Thursday 30 October 2014

Edible Gardens - Craik Sustainable Living Project

In 2001, the Town of Craik and the Rural Municipality of Craik began working in partnership to develop a long-term plan for a sustainable community-based project. This partnership, called the Craik Sustainable Living Project (CSLP) recognizes the need for tangible, local initiatives addressing climate change and rural community revitalization.

The goals of the CSLP as updated in 2013 include:

  • To raise awareness about sustainable living, climate change and healthy living; 
  • To inspire and enable sustainable change in other communities by example; 
  • To continue to build the profile of the community provincially, nationally and internationally; and 
  • To build upon the relationship between the CSLP and local people. 

The Eco-Centre, completed in 2004, is a key component of the CSLP. It features innovative and energy-efficient building design; integrated heating, cooling and renewable energy systems; as well as renewable waste handling and water treatment systems.

Edible Gardens 
CSLP applied for a $500 EcoFriendly Action Grant in the spring of 2014 to update the landscape immediately in front of the Eco-Centre. Their goal was to create three “fruit tree guilds” based on recognized permaculture practices in order to:

  • Demonstrate skills learned during last summer’s two-week permaculture design course held in the community; 
  • Demonstrate the value of a permaculture approach to landscaping – plant diversity and food production as an alternative to conventional landscaping; and 
  • Enhance the “curb appeal” of the Eco-Centre. 

During September 2014, community volunteers completed the planting project as proposed at the Craik Eco-Centre.

In each of the three beds, they planted an apple tree (2 species represented), a haskap, a sour cherry, a cherry plum, 3 comfrey plants, and 3 chive plants. Other plants such as lupines will be planted in the spring of 2015.

The beds were watered well and heavily mulched. This permaculture-based “guild” arrangement is intended to demonstrate plant diversity, companion planting, and food production potential.

Report submitted by Glenn Hymers 
for the CSLP steering committee

Additional Resources: 
Permaculture: Practical Solutions for Restoring Healthy Ecosystems
Edible Forest Gardens: A Perennial Agriculture Alternative
Using Natural Plant Communities to Guide Guild Design (questions to help you select plants)
10 Tips for Successful EcoFriendly Action Grant Applications

Tuesday 28 October 2014

EcoSask News, Oct. 28, 2014

Nature in Your Backyard, Nov. 2 
Rebecca Grambo, nature photographer, will be speaking about Nature in Your Backyard at 2 pm, Nov. 2, at Wild Birds Unlimited on 8th Street.

Deepen Community Workshop, Nov. 3
Paul Born will be leading a one-day workshop on Deepening Community for Collective Impact on November 3. Participants will receive a copy of Paul’s book, Deepening Community: Finding Joy Together in Chaotic Times.

Watching Wildlife in PA National Park, Nov. 6 
J. David Henry will present a wildlife slideshow and sign his book Watching Wildlife in Prince Albert National Park at 7 pm, Nov. 6, at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Thought Provoking 
Synthetic clothing fibers are heading straight to the oceans from our washing machines

Touch a cash register receipt and you’ll absorb BPA, especially if you’ve just used hand cleanser or lotion

Thumbs Up 
Congratulations to Chet Neufeld and the Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan for tracking down the short-flowered suncup, a native plant many feared was extinct

Green buildings save money and are more comfortable. This infographic gives you the facts

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 21 October 2014

EcoSask News, October 21, 2014


Project Wet, Oct. 31 
SaskOutdoors is hosting a Project WET workshop in Regina on October 31.

Sharing Unconference, Nov. 6 
Join the discussion about the sharing economy (Who is already involved? How can we work together to take advantage of the sharing economy in our community?) at the Sharing Unconference from 1-5 pm, November 6, at Station 20 West.

