The Weblog

This page contains news, event information, and other items added by myself, the intrepid farmer-in-process at Old 99. I send out a message every week, but most are set with a delete date about two weeks later. I archive some of the posts if they have content other than weekly availability of produce and meat.

You can send me questions too, which if they are of a general nature, I can post to this Old99 blog.

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Old 99 Farm, Week of Dec 16 2012

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Christmas week I will have a market on the Thursday as usual.

Greens are holding well in the greenhouse because of the mild weather, lots of lettuce, mizuna , parsley and kale.

I’ll continue the ‘buy two get one free’ special on eggs this week, since lots of people are into Xmas baking.

Do you think we’ll have a green holiday season? Climate Disruption is no longer a matter of conjecture, the international scientific community is consensed on that fact. See
“The best strategy is to shelter in place and fight the front line battle for minds and hearts. Whether it is already too late is not the main concern; life is short and best lived taking action, rather than sitting and waiting for the worst.” (Dan Allen, Extirpation Nation essay on

Old 99 Farm Week of Dec 9 2012

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The Peter Bane workshop was well attended, had to turn people away. If you are moving towards thinking you need to provide more of your household sustenance: food, energy, water, consider buying The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country directly from

Special on eggs this week, buy two get one dozen free. My flock is keeping right up with its production; the girls don’t realize you people have stopped buying!

The city of Burlington is planning on expanding the marina at Lasalle Park and displacing the hundreds of Trumpeter Swans that overwinter there. Write or call to city mayor Rick Goldring that this is a bad idea, ecologically and economically.


Pros and Cons re chickens in urban settings

The Hamilton public health staff report Keeping of Chickens in Urban Areas [PDF] is a good resource.

It lists the potential benefits:

  • educational opportunities (i.e. teaching children about where food, such as eggs comes from, and providing animal care experience);
  • greater control over egg source in order to know where the egg originated;
  • increased food security, although limited, when financially feasible to keep chickens;
  • the belief that global environmental sustainability begins with local initiatives such as backyard chickens;
  • a lessening to some extent of carbon emissions typically associated with transporting food such as eggs;
  • companionship for family members as chickens may be treated as a pet;
  • the belief that eggs will be fresher, taste better and will be pesticide free;
  • expected better conditions for hens in comparison to industrial farms; and,
  • possible reduction of municipal solid waste through consumption of table scraps and other organic waste by hens.

It also lists the risks/challenges, which it notes “could be mitigated by following good practices … through a regulatory tool such as an urban chick by-law or through amendments to the City’s Responsible Animal Ownership By-Law 12-031.”

  • problems with the number, age, and sex of chickens (how many to keep, abandonment of old chickens, and whether to include chicks or roosters);
  • food safety issues (egg safety, unlawful sale or distribution, potential for disease transmission);
  • chicken slaughter (illegal slaughter or lack of local chicken slaughterhouse locations);
  • chicken (hen) care and treatment (potential for disease transmission from sick hens);
  • chicken coop and design versus free range (risk of pests and predators and disease transmission); and,
  • chicken waste (i.e. methods of disposal, odours and how to not affect groundwater).

To mitigate these risks, public health recommends the following:

  • no sale or distribution of eggs to others outside of the household in order to comply with relevant Provincial/Federal legislation and to reduce the potential for food borne illnesses and other disease transmission;
  • limit the number of chickens to three to four per single family dwelling;
  • prohibit the keeping of roosters or any other poultry except chickens (hens);
  • prohibit chicks under four months of age;
  • the chicken coop shall be located to reduce noise and odour complaints and the risk of disease transmission. Distances are recommended to be at least 3 metres from any side lot line and at least 6 metres from any rear lot line or dwelling;
  • hen coops shall be maintained in a clean condition and coop shall be kept free from obnoxious odours, substances and vermin;
  • chicken coops and runs shall be located only in the rear and side yards and must fully enclose the chickens to prevent them from escaping;
  • prohibit owners from allowing chickens to be at large (outside the coop, chicken run, or off the property);
  • chickens’ food supply must be protected against vermin;
  • manure disposal should occur through municipal waste disposal unless a suitable method of composting is available;
  • no home slaughter of hens; only at licensed slaughterhouses;
  • any naturally deceased hen shall be disposed of at a livestock disposal facility or through the services of a veterinarian within 24 hrs of death; and,
  • a permit/registry be required for all coops for the purpose of quick tracking should the need arise to contact owners.

After researching other municipalities that allow hens – Guelph, Kingston, Niagara Falls, Quinte-West, Kamloops, Richmond and Surrey – public health summarized the rules those other municipalities follow: “all have by-laws which include requirements as to number of chickens allowed, location and size of coop, lot sizes and distance restrictions, etc.”

