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Planting Potatoes & Roadside Gardens

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Maintaining a garden of root crops has always been practiced in my family for generations. I remember spending time there with my father and grandparents, tilling the soil, placing seed and typically digging. For some reason I seldom was around for the weeding process. It was my grandmother who did most of that, as she is the ultimate green thumb. Our family still continues to plant potatoes, as well as carrot, turnip, cabbage, beets, onion and lettuce. I’ve been experimenting with other seeds and spices, and hopefully soon will have a greenhouse to help expand what I am able to grow.

What was needed for subsistence years ago, is now unnecessary given easy access to vegetables at grocery stores. However, it is gratifying to know that so many are continuing this generational tradition. As I travel throughout the District, I see many roadside and backyard gardens that were likely started by their parents or grandparents. There is also renewed interest from younger people to grow different vegetables, establish community gardens, use various techniques and use the space they have available to them in the most productive form.

We have exceptional opportunity to expand farming on the Great Northern Peninsula, in both small and large-scale. We are also lacking a coordinated effort to establish a farmers or local market in many communities. There is opportunity to establish a weekly marketplace where locally grown produce, jams, preserves, crafts and handmade wares are for sale. Coffee and teas and other booths could be set-up, with picnic tables and even some local music.

There are some spaces in the District, where a local marketplace could thrive. Let’s move this idea forward.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA

 

 

 

Ask Your Garden Questions to our local “Garden Lady”

Rural Newfoundlanders & Labradorians have been growing their own crops for centuries. Many tourist often stop to take photographs of our roadside gardens. My grandmother maintains two large gardens that sits between both of our properties.

Garden by Roadside

Garden by Roadside

Most of our gardens were more traditional root crops of potato, turnip, carrot and beets. However, in recent years there has been much growth in local vegetable production as we see more grow tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, zucchini and many more. We have seen more herbs, spices and nurseries for growing flowers.

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Local Roddickton resident, Elsie Reid has taken to local production, by establishing a green house, flower garden, bird sanctuary and a “Blast from the Past” walking trail.

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I had  the pleasure during the Roddickton Come Home Year of 2013 to tour this walking trail and speak with Elsie. She even introduced me to her “Mummers”. At the end of the tour, I was able to purchase some nettle tea, parsley, spearmint and peppermint.

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In speaking recently with Elsie, she plans to re-establish her “Blast from the Past” walking trail again this year. It is certainly worth stopping by to get a glimpse of local history and heritage, but also learn about local gardening and  an opportunity to enjoy her homemade products. Elsie has a wealth of information, she is willing to share with you.

If you have any garden related questions, you can visit her Facebook Group: Ask Your Garden Questions, found at www.facebook.com/groups/gardenlady59/

Live Rural NL -
 
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
 
Related Posts:
Blast from the Past Walking Trail
How Does Your Garden Grow
Grandmother Mitchelmore, How Does Your Garden Grow? 
I found “Love” in St. Lewis
A Marketable Farmer’s Market, Let’s Get Growing
Needing Grandma’s Green Thumb to Grow Tomatoes 
Transition Towns…the future for Rural NL?
Harvest Time – Big Spuds 
 
 
 

How does your garden grow?

An old nursery rhyme went like this…

Mary, Mary, Quite contrary
How does your garden grow?

Here are some of our results:

Division No. 9, Subd. C-20130930-02775

As a young boy I always helped my grandmother and grandfather tend their gardens. I enjoyed everything from digging the trenches to laying potato seed to pulling stocks and reaping the reward of our harvest. Even as a young lad I certainly didn’t mind rolling up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. One thing I did not like doing though was – weeding. Thank goodness for grandma, who had the patience to ensure our beds were not overtaken by them. My grandma and extended family members continue to maintain these gardens growing a variety of crops.

I still have an appreciation for growing local food stuffs and want to get more involved in maintaining a garden and greenhouse. Now that the harvest time is nearly over on the Great Northern Peninsula, it is a great time to consider growing local in 2014!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Blast from the Past Walking Trail

Roddickton population has more than doubled over the past week as part of the Come Home Year celebration activities. I have been taking in much of the festivities and will be posting photos and a blog soon to give everyone an update as it has been a highly spirited week. Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to meet Elsie Reid and take her “Blast from the Past” walking trail.

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I met Elsie a couple of years ago, and it was clear her passion for gardening. She has taken this passion and turned it into something unique for the community to enjoy by creating an “open air” museum with static displays that depict rural living. You can click the photos below, but there is no substitute for experiencing in-person the peaceful walk along the forested trail.

Elsie and her husband, Calvin, have volunteered many long hours building a greenhouse, herb garden, bird area, and the heritage walking trail. There are many contributors that have donated items to make this all possible in memory of loved ones and other townspeople, family and friends.

The guided walk begins at the wishing well, where you can drop a coin to make a wish. Next there is a boat, that Elsie salvaged from being burned and was now given a new home. Ironically, this boat was owned by her father and was made about 30 years ago. There are bicycles, an outhouse, Christmas mummers, pot belly stove, saws, trunks and many other household items along the way. I enjoyed the comment, when Elsie pointed to a steel bed frame filled will blooming flower pots and said, “and here is my bed of flowers”.

As the former owner and operator of a museum that depicted rural living on the Great Northern Peninsula, I can truly appreciate the effort and uniqueness that this will bring to the Town of Roddickton. This is truly a project that has taken on a life of its own with bright coloured paint, recycling and reusing of materials, such as old tires and clothing to create flower pots and the preservation of people’s memories.

At the end of the tour, Elsie takes you into her greenhouse, showing the herbs and plants she is growing. She has only the freshest of herbs: parsley, spearmint, peppermint, rosemary, savory, marjoram and others. As well, all natural bug spray, lip balms, foot and body cream, stuffed animals and some handmade knitted items.

I purchased several herbs and look forward to a nice cup of spearmint and lemon tea. Your hobby and your passions are incredible business opportunities. Ms. Reid has the potential to sell fresh herbs to local restaurants, grocery stores and specialty outlets. Her all-natural bug spray could be commercialized, as it would have great appeal in the marketplace as we strive to reduce the contact our body has with chemicals. There is also a natural tourism component to the walking trail and resting areas. Ms. Reid could set up an outdoor tea room, where her herbal and natural teas are for sale, while viewing the bird area. She is a wealth of experience, known as the “Garden Lady”, she could teach others how to garden and produce local herbs and natural products that will help us all live healthier lives.

We have great potential on the Great Northern Peninsula because we have incredible people, with ideas, a rich vibrant history and natural landscape. If you have an idea, take that initiative and start something for others to enjoy.

Blast from the Past Walking Trail can be found in Roddickton before the Apostolic Faith Church on the left coming into Town. There is a sign on the property. I truly hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Related articles

A Marketable Farmer’s Market – Let’s Get Growing

We have lost a generation, maybe two of hobby farmers in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador. My grandparents practiced subsistence farming, ensuring they would have enough potatoes to last throughout the winter months.  They also planted the typical carrots, turnip and cabbage. Why did the majority of their children not follow these practises? I am sure there are a number of reasons, as even Rural Newfoundland & Labrador had more purchasing power and options to purchase produce at the local grocery store.

Today, there is renewed interest among young people, like myself and even from people of my parent’s generation in growing their own produce – A Revolution! It appears there is a sense of enjoyment to the experience of growing your own green things. There is gratification of being rewarded for your own efforts. It is now “fashionable” to be seen sporting your rubber boots and hanging out in the mud, yanking out the weeds. Even my friends, family and co-workers bring up gardening in casual conversation. These are all good measures that can lead to more local and regional business development.

Today, I’ve pulled one of my romaine lettuce from my garden bed. It is one of several that were planted as a test. It is very encouraging, as I see the red onion, green onion, onion and carrots srouting up nicely.

On a recent vacation to Montreal, Quebec I had the pleasure of visiting the Jean-Talon Market, which is open year-round and takes up space of what would be two streets. The former bus station terminal has been converted to host parking, specialty boutiques and office space. There were so many varieties of fruits and vegetables. Also, one could buy ice-cream. fresh meats, breads, ice ciders, wines and of course maple syrup. I managed to pick some up some of the maple sweet stuff and a nice bottle of ice cider. Certainly a treat!

A local co-op may be interested or one could be formed to promote local gardening, community gardens and work to establish a seasonal farmer’s market. This venue may also be utilized during special occasions, such as the holiday season for local preserves, baked goods and craft items.

As the issue of food security continues to be a concern for Newfoundland & Labrador. Growing local produce is a good practise, it ensures quality, pesticide free and can be a lower cost solution as these items do not require shipping from other parts of Canada and the world.

Let’s Make a Marketable Farmer’s Market in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador!

Get Growing -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Twitter/LiveRuralNL

 

Grandmother Mitchelmore….How does your garden grow?

Planted beds of small seed in Grandma's Garden

My Grandmother Mitchelmore has been planting a garden for a lifetime. At 79 years young she knows that around the end of May, there is a flurry of activity to attend to the ground. She plants potatoes, turnip, carrot, onions and cabbage to ensure that she can prepare her traditional Jigg’s Dinner throughout the year. She also maintains a strawberry patch, which at times I am tempted to raid.

I grew up helping my grandparents in the garden and always enjoyed the harvest. I remember Grandmother and I were digging all the potatoes and she got a supersize tater. I dug frantically trying to match her giant spud. I did dig up a larger potato, but it definitely would not win a beauty contest.

Today she helped me continue to attempts to grow a variety of vegetables locally. We planted onion, red onion, green onion and baby carrots. Tomorrow, I will plant lettuce plants in addition to my already planted tomatoes, green peppers, red peppers and asparagus.

Grandmother planting onions with me today

There seems to have been a generational gap among those of my parents age, as many did not adapt the skills required to maintain a garden. However, there is hope as younger generations appear to have a strong interest in growing vegetables. Rural communities have an opportunity to utilize this interest as a means to share space and offer community gardens. Experienced elders can teach those younger the necessary skills to have a successful growing season.

Get your garden growing this season. It is not to late to start on the Great Northern Peninsula.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Needing Grandma’s Green Thumb to Grow Tomatoes

My grandparents have always maintained two large gardens between our house and theirs. At this time of year as a little boy, I was quite eager to help in the garden. Maybe some of the excitement stemmed from the fact that I spent all day in the mud and the work felt more like play; it could have been that tracking around mud got on my mother’s nerves or maybe just spending time with my grandmother, grandfather and other relatives was full of enjoyment.

The garden provides our family with enough potato to last the season. As well, an abundance of turnip, carrot, greens, radishes, cabbage and onions. Additionally, my grandmother has a strawberry patch she maintains and a beautiful flower garden.

I only hope to have some of her green thumb, as I am trying to grow tomatoes, peppers, asparagus, green onion and other vegetables I enjoy, but at times are difficult to obtain or costly to purchase. The project will lead to a greenhouse to transplant and nurture these vegetables.

Growing Tomatoes

A visit to the grocery store this week set off an alarm that food prices are certainly climbing at an alarming rate. Three tomatoes were priced at nearly $5.00, brocoli was $4.00 and there was no asparagus. Food prices and food security has become an increasing issue, especially for rural regions. In the past, we were able to subsist of food we grew on our own. Although there are gardens at roadside, far more people are opting to buy from the California Farmers or elsewhere than from our own backyards.

 
We should reclaim the land that can grow us an abundance of nutritious food, construct greenhouses and build community gardens as a means to combat soaring food prices. In co-operation, rural communities can grow stronger!
 
I hope my little crop produces some good results!
 
Live Rural NL -
Christopher C. Mitchelmore

 

Harvest Time – Big Spuds

The summer may be just about behind us, as tomorrow marks the first official day of Fall. A flurry of activity centers around the summer season for most parts of rural Newfoundland & Labrador. This included many early mornings and late evenings spent on  water – fishing, or on land – processing fish species or harvesting our forest products. Not to mention the fun and frolicking of summer vacations, festivals, Come Home Year Celebrations, weddings and other special activities that illuminate the liveliness of summer!

A "Viking Garden" - Norstead

 Well…Fall is a time not only for moose hunters, but for those who in late Spring planted seeds. Only to be rewarded with an array of fresh vegetables in their gardens. The mainstay crop has traditionally and still is the potato. However, the tastes of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have diversified to include turnip, carrot, cabbage, onion, radishes, beets, greens, pumpkins, squash, and peppers to name a few.

As I look into my backyard, I see two big plots of land that serve as gardens for subsistence living. I remember as a youth with my grandmother spending many hours tilling the land, marking the locations for potato beds, placing the small seeded potatoes (they had to be just so for my grandmother), adding kelp (seaweed) for natural fertilizer and then covering the bed with mud. I think I somehow always found an excuse never to help with the weeding of the garden. However, I would always enjoy pulling up a ripe carrot, brushing the mud away from it and eating it right there on the spot. It was so delicious, with no harmful pesticides. The food we grow always tasted good and nutritious!

Garden by Roadside

I loved digging up the potatoes in the fall of the year. I remember this one year, my grandmother and I were digging side-by-side. She had struck a marvellous, well-rounded potato. This started a competition to see if I was able to find one bigger. Well, I managed to get a very large potato. It was a little deformed. I would say now it was a mutated family of potatoes, but not then as I argued it was the bigger one! After holding each potato in our respective hands, we were unable to determine a winner. It is like those moments in a close curling match, when the teams call on a third-party to measure. Well we had to get my father to be that third-party in this scenario and weigh each potato. Well, “I was victorious by just an ounze, maybe two”, but it certainly would not have won a beauty pageant. That prize would have to go to grandmother.

For the traveller in the know, if you drive around rural Newfoundland & Labrador you will have the opportunity to see many gardens planted at roadside. They are basically planted there because of the good soil for growing crops, without as many pesky weeds. These gardens are planted on Crown land. Most of Newfoundland & Labrador’s land is considered Crown (more than 90%).
 

Garden near St. Anthony

The Government is now  instituting stricter regulations on road signage. I only hope they do not consider repatriating or expropriating our rights of residents to till the grounds our ancestors did as a means to subsist of the land!

 
These gardens are part of our heritage and culture that add to the uniqueness of our province. The curiosities it gives to tourists, is plentiful as many stop to pull out their Canon or Nikon‘s to take a snap or two and wonder for a while.  
 
There is opportunity in growing agri-culture and agri-foods on the peninsula on commercial scales. Where are our local Farmer’s Market?
 
Live Rural NL – Christopher Mitchelmore 

Step Back in Time…1621

Scenic Viewscapes on the Irish Loop

On August 16, 2010…I finally traversed the Irish Loop on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland after years of saying I would visit. Well, to all you readers it was well worth the wait! The 316 KM road links the capital, St. Johns to the “southern shore” which is predominantly descended from Irish roots and back again.  For those of you who can remember, the Government ran cheesy tourism ads that went something like “come to the Irish Loop…Whales and Birds Galore….something, something, something explore” It was forever played on our independently owned NTV channel, “coined Canada’s superstation”. The tourism ads have greatly improved, especially depicting the scenic beauty of the Irish Loop. Visit the follow Youtube video at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aRFuguc7bk

Mansion House

We stopped at scenic Ferryland. It has incredible heritage structures, beautiful landscapes, historic cemetery, stone church and its own colony. Ferryland was formerly the “Province of Avalon”. A place that is the first permanent settlement and founded by Sir George Calvert. I read about him in a Newfoundland History course during my last semester at Memorial University. He was later titled “Lord Baltimore”. After spending one winter in what is now Ferryland, he returned to Britain and left hired help (the first settlers, commonly referred to as “planters”). These planters began what is most likely the oldest continuously occupied village in British North America. For those who know me, they know how patriotic I am when it comes to my province of Newfoundland & Labrador. I often get the opportunity to educate people about the oldest street in North America, the most easterly point in North America, George Street (most bars, pubs & clubs per sq. ft/capita in North America), only province to land a space shuttle, have four flags, have its own set of encyclopedias, its own dictionary and of course, the oldest English settlement in North America. 

As a freelance “journalist” :), I was given a remarkable tour. It started with a short video, followed by artifacts and interpretative panels. Next a guide provided an interpretative tour. It was very windy, but that can be typical in Newfoundland. We started at the outside herb garden, which was very informative. Apparently, “apple mint” was an early form of deodorant. Our tour continued with a stop at the Gentleman’s garden before entering the area that is known as the Colony of Avalon. The start consists of a 400 ft cobblestone street, which we were able to walk later in the tour. 

Which seat do you care to take?

 We were offered the option to take a rest at one of the benches (refer to image on the left). The guide said, she would not judge us. I love the sense of humour we have in this lovely province. As we continued the tour we were able to see the remains of the forge, Lord Baltimore’s mansion-house, other dwellings, as well as the archeologists continuing to excavate the site and uncover more evidence of the past. It was noted that more than 1 Million artifacts have been unearthed and catalogued over the past 20 years. We had the opportunity to visit the conservation laboratory at the end of the tour. 

This Colony has a history and is plagued with drama. Baltimore left for the United States. In 1638, Sir David Kirke, his wife Lady Sarah Kirke and their family took up residence in Baltimore’s mansion-house. This settlement became known as the “Pool Plantation” and took on a more business-like role. Tavern licences were sold and Kirke developed a prosperous fishing mercantile business. Unfortunately for him, he did not pay his taxes and was jailed in England. The settlement was disputed among the two families as to who had ownership for years. Eventually, Lady Sarah Kirke took over the enterprise and began most likely North America’s first successful female entrepreneur (another first)! The settlement prospered until its destruction by the French in 1696. 

Newfoundland & Labrador’s history books show constant political battles, which led to frequent wars among the English and French over land ownership. This is why the oldest settlement in North America & the youngest province in Canada has very little structures that are more than 100 years. As most structures older than a century were victims of fires. However, what remains continues to be part of our living history. 

A Puzzle Jug from a 17th Century Reproduction Kitchen

The tour ended with a visit to the 17th century Reproduction Kitchen. My advice is not to end the tour early, as this is worth the visit. It gives a good reflection of the everyday lives, hardships and even some luxuries of the early colonists. 

There is a unique history, Beothuk Indians, early European fishermen from France, Spain, Portugal, Britanny, Euskal and West England are all part of this unique history. If you would like more information, visit: http://www.colonyofavalon.ca/ 

I will be posting more images on the Facebook Group, “Live Rural NL”. 

The Colony of Avalon is another place one can experience something rural – CCM.

Island Adventures to Miquelon-Langlade…(Part II)

Traversing through the sea caves

The tour began at 8:30 AM at the docks in St. Pierre. We previously purchased our tickets at the Tourist Information Office the previous day for just 60.50 Euro (~$80.00 CDN). At the docks we were greeted by the “tour opérateur” Monsieur Jean Cloony and handed life preservers; then took our seats on a large zodiac with two powerful motors. The sky was a little grey, but the rain held and we had a very nice ride to a sea cave formation, where we crept inside and once beyond we saw a group of harp seals resting on the rocks of the island. It was quite a treat, to see these white coats watch as we passed on. Some decided to plunge into the ocean, maybe they were startled by the sound of our engines or just hungry. It has been a long time since I’ve been so close to such an animal.

Seals on rocks

The Great Seal Hunt has historical significance and plays a role even today as we continue to live our rural heritage. In winter I proudly wear a pair of seal skin boots. The leather was prepared, barked and tanned by my father. They are the last pair I will ever own that have his talent and craftsmanship. Although they are more than 11 years old, I hope to have them for the rest of my days. A future article will be dedicated to the Great Seal Hunt.

The zodiac ride was 40 minutes. We passed a few fisherman’s camps that were strategically placed between the cliffs, well sheltered from weather and perfect for launching a boat. We landed in Langlade to be met by friendly locals ready to pull our boat to shore. It was time for breakfast at “Chez Janot”, the only restaurant in town!

Chez Janot

After a cup of coffee and croissant we boarded an air-conditioned bus with seating capacity for 20 and bilingual audio. We visited Langlade, which has beautiful sites and is basically untouched and uninhabited (excepted during summer months). The population goes from 0 – 200 people. Some of these people have summer houses, but most are like Newfoundlander‘s, they enjoy camping! Our first stop was a lovely French garden. My grandmother certainly would have smiled seeing all the love gone into caring for the variety of flowers. We continued to view l’Anse du Gouvernement, the Bellai Bridge (which crosses the Belle-Riviere), the Ste Therese Chapel, the Belle-Croix, the Debon brook and a lovely view from the Petit-Barachois.

French Garden

We returned to Chez Janot for a French-style meal, which included wine and a dessert with coffee. Tres Bon! We continued the afternoon on the bus, we drove on a sandy beach and stopped by the campground. One of the proprietors invited us all to stop for an aperitif. This alcoholic beverage was mixed with sparkling water and had hints of licorice. It was quite pleasant! The people on this quaint island we incredibly hospitable to their guests. We continued on our way to pass several wild horses. The children on the bus stopped to feed them some bread. Even the older people were smiling and in love with these animals. A little further up the road, one horse spotted “Chez Janot” bus and decided he would come visit.

Sorry...I don't have fare...

This horse was either well-trained or just curious, because none of the others decided to come near. He received some treats and we continued on our merry way to Miquelon.

Miquelon and Langlade were once two separate islands. Since the end of the 18th century, they have been reunited by a sand isthmus on which a road was built. The drive from the beach in Langlade to the village of Miquelon is about 24 kms. Upon arrival to Miquelon, which has a population of about 600 people we stopped and viewed the church, craftshop and harbour. We walked the streets and saw the Cap Blanc lighthouse. There is a museum for those that are interested.

Church

After a day of discovery, we returned to the zodiac. We arrived in St. Pierre at 5:30 PM. This enabled us to relax and returned to our friend’s house before we would dine for the evening over some delicious French-style cuisine and good wine!

If you want a memorable visit to the French Islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon you must consider this tour, if you wish to really experience the entirety of their adventurous archipelago.

For more photos of my trip, visit my Facebook Group at: “Live Rural NL”.

From Live Rural NL – CCM

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