Volunteer-run community farm

Monday, 27 July 2020

Posted by Prairie Urban Farm in , , , , , | 12:38 No comments


We often hear of farmers praying for rain, and farmers in Alberta have certainly done that often enough, but this year like last year we are all hoping for a bit more sun!

The frequent rains have certainly impacted us at PUF. We can't work during storms, and even when the sun comes out, we have to be careful because working while our plots are wet can cause soil compaction, particularly with our clayey soils.

Working at PUF always makes me think about Alberta's other farmers, the ones growing food as a means of supporting their families and communities. Our weather tribulations pale in comparison to the difficulties that the rainy season has posed for our farmers. For many their crops have been inundated, choking out young plants, so they face the prospect of harvest failure this year, an occurrence that has been happening all too often of late.

Crazy weather seasons also remind me of the direct relationship between climate change, agriculture and food, and the importance of adjusting our farming and consumption practices to adapt to emerging climate realities and avoid practices that make those realities even worse. While we cannot attribute a single storm to climate change, shifts in patterns of temperature, precipitation, and extreme weather frequency are all associated with human-caused changes to our climate. I hope we can share our views and ideas about these things while at PUF, since they certainly affect our own little farm. But they also affect our agri-food systems regionally and globally with potentially serious consequences for farmers' livelihood and food security.

The weather finally seems to be warming up and hopefully drying out a bit. Please join us for a work session. You can sign up at puf.eventbrite.com

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Posted by Prairie Urban Farm 11:21 No comments

A Message to Our Prairie Urban Farm Volunteers and Friends

Many of the events unfolding across the world, including the pandemic and the eruption of protests against violence perpetrated by police against Black, Indigenous, other people of colour, and LGBTQ peoples, have brought several essential conversations to the forefront and highlighted the importance of kindness, inclusion, allyship, and anti-racism. While PUF has always openly welcomed diverse volunteers and groups to the farm, we haven’t yet directly addressed our stance and values relating to this important topic. We want to take this time to emphasize our strong support for inclusion and anti-racism at the farm.

We believe PUF’s biggest strength is its volunteers. Over the years, PUF has grown and flourished through the hard work and dedication of volunteers of all ages, races, abilities and genders, each of whom has contributed to a community based on mutual respect and support. This diversity has fostered a wealth of knowledge sharing while also uniting us through our collective commitment to growing healthy food in a sustainable manner.

As such, we want to encourage all of our volunteers to continue to enrich our community by sharing their unique ideas, experiences and perspectives and to listen to others who are sharing theirs.

We also recognize that discrimination occurs in a variety of ways. This includes, but is not limited to, stereotyping, racial profiling, bias, and differential treatment. Victims of discrimination often remain silent for fear of criticism, inferiority, mockery, or humiliation. To ensure that we are providing an inclusive space for everyone to feel safe, respected, and valued, we invite everyone to please share any feedback, issues, or concerns in the event that you or a fellow volunteer or visitor experiences any behaviours, actions, or words that do not reflect our commitment of inclusivity, respect and diversity.

If any volunteer or visitor experiences any form of discrimination, you are encouraged to discuss the incident onsite in a constructive manner if you feel comfortable doing so. Bringing awareness to the situation may lead to valuable and educational conversations that could bring greater awareness to everyone about how to show respect for diversity. If you prefer to speak privately to a mentor, do not hesitate to approach any one of our PUF mentors on site, or online via email or Slack. Remember that PUF is a safe space to share your concerns, and we are here to support you.

We are all responsible for sustaining a zero tolerance environment against racism and discrimination. Although it takes courage, we believe the most important means of doing so is to bring attention to acts of discrimination when they occur and t turn a hurtful moment into a learning moment. Individuals may be unaware of how their words and actions may be hurtful to others. Let’s all strive for active communication, awareness and positive change.

Friday, 8 May 2020



Please watch this video before you are able to volunteer for the 2020 garden season. After watching the video, sign the waiver form. Print the form and bring to your first volunteer session or scan the form and email. Once you've completed the process to volunteer, you can join our Slack channel for the latest information on the garden.

Sign up for work bee sessions here.


 





Friday, 1 May 2020

Posted by Prairie Urban Farm 12:29 1 comment




 PLEASE DO NOT VISIT THE FARM UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE!

The COVID19 Pandemic has several implications for Prairie Urban Farm. The most immediate one is that the University of Alberta is requiring us (and all other groups involved in field activities) to submit rigorous health and safety plans for review and approval. And until that time, we are prevented from setting foot on the Farm.

