Monday, 21 May 2018

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Water, Wildflowers, and Grasslands: Saskatoon's NatureCity Festival

With over 50 events spread over 7 days, there’s something for everyone at Saskatoon’s sixth annual NatureCity Festival. We’re highlighting just a handful of activities that connect us back to nature.

Free Wetland Field Trips at Chappell MarshMay 23, 12:30-2:30 pm (a half-day session of experiential learning in the conservation area)

An Intro to CanoeingMay 24, 6-9 pm (a come-and-go workshop to learn the basics of canoes and safety equipment)

Chief Whitecap Waterway Voyageur TrekMay 27, 2-6 pm (feel the exhilaration of paddling and see the dynamic interplay of land and water)

Wildflower Identification WorkshopMay 23, 7-9:15 pm (learn about the native violets, lilies, and irises in the Saskatoon region)

Path to Wild FoodMay 25, 10:30 am-12 pm (explore native plants, wild foods, and “nature’s pharmacy” on a walk at Wanuskewin – please note time change)

Spring Wildflower WalkMay 27, 9-11 am (see early season wildflowers at Cranberry Flats)

Reclaim Our Prairie IMay 22, 7-8:30 pm (a presentation on our native prairie ecosystem, followed by an opportunity to plant native prairie seeds and seedlings)

Reclaim Our Prairie IIMay 26, 3-3:45 pm (tour the St. Joseph Grassland Demonstration site at St. Joseph High School)

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

EcoSask News, May 15, 2018

pretty pigeon

Upcoming Events
Recycling, May 16 (Regina)
A lunch and learn on recycling will be held at noon, May 16, at Innovation Place Regina.

Zoom, May 17 (Regina)
View nature up close in the new exhibit at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum opening May 17.

Best Places to Bird in the Prairies, May 19 (Saskatoon)
Alan Smith will be signing copies of Best Places to Bird in the Prairies at 1 pm, May 19, at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Management Targets for Grassland Songbirds, May 21 (Regina)
Join Nature Regina at 7 pm, May 21, for their AGM and a talk by Philip Rose on developing management targets for grassland songbird species at risk on native rangelands.

The Climate Crisis and its Solutions, May 23 (Regina)
Jared Clarke will speak on what can be done to address climate change in Saskatchewan from 7-8 pm, May 23.

Our Nationhood, May 23 (Regina)
Join Cinema Politica Regina for a screening of Our Nationhood on the Mi'gmaq people's ongoing struggle to maintain control over their natural resources at 6:30 pm, May 23.

Build a Bathouse, May 23 & June 11 (Saskatoon)
Nutana Community Association is hosting bathouse building workshops at 7:30 pm, May 23 or June 11.

Bicycle Tune-Up Workshop, May 24 (Saskatoon)
Bridge City Bicycle Co-op is hosting an Intro Bicycle Tune-up Workshop from 6:30-8 pm, May 24.

Greater Sage-Grouse Volunteer Event, May 24-27 (Grasslands National Park)
Help plant sagebrush as part of a Greater Sage-Grouse enhancement and restoration project at Grasslands National Park, May 24-27.

Nature Needs Half, May 25 (Saskatoon)
Harvey Locke will be explaining why nature needs half at 7 pm, May 25. An article in Planet S explains that keeping ecosystems healthy means giving them enough space to thrive.

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Golden Eagles 
May 24, 8 am – Warblers at the Forestry Farm
May 31, 7:30 am – Shorebirds in the Perdue Area
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 
May 19, 8 am-9 pm – Quill Lakes Area Birding
May 20, 7-9:30 am – MVA Trail Bird Walk
June 2, 9 am-late evening – Last Mountain Lake Bird Sanctuary
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
Members of Nature Regina spoke out about the importance of urban wildlife: “The animals make Regina what it is — and we’re going to have to find a way to share our city.”

Andrew Garn, author of The New York Pigeon, views pigeons as a gateway drug to nature as they are some of the only wildlife many city dwellers see.

The City of Saskatoon has published feedback from residents, businesses, and non-profits concerning Saskatoon’s climate action plan. Top priorities for all groups included energy efficiency and waste management.

The University of Saskatchewan has released its 2017 Sustainability Report.

Listen to an interview with Dr. Max Foran, author of The Subjugation of Canadian Wildlife: Failures of Principle and Policy. Foran argues that, “wildlife policies are as much – or more – about human needs, priorities, and profit as they are about preservation.”

Congratulations to municipalities looking for and finding new markets for recycled materials - but the long-term solution remains using less plastic and other waste materials.

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, 8 May 2018

EcoSask News, May 8, 2018

trees flowering

Wow! What a line-up – from a garden tool swap in Saskatoon to birds, bees, and dinosaurs in Regina, compost in Yorkton, and a Moose Jaw road trip.

Upcoming Events 
Local Bats & Surprise Plants, May 8 (Saskatoon) 
Enjoy a surprise class about local bat rescue and a mystery plant family at the U of S from 7-9:30 pm, May 8.

Release the Bats, May 8 (Regina) 
The Saskatchewan Science Centre is releasing its overwintering bats at 8 pm, May 8.

U of S Lunch & Learn Series, May 11 (Saskatoon) 
Join the U of S Office of Sustainability from 12-1 pm, every third Friday of the month, for presentations and discussions on sustainability.

U of S The Fix, May 11 (Saskatoon) 
Join the U of S Office of Sustainability and university sustainability professionals over a pint at 5 pm, every third Friday of the month, to fix some of sustainability’s most complicated issues.

Saskatoon Wildlife Tour, May 12 (Moose Jaw) 
Join Moose Jaw Nature Society on May 12 for a tour of two Saskatoon wildlife rehab. facilities and Beaver Creek Conservation Area.

Wildlife Rehab Volunteer Orientation, May 12 (Saskatoon) 
The Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan is holding a volunteer orientation session from 11 am-12:30 pm, May 12, in Saskatoon.

Garden Tool Swap, May 13 (Saskatoon) 
Bring your unneeded garden tools to swap with or donate to other gardeners from 12-1 pm, May 13, at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market.

Oil Well Noise & Songbirds, May 15 (webinar) 
Paulson Des Brisay will present a webinar on studies regarding the impact of oil well noise on songbirds at noon, May 15.

EV Enthusiasts Meetup, May 15 (Saskatoon) 
EV drivers and enthusiasts are invited to a meetup from 7-9 pm, May 15, in Saskatoon.

National Energy Code for Buildings, May 15 & 16 (Regina, Saskatoon) 
The Canada Green Building Council is hosting Lunch ‘n’ Learns on the National Energy Code for Buildings in Regina on May 15 and in Saskatoon on May 16.

Bike to Work Day, May 16 (Saskatoon) 
It’s Bike to Work Day in Saskatoon May 16 with food, prizes, and other activities.

Birds, Bees, & Dinosaurs, May 16 (Regina)
Cory Sheffield and Ryan McKellar, curators at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, will discuss birds, bees, and dinosaurs at 6:30 pm, May 16, at O’Hanlon’s Irish Pub, Regina.

Harvesting & Using Compost, May 16 (Saskatoon) 
Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre’s Garden Patch is offering a workshop on harvesting and using finished compost from 6-7:30 pm, May 16.

Everybirdy Deserves a Home, May 17 (Edenwold)
Join Nature Conservancy of Canada in installing birdhouses on their Edenwold property from 10 am-3 pm, May 17.

Beyond the Big Dipper, May 19 (Grasslands National Park) 
View the stars and learn more about them from Royal Astronomical Society volunteers at Grasslands National Park on May 19.

larch flowers

Looking Ahead
NatureCity Festival, May 22-27 (Saskatoon) 
There are over 50 activities to choose from at this year’s NatureCity Festival in Saskatoon. Teachers, be sure to register your class for one of the school programs - bus subsidies are available.

Compost Field Day, May 29 (Yorkton) 
The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council is hosting a Compost Field Day in Yorkton on May 29.

Dundurn Bioblitz, June 2 (Dundurn)
Help the Nature Conservancy of Canada create a baseline inventory for a new property near Dundurn on June 2.

Tree Planting, June 3 (Saskatoon) 
Alchemy Salon, Better Good, and Green Tree Beauty will be planting 3,000 trees near Saskatoon on June 3. Contact Melissa at Alchemy if you’d like to help.

SES Fun Run, June 3 (Saskatoon) 
Support the Saskatchewan Environmental Society by participating in a trail fun run from 9 am-12 pm, June 3.

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
May 12, 9 am-12 pm – Beaver Creek Conservation Area Birding
May 13, 7-9:30 am – MVA Trail Bird 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 
City of Regina to study whether City-owned buildings could be fitted with solar panels.

Small strips of prairie can reduce erosion and run-off & provide bird/pollinator habitat.

Praise, admiration + respect for the wildness in coyotes.

Native bees would be better off with fewer honey bees.

The federal environment minister has reaffirmed ecological integrity as the first priority in all aspects of national parks management.

Combining business and political activism - Patagonia v. Trump.

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, 3 May 2018

Jared Clarke: Naturalist and Climate Change Advocate

When he was 5 years old, Jared Clarke was given a birdfeeder. And that simple act changed his life. When a Spotted Towhee landed at the feeder, Jared and his parents weren’t able to identify it, so they purchased a bird guide. Jared, despite his young age, was soon a backyard birding expert.

Jared joined Nature Regina when he was 10 or 12 years old and his mother accompanied him on all the group’s field trips. “I was definitely a lone wolf,” Jared says. “There was no one else my age on those trips.” It was the same at school where none of the other students shared his fascination for birds and nature. Jared wasn’t deterred. He now bands birds and is actively involved in the Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas project.

After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Jared worked as a park naturalist at Wascana Centre for 5 years. It was around this time that he and his wife, Kristen Martin, a biologist with a Master’s degree in Natural Resources Management, purchased a quarter-section of land northwest of Edenwold. Their goal was to put the land back to grass and create a patch of prairie.

“Healthy prairie needs a grazer,” Jared says, so they started investigating their options. A neighbour raised goats. That sounded interesting, so they purchased 5 does. Over time their herd expanded to 48 does and 93 kids. Jared took advantage of his flock in his work at Wascana Centre, transporting some of the animals to graze on the caragana growing in the natural area. “But we won’t do that again,” he says. “It was too intensive. We had to sleep in the conservation area, staying with the goats 24/7.” The birth of twins of their own has led them to downsize their herd, and it has become more of a hobby than a business.

Jared returned to university and obtained a degree in Education. A Grade 6/7 teacher at Regina’s Lakeview School, Jared tries to incorporate the environment and outdoor education into the classroom program as much as possible. The first day of school is reserved for a Beetle Blitz. The students are sent home with a small container to collect 5 beetles from their yard or cabin. They go on to donate their collection during a visit to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. “It’s an opportunity to talk about what we learn from collecting and studying,” Jared says.

Jared also shares his love of nature through a weekly radio program, The Prairie Naturalist, on CJTR Radio in Regina. He’s hosted over 100 episodes since beginning the program in February 2016, holding over 180 conversations with more than 135 people. It’s a one-man show and Jared is responsible for finding and booking guests, writing the script, and producing the audio. “It takes about 3-3 ½ hours’ commitment before the ½ hour show, but I really enjoy it,” Jared says.

A woman Jared had interviewed on his radio program suggested that he attend Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Training. It sounded interesting, but it was a big commitment – 5 days off work and away from his family. Nonetheless, Jared applied, was accepted, and spent 5 days in Pittsburgh in October 2017. “It was really energizing,” he says. “There were 1400 people from 32 countries who were doing amazing things. We heard from 7 scientists whose work demonstrates that climate change is real.”

Jared points out that some areas are already experiencing climate change in a very real way. “Miami is spending millions to raise roads and add pumps because of flooding,” he says. Saskatchewan weather has always been variable, so it’s easy for residents to overlook the impact of climate change. However, the Regina/Yorkton/Moose Jaw region has just experienced the driest 15-month period in 130 years.

