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

January 2010 Review

January has been off to a fast start so far. The year is already 1/12 done, and I think I’ve made some good process in achieving some of my goals for this year. I’ve gone through a number of stimulating books, got involved with a new organization, and also had a bit of time to relax and have fun.

January Highlights:

1. Return from Lake Placid
At the beginning of the year, I got back from a short getaway to Lake Placid. I went with some friends from my frisbee team to enjoy some snowshoeing, cross county skiing, and have a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. For anyone looking for some outdoor activities in a beautiful mountain environment, I would highly recommend checking it out.

2. Toronto Youth Food Policy Council
Also this month, I submitted an application and received an offer to join the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council (no webiste yet). My term doesn’t start until September and I’m not quite sure exactly what my role and responsibilities will be, but it will involve dealing with local food issues and providing a youth perspective to the Toronto Food Policy Council. As a quick primer, here’s the mission statement of the TYFPC:

“We, as youth, are dedicated to building a food system that is sustainable, equitable, regionally focused and accessible. As a group that represents the diversity of Toronto, we will seek to build community partnerships, produce youth-centered policy documents and encourage the development of sustainable food system infrastructure connected to Toronto.”

3. Photo/Video Shoot
On the 24th, we held a photo/video shoot to get some footage for the Young Urban Farmerswebsite. I have to extend a huge thanks to our social media intern Fran who planned, coordinated, and executed the entire event. From finding the studio space, to coordinating with the photographer, to finding volunteers to be involved, planning the wardrobe, to making sure things went according to schedule – it was fantastic. I can’t wait to see some of the shots from the day and they will definitely be going up on our website in the near future.

4. The 29th Annual Guelph Organic Conference
At the end of the month, I had an opportunity to volunteer at the Guelph Organic Conference. This was a great opportunity to meet and speak with some of the people involved in the organic initiative from across Canada, attend a variety of interesting seminars, and visit the tradeshow with over 100 exhibitors. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll be the ones setting up a booth at the tradeshow. For now though, I was happy attending it as a participant and volunteer. Look for a more detailed writeup on my experiences at the conference soon.

5. New Products
This month, we confirmed that we will be retailers for a couple new and exciting products this year. The first product is a grow-it-yourself shiitake mushroom log that sits outdoors and will provide fresh mushrooms for at least 4 years. The second confirmed product is the Worm Factory 360for customers to make their own compost from their daily vegetable scraps. Both of these are premium products, and will allow us to diversify the edible solutions we offer to our customers. We’ve also got a few more exciting new products in the works, and the details will be announced shortly once they get finalized.

January Reflections:

At times like this, it’s hard to believe where the past 31 days of January have gone. On one hand, I can think back in detail and go through a laundry list some of my daily activities and of things that got done and projects I’ve made progress on. On the other hand, it feels January 1st was just a couple days ago and the year is still just getting started. While we can’t slow or speed up the passing of time, I’m satisfied with how this month has turned out so far.

As I sit and reflect the past month, I realized that January was primarily a month focused on business. While this isn’t a bad thing, as business and related stuff keeps me more than motivated and excited about the future, I don’t want to forget about my personal life, hobbies, and having fun as well (though I did get a chance to play lasertag, participate in some group fitness swims, spend an afternoon playing board games, and go clubbing this month). Moving forward, I will make a concerted effort to have more balance in my life, though at this point I don’t mind too much that business and related stuff takes up a good majority of my time and

One of the key lessons I learned this month was in regards to delegating. One mistake that I’ve made in the past was assigning too much responsibility up front, instead of gradually easing someone into greater and greater degrees of responsibilities. In the future, I’ll start off by delegating smaller projects, until the person proves themselves to be capable of to handle increased responsibilities or projects with more skill and complexity. This way, the person will be more prepared and setup for success, and I’ll be able to gradually ease myself off my tendency to micromanage. It’s a win-win situation.

Another lesson I was reminded of this month was to continually face challenges and opportunities with a mindset of abundance, rather than one of scarcity. In essence, this means to view life with a positive outlook, with the belief that there is an abundance of resources, ideas, and things to share.

Looking forward, February is going to be another fun and exciting month. Our sales and marketing is going to get started again for the 2010 growing season, I’m planning a field trip up to my aunt’s farm (let me know if you’re interested in coming with me), and our cash flow should turn positive again this month.

To conclude, I want to share with you this quotation by Woodrow Wilson I found while putting together the sales presentation for Young Urban Farmers CSA, and found it to be very inspiring and something that I’m trying to live up to every day.