Our health and safety plans, which we have been furiously working on this past week, will likely be approved very soon. The only real frustrating thing is the weather is so beautiful right now, it's hard to be patient.

We will have some new safety rules in place:
  • Before you participate in any activities on the farm, you must sign a waiver form
  • You will also be required to bring your own gloves, since sharing gloves can pose a virus infection risk
  • You must bring a mask with you (it can be home made so long as it covers your nose and mouth) for use in group settings

Meanwhile, I know several of you have been growing seedlings for us, and your babies might be ready for transplanting! One of our volunteers, Nils, shared this video with instructions for how to make your own pots out of old newspaper, hence no plastic waste, no trips to the store. 


Sunday, 26 April 2020

Posted by Prairie Urban Farm 12:41 1 comment





There is a rather nasty parasite making its way around Edmonton. The parasite is called Echinococcus multilocularis. This parasite has only recently appeared in Canada, and it seems the main place it has done so is right here in Alberta. 17 Albertans have been diagnosed with it so far.

So why are we telling you all about this? Because coyote (or dog) feces contain the eggs and these are relatively to ingest accidentally, particularly for folks who like to play in the dirt like we do, and we get a fair number of visitors of the coyote variety to our farm. Rodents also carry this parasite, but can't convey it to people unless we eat them.

The parasite can be fatal, particularly if not caught—and it does appear that a person can have the parasite for years without knowing it. See this news story about an Alberta case.

I seem to have reasons to be thankful for Ron, our friendly Farm-hood rodent manager on a regular basis, and this month is no exception, he has already been out to disinfect around the shed and wood stacks.

But given that the eggs can survive our cold winter temps, I think we should assume there will be some around on the farm this spring. Gloves, regular hand washing (which has become so important lately), and thorough washing of produce are in order. Please also keep a close eye on kids and pets.

Monday, 13 April 2020

Posted by Prairie Urban Farm 12:55 No comments


During these strange times in which we are now living, in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic, a number of changes are afoot.

First, we were not able to meet at the greenhouse this spring due to restrictions on social gatherings imposed for all University of Alberta facilities, so a number of us are starting seeds in window boxes and under grow lights. If anyone has a sunny window, or some indoor grow lights, and would like to start some seedlings for PUF, your efforts would be much appreciated!

Second, new measures will be taken to protect our volunteers and customers, including adding additional weekly work bees to avoid large numbers of volunteers working at the same time. We will also be adding additional mentors so that volunteers can be divided up into smaller working groups and work on different projects around the farm during each work bee. We ask all volunteers to bring their own work gloves to avoid sharing gloves. Social distancing protocol will be practiced at all times. During our weekly market, plastic gloves and hand sanitizer will be provided for our volunteers.

Ordinarily, around this time of year we would be holding a public information session for new and returning volunteers. This year we will produce a video-recorded session to share. You can look for this toward the end of April, and we hope to get started on the Farm shortly thereafter, weather-permitting.

Fourth, we are also anticipating that the need for PUF to contribute to local food security will be greater than ever. So we are calling upon all of our volunteers to go the extra mile this season in order help us increase production to meet this need, and also to be considerate when harvesting for your own consumption. While we have been quite relaxed in previous seasons, we will be instituting new rules to ensure equitable distribution of harvest among volunteers.

Finally, we have a strong crew of new and returning mentors already committed for our 2020 season, but we would be happy to add your name to our team. Please contact us if you are interested.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Posted by Prairie Urban Farm 16:15 No comments


With the weather starting to get warmer, we're looking forward to the upcoming garden season. Are you interested in joining our team of garden mentors for the 2020 season?

A mentor is someone who shares the responsibility of facilitating our work bees. We would like mentors who are able to commit to at least 2 hours of mentorship per week. Mentors do not have to be farming gurus, you just need to be willing to learn, enthusiastic about sustainability, and enjoy engaging with a wide diversity of people!

Those mentors who feel less confident in their farming knowledge will be paired with another mentor, provided with plenty of instruction, and/or asked to lead work bee tasks that are less knowledge-intensive.

Our regular work bee sessions are Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm, and Saturday 1 pm  to 5 pm. Some mentors have also taken the initiative to lead a morning/midday session as well.

If you are interested, please email Debra ddavidson@ualberta.ca. Anyone who is particularly excited about being involved in our weekly market should let her know in your email. There will be a meeting of everyone interested in mentoring in March.  

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