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Susan’s Provincial Update October 20, 2011

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I feel the urge to share with you some of what I have learned over the last month that shows things are really happening around food and opportunities across our province. By the end of this month I will have attended or presented at eight different gatherings, celebrations, panels and dinners all about food, and there are more coming up in November! The topics include: marketing of food to kids, cooperatives, enterprising non-profits, healthy eating and active living, students and food, permaculture, urban agriculture, food from a global perspective and GFSA and S.E.L.R.S. The tidbits I have swallowed and am digesting suggest some epi-centres for future GFSA and S.E.L.R.S. action and advocacy across the province including:

  • Food corporations marketing of unhealthy foods to children must be stopped! A Café’ Scientific of the CIHR – Institute of Population and Public Health, clearly showed that food corporation marketing of unhealthy foods to children must be stopped. Dr. Kim Raine (U of A), Dr. Charlene Elliott (U of C) and Dave Colburn of the Edmonton Public School Board gave those attending some valuable insights on how pervasive unhealthy food marketing is to kids. The panel shared research findings, ideas for solutions and left the attendees with a clear understanding that change must happen. Stay tuned for more CIHR Café scientific sessions across the country. Have a look at www.consommateur.qc.ca/union-des-consommateurs/docu/agro/MarkJunkFoodChildren.pdf
  • Co-ops and enterprising non-profits approaches are viable business models for the regenerative food system we envision.
  • The term ‘Healthy eating” is not as simple as it sounds and as some make it out to be.Alberta Health Services’ “THRIVE” and ARPA’s Communities Choosewell are opening the door a crack for change. Healthy eating is far more than an eating behaviour change or a health and chronic disease issue. It has implications for economics, equity, peak oil, food system regeneration and sustainability, the environment and as a key to building “community”. If I eat healthy, I believe I will help achieve food sovereignty in Alberta. Eating healthy non-processed food and food closer to home will build my community and my health. Eating ‘non-processed’ and ‘closer to home’ food means we will learn/relearn how to cook and garden, and we will build relationships with providers/retailers and understand the origin and composition of food. I do believe THRIVE and Choosewell Communities are open to this broader dynamic of healthy eating.
  • Post secondary and secondary school students interest in seeing change in the food system.The McConnell Foundation has recently provided some funding for a Farm to Cafeteria project. There is a keenness among U of A students who are holding a Farmers Market and also mounting a panel and discussions about Food Security locally and Globally this week!
  • Urban agriculture movement is growingUrban Ag vis-a-vis Permaculture is becoming a stronger force. The City of Edmonton held a display on the potential of Urban agriculture – www.edmonton.ca/FoodandAg. Dustin Bajer, a teacher at Jasper Place High School, presented to a group attending in Edmonton’s City Hall about the vitality of connections in the plant and animal world that are so vital for community. In JP High School Dustin and students have lots to share about permaculture in schools and beyond. Visit www.permaculture.jasperplace.ca/.
  • GFSA and S.E.L.R.S. – watch for the blogs and the updated web site, there is lots going on! Rene Michalak has stepped in for Angie Dedrick as the GFSA co-Coordinator with me, Susan. Welcome Rene! Angie is now with the City of St Albert in Community Development. Thanks to Angie for all her great work and all the best as she moves ahead in her new job. Rene will handle some administration, social and technological media, and communication for GFSA. As well, he is a community facilitator along with Brenda Schroeder/Barritt with S.E.L.R.S. News! The “R” in S.E.L.R.S has recently been amended to “Regenerative” instead of regional! Stay tuned for S.E.L.R.S and GFSA updates on the web site at www.foodsecurityalberta.ca

Please let me know if this information is useful, I am fortunate to have had these opportunities. I am sure many of you have others to share. Please do!

Forthcoming in November:

  • Nov 1 in Edmonton – Dairy Nutrition Symposium;
  • Nov 2 in Edmonton – Alberta Rural Sustainable Alternative Network (ARSAN) event;
  • Nov 3 in Edmonton – Verge Permaculture event;
  • Nov 8 in Edmonton – Short Film Premier and reception REAL BEEF – Cows and Fish;
  • Nov 17 and 18 in Toronto – Food Secure Canada strategic planning;
  • Nov 22 in St. Albert – Meet your Maker – Capital Region Local Food Initiative;
  • Nov 29 location TBA, Explore Local discussions. 

I am sure there are many more. Why not share what you know that is up-coming?

