February 25, 2010

Crop Mob

"The Crop Mob, a monthly word-of-mouth (and -Web) event in which landless farmers and the agricurious descend on a farm for an afternoon, has taken its traveling work party to 15 small, sustainable farms. Together, volunteers have contributed more than 2,000 person-hours, doing tasks like mulching, building greenhouses and pulling rocks out of fields".

Read about this spontainous happening in the New York Times. Great new word: agricurious!
Although the snow is still deep here and the wind biting, I'm always open for a crop mob.

February 22, 2010

Post-humus porker

The Enviropig, the freakin franken porker that should only be a cartoon character, appears to be close to government approval, a Canwest News Service reported on Friday and confirmed here.

"The technology is simple, if you know how to raise pigs, you know how to raise Enviropigs!"
uh...depends on how ya raise a pig.
I'd compost that phosphorousy manure, feed the crops - let the oinkers have a bit of grass even.
But Enviropig is engineered to shit minimal phosphorous so the waste can get flushed (and not pollute waterways). Factory farming steps out of the circle of the farm.

From a 1999 Globe story on the lab chops: "After they get a handle on phosphorus, the scientists want to take a look at nitrogen, the other major pollutant found in pig manure and the one associated with its rank odour."

This kind of treason to our farm animal genome meets with so little pause, alarm or resistance because there are too many other distractions: wars, earthquakes, famine, olympics. We have no ethical roadmaps drawn out for the designers of our food. We as consumers and farmers need to start excercising our rights to choose what we eat.
The pig might help us do it. Who wants to eat it? 10-30% of Canadians? That isn't enough stakeholder to excite profits to the lifescience pioneers.

artist Nathan Meltz

A perfect factory pig is no surprise and has been talked about for awhile now. Water pollution and stink are the sticky bits in public interfaces and so the genes spliced in Ecopig are logical. But what else are they up to? Monsanto lurks in the wings and has patents on pigs. With declining numbers of small farms and pig breeds fewer and further between, the road ahead could look like porkicide.

Have we lost the right to eat food as god/goddess/motherearth made it, or shall we ride this ugly piggy to the courts before it goes to market?

We need to mobilize and take to the Supreme Court, the right to choose what we eat (labeling) as a matter of conscience and religion.

February 7, 2010


When I was 11 or 12, in the early 70s, a dozen kids and I blocked a rough road in the woods, it was our special place. Excavators and dump trucks were pushing up a new subdivision. Although we had found burial mounds in "our woods", the knowledge that this place was the ancient (4,000 year) home of the Samas people (Songhees- Chekonein) wasn't the motivation for our activism. It was an indignity to nature and our sweet experience of it that had us dragging boulders and logs to voice our injury . It is 40 years later, and a narrow forest corridor is all that is left of "our woods". There is no such courtesy for the village of Sungayka, for which this woods was adjacent. The longhouses, the peninsular fortification, the house posts...all obliterated. Whilst a treaty intended a corridor (a means to access culture and place), the agreement was lost in the imperialist moments, a beach hotel was built for the amusement of Victorians, and the place was eviscerated, subdivided and overlain with new cultures. The Hudson Bay put in a large farm above. A people of long sustenance on a piece of land disappeared, no photo exists, no marker reminds.

The new peoples of Cadboro Bay don't seem live with an ecosystem, but on or over it. It is now hundred sailboats, cement playground creatures, a bustling University corner village. A starbucks. The beach and sea, the eroding stones, the middens in the gardens, the sacred pool, the cultural stones in foundations and walls are underfoot everywhere.

The ancient village site at Cadboro Bay will be surveyed as required by the Chekonein treaty, somehow, eventually. Until the treaty (one of the Douglas treaties) is honoured or compensation for its violation is agreed upon, all those occupying territory in Cadboro Bay are advised to note and honour the features a careful walk can reveal.

Sustainable cultures that lived here before

I've been returning to my roots, family and the ecosystems of my youth and facing the connections and significance my past has to my life right now.

One of my favorite place of old is a remarkable spit with a gary oak and arbutus hook and a grassy trombolo on Saltspring Island called Walker's Hook. It is an ancient Salish sacred village Syuhe'mun, whose significance was trounced 5 years ago with the leasing of the (private) land to a Sablefish (black cod) "farm".

The trombolo drains the effluent from the fish farm above and pushes through an estimated 700 ancestors of Kuper Island Penelakut. The excavation for wells and pipes dug up 13 skeletons.

In my new home, on a lower oxbow of the Annapolis river, the Mi'kmaq, the black loyalists and former slaves, and the Acadians have been almost completely erased from the physical and cultural landscape.

The inhabitants of Africville who were removed from their community received an apology today and the land to rebuild a church and cultural center. This is a good beginning toward reconciliation to the Black loyalist settlers and descendants of Nova Scotia's first slaves. It comes in a week there is some discourse on the racism that surfaces on a regular basis for people of colour (and diversity in general) among some "long" rooted people (ancestors of the British/Scottish, planters and loyalists settlers) In the Black Heritage month it has erupted again with a cross burning on a multiracial couple's lawn in the Windsor area.

I believe it is essential to recognize the history of slavery, expulsion and genocide of this place in Nova Scotia. Without wide eyed open reconciliation, racism has a place to root. I am reflecting on how best to acknowledge, honour and celebrate Acadian and Mi'kmaq and black settler presence in my neighbourhood in the lower Annapolis River. Whether this cultural renewel can be aided by writing, archeology, memorial stones and fences, multi racial immigration , I'm unsure. What can I do to remember the people who lived gently on the land ...is a question I have to ask.