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
– Woodrow Wilson

November 2009 Reflections

November has been an interesting and intriguing month. And while I’d like to think that things aren’t as busy for me with as we’ve wrapped up our growing season for the year, my schedule still seems to be filled with things to do. And honestly, I enjoy having a busy schedule, though it’s never too busy that I don’t have time for friends and people who matter in my life. Now, on to the main monthly recap:

1. Volunteer Fairs
At the beginning of the month, I participated in two volunteer fairs at UT Scarborough and UT St. George. The purpose was to recruit volunteers for our non-profit enterprise Young Urban Farmers CSA for all aspects of our organization for the growing season of 2010 including sales and marketing, public relations, finance and accounting, operations, and more. We had a great turnout, though the UT Scarborough turnout seemed much better than the St. George one, and it was wonderful to see so many students who are motivated and interested in volunteering for a good cause.

2. Joe/Christina’s Wedding
Congratulations to Joe and Christina, who recently started a new life together. It was a pleasure to celebrate this memorable event with you, and hope you enjoy what I think is one of the most awesome wedding gifts ever. A number of us pooled our funds together to get the new couple a 15′ canoe, with a couple of paddles and life jackets to boot. The greatest moment – walking down the church aisle with the canoe to present it to them after the wedding ceremony and seeing the look on their faces. It was brilliant.

3. Guelph Urban Agriculture Symposium
Also this month, I had the chance to attend an Urban Agriculture Symposium in Guelph. It was a great chance to meet other people involved with urban agriculture, who are interested in local and sustainable food, and a chance to see what other people are doing in this emerging field.

4. Toronto Community Garden Network strategic planning event
Continuing on with the networking events, the day after the urban agriculture symposium was a strategic planning event for the Toronto Community Garden Network – a group that is made up of interested and energetic individuals and organizations from across Toronto who are committed to greening and organic gardening across the City of Toronto and to making community gardening an integral part of city life. Again, it was another opportunity to get involved in the local community, meet interesting people, and hopefully contribute some ideas and suggestions to the group.

5. Betterment Movement Toronto
The last networking event that I went to was a last minute decision, but I’m glad that I went. Somehow I heard about this event called the Betterment Movement Toronto. It billed it self as an opportunity to “Hear the stories of people in action, making the world a better place!” And it was indeed inspiring and a great chance to meet a bunch of designers, as the organization who put this together was originally a community of designers.

6. Potluck Parties
Potluck parties are one of my favourite types of parties. You get to eat a variety of foods, participate in some fun activities (we played this board game called Bang!), and spend an evening with a group of fun people. I ended up making a chocolate pudding, which turned out much better than I had originally thought it would. Despite burning the milk (just a bit) and not having fresh mint (it was supposed to be a mint chocolate pudding), it still turned out great, with people asking for the recipe afterwards. Maybe my secret weapon/ingredient of burnt milk (though you couldn’t taste even a hint of it) made it that much more tasty…….. And if you want that recipe – honestly it’s a good recipe – you can find it here.

In looking back at this past month, a couple of things come to mind. The first is that I’m grateful for all the people who have and who continually enrich my life. As much as I try to stay connected in the online world, life is best lived in the real world and it is these friendships and reationships that you make and experiences that you share with people that really matter and gives life that personal touch. Life is full of ups and downs, and having friends who can be there in good times and bad is essential. I think this was heightened by the number of networking events that I went to, and while I know that many people feel jaded and put off by these kinds of things, I think if you go in with an attitude of exploration, wonder, and open to opportunities, you’ll never know who you’ll meet, what you’ll learn, and where it will take you.

This reminds me of a quote by Shunryu Suzuki which goes like this:
In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.

The other thing that I think defined my November was that it was a month of learning. I’m not perfect by any means, and don’t pretend or try to be. And so with the idea of approaching things from a beginner’s mind, I was able to try to look at things from a more objective perspective, think critically about what worked and what didn’t work, and how to improve on things. For example, we’ve been on campus recruiting for potential franchisees for our business, and our initial efforts were relatively weak. We tried a bunch of things, and realized that it wasn’t working too well and so we modified our actions, and saw better results the subsequent times we went recruiting. Learning can come from both success and failure, though I think it is in failure that we learn the most. Sure it hurts to fail, it hurts to feel rejected, and it’s hard to stay motivated, but it is in these times when our character gets tested that we experience the most growth and learning.

If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative
– Woody Allen –

Looking forward, December is going to be a joyful month, with the holiday celebrations getting into full swing. I’ll be taking some time to do an annual review, some in-depth goal setting, and just enjoying this time of year. So cheers to the holiday season and may it be filled with love, joy and happiness.