Submitted by Susan Roberts of Growing Food Security in Alberta


Garlic Planting at Steel Pony Farm October 19, 2011

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This past Saturday (October 15th) a group of people got together to do some garlic planting at Steel Pony Farm. This was a root day according to the StellaNatura, and so I decided that it would be a good day to get out there and plant garlic. 17 of us planted almost 1700 cloves of garlic. After planting, we watered and mulched the garlic with some straw I purchased from Kris Vester at BlueMountain Biodynamic Farm by Carstairs.

Last year about this time, garlic was the very first crop seeded on Steel Pony Farm. This year, the garlic is the last crop that I will seed this year; from now until early May the field will go dormant, and garlic will be the first thing to grow up in the spring. It’s really a crop that measures the passing of time.

So 1700 cloves is quite a lot, and I’m looking forward to having a good quantity of garlic for next year. Last year we did about 1000 cloves, but a little bit less than half of those were from bad seed stock and so didn’t end up  making very good bulbs. This year I planted seeds that I had saved from the good part of last year’s crop, and so I’m pretty confident that we’ll get some amazing garlic for 2012.

Submitted by Mike Kozlowski – Steel Pony Farm

The Relationship (Re)Generation – SELRS Update October 4, 2011

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Bob Wing, community organizer and writer, is credited with saying, “The only thing you ever really own is your voice.” Much our work last week, and in the weeks ahead of us, is about inviting voices to be heard.

Our starting point has been engaging in one-on-one conversations with the SELRS Guiding Group members and core planning team. We’re ready now to expand our reach to connect with people involved in the local and regional food system as producers, retailers, distributors and from those whose main experience is accessing and using the food system (eaters). Many of these people came out to our first gathering in Lacombe on August 8th and one of the key questions we keep asking is “who else should we be talking to?”

We want to capture experiences, learn about resources and gather ideas. The people we reach and what we learn from them will be the foundation for initiatives and plans for SELRS as we move forward. We will be compiling the information gathered into a simple database so we can compare responses and find patterns within the many conversations that are taking place.

Closing out 2011, we will be having a ‘sense-making’ workshop with our Guiding Group and members of the Growing Food Security in Alberta. At this workshop we will use the information we have gathered to identify what our next steps will be and begin to form initiative-specific action groups.

In early 2012, we will host a larger workshop where everyone who has taken part in the conversations and others in the community will be invited to give more input and get involved in S.E.L.R.S. as it moves forward with various initiatives.

If you are interested in being part of this process or know people you think we should be having conversations with – please contact us at selrs@foodsecurityalberta.ca

Finally, upon reflecting on the relationship building and conversations to date we discovered an opportunity to update the SELRS acronym. The ‘R’ that stands for regional, in essence, falls within the ‘L’ which stands for local. Instead, the word “regenerative” has risen to better define the relationships we are (re)building / (re)growing / renewing with all participants in our food system, and with the very natural world they depend on to be Sustainable and Equitable.

So, refresh your web browser, or just write it on your hand – SELRS is now a sustainable, equitable, local and regenerative system for food in Alberta’s rural communities. Talk with you soon!

Submitted by:
Rene Michalak and Brenda Schroeder, S.E.L.R.S. Facilitator / Animator, Growing Food Security Alberta

Chronicle of a Mountain Permaculture Community Garden September 16, 2011

Posted by gfsa in Community Stories.

Growing food in the Rocky Mountains is challenging!  Not only do we face a short growing season and alpine climate, but we share our valley with abundant wildlife who also call these mountains home. The concept of this wildlife-safe, mountain community garden is to address the unique growing conditions of the Bow Valley as well as the unique character of the community in which it is located.  

Canmore does not boast a vibrant gardening culture in general, and food growing or vegetable gardening is scarce. Beyond foraging deer and curious bears, our town also hosts a prolific ferrel bunny population which has deterred many a gardener.  The demographic of our community is also relatively new with many recently arrived residents unfamiliar with gardening in this climate, and removed from the mothers and grandmothers to whom we usually look for advice on these matters. As our first season nears it’s end, I would like to think that we have demonstrated that not only can our community grow food for itself without negative impact on wildlife, but we can do so while improving soil quality, conserving water, educating ourselves, having fun and, of course, nourishing our minds and bodies!