They also learned that those municipalities “receive few complaints; less than five per year each,” because most people don’t keep chickens, and those who do “abide by the regulations in order to be good neighbours and avoid complaints.”

Bane workshop full, Backyard Chickens voted down

We have a very interesting group of attendees for Peter Bane’s workshop presentation on Sunday. Peter will speak on “Designing Resilient Communities: How our Towns and Suburbs can Incubate the new Eco-Agriculture and Launch a Food Security Revolution”, building on his handbook. This is for people/families with a quarter-acre lot or a small farm, in the city, suburbs, or plans for same.

Already suggested is to have him back in the summer and organize a tour of all Transition Town projects in the province, consulting and teaching as he goes. You can get his book, 500 pgs of well crafted advice on starting up a ‘garden farm’ on your city lot (like he did in Bloomington IN) The Permaculture Handbook, Garden farming for town and country. see for more on contents.

Closer to home, our illustrious councillors voted against a pilot project in Wards 1 and 2 for backyard chickens. This was last monday. It will come to council for ratification (same people with different scope of duty and procedure) on Dec 12. You can raise a cry of disagreement, after all many cities allow backyard chickens without ill effects. A pilot project is just that: a test case to find out the facts.

Write to the city clerk at to have your letter appended to the agenda for the Dec 12 meeting. Write your councillor too.

Here is the letter I send, based on Ryan McGreal’s in

Do it soon.

Dear Mayor and Members of Council,

On December 4, 2012, the planning committee voted against a pilot project in wards 1 and 2 that would allow residents to keep a small number of backyard hens, even though the evidence does not support the objections that were raised.

Other municipalities that have legalized backyard hens have not experienced significant numbers of complaints.
  • Allowing backyard hens is not a ‘slippery slope’ to allowing cows, goats or other large farm animals.
  • Hens are no more harmful than cats or dogs from a public health perspective.
  • Hens are quieter than dogs, especially large dogs.

Quite simply, a bylaw that allows the responsible ownership of a small number of backyard hens poses no significant risk of harm. There is no good reason not to support this proposal – especially given that it is only a pilot for wards 1 and 2, and the councillors for those wards support it.

I ask council to reverse the decision of the planning committee and approve this pilot project. Then, if the negative outcomes that some councillors fear materialize, council will have a chance to evaluate the results of the pilot and decide accordingly.


Old 99 Farm Week of Dec 2, 2012

For orders, go to Bring egg cartons PULEEZZ@!!

We had a successful event with Nicole Foss last sunday; over 60 people attended, 2/3 stayed through to the end of the discussion and were still asking questions after 5o’clock. Her conclusions:

  • prepare for a very different world
  • there will be a major initial shock, (maybe financial, maybe energy related) followed by a long (decades) period of adjustment
  • no more business as usual
  • embrace a simpler future
  • contrast expectations of entitlement with reality of limits

She was emphatically supportive of permaculture design approaches to local food security. I will have another post summarizing the many points she made in her 2 hour lecture.

For now, suffice it to say that indeed you can jump in and learn what your options are with permaculture design of your home or small farm, this weekend. This was not planned, but my permaculture mentor, Peter Bane, is travelling to the Buffalo area and has agreed to come for a visit and workshop. Sunday Dec 9, 1pm to 5pm, cost is $100 for one to three people. So round up a couple of friends and come to the farm (or Copetown Community Centre, depending on response). Register here online or via email but advance registration is required.

Nicole was quite positive about what permaculture can contribute to building family resilience to shocks and surprises, financial, energy, etc. in coming years.

Peter will speak on “Designing Resilient Communities: How our Towns and Suburbs can Incubate the new Eco-Agriculture and Launch a Food Security Revolution”, building on his handbook. This is for people/families with a quarter-acre lot or a small farm, in the city, suburbs, or beyond.

The Permaculture Handbook will be available for sale, price C$45. If you want one, let me know in advance so Peter can bring enough with him. I think this book offers a clear and comprehensive picture of what low-impact, high-satisfaction living can look like in the post-petroleum age. It shows how to reduce dependence on money, on fossil fuels, and on distant supplies of critical resources. The book answers such vital questions as: how much food will the family need; what kinds of crops are most important and valuable to grow; where can we invest our scarce financial resources for the biggest return; how can the farm enhance local ecosystems and communities; what tools and machines are really needed to take care of the land; and a thousand others. More importantly, it teaches the reader how to make complex decisions about land and livelihood consistent with new and emerging economic and ecological realities.


