Thursday, 25 August 2016

It's Our Birthday! Let's Celebrate!


Take a Hike! 
Five years ago, Andrew McKinlay and his wife went on a long hike. Andrew wanted to do something to help the environment but wasn’t quite sure how he could best use his skills and talents. As he walked, he came up with an idea.

As an avid reader, writer, and photographer, as well as a software programmer, he felt that he could help by compiling and sharing information from all the different groups and individuals who were involved in local environmental issues. He enlisted his sister, Penny McKinlay, a writer and editor, to help.

By sharing information about everything from prairie birds and plants to renewable energy and passive housing, we hoped that we could inform and unite people who shared a common appreciation for our natural environment while still maintaining a very local focus.

A year later, EcoFriendly Sask went one step further and started offering small EcoFriendly Action Grants to support local projects that will improve the environment.

Evolution 
It’s been a learning experience as EcoFriendly Sask grew and evolved. Here are just a few numbers that help to tell the story:

10,000 tweets @EcoFriendlySask

650 likes on Facebook – we’d love to hit 1,000 – can you help?

400 articles posted on our website, including EcoSask News, which has been published every single week with very few exceptions.

We’ve also expanded our website to include lists of books about nature in Saskatchewan, environmental organizations, and summer and winter outdoor explorations. Our Calendar lists events around the province – everything from films and book launches to field trips and volunteer opportunities.

But the number that means the most to us is also the smallest. We’ve provided 103 EcoFriendly Action Grants to groups and individuals from La Ronge and Buffalo Narrows to Estevan and Moose Jaw. That money has been used to plant trees, support school trips and alternate forms of transportation, promote solar-powered carsharing, and so much more.

What’s Next? 
Andrew went on another long hike this spring and came back with another big idea. Penny is already hard at work!

Curious? If you or your organization has received an Action Grant, been profiled on our website, or is a friend of EcoFriendly Sask, please join us in Saskatoon on September 14 for the EcoFriendly Sask Happy Hour as we celebrate past accomplishments and look ahead to the future.

RSVP to ecofriendlysask@gmail.com by Sept. 9 so we can order sufficient food and beverages.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

EcoSask News, August 23, 2016

mule deer

Upcoming Events
Book Club, Aug 24 (Saskatoon) 
The third and final session of the Climate Solutions Book Club will be held at 7 pm, August 24.

Wildlife Rehab. Volunteer Orientation, Sept. 11 (Saskatoon)
The Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan is holding a volunteer orientation session in Saskatoon from 1-3 pm, Sept. 11.

Looking Ahead 
David Suzuki, Sept. 18 & 19 (Saskatoon, Regina) 
David Suzuki will be attending the following events in Saskatchewan:
Saskatoon, Sept. 18
11 amLetters to my Grandchildren, The Word on the Street
1:45 pmThere’s a Barnyard in my Bedroom, The Word on the Street
7 pmClimate, Food and the Future, National Farmers’ Union
Regina, Sept. 19
Sept. 19University of Regina

Powershifting Saskatoon, Sept. 24 
You're invited to attend PowerShifting Saskatoon, Sept. 24, an action-based, collaborative workshop to address climate justice and reconciliation in our community. The event will bring together people from across the Saskatoon community to learn, un-learn, connect, and create around the idea of shifting power in our community, province and world. (supported by an EcoFriendly Action Grant)

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

In the News
2015 Waste Minimization Awards 
Congratulations to the 2015 Waste Minimization Award recipients: Wally Lorenz, PV Waste Solutions, Envirotec Services, EPRA-SK, City of North Battleford, and North Central Community Association/City of Regina/Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Bird Year Pledge
A hundred years ago, Canada and the United States signed a treaty to protect birds: the Migratory Birds Convention. A century later, it’s your turn to sign your personal treaty with 8 different ways to protect birds.


Natural Neighbours: Selected Mammals of Saskatchewan 
Illustrated by Paul Geraghty, Natural Neighbours: Selected Mammals of Saskatchewan describes the appearance, habits, food, habitat, survival strategies, ecological relationships, status, and range of the various mammals found in Saskatchewan.

Nature-based Playground Equipment and Design
“Consider traditional play equipment for parks. Everything is metal and plastic, with hard concrete or padded rubber flooring. They are efficient and engaging for children, but also are industrial and inorganic. . . . 

imagine a playground that could fit into the urban green planning scheme. Not a metal tower, but the natural twist of a growing tree. Think of grass or dirt under those children's feet, and leaves above them. Picture play equipment that doesn't trap the heat of the sun. Imagine children playing outside, climbing a jungle gym made of wood or rock that can't poison the surrounding soil when it rains, as plastic does.” 

