What Matters in Small Towns

In a culture that is transient the connections between people can weaken a lot. In a simple project, Tim Wray shows us what matters in small towns –  sharing hopes, dreams and fears within the community helped Tim and other participants discover their shared values and helped rebuild the connections betweenthem.

The Young Adult Photovoice Project, led by Tim Wray, was funded in part by the Alberta Rural Development Network.  Their website has some great information about the Photovoice Project, as well as a Gallery of the photos and stories.  There is also a How-To Guide that’s worth checking out if you’re interested in doing a similar project in your community!


What Matters in Small Towns?


A Quick Guide to Growing Your Own Food

Many people are beginning to discover the joys of edible gardening, and it is a lot easier than most people think. There are so many good reasons to begin growing your own food and really no reason not to.

There is the satisfaction of eating produce you have grown yourself, and many people swear that home grown fruits and vegetables will taste much better than supermarket produce . Home grown tomatoes and strawberries particularly are said to have a superior flavour and aroma.

You also get to eat the freshest produce possible, one of the many benefits of harvesting food as you need it straight from the garden. It’s a great way to save money and reduce waste in the home and garden, utilising urban space to grow your own food is becoming very popular as one of the best things you can do to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.

A productive edible garden can also be a relaxing and visually pleasing space, and is a great way to learn about plants and a healthy and satisfying way to spend more time outdoors, there is always something happening in the edible garden!

It’s also the best way to get kids involved in the garden and give them a better understanding of where food comes from. There are lots of easier jobs that are great for little ones, planting seeds, weeding and of course harvesting favourites like strawberries are all fun ways to teach kids about food and sustainability, and young and old alike learn a great deal even just observing the way the food garden grows and changes through the seasons.

Growing your own food can be one of the most satisfying and pleasurable experiences you can have in the garden and is much easier than most people think. Even those with the smallest of spaces can enjoy growing their own food with a herb garden in containers, even a windowsill is enough space to grow herbs.

Here are 5 great ways to get started:

1. Start your own container garden

This is a great way for those with limited space to begin growing food plants. There are many herbs, vegetables and fruits that grow well in containers. Start out with a mixed planting of herbs such as thyme, rosemary, basil or garlic chives. Or try growing your own strawberries in a pot or hanging basket, strawberries are one of the best fruits to grow in a container.

2. Start a no-dig vegetable garden

Potatoes are one of the best veges to plant in a no-dig garden. This is for those with a little more space, and is the easiest way to begin your vegetable garden. This method reduces the need for weeding, returns organic matter and life to the soil and is the best way to start your own vegetable garden from scratch. You won’t need to dig up your garden bed, and you can grow all kinds of vegetables and fruits in a no-dig bed. Try strawberries, pumpkins, potatoes and beans as these will all establish very well in a no-dig garden. Tips on No dig vegetable gardening…

3. Start your own Worm Farm

Starting your own worm farm is one of the best things you can do if you’d like to begin growing your own food. Worm-farming is a great way to make your home and garden more sustainable, it’s a sustainable way of dealing with organic waste, and an excellent resource for any gardener. A worm farm will take care of your kitchen waste, allowing you to recycle nutrients back into your soil. Your worm farm will also supply you with a steady stream of organic fertiliser and soil conditioner for your garden or pot plants, an invaluable resource for the home gardener! Worming your way into the garden…

4. Plant a fruit tree

Try growing your own native bush tucker, there are so many wonderful bush tucker fruits that are possible to grow yourself. Great native fruits to grow yourself are Davidson’s plum, Lilly Pilly, Lemon Aspen or even a Native Raspberry! Check out our article on Bush Tucker for Beginners.

Or for something more traditional, try growing your own citrus tree. Most citrus will do well in the garden or in a large container, and a common sight in the traditional Australian quarter acre is the familiar and prolific Lemon tree.

Citrus are fairly easy to grow yourself and are one of the best fruit trees for those starting out.

5. Sign up to Seed Savers

Seed Savers is a great not-for-profit organisation dedicated to sharing seeds and knowledge, and preserving our food heritage. This is a great way to find rare and interesting heirloom fruit and vegetable seeds, and one of the best ways to get hands on and learn about growing your own food. You may even find you want to start your own Local Seed Network as a way to connect with other people in your area who are interested in edible gardening. Find out more about Seed Savers here.