After our first attempt to establish a community garden was kaibashed by wildlife-wary neighbours in the spring of 2010, we shifted our focus towards education and community building in order to establish the strong foundation necessary for any community project.  This is when we began to emphasize permaculture principles as the basis for our efforts, and momentum for a garden quickly grew – as it does! – in the inspiring wake of each permaculture workshop, seminar or PermaBlitz.  In June of this year we erected our 8′ wildlife fence, dug our swales, built our wicking beds and planted the inaugural seeds of the Canmore Community Garden.  The late start hasn’t prevented a fantastic harvest of greens, herbs, turnips, potatoes, edible flowers, kale and swiss chard.  The squash and beans are thriving under our hoop garden, and while our tomatoes and peppers have been frost bit ( Aug. 27th this year!), our frost hardy varieties are continuing to flourish into autumn.

Our garden is designed based on the principles of permaculture which mimic patterns in nature to most efficiently capture and store water, nutrients and sun in our landscape.  Our raised beds are designed with a reservoir at the bottom which allows the garden to essentially water itself from the bottom up, reducing water loss through evaporation, and time spent with a watering can, as well as encouraging deep root growth and healthy plants.  Our communal area is a network of level swales designed to retain water in the garden and allow it to slowly infiltrate the adjacent beds. The edges are planted with red clover, a nitrogen fixer, ground cover, chop n’ drop mulch, and medicinal herb.  Our soil is amended with well composted horse manure from a local stable, and our water held in elevated cisterns to allow gravity flow.

As we assess the successes and failures of our first season, we are donning our permaculture design caps once again to devise a sustainable water strategy for our site, the primary consideration for any further development of our garden.  Interest has grown in the community for gardening, and we receive new membership requests, offers of assistance and curious visitors regularly.  The unique lens of permaculture has helped us not only design a sustainable edible landscape, it helping us to grow a sustainable humanscape as well as we see the patterns of human nature emerge through the communal dynamics of the garden.  Applying permaculture principles to the organizational structure of our group and activities has helped us cultivate the  most successful yield of the garden : community!

Submitted by: Chrystel, Canmore Community Gardening Society.

SELRS Update – Deepening the Conversation September 13, 2011

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Writing under a harvest moon and the Northern Lights sure makes for an inspiring start to the harvest season. And, coincidentally, the SELRS project is preparing for a harvest all its own.  

Meeting in Lacombe at the end of August, the newly formed SELRS Guiding Group began its journey with a potluck supper and some deepening conversation. After Honey BBQ Duck, Quinoa salad, Zuchinni-gouda muffins (and much more!) we clarified the project approach and timeline going forward. Working together to create a sustainable, equitable, local and regional system for food will require new approaches and new ideas. We have much to share about what we already know. But there’s an overwhelming amount of information available and much of what we find will be fairly new. This means that old habits may need to be broken and rigid practices made more flexible. So, we decided to organize our efforts as a learning group instead of as a governance group.  

Over the course of this initial phase of the project, we plan to meet monthly to share progress, learn together on key topics that are emerging, and identify the pivotal next steps. One of the first things we harvested from the inaugural gathering was the need to carry out a series of conversations that explore more deeply the current food system, the visions of a more positive future, and the assets and contributions already existing in our communities that can be leveraged and strenghtened.

The shape of our analysis and asset mapping is forming as a series of one-on-one interviews via in-person, meaningful, “kitchen table”-type conversations. Right now, we’re completing the conversation guide with plans to engage with each of the guiding group members throughout the second half of September. In October and November, we’ll reconnect to the participants of the initial August 8th gathering and our other community contacts to deepen conversations with them. Together, we’ll gather the information and awareness of the assets we’ll need to create a SELRS in any rural Alberta community.   

Moving into December, we’re planning for what’s been dubbed a “sense-making” workshop with the SELRS Guiding Group and GFSA member communities. This larger gathering will help us share the information collected from the conversations and come together for a common understanding of where we are so we can create a clear vision of where we want to go. This will be a community event and we are inviting anyone who is interested to join us. So, let us know if you want to be there by emailing selrs@foodsecurityalberta.ca  

Enjoy the bounty of the farms, fields, and forks!

Submitted by:
Rene Michalak and Brenda Schroeder, S.E.L.R.S. Facilitator / Animator, Growing Food Security Alberta

Introducing S.E.L.R.S – The Appetizer Course! August 23, 2011

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All the hard work has paid off. The summer of 2011 marks the point when members of GFSA launched a pioneering project. Together we’re helping rural communities grow their food security and sovereignty by establishing sustainable, equitable, local and regional systems for food. We call it S.E.L.R.S. for short.

