This Weekend in London

June

School is out today for all kids in the LDCSB and the TVDSB which means it’s time for some fun! Celebrate the end of school by getting out and having some fun!

STORYBOOK GARDENS GRAND OPENING

This weekend is the official Grand Opening of Gnorbert’s Garden at Storybook Gardens. Come to Storybook to explore their new urban farm and butterfly garden to learn about planting and be inspired to start your own at home! Get those little green thumbs growing into the earth young. Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions from the young and old.

INTERNATIONAL FOOD FESTIVAL

The London International Food Festival is this weekend in Victoria Park. Come downtown between 11:00am and 11:00pm on Friday, June 26, Saturday, June 27, and Sunday, June 28 to enjoy the entertainment, the exhibitors and of course, the over 50 food booths to choose from. Come hungry!

OPA GREEK FESTIVAL

OPA! The Outdoor Greek Festival runs this Friday, June 26, Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28. Admission is free for everyone to come an enjoy live music, dancing, and of course the food! For the full schedule and all information, see HERE.

COMMUNITY CPR DAY

The City of London is hosting another Community CPR Day on June 27 and June 28. This is an opportunity for all to earn their CPR-A certification. Whether you have small children at home, have aging parents, or work with populations of people, CPR is a vital skill that all people would benefit from knowing. This is great on a resume for all teens and babysitters as well! Only $5 per person for the 2.5 hour clinic.  For dates and times and to register, see HERE.

MOVIE TIME

If you’re wanting to get out and see a movie this weekend to celebrate summer, there is a lot playing for kids! Saturday at 11:00am, Silver City Masonville has the classic Popeye for their Family Favourite Presentation. The fantastic animated film Inside Out is playing at the Mustang Drive-In on one side and Jurassic World on the other.

The Grickle Grass Festival

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This coming Saturday, May 30 is the 6th annual Grickle Grass Festival at the London Children’s Museum. In partnership with Growing Chefs! Ontario, this event is part fundraiser, part family day of fun! Are you interested in sustainable living, healthy living, art and music? This is your event.

DAYTIME

From 10:00am to 5:00pm the London Children’s Museum will be taken over, both inside and outside, for the festival. It will be a full day celebration of learning, focusing on sustainable living, healthy choices, environmentally friendly food and where it comes from, the importance of fitness, and taking care of the world around them. Bring the whole family for button making, garden planting, dance partying, cooking demos, and so much more!

ADMISSION is the regular Children’s Museum admission of $7 per person, $2 for babies 12-23 months.

EVENING

In the evening, the museum turns into a fully licensed music venue for the adults. Every floor of the museum will be filled with music and art for you to enjoy at your leisure. The evening event is a fundraiser for the daytime programming.

ADMISSION tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. For advanced tickets, purchase HERE.

grickle2

 

Plant a Row, Grow a Row

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Gardeners, green-thumbs, and wannabes, as you are planning and/or planting your summer garden this weekend, consider London’s Plant a Row, Grow a Row Campaign. Founded in 2012 this program encourages you to plant a little bit extra in your garden and to donate that extra produce to the London Food Bank.

DID YOU KNOW?

The London Food Bank is able to easily collect and distribute non-perishables, but low income individuals/families also need the most important part of our diet: fresh fruit and vegetables. While you can imagine the obvious trouble with collecting such items in a drop off bin at a grocery store, they are able to collect and distribute fresh produce when it is brought directly to them.

PLANT A ROW, GROW A ROW

This time of year is the absolute easiest way to contribute to your London Food Bank by making space in your kitchen garden for a bit more produce. Did you grow more zucchini than you can handle? Decide kale is just not your thing? Have more tomatoes than you can can? Rhubarb running wild? Had enough beets for one season? Bring your excess to the London Food Bank! Either make the conscious decision to over-plant or just bring them whatever you don’t want. Pick it at it’s prime and get it to the Food Bank ASAP.

SEEDS

If altruism isn’t motivation enough to get on board with this, Plant a Row, Grow a Row has received a whole lot of seeds to give to you at no cost! Bush beans, pole beans, leaf lettuce, spinach, summer squash, cucumber, kale and beets are available for your garden. Just plant, grow, keep what you want and donate the rest back. See Facebook for more information.

 

 

 

The Three Sisters

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We are fortunate in London to live in a place so rich in history and to be able to learn about the history first hand! If you have a child around grade three or above, there is a good chance they will know what The Three Sisters are already through their social studies unit on Native Canadians. If they’re lucky, they may have even gone to the Museum of Ontario Archaeology and learnt about the crops and legends of the First Nations people who lived and farmed right here in London and area before the European Settlers came over.

THE LEGEND

The legend of the Three Sisters was passed down from generation to generation to teach about farming. In the story (a version can be found HERE) there are three sisters who are very different, but inseparable. They each have different characteristics that compliment each other. One day, they see a young Native boy and become curious. One by one the sisters disappear in the night as summer turns into fall. At the end of the tale, they are reunited joyfully in the young boys lodge where they help to feed his family.

WHO ARE THE SISTERS?

