Tuesday 26 February 2013

EcoSask News, February 26, 2013


Athabasca Sand Dunes, Feb. 28/Mar. 26
If you’re interested in camping and hiking on the Athabasca Sand Dunes, join Greg Fenty and Melanie Elliott at the information sessions on February 28 and/or March 26.

Forestry Farm Birding, Mar. 3 
Join Greg Fenty and the Saskatoon Nature Society on March 3 from 1:30-3:30 pm as they look for winter songbirds at the Forestry Farm. Warm up afterwards with Georgia the Porcupine.

Environmental Book Club, Mar. 12
The Saskatchewan Environmental Society’s book club will be discussing Eaarth by Bill McKibben at 7 pm on March 12.

Energy Efficient Building Standards
The Government of Saskatchewan is holding a series of consultations on building standards for energy-efficient homes. They will be in Saskatoon on February 25, March 22, and April 10. The full consultation schedule and background information is available online.

Community Garden Conference, Mar. 23 
CHEP’s one-day conference on community gardens will be held on March 23. Presentations include: design considerations for a community garden, school gardens, how to start a community garden, community gardening in Regina, recruiting and maintaining volunteers, and growing food in Canada: perspective from a new Canadian. Contact Gord Androsoff at gord@chep.org to register.

Creating the Prairie Xeriscape
Sara Williams will be launching her new book, Creating the Prairie Xeriscape, at Seedy Saturday on March 9. The book provides a complete guide to planning, designing, and maintaining a water-conscious garden and includes a reference section of ideal plants.

Product Redesign
All our products will need a redesign if we are to become an environmentally-conscious society. For example, 8-10 billion plastic hangers are manufactured every year. Ditto has produced two alternatives: a paper hanger made from 80-100% post-consumer waste with vegetable inks and environmentally friendly adhesives or a more durable PET plastic hanger numbered 1 for recycling.

Ditto’s CEO says, “We see a huge market creating beautiful products that are intelligently designed so that their end-of-life is engineered into the product. We don't see consumption going down any time soon. That means it's up to the industrial designer to design products responsibly.”

Clean: The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing
In Clean: The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing, Michael de Jong introduces 5 natural products that will clean just about anything – baking soda, borax, lemon, salt, and white vinegar – and provides dozen of tips on how to use them.

Importance of Urban Farming
Five reasons why urban farming is the most important movement of our time: renewed local economies, environmental stewardship, focus on local politics, revolution of health and nutrition, and flowering of community interaction.

Interesting Reading
From Poop to Power: The Story of Biogas
Naturalized Parks in Residential Areas: Pay Attention to Education and Borders
Golf Clubs: Practising Environmental Stewardship
Canada Heading for Bitumen Cliff: An Economic and Environmental Trap
Stormwater Management: Plants and Trees More Effective than Gravel

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Tuesday 19 February 2013

EcoSask News, February 19, 2013


PRI Potluck, Feb. 21
The Permaculture Research Institute of Saskatchewan is holding a potluck supper on February 21. After supper, Jessie Best and Shaun Abs, who have recently participated in a Holistic Management workshop, will make a presentation and lead a discussion on holistic management. Saskatchewan and other prairie provinces are starting to adopt this method of farming as a way to build topsoil, store carbon, improve animal care, and rejuvenate water cycles.

The Future of Community Pastures, Feb. 28/Mar. 1
Over one million acres of Canada’s most valuable grasslands are for sale, and Public Pastures – Public Interest is hosting two forums in Saskatoon to share information. At 7 pm, February 28, at the Frances Morrison Library, Candace Savage will highlight the pastures’ heritage and their importance for grassland conservation. A panel of speakers will address various topics related to the pastures on March 1 from 1-4 pm in the Georgia Goodspeed Theatre, Edwards School of Business.
Scott Vaughan Webinar, Feb. 25
Scott Vaughan, Commissioner for Environment and Sustainable Development, will present highlights from his most recent report to Parliament in a one-hour webinar on February 25.