On behalf of GFSA’s 17 rural communities, Lacombe and Sylvan Lake are leading the project with a guiding group spanning the whole food chain; from production through to waste management and all levels in between.

What makes this project special is that it includes a strong focus on equity – roughly, all people at all times have access to available, acceptable, appropriate, and affordable food. To our knowledge, no other groups in Canada are working on this at a regional level. It also takes into account that a food system does not exist in isolation from the realities of climate change and increasing energy prices.

All seriousness aside, the real gem of this project is the commitment to relationship and community building – the real reason for GFSA’s sustained success over the last seven years. Using the same techniques that brought together 17 Alberta communities, the S.E.L.R.S. project is ensuring the future of local food in rural areas across the province.

The inaugural gathering of the S.E.L.R.S. project was held in Lacombe on August 8th with almost 40 people in attendance. Not bad for the middle-of-the-growing- and vacationing-season!

Enriched by the diversity of experience, passion, and knowledge in the room we knew we had the right people around us. With Susan and Angie leading the dialogue, we sat alongside the other attendees to begin the process of relationship building for our roles as activators and facilitators. We’re relieved in the fact that we’re supporting momentum and not trying to create it – which we agree is a more manageable job.

Overall, the evening conversation brought up some key words: Alternatives; Choice; Collaboration; Infrastructure; and Direction.

We talked about alternatives for producers and eaters and those in between – the options they have about where they sell and access their food: alternatives that suit their needs, scale and health. And alternatives are tied to choice; not a choice in brands where the same stuff is on the inside of the box, but information of the alternatives and options and freedom to choose between them, to take control and decision-making back into our own hands and to remove the dependency on single system food options that make people feel powerless over their food choices and business opportunities.

We talked about collaboration between producers; between producers and eaters; between eaters; and across all links of the food system. We talked about building relationships that move beyond knowing each other and passing along information or product. We will need to progress beyond looking at each other as competitors, as a pay check, or as a supplier of goods. We will need to start to understand each other better; to acknowledge we have common goals and purpose and by working together, we can be stronger, more creative, more adaptable food systems. What is sorely lacking is the infrastructure to support the collaboration and the system that is built through it. A healthy system flows and grows and changes through the exchange and responses between the parts within.

Another headline or pattern that was identified is direction and reducing the ‘red tape’ encountered from established government policy. There is a sense that much of what we’ll want to do will be made difficult by the walls of existing restrictive policy and regulation or, alternatively, not applying the supportive policy that currently exists.

The mark of a good meeting is when people stay around after the clock runs out. About 30 people hung in until the last evaluation form was filled out and many helped with the clean-up.

Moving forward we are building and strengthening relationships around the great human equalizer: food. We are encouraged, inspired, enlightened, and lightened by the people and conversations that have come around us so far, and so early on. We know that if we keep asking ourselves “What’s our next, best step?” and keep walking and learning and taking the necessary actions together – what emerges is going to be relevant, powerful, and necessary.

Submitted by: Brenda Schroeder and Rene Michalak, Facilitators/Animators, S.E.L.R.S.

Hinton Greenhouse a Success! July 26, 2011

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Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Hinton Community Gardens and Greenhouse.  I had the fortune of being involved with this group when they began and it is amazing to see how far they have come.  The group originally planned to do something around building a community garden but with the input of many the idea grew and WOW! I saw it and it is awesome.  Atta go Hinton!  It was so exciting to see the Hinton Community Garden all set up – gardens and greenhouse, thriving plants and veggies and the second Greenhouse ready for operation in Spring 2012.  The dream of an amazing group has come true.  After over two years work and thousands of hours of volunteer work and corporate donations it is a reality. The gardens all look so beautiful!   Have a look at the web site and follow the blog at http://www.hintoncommunitygreenhouse.org/Welcome.html   or http://sbgarden2011.blogspot.com/ 

This proves it! You can do it in these colder climes.  Hinton has shown the way. Never give up, keep looking, connect, and things will happen!   That is what this incredible group in Hinton has taught me! I urge you all – don’t drive by, go down the hill and take a look!  The Hinton Community Garden Society will be throwing a party to celebrate their success this fall!  They have a lot to celebrate and a lot to teach us!  

Submitted by: Susan Roberts, GFSA Coordinator

You’re invited! Central Alberta Permaculture Convergence June 16, 2011

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Converge  [kuh
n-vurj] verb, -verged, -verg·ing. – to approach, to focus, to come together

Summer has us packing up our tents or campers and heading out to the lakes or woods or mountains.  Sometimes solo with with one other key individual and sometimes with packs of friends or family – reunions seem to be natural gatherings around the campfire or barbecue. 

Summer is also that season that has us watching and tending to the seeds we’ve planted, started to taste the fruits (and vegetables) of our labours, and moving closer and closer to the days of harvest and plenty.

Putting these two summer ‘themes’ together – it seemed perfect timing to host a gathering of permaculture designers/thinkers/gardeners/friends (whatever you want to identify yourself as, we’re not picky!) for a weekend of coming together to learn, laugh, share and explore. 

So we’re hosting the 2011 Alberta Permaculture Convergence at T.H.E County Cocoon in central Alberta, August 26-28, 2011. 

It’s a working farm complete with chickens, cows and ducks (and who knows what else by August!). 

The power of the permaculture network is that it is spread, divergent and has many of us taking action in our local places and spaces (even if we don’t call it permaculture!).  The intention behind this convergence is to provide a space for the permaculture community to meet, share knowledge and experience, and inspire each other.

If you have read this far and are wondering – Perma-who?  Am I one?

Here’s a great article on “What is Permaculture” – http://urbangardenmagazine.com/2010/04/what-is-permaculture/

We are looking forward to hosting you, meeting you and learning from you!  In the mean time – check out our blog at http://abconvergence2011.blogspot.com/  — we need to get back to mulching the garden and fixing up chicken tractors for the summer!

Your hosts –

Connie, Vance and Brenda

Connie Barritt has been operating a custom-grazing cattle operation using Holistic Management practices for over 20 years. Connie is an active host of WWOOFers and took her Permaculture Design Certificate with Verge Permaculture in August 2010. Her son, Vance Barritt returned to the farm in June 2010.  He took his Permaculture Design Certificate with Pacific Permaculture in July 2010.  He is also taking a Holistic Management course in spring 2011.  Together – Connie and Vance are continuing to look at ways to improve their farm and environment and they are looking forward to hosting you, your ideas and inspiration.

Brenda Schroeder was introduced to permaculture during her recently completed MSc in Holistic Science – writing her thesis on Ecological Resilience and Farming Systems. Her studies brought her home to east-central Alberta and into a new partnership with Vance.

Finding Contentment in the Dirt June 2, 2011

Posted by gfsa in Community Stories, Food Thoughts.
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Thanks to Carrie Demkiw in High Level, AB for sharing this reflection:

Recently I have afforded myself the “luxury” to reflect upon and address the nagging anxious feeling that I have been living with for the past five years.  I’ve intentionally worked to slow my life down, examine my values and identify the inconsistencies in my life.  This is in an attempt to figure out where my passions lie and what my skills and talents truly are, in order to lead my life in a way that I am proud of and that fills me with contentment.
I’m definitely not even close to having it all figured out, but I’m on my way and this past weekend was a great indication of the progress that I have made.  You might ask how this all relates to food security, well, it is in fact what started this journey for me. 

Six years ago I made a switch in my career from a recreation focus to a health focus.  My new position in Health Promotion had me learning about the Social Determinants of Health and Health Promotion Principles and strategies.  It was while learning about this that we decided High Level could benefit from a Community Garden with no idea of what “food security” was – except that maybe it meant that our beef was not infected with BSE. 

In researching funding opportunities to develop a community garden we happened to stumble onto Growing Food Security in Alberta.  When I look back now, I realize what a turning point this was in my life.  High Level was fortunate enough to become a partner community and receive some funding, but most importantly training, mentorship, networking, and exposure to new ideas and a different way of thinking that just happened to resonate with me.

Over the past five years our community garden has evolved and we are connecting more with the community, garnering interest and support.  We have also run some different programs and tried to increase awareness and understanding about food security.  All of these things have been wonderful and are getting stronger with each year.  However, right now it is the personal transformation that I would like to explore.

I’m a slow learner and I have found myself getting caught up in doing for others and encouraging others to adopt certain lifestyles without really reflecting on my own life.  While it is certainly a strong value of mine to “walk the talk” and I’m physically active and eat pretty healthy, I’ve come to realize that I haven’t truly embraced the lifestyle I try to encourage and enable people to live. 