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

EcoSask News, August 16, 2016

chickadee

Upcoming Events
Flowering Rush Eradication, Aug. 15-17 (SK)
Weed Warriors Wanted! Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan will be digging flowering rush from the only known location in Saskatchewan starting at 10 am, Aug. 15-17.

Compost Methods – Bokashi, Aug. 24 (Saskatoon)
Join the Compost Coaches at 6 pm, Aug. 24, at the Saskatoon Food Bank’s Garden Patch for a discussion of the bokashi method of composting.

Looking Ahead 
Drive Electric Week, Sept. 10 & 17 (SK)
Celebrate National Drive Electric Week by joining the largest gathering of EVs in Saskatchewan history:
Sept. 10, 12-5 pmRegina
Sept. 17, 12-5 pmSaskatoon

Sustainable Gourmet Dinner, Sept. 17
The Saskatchewan Environmental Society’s Sustainable Gourmet Dinner is Sept. 17. If you’ve never attended, you’re missing a treat – great food from great chefs and excellent vegetarian options.

Rob Dumont Energy Management Awards, Oct. 5 (Saskatoon)
The second annual Rob Dumont Energy Management Awards Dinner will be held on Oct. 5.

chickadee

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Young Naturalists 
October (date not yet set) – Saw-whet Owl Field Trip
Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment.

Golden Eagles 
Aug. 25, 7:30 am – Stuglin’s Acreage & Pike Lake
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate in Golden Eagle field trips.

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Aug. 28, 8-10 am – Factoria Riverbank Warbler Walk
Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details and updated information.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

In the News
Help support an independent assessment of the Saskatchewan River oil spill organized by Idle No More.

The Regina Folk Festival cut their waste in half this year - even the compost was collected.

In Canada, the total energy consumption of homes and buildings accounts for nearly a quarter of our national GHG emissions. Surely we can do better.

Regina Catholic Schools has signed a new bus contract. 89 buses will be fuelled by propane rather than diesel gas. The company that owns the new buses says they are quieter, produce 80 per cent fewer emissions, are more reliable, and warm up more quickly than diesel buses.

In the last 20 years, Melanie Elliott has cared for 268 bats. When Saskatoon’s Batwoman “first saw a bat, she was amazed by how calm, gentle and curious the critter was, and she knew bats would be perfect creatures to share with children to teach them about nature and respecting wildlife.” 

The government is privatizing our provincial parks. Trevor Herriot says, “There needs to be an open review of park privatization practices and a publicly accountable mechanism to ensure that carrying capacity guidelines and regulations--those in place and those yet to come--are actually enforced.” 

Burrowing Owls are being reintroduced in the Nicola Valley, BC. They were joined by a wild owl and have hatched 9 chicks.

The next generation of lighting will do so much more than simply banish the dark.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

EcoSask News, August 9, 2016

Untitled

Upcoming Events
Next Up Leadership Program (Saskatoon, Regina) 
Next Up leadership program is designed to help emerging leaders address policy issues. Deadline for application is Sept. 19, 2016, for Saskatoon and Oct. 7, 2016, for Regina.

Meewasin Board Meeting, Aug. 12 (Saskatoon)
The board of the Meewasin Valley Authority will be approving street lighting through the Northeast Swale at 12 noon, Aug. 12, at the Saskatoon Club.

Better Good Living Tour, Aug. 13 (Saskatoon) 
The Better Good Living Tour is scheduled for 12-4 pm, Aug. 13, and includes solar power, canning and fermenting, chickens and honey bees, and more.

Mission Monarch Blitz, Aug. 14 (Regina) 
Join Nature Regina and the Royal Saskatchewan Museum as they check the Native Prairie Garden for monarch eggs and caterpillars as part of the Mission Monarch Blitz from 2-4 pm, Aug. 14.

Looking Ahead
Canoe Certification Course, Sept. 10 & 11 (Regina) 
SaskOutdoors is offering a Paddle Canada canoe certification course on Sept. 10 & 11 at Lumsden Beach.

SaskOutdoors Nature Retreat, Sept. 30-Oct. 2 (SK)
SaskOutdoors is holding a nature retreat at Ness Creek from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.

