Tag Archives: locavore

Urban Gardening

picture-5I recently interview Barry Furlonger of The Downtown Mission.

The interview will show up on Tuesday, on this site, after the shorter (by half) interview airs on Not In My Backyard on CJAM 91.5FM at noon.

I tried to stay away from questions of donation amounts and holiday hardship. I think it’s pretty well-known that charities get a lot of help during the holidays. People are in the giving mood, or at least they get into the giving mood after watching It’s a Wonderful Life or Secret Millionaire. The charities get a heap of help in one or two months, and then run a deficit for the remainder of the year. They struggle month after month, hoping people will run food drives and collect goods they are in need of for the other 10 months they provide food and shelter.

I asked Furlonger about the usefulness of a garden. An urban garden, downtown, on dead Windsor land (of which there’s a ton) could keep a steady supply of fresh vegetables to supply the kitchen to feed those in dire need. I have been reading/listening to Michael Pollan talk on google videos, ted.com, NPR’s Fresh Air, etc., etc. and he is all about food education. Teaching kids where food comes from, and having them keep a garden at school, understanding how valuable real food is. When they see how much work it is, they understand that it is not something to be thrown away or wasted.

I guess I was channeling this line of thought when talking to Furlonger. I brought it up because he said the Mission is unable to accommodate for more than 100 volunteers. This surprised me greatly, because I thought, “The more the merrier.” Not so. You can only fit so many people in the kitchen. You can only have some many jobs for them to do. I began thinking that a garden, located downtown, donated temporarily by a land owner or the city, could be operated, maintained, and serviced by volunteers. More than the 100 could get their hands dirty. In fact, it’s possible that the people being taken care of could be taught how a successful vegetable garden is run, yielding healthy food.

Furlonger seemed interested in this, but with his hands as full as they are, it is likely a project that someone else would have to take on in order to A) find the land, B) find a land owner/city willing to donate the space C) get the administration of the Downtown Mission informed and educated on how to take “possession” of the land and how to cultivate it properly. It would be a big project, and maybe something that Fed Up Windsor could make a great deal of impact with along with the other foodies in this city. There is no shortage of organic food experts and locavores in this city, and there is no dirth of HUGE garden-keepers who could share their ideas also…like Steve Green and Scotty Hughes…Mark Buckner…tons of others…

Anyone got any thoughts on what roadblocks one could encounter, and overcome?

Anyone know of any realistic ways this could take place?

I just think it is important for The Downtown Mission to have a project that HELPS them become more self-sufficient rather than “hoping” for steady, weekly support from people who are just trying to make ends meet during the year. Only good things could come from something like this. Heck! They could even sell the surplus to local restaurants or locavores (local food conscious eaters wanting to know where their food is grown).

I know that there is something like this on Vimy (I think it’s Vimy or Lens) near Howard Avenue, just east of Dayus Roofing and Windows, east of Angilari Lumber. There’s a huge clinic complex there…and two sets of railroad tracks. My father lives on Louis Avenue, between Ypres and Vimy (I think it’s Vimy or Lens) and Louis ends on the north side at this LARGE garden. The garden is closest to the (directly south of, and almost touching) the trackson the North side of Lens or Vimy. I believe it is run by a native co-op, but I’m not sure WHO runs it. Likely one of my readers does. Help us out.

Gets my brain ticking.


Winery Tour; By Bike

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Jhoan and I went to Kingsville, bikes in tow, my Mom in the front seat, and Jhoan’s sister and brother-in-law following nearby. We were heading out to a Windsor Eats event in the county, where several wineries are located. You see, this area in Ontario is on the same latitude as the major wine producers in California and Europe. I think the one major difference is the fact that we get winter temperatures, making the ice-wine an incredible success in this area.

The windsoreats.com crew are motivated to promote the locally run/produced/staffed/grown food in the region. This bike tour was their baby, and in all honesty, I was skeptical.

A quick rundown of the day’s events.

Beginning at Aleksander Winery, we had some white wine as the Mayor of Kingsville mingled with the crowd, taking pictures under the large willow tree located in the back of the property. Loads of bikes were leaning, layin, or standing, waiting to embark on the 25km bike ride which would bring us to two other wineries before returning for dinner.

Upon arrival, I recognized a local musician, and all-around great guy, Mark Muzzin. He, with his wife (Isabella?) do a heap of work at the winery on a regular basis, feeding tours and giving tours, while tending to winery matters also. He gave me a sneak peek of what we’d be eating when we returned. I was speechless. Locally fed/grown veal with pasta (all sauce made from tomatoes and spices in the area), original seed Peaches and Cream corn on the cob, and a melange mix of salad from local greens. Everything on the menu was from less than 10 kilometers of the winery! Awesome!

As we mingled, Chico the bike tour guide was racing around the parking area to test EVERY BIKE to make sure the tire pressures were up to snuff. He filled loads of tires, including mine. What a supremely great idea and gesture to make sure everyone had the easiest ride possible.

We hit the open road, riding the furthest leg of the ride to Pelee Island Winery. When we arrived, we shopped a little bit, ad then began our tasting/tour of the entire workings of the winery. We must’ve tasted at least 6 wines (1 ounce pours are the norm) while moving from production room to room learning about how they make wine, why wine has numbers associated with it, and what the labelling means when you buy VQA wine.

It was interesting, informative, comfortable, and enjoyable all around.

We moved from Pelee Island Winery, a SLIGHT bit tipsy, to the last stop on the trip before returning. Mastronardi Estate Winery had been blessed by the weather gods, because we were able to get a vineyard tour, seeing the grapes, learning about how they are capable of raising the temperature in the vineyards when a cold snap hits (fascinating and almost unbelievable). We tasted four wines, I believe, and they had a rosee that was maybe the best thing I tasted on the entire tour! Beautiful.

When we returned, tired, hungry, and proud of our investment/purchases, we sat down to the meal which was absolutely everything you would imagine it to be. We ate outdoors, under a large white tent, tasting MORE wine (two reds and two whites) and recounting the nearly perfect day of family, love, exercise, libation, healthful local eats, and new friends. Pina and Adriano of Windsor Eats were untouchable in the vein of hosting an event so well-intentioned with people and companies who were SO WELL PREPARED! It went without a hitch.

My mother kept up with the crowd of cyclists, some racing for some reason, and she was riding a one-speed cruiser bike! I can’t say I would have been as capable without gears. I was lucky enough to coast through the ride with Jhoan most of the time, although I tried to stay behind with my Mom on the last two legs of the ride to create a bit of a draft for her. I don’t think I helped one bit, but I wanted to try.

Now to the finish. Yes I had to leave a tad early to rush to work in Windsor (30 minutes away), but this immaculate event was not a one time thing. They have another in September! It’s located at some other wineries in the area (Viewpointe for sure).

The kicker…the entire thing…the meal, the ride, the tours, the tastings cost each participant only $20. TWENTY BUCKS?! That’s practically FREE for what we got! I cannot say enough about this brilliant event, as it may be the best local outing I’ve ever been on in the region. Period. It was that good.

All that said, there is some video that I shot while on the tour…and you are welcome to watch some. It was windy, so the sound cuts out a bit at times, but you can still learn from what I taped.

And on the tail end of this high, I am off to spend a weekend on Pelee Island! I’m going with Dan and Jenna, and Tristan and Hilary. I will laugh so hard this weekend, I may get sick on myself.

Enjoy the videos.

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