There are so many messages out there about how to be healthy and what is healthy, and cognitively we all understand it, but internalizing it is what makes it happen.  So, I’ve stopped my busyness (or decreased it at least) and have committed to meaningfulness.  I must admit, having my daughter has been a major factor in this transformation.  I have started living the values I want her to grow up with, in an authentic way.

I’ve turned off the TV, this has increased my time available to learn about the things I want to do and that a lack of knowledge was impeding me from doing.  I ride my bike instead of taking the car – and Noelyn (my daughter) comes with me in the baby seat.  This forces me to slow down and I find I am more relaxed and ready to take on the day when I get to work as opposed to when I drive the car.

More to the point and for the latest change, I’ve finally gotten beyond a few tomato plants and built my garden!  It’s small, but it’s a start.  We now have raspberry bushes, a saskatoon bush, planter boxes with herbs, and a small vegetable garden.  It was as I was standing barefoot in the back of a pick-up truck filled to the brim with the most cool, soft, luxurious soil I have ever felt and shoveling my countless shovel full of soil into the wheelbarrow that I was mindful of and present for the wave of contentment that washed over me.  I mention being mindful and present because this is something that I haven’t been for a long time.  In all my busyness, trying to do the right thing for my work, for the community and for my family, I have been living with chronic anxiety.  Not paying attention to the moment, always worried about what’s next and how I’m going to get it all done.  After five years of learning, five years of planning programs and services, five years of understanding on a cognitive level… it was standing barefoot in a truck full of soil that I really started to get it.

So, I’m going to stop doing things because they are the right thing to do and start doing things because they feel good, because it reflects the very essence of who I am and what I value.  I’m also going to be patient with myself, allowing a slow and steady change, not expecting it all to change over-night, but to be more conscious and mindful of how I’m living.  It is ironic that I grew up on a farm where we grew our own vegetables, produced our own beef, eggs, and milk; a life I didn’t appreciate as a child and that now, as an adult, I am seeking to obtain. 

Submitted by: Carrie Demkiw, High Level, Alberta

Sheet Mulching – it’s sort of like baking a cake! May 18, 2011

Posted by gfsa in The How To's.
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Sheet mulching is the term used for no-dig gardening that will destroy weeds, replace existing lawn and generate a healthy environment for plants.  You will need – spades, rakes, edger, dried leaves, grass clippings, well rotted manure or compost, coffee grounds, plants for planting, soil and mulch.  You will also need a water hose with a hand sprayer attached.  Have ready a 4 foot stack of newspapers with no glossy print and several broken down boxes with tape removed.

The steps for turning a patch of grass into a garden bed are as follows:
* Lay out your plot – this can be curved into any shape that appeals to you.  A garden hose can be used to define the shape of your plot.
* Edge the plot – dig a nice edge about four inches wide around the plot to separate the rest of the lawn from your bed.  * Throw the clumps of grass and dirt into the plot.
* With a sharp spade make a number of cuts through the grass in the plot.  In 100 square feet of grass you need no more than  30 quick cuts.
* Dig holes for bushes or trees at this point.  If you are planting something that requires an acidic soil (such as blueberries, enhance the hole with coffee grounds. 
* Plant the bushes and trees.
* Now, starting at the cut edge (with the garden hose and sprayer ready to go) start laying down newspaper.  Three or four sheets thick are good.  Overlap and wet down as you go.  Work from the edge towards the centre of the plot working the newspaper up against but not over the plants. 
* Thoroughly wet down.
* Take your broken down cardboard boxes and do the same.  Overlap the edges and put down in one layer over the newspaper.  Wet down thoroughly as you go.
* Over the cardboard put a good layer of coffee grounds.  Filters will break down over time so they can go in also.  The rake may come in handy to distribute the grounds.
* Over the coffee grounds spread a thick layer of old deciduous leaves and grass clippings.
* Over this spread compost.  Add more leaves and grass clippings. 
* Top the whole works with a thick layer of rich soil to which has been added compost or well rotted manure.  We used potting soil from Bos Sod that was already enhanced with compost and manure.  For 100 square feet you will need 1 to 1.5 cubic feet of soil.  The rake was used to spread the soil around the plants.  Hands are also a tool and be prepared to get dirty.
* Now plant your bedding out plants and seeds.  Put a layer of mulch such as cedar chips on top of the soil but do not cover the plants with it.
* Water well.  Enjoy.

To view more pictures of this process visit the Healthy Communities of Lethbridge blogspot.

Submitted by Cheryl Deringer, Manager of Garden View Lodge, Lethbridge, AB