Canadian Heritage Rivers Conference, Oct. 16-19 (Saskatoon)
Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin, in collaboration with the Canadian Heritage River Systems and Saskatchewan Parks, Culture and Sport is hosting the Canadian Heritage Rivers conference in Saskatoon from Oct. 16-19.

The conference will explore how rivers have shaped our culture, history, science and everyday lives in Saskatchewan and our collective Canadian identity across the country.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

dragonfly

Read All About It
The Saskatchewan River Delta, at 10,000 square kilometres, is the largest inland freshwater delta in North America. It’s a major stopover point for migratory birds, while many others are hatched there and fly to other areas. It’s a spawning area for sturgeon and other fish. But it’s dying.

Striking Balance is a documentary series about Canada’s biosphere reserves, including Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve.

A relatively minor investment in retraining would allow the vast majority of U.S. coal workers to switch to solar-related positions.

Would you buy patched-up clothes to tackle textile waste?

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Green Fields and Green Drinks

Two local farmers – one a wine producer, the other a distiller – are going out of their way to respect and protect the land.


Black Fox Farm and Distillery 
Black Fox Spirits is a farm-based distillery located just outside of Saskatoon. Its namesake is an unusually coloured black fox who spent one summer in and around their farmyard and was, like the distillery’s products, both local and unique.

Ingredients 
Black Fox Farm and Distillery grows 90% of its own grains, fruit, and botanicals. The only ingredients that are imported are some of the spices for gin (cardamom, orange peel).

Land 
Leftovers after distillation are used as organic fertiliser for the farm’s fruits and botanicals.

Food grade citric acid is used to clean the still by removing sulphur compounds. It’s then utilized in the fields to reduce the soil PH, a valuable way to increase productivity given their soil type.

Grassy paths between the orchard rows and plots prevent soil erosion. Careful crop rotation reduces the need for pesticides.

Four kilometers of newly planted shelter belts and 10 hectares of natural woodland reduce wind erosion and sequester carbon.

Bees
The farm’s bee hives provide the honey which is used to sweeten the liqueurs and make the brandy. The beeswax is used to seal leaky whiskey barrels.

The farm’s beekeeper removes unwanted swarms for the City of Saskatoon. New colonies are quarantined and assessed for health before entering the main aviary.


Energy 
Insulation, a high-efficiency hydronic heating system, and energy-efficient steam boilers ensure that the building housing the distillery is as energy-efficient as possible within a limited budget.

Electric vehicles are used as run-abouts on the farm. Alcohol by-products from the distillation process are mixed with gasoline and used as a bio-fuel for the farm machinery.

The stored grain is conserved using natural aeration systems.

Tasting glasses are reusable. Packing materials and pallets are reused or rebuilt.

Water 
The grain fields aren’t irrigated. Zero tillage techniques increase water use efficiency and save energy.

A buried drip irrigation system waters the fruits and botanicals. Recycled wood chips and compost are used as mulch to reduce weed growth and evaporation. The soils are monitored to ensure that the correct amount of water is used.

Potable water is used to cool the condensers. The pre-heated water is later reused for making mash and for washing. The mash tanks are cooled using a geothermal system, circulating the water underground to use the earth as a natural heat sink.

Retention ponds act as a natural buffer and filter between the agricultural land and the watershed.


Living Sky Winery 
Sue Echlin and Vance Lester, the owners of Living Sky Winery, share a love of nature. Sue grew up on a ranch in Alberta, while Vance has a Master’s degree in ecology. Sustainability is of the utmost importance on their farm and winery near Perdue.

Ingredients 
Living Sky Winery grows as many of its own ingredients as possible. They’ve started purchasing outside fruit to keep up with demand, but they’re staying as local as possible.

Land
The farm is pesticide-free and uses mechanical weed management. Rhubarb leaves are broken off in the orchard and left between the rows. Once they’re dry, they’re worked into the soil, serving as a very effective weed deterrent.

All fruit waste, filter pads, and other organic materials are composted and returned to the orchard. The farm’s primary fertilizer is their own composted livestock manure.

Bees & Wildlife 
The 140 acres of land surrounding the orchard are planted with alfalfa for both nitrogen fixing and wildlife habitat, providing a home for a number of wild bee species. The hay isn’t cut until later in July to protect species that nest in the fields.


Energy
Living Sky turned the old Delisle Co-op into a winery. They saved as many of the building materials as they could while still creating a CFIA-approved facility.

