October 2010 Review

October featured a Lot of food related events. Again it was a busy month (I think I’m starting to sound like a broken record), and staying on top of work, emails, and personal stuff was a struggle. I’m glad the month is over, and we’re now in the home stretch as we start to wrap up the year with just 61 days to go. Here’s a recap of some of my memorable and interesting events of the past 31 days.

1. Evergreen and Slow Food Picnic at the Brickworks
This was a fantastic event I’m really happy I went to. You can read my post about this here

2. Soupalicious
Another food event that I had the chance to go to. I’m just finishing up my review for it and should be posting that up shortly.

3. Food Security Coalition Conference in New Orleans
From October 15-18th, I had a chance to attend the 14th annual Community Food Security Coalition’s conference. This year the host city was New Orleans, and I’m really glad that I went. Again a more lengthy blog post is in the works (we’ll see if and when I get a chance to pump it out, though I did write a brief post while I was down there with some initial thoughts here

4. Speaking opportunities
October also gave me the chance to practice my public speaking skills at a couple of different events. The first one was with the Willowdale Green Party and ended up being attended by only a handful of people. Regardless, it was a great chance to hone my presentation skills in an intimate setting, and prepare myself for the next talk with the North York Garden Club. This presentation was almost entirely visual, with lots of pictures showcasing the various gardens that we had setup. It turned out to be a great hit and there were many great comments on the photos we took (the club was doing their own photo contest that evening too!). Who knows – this may end up providing more speaking engagements at other garden clubs across the city.

5. Thanksgiving
As the name implies, a chance to slow down and give thanks for the harvest and for all the wonderful “things” (not material possessions, but things like family and friends, living in a free and democratic country, etc) we have in our lives. It’s something I think we should all do more often – and enjoying some delicious turkey with all the fixings while you’re at it wouldn’t hurt either.

6. Landscape Ontario’s Garden Expo
This was just the show I was looking for and needed to go to! Featuring suppliers, growers, nurseries, and all sorts of other contacts from Southern Ontario, I’ve now got lots of new connections to followup on which will help in my business for next year.

7. Orchestra Concert
Since joining the orchestra in September, we’ve been preparing for our first concert on October 30th. With a large repertoire, few rehearsals, and not much time to prepare, I really didn’t know what to expect going in to our concert. Compounding this was my poor attendance (I made it to less than half of the few rehearsals we did have) and it’s a miracle I/we made it through the entire performance. I’m embarrassed to mention this, but the actual performance had a lot of “firsts” for me.

  • It was my first time I knew there was going to be video to go along with our performance in the first half
  • It was my first time playing with our guest conductor (I didn’t know we had one until he walked out on stage!)
  • It was my first time playing through some of the pieces with the orchestra (thank goodness for youtube and being able to play/follow along with the music to know how my part fit in with the rest of the orchestra!)
  • It was my first time to meet and chat with some of the other members of the orchestra

While most of the audience enjoyed the music (the selection of songs was one very favourable point), I had a chance to listen to a few of the recordings of our performance and have to admit some parts sounded the way it felt – needing a lot more personal and group practice. The orchestra is still relatively new (this is the 3rd year), and it’s still finding its groove, and I’m sure it’ll get even better with time. For our upcoming Christmas concert, we’ve got a much easier repertoire (though still very interesting), and the majority of the pieces were performed at last year’s concert, so it should be a MUCH better performance overall.

8. Garlic tasting event
In addition to planting garlic for a number of my customers in October, I set aside a number of unique varieties to be cooking up and sampling. I invited only a small group of people over due to my limited quantities of garlic, and cooked up the garlic 3 different ways

  1. dry roasted in the oven
  2. stir fried with firm tofu and a dash of olive oil
  3. minced and raw

The original plan was to have 2 sets of 4 different varieties (total of 8 different varieties), however after the first set of 4 varieties, we were all garlic-ed out and couldn’t take any more. When I get a chance, I want to write up a more detailed review including some of our thoughts and notes, but that’s a project for another time.

Odds and Ends
In October, Toronto elected a new mayor – Rob Ford. While I’m not that thrilled about his election, I do still love my city and hope that the next 4 years go smoothly. I had another article published on Food Trotter – this time about the Chinese banquet meal. You can read about it here,

I’m excited for November. It’s looking like it will be that time of year to knock off a bunch of those important but not urgent projects I’ve been putting off for too long. And finally, I’ll leave you with a quotation that I’ve been meditating on recently.

Happy is the man who finds wisdom and understanding for the gain of it is better than gain from silver and profit better than gold.

– Proverbs 3:13,14

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. http://www.blogto.com/city/2010/08/perseid_meteor_shower_2010/

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 (http://www.garlicisgreat.com/) 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: http://www.facebook.com/#!/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 http://radishesandrhubarb.blogspot.com, 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 (http://amzn.to/KwTdu, http://amzn.to/9HSP9O, and http://amzn.to/by5KVF).

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