The Three Sisters are three plants: corn, beans, and squash (traditionally pumpkins). According to legend, the three sisters are inseparable and cannot grow without each other. When planted together the corn acts as a pole for the beans, who in turn strengthen and help support the corn stalks. The squash provides ground cover and acts as mulch to prevent weeds and keep the soil moist.

PLANTING THE THREE SISTERS

If you have space in your yard somewhere, consider planting the three sisters this spring and see what happens! Talk about the history with your children and do a little research into how the three crops would be used by the original residents of London. Start this weekend!

  1. Plant the corn about 4 in a square foot and water frequently.
  2. When the corn is about 6 inches tall, plant the beans between the corn (about 6-7 per square foot)
  3. Plant a squash or two, depending on how much space you have. Squash grows and takes up a lot of space, so give it room!
  4. Water your plants frequently and fertilize as needed.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Try some of these links:

http://www.reneesgarden.com/articles/3sisters.html

http://blogs.cornell.edu/garden/get-activities/signature-projects/the-three-sisters-exploring-an-iroquois-garden/

https://farmtoforkguelph.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/fall-in-ontario-is-time-for-the-three-sisters/

http://www.evergreen.ca/downloads/pdfs/BeanKeepers-ThreeSisters.pdf

http://www.wabano.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/CLANconnections-AUGUST-2014-final-2.pdf

http://www.foodshare.net/files/www/Field_to_Table_Schools/Eat_in_Ontario/Gr3-ThreeSisters.pdf

 

Growing Sweet Potatoes

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If you’re interested in a really simple and fun way to get your children interested in growing their own food, try some sweet potato slips! Unlike most vegetables, sweet potatoes are not grown from seeds, but are grown from other sweet potatoes. You know when you leave a sweet potato in your pantry a little too long and it starts to grow legs and attempt to crawl away? That’s all part of the magic!

HOW TO DO IT

Head out to the market or grocery store and select a nice looking sweet potato (or many!).

Get a large mouth transparent jar and fill it with water.

Insert 3-4 toothpicks about midway down the sweet potato and slowly lower it into the jar, having it suspend itself with the toothpicks (see the picture above).

Place your jar in a warm window or under a warm light.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Your sweet potato will begin to grow roots and sprout leaves! Kids will love being able to see the roots grow down and the stems reaching up for sunlight.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

When the weather is warm (i.e. June or July), you can carefully separate the slips from the original potato and plant them in containers or in your garden. They will need deep, loose soil and plenty of water to grow.

Growing Vegetables with Children

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This is the time of year when Ontarians start to plan their vegetable gardens and start seeds indoors. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or have never touched a pot of dirt in your life, gardening is possible! What’s more, it’s a great way to encourage children to learn about where their food comes from and grow some for themselves. Sharing this experience with your little ones may even get them more interested in trying some new foods, so give it a shot! After all, as moms, we know it’s a pretty incredible feeling to grow something beautiful.

WHAT TO GROW

The space you have will be a big factor in what you grow. If you have a sunny window, try something small like herbs. If you have a space in the yard you can play around with, go crazy! Here are some suggestions:

Herbs – they grow easily and can be used frequently. Kids can pick leaves and eat them anytime they like. Choose ones you’ll actually use! Basil, oregano, cilantro, mint, chives, etc.

Cherry Tomatoes – another one they can grab off the plant and snack on while they’re outside playing. Make sure they’re old enough to not choke!

Pumpkins – how much fun would it be to grow your own Halloween pumpkin or Thanksgiving pumpkin pie pumpkin? Kids will love to watch how big these can grow! Make sure you have a lot of space, these guys like to spread!

Radishes – if your kid happens to like these odd little root vegetables, then this is a definite for planting. They grow quickly and are harvested early in the season for quick gratification!

Beets – another fun root vegetable to grow because what of the big surprise when you dig it up! Let them guess what the vegetable under the ground is going to look like before you pull it up. And if they’re at the age where bathroom humour reigns, convince them to eat some and see what happens ;)

Carrots – carrots are a classic with kids. It is often one of the rare veggies that kids will eat and they’re fairly easy to grow in the ground or in deep containers. Part of the fun in growing your own is seeing all of the funny shapes they come in when you pull them up – they aren’t all perfect like at the grocery store! For bonus fun, plant rainbow carrots and do a little research as to why we mostly eat orange carrots now.

Bush Beans – you won’t have to worry about planting these beans near something they can grow up and they’ll be easy for little hands to reach in and pick. Fresh beans from the garden are hard for anyone to resist!

HOW TO PLANT

Seed packets will come with instructions as to whether you should start seeds indoors or plant them directly into the garden.

If you are going to start your own seeds, start now! Head to your nearest garden centre with the kids and have someone there instruct you on the best way to get them started with potting soil and starter pots. Another option is to have someone else (a nursery) start your seeds for you and buy seedlings (small plants ready to plant in the ground) later in the spring.

Planting directly into the ground happens anytime from now through summer, depending on the seeds/seedlings. If the instructions say ‘after last frost’ then you have to wait until the end of May to be safe.

Water your seeds regularly and wait for the magic to happen!