All plastic, cardboard, and other non-organic materials are recycled.

Lightweight Eco bottles and Petainer cider kegs save energy by being lighter to transport. Aluminum bottle caps are recyclable.

The owners plan to start installing solar panels next year and hope to eventually be as close to off-grid as possible.

Water
Three large ponds capture rainwater and run-off from the orchard and can be used in times of drought. The native plants around the ponds trap snow and provide wildlife habitat.

The winery uses distilled water produced from the farm’s well. Waste water from the distilling process waters the fields. The owners are investigating ways to recycle the winery’s grey water. 


Paddock Wood Brewing Company
The spent grains and yeast from Paddock Wood Brewing Company are put to good use by local farmers as animal feed. When funds become available, the brewery plans to invest in solar panels and more efficient bottle washing and labelling systems. They’re also looking into converting the spent grains into methane gas.

Green Drinks 
Green Drinks is a get-together of like-minded people to discuss the environment. Green Drinks Saskatoon meets on the second Friday of every month. Green Drinks Regina also meets once a month.

An abbreviated version of this article appeared in in the August/September issue of flow magazine

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

EcoSask News, August 2, 2016

crab spider on wild rose

Upcoming Events
Bike Week Saskatoon, Aug. 13-19 
Celebrate biking in all its form during Bike Week Saskatoon, Aug. 13-19. Events include the Canadian Open Bike Polo Championships, Bike to Work Day, River Volta Reading Series, a Slow Roll, and a Bike Tune-Up Workshop.

Afforestation Area Protection, Aug. 18 (Saskatoon) 
Attend the Saskatoon City Council meeting at 1 pm, Aug. 18 and show your support for placing bollards at the main entry points to the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area to prevent vehicles entering to dump waste.

Weeds and Wire Wipeout, Aug. 27 (SK) 
Help pull weeds and remove old wire fencing at the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Asquith property on Aug. 27.

Looking Ahead 
Waste Reduction Fall Workshops, Sept. 20 & 22 (SK) 
The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council is planning two fall workshops.
Sept. 20 – Swift Current
Sept. 22 – Prince Albert
Topics will include Energy from Waste and Construction, Renovation & Demolition Waste.

Cypress Hills Photography Tour, Sept. 23-25 (SK) 
Branimir Gjetvaj is offering an instructional photography tour of the Cypress Hills Sept. 23-25.

flower

Saskatoon Nature Society
Golden Eagles 
Aug. 11, 7:30 am – Ferries North of Saskatoon
Aug. 18, 8 am – Lakewood & Heritage Parks
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate in Golden Eagle field trips.

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Aug. 7, 1:30-4:30 pm – Butterfly Field Trip
Aug. 14, 2-4:30 pm – Sutherland Beach Botany Walk
Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details and updated information.

Nature Regina Field Trips
Aug. 14, 6 pm – Buena Vista Sunday
Check Nature Regina’s website for full details and updated information.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar

In the News 
Lessons for Saskatoon and Regina from City of Vancouver’s plans to go 100% renewable (including buildings and transit)

The Baltic Sea will be the first to ban cruise ship waste

6 bee-friendly tips

Patagonia continues to roll out greener sportswear alternatives - this time for neoprene wetsuits 

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

EcoSask News, July 26, 2016

Red-winged blackbird

Upcoming Events
Peregrine Falcons, July 26 (Saskatoon) 
You’re invited to meet Lynn Oliphant’s peregrine falcons on July 26. Meet at Wild Birds Unlimited at 6 pm.

Looking Ahead
Curbside Swap, Sept. 10 (Saskatoon) 
The City of Saskatoon is hosting a city-wide Curbside Swap on Sept. 10.

Birding & Canoe Trip, Sept. 16-18 (SK) 
Join SaskOutdoors for a weekend of birding and canoeing at Last Mountain Lake, Sept. 16-18.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

Conifers and Catkin-Bearing Trees and Shrubs 
Conifers and Catkin-Bearing Trees and Shrubs of Saskatchewan is the fifth publication in a series highlighting native plants published by the Flora of Saskatchewan Association. Copies are available from Nature Saskatchewan.

Wascana Junior Naturalists (Regina)
Register now for the Wascana Junior Naturalist program for kids ages 9-13. Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment.

In the News 
Five facts you need to know about skunks in your neighbourhood

Why turtles evolved to have shells (hint - it’s not for protection)

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).