Article courtesy of Local Harvest

Link photo courtesy of 10 Downing Street

Strengthening Rural Communities with Green Hectares

Today at FarmOn we talked with Lesley Pohl of Red Deer, AB who is a Community Connector working with Green Hectares.

A non-profit organization established in 2008, Green Hectares is a leader in bringing sustainability to the agriculture community, and fostering dynamic rural communities. Founded by a group of young leaders who are passionate about agriculture, Green Hectares works to create an environment where anyone with an interest in agriculture and food can thrive & prosper, no matter where they live. At Green Hectares we help develop opportunities for people to connect, collaborate & learn so they can be a thriving part of the agriculture industry, or a contributing force in their community.


Jen: Hi Lesley, thanks for taking the time to chat with us.Currently we know you are working in rural communities, but I am wondering what your background is as it relates to rural living or agriculture?

Lesley: Hi Jen, thanks very much for inviting me! I grew up & was actively involved with the herd health at our family feedlot located outside of Ponoka; as far back as I can remember I was riding barrel & cow horses & checking calves! I was actively involved in processing every fall from running the hydraulic squeeze to tagging, vaccinating, castrating & de-horning. I’ve been training horses since I was about 12 years old, primarily focusing on horses with specific emotional problems; for example a barrel horse that refuses to go up an alley into an arena; I got involved in Natural Horsemanship in 2003 & enjoy working with clinicians & learning new techniques & tips! This winter I started participating in cowboy challenge obstacle courses & my dad has jumped right on board & has an obstacle course set up at the feedlot!

Jen: Your role at Green Hectares is defined as a “Community Connector”, can you tell us a bit more about this role?

Lesley: Our motto is “Where people & opportunity meet” The Green Hectares Community Connector develops & taps into a network of existing educational programs, training & business services & brings them to people living in rural communities. Delivered online & in-person, I provide timely & easy access to programs & services for entrepreneurs, farmers & producers, families & community members. I am to ensure that people do not have to travel very far to get the resources, support & training they want.


Jen: Obviously you are spending a lot of time in rural communities. What challenges do you see in these communities?

Lesley: I guess specifically more in the remote communities distance is a great challenge; the personalized support provided in urban areas isn’t available in remote rural areas. This is why The Community Connector Programming is so amazing because we provide personalized support for entrepreneurs, small business owners, farmers & producers, families, young people & other rural community members.

Green Hectares takes training to the people regardless of location. We believe people should be able to learn in their own community & not have to travel far to get the support & information they need. Our services & support will be provided in community halls & meeting venues in every community, both big & small. The Connector ensures that people do not have to travel very far to get the resources, support & training they need.


Jen: What do you think the future looks like for our rural communities?

Lesley: Oh I think with all the great programs such as FarmOn & Green Hectares to name a couple, the future is bright, innovative & creative. The SKY is the limit!

Jen: Any thoughts on how we might best support these communities?

Lesley: I think organizations such as ours are supporting them in the most dynamic & creative ways. Green Hectares creates opportunities for people to connect, collaborate & learn so they can be a thriving part of the agriculture industry, or a contributing force in their community. It is our aim to support & build vibrant & sustainable communities in any way we can.

Jen: Again, thank you for chatting with us today Lesley. Can you tell us what events you will be attending or where people can meet you in the coming months?

Lesley: I’ll have a booth set up during the FCA Rodeo Finals Oct 5,6,7 in Red Deer at the Westerner Grounds; Also our booth will be set up at the Creating Rural Connections Conference at Olds College on October 11, 12 & 13th. Later on in October I’ll be attending the Agri-trade show in Red Deer as well as numerous community functions around the province! The common joke is that I am a gypsy so it’s best to email me or give me a quick call to find out what corner of the province I might be in!

There is no doubt that with individuals such as Lesley & the Green Hectares Organization, the future of our rural communities will be in good hands. If you wish to connect with Lesley or find out more about the Green Hectares programs please visit the Green Hectares website or contact Lesley at: