REAL Food prepares for a real busy winter

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
November 17th, 2010

So you’ve got your garden winter ready and put to bed for the season, the ground is freezing and is slowly and steadily being overtaken by snow. Now what to do? Start thinking about gardening again! At least, that’s what the Rossland REAL Food Group thinks you should do. With an impressive list of off-season gardening events planned over the winter the REAL Food Group says now is the time to reflect, learn and plan for next year.

“This is actually a great time to talk about gardens and plan for next years garden now that people have a bit of time and aren’t out in the garden all the time,” explained Rachel Roussain.
With just over a month of Christmas shopping time left to go before the big event, REAL Food is teaming up with the Rossland Senior’s Association to bring a more home-made, home-grown, sustainable element to the holiday season.
An integral part of the Community Connections grant the group received last spring was built around intergenerational learning. That initiative was the seed for the idea for an all-ages Christmas gift giving event that organizer hope will help grow the idea of sustainability, gardening and all things food through gift givers networks.
“The seniors were super keen on this idea. Les Anderson knows how to make fresh vanilla extract himself so this will be a really fun event to kick off the winter. I think it’s going to be a really great idea for people that like to make gifts. My mom always told us as kids that we had to make our own presents. This is a great opportunity to make a whole bunch of presents for loved ones that have a nice Kootenay / Rossland sustainable touch on them. They are usable too, it’s not just a home-made gift that sits on a shelf somewhere,” added Roussin.
Attendees will have the option of learning how to and making their own herb packets from locally-grown herbs, how to make vanilla extract from Les Anderson as well as how to make your own truffles.
“REAL Food and the Seniors are providing the ingredients and expertise – YOU supply the ‘person power’,” noted Roussin.
That concept of going to those in the community with the most experience when it comes to growing food in our mountain climate, gathering their wisdom and sharing it among others has been one of the motivations behind the winter event series.
Starting in January and running monthly through March, the REAL foodies will be bringing together both experts and non experts alike to discuss a different aspect s of the food spectrum.
Some nights will focus on storing food, learning what types and varieties of vegetables grow best in Rossland, while others will focus on raising animals–be they chickens or goats–and tips and advice around the subject.
While each night will have a theme, the discussion is expected to veer off in many different directions and will address individuals’ concerns and questions in an open format, the idea being that we can all learn from the experience of others who have been growing and raising food in this climate for many years.
“Something we’ve learned in getting together as the Foodies and Rossland REAL Food is that there is someone in the community that knows something about everything and when you get these people together they start coming up with all of this fantastic learning they’ve picked up in their experience. So we’ll start the group with a theme and the people we have that are going to be starting the discussions are all people who have lived in Rossland for over 25 years or their entire lives and have been growing and preserving food and raising animals that whole time. Although there are some specific themes for each event, they could explode in dialogue into anything.”
To help folks wash down their home-grown food, the REAL food group is also working on a January event that will focus on brewing your own beer. A quick look at telephone poles, guy wires and anything vertical in nature around town makes it is clear that hops grow well in this climate. This workshop will focus on how to make use local hops, barley and local ingredients to brew up your own “Sustainabeer.”
“We’re going to do a how to brew beer workshop that’s going to be using malt extracts, fresh hops and fresh barley and stuff so that will be very cool. You can eat all the food you want but if you’re still going to the liquor store that’s still food/ingredients being transported all over. We need to drink sustainably as well!” added Roussin.
Garden tours are back on the event schedule as well, and what may be suprising to some is that the next round is scheduled for January–in the heart of the winter. With the overriding goal of sharing knowledge among the gardening community, the January garden tours are meant to help folks plan for the upcoming season and learn things such as when certain types of plants need to be started, how to light them and how to do it all indoors so come summer you’re ready to go.
“This is going to get the novice growers in town up to speed with the expert growers,” continued Roussin. “By starting the tour in January at people’s houses and seeing what they are starting at what time, people won’t be late. It won’t be June with people thinking, ‘oh darn, I was supposed to start that in February’.”
In order to finish off the winter season just as the stoke for getting hands and spades into dirt is reaching its climax, the accelerator will pressed to the floor as we await the arrival of spring in the form of Rossland’s first Gardening/Food film festival.
The one day film festival, to be held in February at the Miners’ Hall, will feature two food-themed films bisected by a seed swap.
In partnership with the Rossland Council for Arts and Culture, two films (Fresh and Dirt) will be presented.
“Both are new films that are very inspiring about how we can create healthy and sustainable food systems. We’re also looking forward to getting local growers to come out and trade/sell their seeds,” commented Roussin.
If all these gardening and food-related activities have got you excited and you have a need to get your green thumb in some dirt right now, the REAL Food group notes that one of the best things you can do for your garden right now is to get your hands on leaves and not to bag them up for disposal.
“Leaves are high-carbon material, so do a great job at deterring bears and keeping smells down in your compost. By entering a huge amount of carbon into your spring rotting compost, you cover up a lot of that rotting and smells that help attract bears. Early spring we don’t have a lot of carbon material readily available and people may find themselves wishing they hadn’t thrown out all of those leaves.”
If you’d rather use that thumb of yours to turn pages, the REAL Food group also noted that the winter is the best time of year to read gardening books, reflect on your past summer and make physical notes for yourself so that come next Spring, with new education and friends in hand from the winter’s event series, you’ll be ready and raring to go.
Indeed much like planting bulbs, fall is the best time to lay plans for your garden so that when the warm weather returns, your ideas will have sprouted into an improved garden and better, tastier food.

Categories: GeneralHealth

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