefir dessert (just like how you’d think it tastes), cooking demonstrations, a chip company from the West coast, live bluegrass music, and a taste test between “conscious” ice cream (with organic cream, real sugar) versus “modified milk ingredient” ice cream (with modified milk ingredients, artificial sweeteners).

-mmmm, conscious poutine

A Hidden Gem
My thoughts on the hidden gem of the event was visiting the community garden on site. Tucked in behind one of the stages and away from the main festival area, the garden featured a number of raised beds (at least a dozen and of various shapes and sizes) that are assigned to various community members. Tomatoes seemed to always be the popular thing to grow in almost all of the boxes and some of the surprising things were corn and winter squash being grown. Unfortunately, pretty much all of zucchinis and some of the cucumbers had powdery mildew (seems to be a common theme across the city this year) and it was interesting to see how other people set up their garden and the various stages of organization within the garden.

Some of the other things I learned from one of the gardeners there is that they have a shared herb box, and had funding from the Trillium Foundation a couple years ago to help them get the beds up and running.

-a shot of the community garden

July 2010 Review

July felt like a long month. With all the hot summer weather and long days we’ve been having, it seems like there’s been time for so many different activities. And without further ado, here’s a recap of some of the interesting things that went on during my July.

1. Weilin Visiting from Australia
Early in the month, I had a friend from Australia come and visit. We had met a couple years ago from a cultural exchange trip to China, and it’s been nice to keep in touch (even if sporadically) over the years, and pickup our friendship and fun times from where we left off. It was also nice to have a chance to play tour guide and show off the fantastic city I get to call home. Some of my favourite experiences were going on a tour of the Steamwhistle brewery, riding the Maid of the Mist ferry in Niagara Falls, and taking lots of comical photos.

2. Swimming
This month, I decided to return to part of last year’s morning routine – which is waking up early to hit the pool and get some exercise. The schedule that I’ve set up for myself is to go on Mondays as well either Thursday or Friday. The first day getting back in the pool after a several month layoff felt quite rough. I was much more out of breath than I remembered and everything just felt awkward. On the bright side, by the end of this month, I feel like I’m really getting my form back and getting back up to where I left off. There are a couple of things I’m going to focus on for the next couple weeks. They are: balanc ein the water, stronger kicking, and more distance per pull. I think after that I’m going to seriously start working on my flipturns.

3. Celebrating Wing’s Birthday on Centre Island
Another highlight of the month was celebrating Wing’s birthday on Centre Island. I got introduced to a new frisbee-related game, got a chance to play some disc golf, and spend an enjoyable afternoon outside.

4. Biking
In the middle of the month, I finally got around to fixing the flat tire on my bike. I’ve had it since last fall, and unfortunatlely the first replacement patch that I put on the inner tube didn’t hold and then the new inner tube that I bought had a really slow leak that ended up not being very usable. Finally, I had enough of not being able to bike around and hastily one Saturday morning decided to finally get out and get my inner tube fixed. I was in a bit of a rush to get going, but luckily, I manager to swing by the bike store, get a replacement inner tube, rush home, and in 20 minutes flat change the inner tube, pump it up, and go for a quick test ride to make sure all was A-OK. It was a bit of a mad scramble, but it got done, and now I have a bike back in riding shape. Anyone up for a bike ride in August/September?

5. Rooftop tour of Royal York
As part of our non-profit organization YUF CSA, we organizaed a tour of the rooftop gardens of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. They’ve got a whole variety of stuff growing up there, inculding lots of herbs, a few grape vines, and even a number of bee hives. It was really interesting to see what they’ve got growing up there, and it even gave me a few inspirations for things I’d like to try to grow in the future.

6. Crab Apple Cider
As another of my random summer experiments, I decided to try making crab apple cider. I picked about a quater of a bushel of crab apples one day and proceeded to spend the next couple of hours washing, coring them, and simmering them over water and a moderate amount of sugar. After the simmering, I strained the resulting liquid through a cheesecloth and was left with a beautiful pink coloured liquid. Because I didn’t add that much water when making the cider, there was a very strong astringent after-taste of the crabapples. Besides the after-taste, it is actually really tasty and refreshing. The way I ended up using it was to dilute it with water, and mix it with a cold-brewed pot of green or black tea for a refreshing iced crab apple green tea beverage.

7. Shiitake Mushroom Harvest
July also marked the month for my second harvest of shiitake mushrooms. After soaking the logs in ice water overnight (you need to literally add a bunch of ice to your container) and then “shocking” the logs by smacking each end with a hammer, each log produced a handful of large, earthy, beautiful shiitake mushrooms. They were probably the best mushrooms I’ve ever had, stir fried with butter, and a litte salt and pepper. Yum!

8. Strategic Planning Session
July was also the month where we had some time to sit down for some strategic planning sessions. We’ve got a couple of ideas we’re looking to implement going forward, so look for new things happening in the future.

9. CBC Metro Morning Interview
Right near the end of the month, I had a chance to speak again with Matt Galloway on the CBC Radio program Metro Morning. It was a fantastic opportunity to promote my business spread the word about what I do. Originally they wanted to do a program more geared towards the early harvest of the summer fruits, but since we don’t really have a focus on summer fruit, we ended up talking about the early harvest of veggies and how we help people in the city grow and connect with the freshest, locally grown food.

10. Eat-in at City Hall
Also at the end of the month, I went for an “eat-in” event at City Hall. Designed to bring people together to talk about food as an election issue, it was a nice chance to network and meet with other people involved in the local food scene. As a bonus, it also drew out a couple of the mayoral candidates and/or their representatives.

11. Frisbee
As many of you know, frisbee is one of my favourite sports. And July just seemed to be the month where my throwing game has really started to tighten up and become more consistent. While I’ve usually been one of the main handlers on my Tuesday team, it’s been nice to be able to step up my game for my Wednesday team as well when some of the other guys haven’t been on top of their game.

After many years and thousands of throws, my consistency and accuracy has gone way up, I’m comfortable hucking the disc my game-time throwing decisions have improved, making a variety of break throws aren’t anything to get nervous about, and being able to place the disc in the hands of the receiver at the right speed, at the right angle, and right place has also improved as well.

That’s it for this July update. It’s been a busy, but good month.