Field Trips
Young Naturalists 
Nov. 15, 1-2:30 pm – Bird Feeder Workshop (nut allergy alert; space is limited; register in advance)
Dec. 6, 1-3 pm – Paper Making Workshop (space is limited; register in advance)

Golden Eagles 
Oct. 23, 9 am – Birding on the way to and around Purdue

Other Nature Society Field Trips 
Oct. 26, 1:30-8 pm – Radisson and Redberry Lakes and Fall Supper
Nov. 1, 9:30 am - 3:30 pm – Blackstrap Lake Waterfowl Trip

Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details (e.g. some trips require rubber boots, others will be cancelled if the weather is bad).

Home for Hibernating Snakes
A homeowner contacted EcoFriendly Sask looking for help in removing snakes from their home. Salthaven West Wildlife Rehabilitation responded by removing over 100 snakes from the home. But now they need help caring for the snakes over the winter. Contact Megan at Salthaven West if you can help.

Native Plant Society celebrates 20th Anniversary
The Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan will be celebrating their 20th anniversary at their conference in Saskatoon, February 6-7, 2015, at TCU Place. Topics will include rare plant conservation, ecosystem management, and the latest in native plant research.

Interesting Articles
Howard Wheater, Director of the Global Institute for Water Security, discusses water in Saskatchewan – from flooding and drainage to irrigation and diet

Boundary Dam Carbon Capture Project: will this mega project cause mega problems in the future?

California farmers are being paid to cut carbon emissions

Disney World is turning food waste into energy; so are schools, hospitals, and hotels.

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).

Thursday 16 October 2014

Steep Hill Food Co-op, Saskatoon: Minimizing Waste

Green Businesses: The following is part of an occasional series of articles talking to local business owners about their efforts to run a sustainable business. 

As consumers, we have choices regarding where we shop and what we buy.

In 1973, a group of Saskatoon residents decided to establish the city’s first cooperative food store. Initially a buying group, Magpie Food Co-op opened in Caswell Hill in 1976-77. A second, Steep Hill Food Co-op, opened on Broadway Avenue in 1978 and has been in its current location since 1980.

Purchasing Principles 
The Co-op’s goal is to offer high quality food and household items at a fair price. As much as possible, their products are local and organic. They buy fair trade products when they are available (coffee, bananas, cocoa, sugar) and they offer local farmers fair prices. As much as possible, they buy from ethical companies, but they recognize that the store would be half empty if they eliminated products owned by large corporations.

The Co-op has always made bulk purchases. When they started out, they simply opened a box, put a scoop in it, and let people help themselves. Later they moved to bulk bins but found that there was a fair amount of spillage and customers found it more convenient when most goods were packaged by member-workers.

“Bulk bins were messy and time consuming and took up too much space,” says Gerry Yakimoski, store manager. However, in-store packaging continues to be as simple as possible.

Steep Hill doesn’t provide new or used plastic shopping bags. Customers are expected to bring their own and, if they forget, there are a few grocery boxes – or you can stuff it in your pocket.

Minimizing Waste 
Bulk purchases from local and environmentally conscious companies means that there is minimal packaging waste. “Most companies are really good,” Gerry says. “They use crumpled paper.” One company uses cellulose packing peanuts; the Co-op passes them on to a local distributor for reuse. 

Cardboard is flattened and members take it away for recycling. Overripe fruit and vegetables go in compost pails and members pick it up and add it to their own compost piles.

“We average one small garbage bag a day, and it’s primarily the tape off the cardboard boxes,” Gerry says.

Outguessing the Buyers 
Steep Hill works hard to minimize waste by tailoring their orders to match their customers. “We would rather be out of something for a couple of days than have to throw things out that are out-dated,” Gerry explains.

It’s not easy so they may run out of something one week and have too much the next. But a 2% average loss is low compared to the industry average.

It probably helps that they have long-serving staff with plenty of experience. Gerry has worked for Steep Hill Co-op since it started, and Andrée Schmiedge, the assistant store manager, has worked at the Co-op for a number of years.