Guide to the Environmental Petitions Process, Mar. 4 & 6
The Saskatchewan Eco Network is collaborating with the federal government in offering an informal presentation on A Guide to the Environmental Petitions Process. It will be held on March 4 in Regina and March 6 in Saskatoon. Contact SEN if you are interested in attending as they need to know numbers before booking a facility (info@econet.sk.ca, 652-1275).

A Wolf’s Night to Howl, Mar. 9
Enjoy an indoor presentation by Rebecca and Glen Grambo on their most recent book, Wolf: Legend, Enemy, Icon, at Elk Ridge Resort on March 9, along with live music courtesy of Sundogs Excursions. After the indoor program, drive into Prince Albert National Park and try to howl for the wild wolves.

Seedy Saturday, Mar. 9
Don’t miss CHEP’s 15th annual seed exchange and eco fair on Saturday, March 9, from 11 am to 4 pm at E.D. Feehan Collegiate. There will be over 40 exhibitors as well as speakers on edible weedy plants, seed saving, urban farming in Saskatoon, and xeriscaping on the Prairies. Wild About Saskatoon and Slow Food Saskatoon both plan to be there.
Green Transportation Workshop, Mar. 9
Grade 10-12 high school students and teachers from across the province are invited to attend a day-long Green Transportation Workshop in Regina hosted by the Saskatchewan Eco Network. To register, contact Rick Morrell at info@econet.sk.ca or by phone at (306) 543-2784.

Wildlife Rehabilitation, Mar. 30-31
The Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan is hosting the IWRC training in basic wildlife rehabilitation on March 30 and 31 in Saskatoon.

Wild Birds Unlimited 
Wild Birds Unlimited has just opened. The store is next door to Saboroso on 8th Street and sells everything from wild bird seed grown in Alberta to bird houses, bird baths, and decorative items. The owners are very supportive of local environmental groups.

Interesting Reading
There are now only 775 Piping Plovers in Saskatchewan – half the number recorded in 2006

14 projects to increase production of fossil fuels could have a disastrous world-wide impact

Cities can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% or more

Grassroots urbanism: rainwater harvesting in Yemen, shady bus shelters in Uganda, and pop-up parks in Brazil

Adopting an effective vocabulary around climate change

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Friday 15 February 2013

The Small lot of H.O.P.E.

EcoFriendly Sask has awarded a $500 EcoFriendly Action Grant to the Cornerstone Family and Youth Partnership Project to help them extend The Small lot of H.O.P.E., the Fruit and Vegetable Children’s Garden.

In 2008-09, Carlyle Elementary School grounds included a cracked concrete pad and two rusty basketball hoops located between the east wall of the gym and a storage shed. Working with their teachers and families, the students decided to transform the lot into an outdoor classroom garden.

Over the past five years, they have planted trees, built raised flower beds, replaced the concrete pad with a recycled tire patio, created a rain barrel water collection system, developed a school-wide composting program, purchased picnic tables, and even painted a mural of how the garden will look when it is complete.

The school wants to extend its garden by adding four raised garden beds to plant and harvest fruit and vegetables that the students can use in their nutrition program. The raised beds will be built from composite wood grain timbers that are manufactured from 60% recycled post-consumer plastic and 40% natural fibers.

The school partners with Cornerstone Family and Youth (CFY), a non-profit charitable organization that provides educational and recreational programs for children, to operate the garden program. Together, they offer a twice-weekly after-school garden club during the spring, early summer, and autumn. When school is out, CFY hosts a daily summer camp program that maintains the garden.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Snakes of Saskatchewan

According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2013 is the Year of the Snake. Snakes aren’t cuddly creatures, so we don’t tend to know a lot about them. Now is our chance to find out more about these sinuous reptiles.

See Also: Saskatchewan's Snakes (January 2020)

Year of the Snake
National Geographic has published an article that lists five parallels between the zodiac sign and the snake in real life.