Convinced that we need to start talking about climate change, Jared set out to share what he had learned in presentations to over 1,000 people to date. The presentation provides evidence that the climate is changing and the solutions that are already on hand today. “As a biologist and scientist, I’ve looked at evidence from around the world, and I’m convinced that climate change is real and caused by humans but that we have everything we need to deal with it,” he says. Jared encourages his audiences to go home and start talking to family, friends, and politicians about what they’ve learned. “We need leadership from government at all levels to set policy to ensure we’re all moving in the same direction,” he says.

Jared says he and his family make decisions through a climate lens. They’ve installed solar panels on their house, drive a Prius C, and grow a lot of their own food. “I want to leave the world in a better way than I found it so that my kids can see just as many birds as I did when I was a kid.”

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

EcoSask News, May 1, 2018

Bohemian Waxwing eating juniper berries

The sun is shining and we’re heading outdoors - with bikes, Jane’s Walks, and summer camps for kids.
Upcoming Events
Household Hazardous Waste Day, May 4 (Regina)
City of Regina is holding household hazardous waste days on May 4 (4-7 pm) & May 5 (9 am-3:45 pm).

Jane’s Walk, May 4-6 (Regina, Saskatoon)
Take a look at the Jane’s Walks being offered in Saskatoon and Regina May 4-6. In Saskatoon, you can visit trees in Buena Vista, share your experiences as a pedestrian with the City, or join a walk at the Northeast Swale. Nature Conservancy of Canada is leading a nature walk in Regina’s Wascana Marsh.

Repair Café, May 5 (Prince Albert)
Work together to repair household items and bicycles at Repair Café Prince Albert from 1-4 pm, May 5.

Spiders & the Prairie Gardener, May 5 (Saskatoon)
Learn to identify the spiders in your garden and appreciate their contributions to a healthy garden ecosystem at 1 pm, May 5, at the University of Saskatchewan.

Predatory Birds in your Yard, May 7 (Saskatoon)
Lyndon Penner will discuss some of Saskatchewan’s most interesting birds of prey at 7 pm, May 7, at Wild Birds Unlimited.

Bats, May 12 (Regina)
Learn interesting facts about bats from University of Regina researchers from 1-2 pm, May 12, Prince of Wales Branch Library.

Making Bat Houses, May 12 (Regina)
Learn how to build a home for bats from 2-4 pm, May 12, Prince of Wales Branch Library.

Bohemian Waxwing drinking from puddle

Great Canadian Birdathon, May 12 (Regina)
Nature Saskatchewan will be hosting the Great Canadian Birdathon on May 12 starting with early morning birding around Wascana Lake followed by an afternoon birding at Last Mountain Lake.

Sprucin’ Up Meeting Lake, May 12 (Meeting Lake)
Join Nature Conservancy of Canada in planting spruce, birch, and dogwood at Meeting Lake 3 from 9 am-3 pm, May 12.

Ecological Literacy, May 12 (Saskatoon)
Lichen Nature will be offering monthly ecological literacy sessions for the remainder of 2018. The first session is from 12:30-4:30 pm, May 12.

Looking Ahead
Camp Wild Roots, July 8-14 & Aug. 26-31
Camp Wild Roots is offering two summer camps for kids to learn about growing and foraging food, permaculture, and wilderness skills. The July 8-14 camp is in Dunblane. The Aug. 26-31 camp is at Aloha Farm east of Regina and will be followed by a 3-day food and music festival.

Science Centre Day Camp, Aug. 21-24 (Prince Albert)
The Saskatchewan Science Centre is hosting a day camp in Prince Albert for 8-13 year olds from Aug. 21-24.

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

In the News
The global energy transition is happening. Why are Canadians distracted by pipelines?

Montana First Nation has established a solar energy company providing training and work opportunities for the community.

Urban climate adaptation needs to include biodiversity. For example, Amsterdam is "enlarging protected areas to enhance extreme-weather resilience and allow for animal migration" while London's Walthamstow Wetlands are enjoyed by birds and humans.

Canada's new methane regulations will be able to cut methane pollution by up to 45% in the next 8 years.

From flat-pack coffins to water cremation: how to have an environmentally friendly death.

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, 26 April 2018

Healing the Land, Healing the People

Prince Albert Food Bank’s Co-op Community Oasis 

Wes Clark, the Prince Albert Food Bank’s Executive Director, is passionate about land reclamation and he’s not afraid of a challenge. With help from the community, he’s turning an abandoned piece of land, almost a brownfield, into a demonstration garden that promotes healing and food security. 

In 2015, the Prince Albert Food Bank hit a turning point. They’d been operating two different food programs – emergency food baskets and a hot meal program – but there just wasn’t enough funding and they were forced to make some tough choices. A series of stakeholder meetings encouraged the Food Bank to move upstream helping local residents to become more food secure. In addition to meeting emergency food needs, the Food Bank would establish a demonstration garden. “There’s a real disconnect,” Wes Clark says. “People don’t know where their food comes from.”

Reclaiming the Land 
Wes and his co-workers settled on the old Molson Brewery site, next door to SHARE (Self-Help and Recreational Education). Having a next-door neighbour would be a huge advantage as there would be storage space and people to keep an eye on the site. However, the soil was very poor and would be hard to work as a brick storage facility had been torn down and simply buried.

Back to Your Roots Soil Solutions generously donated supplies and tested the soil. The land was safe for food production but contained below optimal macro nutrients resulting in low fertility. Wes wasn’t discouraged. “We’re a food bank,” he said. “We’re used to challenges,” and began enriching the soil with everything from calcium and phosphates to fish oil and compost tea.

Seeds don’t germinate well in the poor soil, so the garden takes advantage of leftover bedding plants from local greenhouses. There were some successes. The garden’s magnesium-rich soil doesn’t work well for most plants, but tomatoes thrive in it, producing a bumper crop of super-sweet tomatoes.

From Food Waste to Compost 
The Prince Albert Food Coalition was concerned about food waste and curious to find out what quantity of fruit and vegetables were being thrown out by local grocery stores. Lake Country Co-op offered to sort and collect its fruit and vegetable waste for pickup by the Food Bank. It was a generous offer as it is easier and, at $67/ton, cheaper, to simply cart everything off to the landfill.

The plan was to turn the waste into compost to enrich the garden, but they quickly reached capacity in their bins as the grocery store produced 4 tons of fruit and vegetable waste in just 3 months. Wes started trench composting; Amy and Aron McInnes demonstrated hugelkultur; and the Prince Albert Parkland Permaculture Guild demonstrated sheet permaculture. A tractor, obtained at the end of the 2017 season, should lighten the task this summer.

Water Recapture 
Rain falling on the large roof of the SHARE building has been going straight into the storm sewer. This year the Food Bank plans to capture it in large tanks to water the garden. “There’s no chlorine in rain water, which the garden will like,” Wes says, “and SHARE won’t have to pay the City to pump the water out.”

Community Involvement 
Education and community involvement were key features of the garden from the start. From local police officers who helped plant the 2017 garden to U of S nursing students who organized a Pumpkin Trebuchet Composting Event, the Food Bank has been able to count on local support.

Workshops on composting, container planting, and hugelkultur were well received, while 242 local children were involved in the daily children’s program. Shelley Essaunce has been offering children’s program in Prince Albert’s west end for many years so her involvement was key in bringing local children into the garden for daily activities. This coming summer, the Food Bank hopes to hire an early childhood educator to work with the younger children, providing greater capacity to offer garden-related activities for the older children.

The Food Bank’s First Nations partners were concerned about the loss of culture in the urban environment. With financial support from the Prince Albert Community Foundation, elders and educators provided plant-based cultural programming. The Kistapinanihk program established a medicine wheel garden incorporating tobacco, sage, and cedar and offered 9 workshops. Prayer ties, talking sticks, and creative writing were particularly popular.

From Field to Plate 
Food security encompasses both food production and consumption. The Prince Albert Food Bank hopes to integrate both aspects by establishing a full-time paid position shared with the Prince Albert Community Kitchen. During the summer, the focus will be on the garden, while in the winter the coordinator will offer school cooking programs. Using food as a unifying force, the Prince Albert Food Bank is healing the land and healing the people.

See Also 
Co-op Community Oasis Project: 2017 Report, Prince Albert Food Bank

Four Seasons Urban Agriculture Project, Regina Food Bank

The Garden Patch, Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre