Every Year, the Guelph Organic Conference happens at the University of Guelph. This is basically right in my backyard. Well actually it’s across the river, through the golf course, up the hill, and through The Arboretum from my backyard… but still, it’s close. The point is that it is a really fantastic learning opportunity that includes workshops and a fantastic trade show, and I had never so much as set foot in the place until this year. The conference happened this year on January 25-28 and I attended sessions all day, Friday to Sunday, and came away feeling energized and with a fist-full of business cards to follow up on and ideas spilling out of my ears!
Here are three tangible things that I’ve sorted out from the excitement so far:
1. Buying organic
This is a contentious issue in my house. Until now, both my husband and I had a similar attitude towards buying organic: it’s a nice extra, if you feel like spending double your food budget and feeling like you are better than other people while you eat your imported bananas (full disclosure, we eat bananas too). Basically we had decided that this was not something that our family could afford and we left it at that.
What is rather inconvenient for our family budget (and marital harmony, for that matter) is that I can’t unlearn some of the things that I learned at the conference. For example; the difference between the impact of organic and non-organic farming on things like pollinator populations, soil erosion, and replenishing of groundwater tables (I seriously can’t get over this amazingly simple demo of this concept: ).
I was overwhelmed with overwhelm at the thought of what it would mean for our household finances to start buying everything organic. My good friend and business partner Ami suggested that I start small; start with just one change and see how it sits. Then introduce another one. I’ll take that advice.
2. What the F*** to do with my yard?!
I’ve already shared that my backyard is a sore spot for me that feeds my deep dark secret suspicion of inadequacy. I found an absolutely glorious book called Food not Lawns, by Heather Jo Flores. I love that Heather doesn’t just talk about making a garden, she’s talking about being the catalyst for connection in your neighbourhood! SO. MINGA! I am pumped to use this book as my guide while I slowly metamorphose our yard.
I also got some very practical guidance about what to plant to help support local pollinator populations in a presentation by a glorious woman named Rebecca Ellis (check out her blog: Permaculture For The People). I’ll be seeding white clover as ground cover, as well as some other plants that offer awesome food for pollinators like lovage, butterfly weed, asters, squash, joe-pye weed, and fleabane.
There will be worms making amazing compost in my basement by the end of the month! Simple. More to come on this.