For example, in the Chinese zodiac, the snake is the master seducer. Well, garter snakes do pretty well in real life too. When a female snake is ready to mate, she produces pheromones and any male snakes in her vicinity are attracted by her scent. They gather around the female in a large, wriggling “mating ball.” Mating balls can be relatively small, but in some places, like Manitoba, garter snakes travel to specific sites to mate and a mating ball can include thousands of males and only a hundred females.

Saskatchewan’s Snakes
Saskatchewan has nine different snakes, including three garter snakes and the western/prairie rattlesnake. All the snakes are carnivorous, eating everything from insects to rodents.

The western hog-nosed snake derives its name from the upturned tip of its snout, which enables it to dig for its dinner. It rolls on its back and plays “possum” when threatened.

Garter Snakes
Garter snakes can be found from one side of Canada to the other. There are garter snakes in the Northwest Territories but none in Newfoundland. They are generally found near water. Although they aren’t poisonous, some species will vibrate their tail against dry vegetation to imitate the sound made by rattlesnakes. If threatened, they release a foul smell from glands near the base of the tail.

Prairie Rattlesnake
The prairie rattlesnake is the only venomous snake on the Prairies and can be found in southwestern Saskatchewan, southeastern Alberta, and south-central British Columbia. Its range extends as far south as northern Mexico. Each time the snake sheds its skin, a ring is added to the string at the end of its tail. The rings knock together and make a rattling noise. The snake will shed its skin three to five times during its first summer and one to three times after that.

Garter Snake in Motion 
Here’s a short video of a garter snake wriggling its way to safety.

For more information: 
Year of the Snake: Serpent behind the Horoscope, National Geographic
Reptiles, Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, Diane Secoy
Garter Snakes of Canada, Simply Wild Canada
Fast Facts: Prairie Rattlesnake, Canadian Geographic

Nature Companion, a Comprehensive Nature App for Canada's Four Western Provinces

Tuesday 12 February 2013

EcoSask News, February 12, 2013


Stress Tolerance in Plants, Feb. 21
Professor Susan Kaminskyj will discuss how fungi can protect plants from extreme climate at 7:30 pm, February 21, as part of the Saskatoon Nature Society’s monthly programming. Meetings are held in Room 106, Biology Building, University of Saskatchewan.

Passive House Design & Construction, Feb. 22
The Canada Green Building Council is offering the first-ever day-long workshop on passive house design and construction on February 22 covering insulation, air tightness, and ventilation.

We Are Many, Feb. 26
We Are Many is holding a members’ meeting on February 26. They are looking for people to take a more active role in coordinating the Garlic Project and the event logistics for the Hydration Station. Contact info@wamsaskatoon.com for more information.

Watersheds Conference, Apr. 9 & 10
The Saskatchewan Association of Watersheds' conference will be in Moose Jaw on April 9 and 10. Bob Sandford, the keynote speaker, will discuss water and climate security in the Canadian West, and there will be tours of several water treatment facilities.

Innovation Place Achieves LEED Gold
121 Research Drive, Innovation Place, Saskatoon, has been awarded LEED Gold certification, one of just three such buildings in the province. 121 Research Drive is a multi-tenant office building with six occupied levels. Some sustainable features of this building include:

  • 67% of construction waste was diverted from landfill
  • 21% of construction materials included recycled content
  • Low VOC materials contribute to a high indoor air quality
  • Water conservation through low-flow fixtures, selective landscape planning, and a high-efficiency irrigation system
  • Lighting system that responds to changing light levels throughout the day
  • 100% fresh air supply for ventilation
  • Exhaust heat recovery system
  • Radiant heating and cooling panel systems
  • 47% energy cost savings over the national energy code's model
  • 100% of electrical power provided by off-site renewable power source
  • Green housekeeping practices in cleaning operations

Environmental Solutions
Ensia is a new magazine and event series showcasing environmental solutions in action. It is produced by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. Current articles include: Creating Sustainable Ocean Fisheries by Alexandra Cousteau, Are Migrations Going Extinct?, and Recycling Carpets for Car Parts.

Low-Carbon Energy Futures
Low-Carbon Energy Futures: A Review of National Scenarios indicates that a low-carbon future is within our reach. It will require major improvements in energy efficiency; greater reliance on electricity for heating, personal transportation, and some industrial processes; a transition to low- or zero-carbon electricity sources; and a wider use of biofuels.

Sewage Heat
Vancouver is mining its sewage to heat an entire neighbourhood.

Composting Gains Traction across the US
Composting organic waste is growing in the US. Compost Cab picks up food waste and delivers it to farmers and gardeners to use as compost/fertilizer. Harvest Power takes municipality's solid waste and converts it to high-quality soils or energy.

Edible Garden Oasis
Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City by Eric Toensmeier with Jonathan Bates is permaculture in action, demonstrating what works and what doesn’t work when turning an urban backyard into a productive garden.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Tuesday 5 February 2013

EcoSask News, February 5, 2013

Gardening Classes, Feb/April
Prairie Master Gardeners are offering 5 classes in February (first class is Feb. 5) and 4 in April to help you prepare for spring planting. They range from floral design to soils, composting, and fruit crops.

Native Prairie Speaker Series 
The Prairie Conservation Action Plan (PCAP) hosts the Native Prairie Speaker Series. Upcoming talks include the results of the Piping Plover Census (Feb. 6, Swift Current), Biodiversity on Pastures (Feb. 16, Saskatoon), and Connectivity and Conservation (Feb. 18, Regina).

Terra Madre Night, Feb. 7
Join Slow Food Saskatoon at 7:30 pm, February 7, at Root Down Workers’ Cooperative and explore Terra Madre/Salone del Gusto, the world’s largest food festival, through the photographs and experiences of Bryn Rawlyk and Sharon McDaniel. Slow Food - food that is good, clean, and fair.

Native Plants – Native People, Feb. 8-9
Penny is looking forward to attending the Native Plant Society's conference Feb. 8-9 with its focus on native plants - native people. Lots to learn about indigenous foods and medicines and the work being done by Saskatchewan's First Nations.

North Downtown Redevelopment, Feb. 12 
Everyone is invited to attend the RoadMap AGM at 7:00 pm, February 12, at Station 20 West and learn more about the North Downtown Redevelopment Plan from Jeanna South, City of Saskatoon, and Laura Plosz, Group2 Architecture.

RoadMap Saskatoon, through community engagement, builds awareness of the environmental, social, and economic benefits of sustainable practices and mobilizes a multi-sector network of community leaders committed to a sustainable Saskatoon. (Penny is a board member.)

Cherry Valentine Evening, Feb. 14

Students from the Saskatoon School of Horticulture think cherries are one of Saskatchewan’s greatest crops. To share their enthusiasm, they are hosting Cherry Valentine Evening on February 14 in the Masonic Temple with live music and food featuring Saskatchewan-grown cherries as well as signature cocktails with spirits from LB Distillers. Call 931-4769 or email cherryvalentineevening@gmail.com to purchase tickets for $45 each.

Spring Break, Feb. 18-22
Beaver Creek will be open from 1-4 pm during Spring Break from February 18 to 22.

Toxic Body Products, Feb. 19
Jennie Weselowsky will discuss how personal care products affect our health and the environment at 7 pm, February 19, at the Frances Morrison Library. Jennie will explain how to read product labels in order to avoid toxins. (co-sponsored by the Saskatchewan Environmental Society and the Saskatoon Public Library)

Wild About Saskatoon

Wild About Saskatoon has a website and is busy making plans for their NatureCity Festival, May 25-31. Check it out!

Royal Saskatchewan Museum
The Royal Saskatchewan Museum has a new website. It includes reports on their current research projects, such as the potential for ecomuseums in Saskatchewan and burrowing owls (including videos). Burrowing owls are most active at dawn and dusk, and they like to have a good reserve of food. The researchers found a cache of 87 deer mice, 4 meadow voles, and one shrew.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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