Limits to Growth 
Steep Hill has about 900 member families; the number has remained steady for a number of years. They do absolutely no advertising and have no intention of expanding. “This is as big as we want it to be, both physically and financially,” Gerry says. “It’s easier to give personal service if we remain this size.”

In a culture that values continuous growth, it’s refreshing to see a business that is content to stay small.

Memberships cost $20 a year (plus GST). Working members spend two hours a month packaging bulk foods, shelving groceries and cleaning. They pay the shelf price for their groceries. Non-working members pay shelf price plus 13%, while non-members pay shelf price plus 25%.

The vast majority of purchases are made by working members. Non-member purchases are only 7-8% of the store’s total revenue. “We have 50 to 60 people who use the Co-op as their principal food supplier,” Gerry says.

Steep Hill Food Co-op is not designed to make a profit. They determine their shelf price by adding 10-25% to the cost price rather than using the suggested retail price.

Resource Materials 
Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill, Natural Resources Defense Council

The Supermarket of the Future Has No Packaging, The Atlantic

Good Product, Bad Package: Top Sustainable Packaging Mistakes, The Guardian

Saskatoon’s Sustainable Businesses 
Confederation Inn, Saskatoon: Going Green and Saving Money

Tuesday 14 October 2014

EcoSask News, October 14, 2014


SaskOutdoors Meet and Greet, Oct. 15
SaskOutdoors will be holding a Meet and Greet in Saskatoon at 7:30 pm, October 15 at the Broadway Roastery on 8th Street. Location TBA - we'll post the information on our Calendar once it's available.

Peregrine Falcon in Flight, Oct. 18
Wild Birds Unlimited is organizing carpooling to see Lynn Oliphant’s peregrine falcon in flight. Meet at the store at 7:30 am, October 18.

Protected Bike Lane Demo Project, Oct. 21
The City of Saskatoon is holding a Presentation and Open House from 2-4 pm for businesses and 5-8 pm for the public on October 21 to outline the 18-month downtown protected bike lane project scheduled to begin May 2015. Look at the plans and give your feedback.

The Open House will be held at Le Relais Community Centre, 103-308 4th Avenue North.

Vandana Shiva, Oct. 28 (Regina)
Vandana Shiva will speak at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation at 7:30 pm, October 28, Education Auditorium, University of Regina.

SK Grasslands, Oct. 31 (Regina)
Branimir Gjetvaj will be presenting an illustrated talk about the Saskatchewan Grasslands at 1:30 pm, October 31, at the University of Regina.

Thumbs Up 
Turn your home into a mean, green efficiency machine with these energy-saving tips [infograph].

Vancouver’s district energy utility can heat whole neighbourhoods. Could Saskatoon follow their example in North Downtown?

There’s a campaign afoot on US university campuses to promote reusable mugs. The We Hate to Waste campaign is aimed at having fun and taking selfies rather than stern moralistic messages.

Thumbs Down 
There are feminized fish in Wascana Creek (and other Canadian waterways) because the water treatment system isn’t removing the estrogen from birth control pills.

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 7 October 2014

EcoSask News, October 7, 2014

PCAP Native Speaker Series, Oct. 20 
Dr. Chantal Hamel will speak on land use and soil biological quality in the Canadian prairie at 3 pm, October 20, in Swift Current. A video will be available online following the presentation.

Reduce Your Food Waste, Oct. 21 
In Canada, an estimated $27 billion of food is wasted every year, half of it at the household level.

The SK Waste Reduction Council will share information about composting and other ways of reducing food waste at 7 pm, Oct. 21, at the Frances Morrison Library.

The Sustainable Speaker Series is sponsored by the Saskatchewan Environmental Society and the Saskatoon Public Library.

NE Swale Master Plan, Oct. 22 
Meewasin Valley Authority is holding an open house at the Forestry Farm House from 4-8 pm on October 22. Here’s your chance to look at and comment on the Master Plan for the Northeast Swale.

Gone Wild for Wildlife, Oct. 25 
Gone Wild for Wildlife, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan’s annual educational fundraiser, will be held on October 25 from 10 am to 5 pm at Prairieland Park. There will be live wildlife exhibits, lectures, and lots of children’s activities.

Outdoor Education Training 
SaskOutdoors has three upcoming events that will be of particular interest to teachers and outdoor leaders:
Nov. 22-23Below Zero & Project WILD Facilitator Training (Saskatoon) – tentative, email if interested

Nov. 28-30Standard Wilderness First Aid (Regina)

Dec. 6-7Winter Camp (St. Michael’s Retreat, Lumsden)

The Prairie That Nature Built 
There is a common misconception that the Prairies are flat and boring. The Prairie That Nature Built, a children’s book by Marybeth Lorbiecki, paints an entirely different picture. There are birds in the sky and burrowing owls underground, a plethora of flowering wild flowers, bison, antelope, prairie dogs, and more.

The book is delightfully illustrated by Cathy Morrison and can be found at the Saskatoon Public Library or on Kindle.

Thought Provoking 
Wildlife is Useless
"Wildlife is and should be useless in the same way art, music, poetry and even sports are useless. They are useless in the sense that they do nothing more than raise our spirits, make us laugh or cry, frighten, disturb and delight us. They connect us not just to what’s weird, different, other, but to a world where we humans do not matter nearly as much as we like to think."

Sask Wind’s Cash-Flow Analysis for Boundary Dam 
"What is really striking about [Murray] Mandryk's analysis is that it reveals that, while SaskPower/Saskatchewan ratepayers are carrying a loss on this project of more than $1-billion, Alberta-based Cenovus Energy will make a gross profit of more than $3-billion: that profit will arise from the sale of increased amounts of crude oil obtained from enhanced oil recovery."

The Shift from Lobbying to Building Grassroots Support 
 “being an environmentalist these days is about knocking on every door you can find

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).

Thursday 2 October 2014

Redberry Lake Discovery Trail

In 2013 the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve received a $5,000 EcoFriendly Action Grant to establish the Redberry Lake Discovery Trail.

Thanks to this grant, many volunteers, our summer students, land owners who see the value in outdoor education and recreation, and other contributors, we were able to cut the ribbon and officially open this new attraction to Saskatchewan and the Redberry Lake area on September 2.

“We have a similar trail near our administration building where we invite guests to explore and watch nature and show them how little it sometimes takes to protect it,” says Karl-Friedrich Abe, Head of Administration of the Rhoen Biosphere Reserve/Thuringia.

“To bring this educational trail to our area is a project which supports the idea of a global network and of Biosphere Reserves as model regions that promote answers on how people and nature can co-exist,” explains Peter Kingsmill, Chair of the Board of Governors at the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve.

Bird and Bat House Display

What makes the Discovery Trail unique? 
The currently 2.2 km long trail starts at Pelletier Point Developments, about 3 km south of Highway 40. It takes hikers along the shore of Redberry Lake through aspen trees and groves, shrubs full with buffaloberries, chokecherries and saskatoon berries. The trail provides beautiful views onto the saline lake and it invites explorers to discover and playfully learn about nature and her secrets.

Different stations along the trail make this self-guided hike unique. Visitors can see and learn about which birds and bats choose to make their home in certain nest boxes, which bugs will move into an Insect Hotel, and which creatures call a Rock Garden home.

A QR Code to scan with a smart phone and leaflets are waiting for hikers who feel ambitious enough to build one of the nest boxes for their own backyard or to construct a miniature insect hotel to create a home for bees, ladybugs and other insects that will eat garden pests.

Insect Hotel

All the leaflets and more information about the trail can also be found on Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve’s website.

The Biosphere Reserve  in the process of forming a group that will look after the trail. Interested volunteers and contributors can contact the Reserve by email.

Report prepared by Susanne Abe 
Communications Coordinator 
Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve