Organic Gardening in an Urban Setting


view:  full / summary

Stevia Rebaudiana as a Vegan Sugar Substitute

Posted by parkdalegardener on February 16, 2012 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

My nephew was in the grocery store last night and wondered about seeing cane sugar syrup in a product and wondered if it was safe for vegan use. If not what about brown sugar and a few others. Here is the response I cracked out to him as he was in the health food isle.

Hey man. Here's the scoop on your sugar intake. The only cane sugar you can use must be specifically labeled as unbleached otherwise there is a 100% chance it was filtered through activated charcoal that is made from bone. Use beet sugar if you must use a refined sugar product. It is never bleached with charcoal from any source. Sucrose, fructose, and glucose are all filtered through activated charcoal but the the charcoal can come form either bone or plant. Brown sugar is just refined white sugar coloured with molasses so no go.


There are two products you can use without fear. Maple sugar is one. The other is stevia. A plant that is 100s of times sweeter than sugar. If you must, get refined stevia products from a reputable health store as they should know the refining process but to tell you the truth you should be growing this yourself. It is a member of the sunflower family and will happily grow in your climate. You can also grow it year round on your windowsill. That will ensure it's organic purity and if you feel that you need refined products then refine the stevia yourself.



aka Uncle Robert

This has in turn had me realizing that stevia isn't on the site here. That needs to be remedied.So I just posted up an article a few seconds ago. It can be accessed via the Main Site Index.

happy gardening...


aka.. Robert

Slow Food Toronto's Terra Madre Day

Posted by parkdalegardener on December 9, 2011 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Saturday,December 10th


Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queen’s Quay W.

This year, the Harbourfront Centre will be partnering with Slow Food Toronto's International Terra Madre Day, a free celebration of food diversity and local food network taking place in over 100 countries world wide. The Toronto event will have live performances, hands-on cooking workshops, and a lively market. Spend the afternoon sampling delicious local food prepared by Toronto’s top chefs, engaging with Ontario’s local food communities and meeting farmers, fishers, chefs and food artisans.

For more information, go to " target="_blank" rel="nofollow">

Happy Gardening

Robert... aka...



Have Your Say

Posted by parkdalegardener on October 28, 2011 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (0)

City of Toronto Parks Planning Consultation

October 20th to December 16th


In 2010, City Council approved the development of a City-wide Parks Plan based on seven guiding principles: parks and trails as city infrastructure, equitable access for all residents, supporting a diversity of uses, nature in the city, environmental stewardship, place making and community engagement. The Parks Plan will guide acquisition, development, management and operation of the system of public parkland in the City of Toronto over a five-year period. Learn more about Parks Plan and provide feedback, opinions and ideas online or by taking part in one of the community consultations occurring across the city.

For more information, please see

Happy Gardening...


AKA parkdalegardener ...


Sustain Ontario's Request for Assistance

Posted by parkdalegardener on August 31, 2011 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Parkdalegardener has received a request this morning to become a part of this study group.

 I have of course agreed. Here is their request in part:

Dear Toronto Food and Farming Leaders,

Sustain Ontario, the Toronto Food Policy Council, the Greater Toronto Area Agricultural Action Committee; the Toronto Animators' Project; the Foodshed Project and World Crop Research Project have partnered to bring you an ambitious and exciting event called "City to Country".

City to Country, funded by the Metcalf Foundation's 50th anniversayr grants, will bring together food advocates from across sectors and geographies to participate in a number of food-policy themed tours that highlight the challenges and inspirations of the food system in the General Toronto Area.

The Tour's Themes include:

  • World Crops and Foods
  • Growing New Farmers
  • Environmental Services and Farming
  • Urban Agriculture: From Rows to Rooftops
  • Rebuilding the Middle (Distribution)
  • Supply Managemant for Dummies
  • Plan for the Future of Food
  • Good Health, Good Food
  • Local Food Procurement
  • Rebuilding the Middle (Processing)
  • Community Food Programs
  • Food in Schools

Participants will offer their thoughts, expertise and energy in preparing a message to be sent to political parties for the October 6th elections.

I am quite proud that I am considered to be one of the food and farming leaders here in Toronto and that my expertise is requested in an effort to shape local and provincial food security and urban farming policies.

 I will of course keep you apraised of this via print and photo here in the blog.

Keep growing


aka... parkdalegardener

Parkdale Horticultural Society Annual Plant Fair

Posted by parkdalegardener on April 28, 2011 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (0)

                 Parkdale Horticultural Society Annual Plant Fair

Saturday, May 7th

10:30 am–1:30 pm

Parkdale School and Community Centre

The Plant Fair is the largest of the Hort's yearly events. Well-over a hundred Hort volunteers mobilize to bring members' plant divisions and their expertise into the community. Plants of every description fill the tables. Favourite plants from members' gardens, nursery stock perennials, and unusual annuals will be available. You may also bring your own plant divisions for sale or trade. There are some rules regarding their preparation however so check out their website. The link is at the end of this post. It's a wonderful day of mixing, mingling and chatting over plantsand green elephant bargains. Spirits are high, the refreshments are tasty, and when your arms are full just 'park' your plants and continue to browse. I have been a member now for four years and will be by to check out some of the wonderful finds, bring by a few aloes; and of course answer questions

For more information, see

Happy Gardening.....

Robert... AKA... parkdalegardener




Seedy Saturday is on a Sunday Again

Posted by parkdalegardener on January 15, 2011 at 1:34 PM Comments comments (0)


Seedy Sunday 2011

Sunday, February 13 12:30-6:00pm

Hart House, University of Toronto

(major intersection Wellesley St. W. & Queens Park Crescent E.)

  Preparations are underway for this year’s seed trading event hosted by the Toronto Community Garden Network. Enterance is by donation. The theme for this year is ACCESS - it’s about including everyone in the benefits of community gardening. You can read more about the theme on the TCGN website.

  Attending Seedy Sunday is a great way to get ready and excited for the 2011 growing season. There will be free workshops, a seed exchange, children’s program, information booths; and garden related local vendors. The event is both TTC & wheelchair accessible.

  I can heartaly recommend this event and have attended for many years now. Urban farming is picking up steam world wide as we worry about the availability and quality of the food we consume. This is one way to ensure the freshness and goodness of our produce and to help feed those around us that may not be able to do so for themselves. I contribute a percentage of the food I grow to local food sharing and community kitchen programs.

 You do not need to bring seed for the exchange and can purchase high quality, open pollanated, organic seed for your own gardens from reputable dealers. This is the best place in the city to get heirloom seed. 

 Though this is a seed exchange, you need not be a gardener to take advantage of the green and energy saving techniques on display at this event. It you wish to reduce your water and electricity use this is the place to go. Lessen your carbon footprint on this planet. It's the only one we have.

 For those not living in Toronto, you should know that this event is held at various times and locations all spring accross Canada . For those in the GTA there will be two other such events in the comming future.

Seedy Saturday - Scarborough

Heron Park Community Centre

292 Manse Road

Saturday March 12 2011

12 NOON -4 PM

Contact: Kate Fullerton at

 Seedy Saturday -  North York

Lawrence Heights Community Centre

5 Riplin Road

Sunday March 27

1 pm - 5 PM

Contact: Melissa Benner

As always...

Happy Gardening...

Robert... aka... parkdalegardener


Urban Farming in NY. Free virtual tour and talk

Posted by parkdalegardener on January 6, 2011 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Hi All;

Sorry I am so late in getting this info up but I only recieved the phone call this morning.


Public Talk hosted by Growing the Future

Monday, January 10th, 2011

3:30-6 PM

Masaryk Cowan CRC, 220 Cowan Ave

We will take a virtual tour of the High Line, an abandoned railway system turned into a massive, elevated public park in New York City’s Manhattan. This picture presentation and talk will showcase a unique urban gardening restoration project and will definitely be of interest to all urban gardeners and farmers.

The High Line is located on Manhattan's West Side. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street, between 10th & 11th Avenues. Section 1 of the High Line, which opened to the public on June 9, 2009, runs from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street.


For park information, please call the High Line Information Line: (212) 500-6035

Section 2 of the park will open this spring and effectivly double the lenght of the High Line.

Happy Gardening...


AKA Parkdalegardener


Soil Contamination Protocol

Posted by parkdalegardener on September 7, 2010 at 8:37 PM Comments comments (0)

It has come to my attention that the City of Toronto is working on a soil-contaminant protocol for urban farmers here in  town. This has been lacking for some time as the City goes through urban renewal projects. Areas such as Liberty Village are built on top of old industrial zonings. C.I.L and Massey Fergasson left massive amounts of lead and other nasty things in the ground under that developement. Yes it has been cleaned by stripping the top soil and replacing it with new soil but this does not keep contaminates from surfacing as time goes by.

To be released in the spring the new protocol will help urban farmers determine if their soil is contamination free and if not; it will outline steps one can take to still grow healthy produce. The main targets are folks like me who grow food in community and allotment gardens. The protocol will also include those who garden on vacant lots throughout the city. Backyard gardeners will also be able to access this service.

I'll fill you in on more just as soon as the information becomes available.

Keep growing...


New Workshops and Earth Day

Posted by parkdalegardener on April 22, 2010 at 10:41 AM Comments comments (0)

  Personally I believe that every day is Earth Day. Not just a single day every year. It should be a lifestyle choice and not something trendy or cool. On that note I encourage all of you to get out and do your part this Earth Day and clean up the trash left by snow melt. Plant a tree to help clean the air and to reduce energy use in your home. A well placed tree can save you hundreds of dollars a year in air con and heating costs. Plant some food crops in your space. Large or small your food will grow where ever you plant it. This will help cut greenhouse gas emmissions from the shipping of your food from it's source to your home. These are a few of the things you can do and believe me when I tell you this is only the thin edge of the wedge when it comes to helping your planet become a suitable home again. Both for yourself, your children; and future generations to come.

  As to workshops. I have again taken on a roll in the Greenest City Steering Commitee. This year I will not chair. There are more important things to do. Instead I will be part of the Education Commitee. In short this means that I will be doing more workshops and will make more workshops available to the public. Starting on the first wednesday in May and for every wednesday thereafter there will be a workshop of one form or other in the H.O.P.E. Community Garden at 220 Cowan Ave. here in Toronto. The first one, on seed starting;  goes tonight in the greenhouse I put up last fall but is R.S.V.P. and a bit too late for you to respond. Not to mention that it is really a bit too late to be starting some crops such as tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers; from seed. By now those should have been started and most of the directly seeded crops should be in. The last frost date here in the city is May 9; Mother's Day. Seems kind of appropreate to me.


aka... parkdalegardener...

Welcome Spring

Posted by parkdalegardener on March 20, 2010 at 2:03 PM Comments comments (0)

Hello all and welcome to the Vernal Equinox. Today is the first day of spring and most of you are itching to get out and start digging. While it is a bit early for that despite our unseasonally warm winter there are a few things to update you on. Canada Blooms, Canada's largest garden show; is on this weekend here in Toronto. Home diva Martha Stewart is one of the main speakers there today. Their theme this year is sustainable urban agriculture.

This is something I can support but the show itself is quite expensive. There are demonstrations and a lot of things to buy but that is not the point of the parkdalegardener web site. We want to educate and feed you without breaking the bank. In fact we do it for free.

With that idea in mind it is time to promote another workshop.

Organic Vegetable Gardening for Beginners

Thursday,March 26th, 6:30p - 8:30p

Green Barn, 701 Christie St. Barn #4

This is a free open to all workshop but as it is filling up fast you must register in advance by contacting Kristin.


416 652 7867ext. 241

Or drop by theoffice at 1884 Davenport.


If you have yet to visit their greenhouse I urge you to do so. The Barns are the old TTC streetcar repair and maintenance barns. They have been converted to an artist space and a community greenhouse amongst other things, and they will be happy to show you around. This is the same location that you went to for Seedy Saturday.

On a seperate note I will be announcing changes to the parkdalegardener livecast shortly. With spring here it is time to start broadcasting again but there will be a few changes to the show. We will be carried "down under" on Gardening Central. Since it is the beginning of fall there today some of our more timely broadcasts may be interspersed with more general gardening information and the call in portion of the show may have to change a bit. More information comming soon.

Happy Gardening...


aka... parkdalegardener