Old 99 Farm Week of Nov 25 2012

List of available produce and online ordering at

Consistently cool even slightly below freezing at night, but mild compared to norms. We’ve covered a few crops in the outdoor garden, like kale and spinach, carrots, to extend their season.
One new addition this week is claytonia, a mild salad green, aka Miners Lettuce. Good to add to salads or eat fresh with a vinaigrette.

Nicole Foss talk this friday is generating a lot of interest, I am optimistic we will fill the room (about 50 capacity) at the Lions Community Centre.

See this link for an investigation of the way public opinion about the safety of sugar has been managed by the sugar industry.

Old 99 Farm Week of Nov 18 2012

More cool nites, but hey it’s lovely in the greenhouse. Mist or frost most mornings.

Lots of greens, no new carrots yet, first cutting of claytonia this week.

I’m going to regale you with my speech to the Copetown Lions Club tonite, the live in-person ‘trailer’ for Nicole
Foss talk on Food, Farms and Family.

Here it is.
p(. News flash: the Lions Club voted in favour of being a co-sponsor of this event, along with DundasInTransition and Local 351 of the National Farmers Union in Ontario.)

Trailer for Nicole Foss: Food, Farms and Family, Building Resilience within Limits
Why would you come to a talk like this?
Do you sometimes feel fed-up, cynical, angry, discouraged with how the world is going? Do you doubt some of the positive spin from elected representatives and corporate execs in the news?

I’m going to suggest that A Great Disruption is upon us, and it goes by many names. We see it in many forms: real estate bubble, extreme weather events like Sandy and Katrina, price of fuel, ecological disasters like Deepwater Horizon, Exxon Valdez
Because you can’t have unlimited growth on a finite planet, it happens that we are the endgame generation, it’s happening in our lifetime.

Limits in food production are all around us: fisheries, topsoil, clean water, and minerals like phosphorus, and the big one: fossil fuels, limits on where we can safely dispose of our waste. We’re seeing superweeds and resistant insects and plant diseases, we’re seeing health epidemics like obesity, cancer heart disease to name just a few tangible signs of limits.

People seem to side with one of two extremes in facing this: we’ll be saved by technology, or are doomed by human greed and stupidity. Nicole proposes a middle way which gives more room for action: a ratcheting down of production and consumption, but not entirely by choice because of events beyond our immediate situation.
But if by choice it will be a lot more comfortable: as they say, it’s a lot more fun to jump that be pushed.

But if you do stay the course, stay in the mainstream cultural trance beamed by mass media, tv and the papers, you often end up feeling disempowered, helpless and by turns, like I asked at the outset: fed up, cynical, angry cheated. Why?
The lies and half truths from sources we want to trust, like our elected reps, disempower us.
The regulations that tie us in knots and keep us feeling like schoolkids, help some people and some of them a lot. Like corporate interests who can very easily afford to comply where small farmers, family businesses and proprietorships cannot

We are already in the post peak era, we are past the peak rate of extraction of conventional oil and natural gas and other minerals too; what remains to be seen is what the rate of decline is going to be. It can’t be a prediction though, not like predicting how long to fill a glass of water one drop per second.
It’s more like how to predict when a fish is going to find your bait and try it out for dinner. Too many factors at play to be a simple prediction, but we can forecast the likely scenarios.

When it comes to financial matters, Nicole says change can happen very quickly because of mass behaviour. We go with the crowd, on the way up and on the way down. Mass mood is very fickle and always seems to overshoot the target. We therefore often get a worse reaction that the facts really merit.

Also government action can change the picture, printing money, delaying consequences, making international trade deals, holding elections that avoid talking the real issues.

There is not direct causation in climate upset between burning oil and putting carbon in the air, and Superstorm Sandy. There is a multiplicity of intermediate steps, that’s systemic causation.
NO DOUBT burning fuels, putting carbon in the air leads eventually to catastrophic weather events.

Our local food and farm scene here in the Dundas Flamborough area is pretty good. For food security the farm infrastructure is good;

  • good soil and plentiful water,
  • 4 butchers, 4 feed mills, 4+ equipment dealers,
  • 2 Agricultural Societies with excellent fall fairs,
  • at least one really good men’s service club ,
  • a bee club, poultry club and 4H
  • and some world class farmers,including some organic dairy cashcroppers and market gardeners,

However we are not isolated from damaging events that happen elsewhere. We can’t duck the knock-on effects of an XL Meat Packers disaster, or a drought in Texas, and there will be more.

So along comes Nicole Foss to Copetown, a 50ish woman who lives with her husband on a farm near Ottawa, with a background in biology and environmental law and she says “I think we need to talk about all this”. She is one of those rare courageous people in my opinion, who see through the deception and false optimism in the mass media; she connects the dots for us and speaks out. She has given hundreds of speeches in 15 countries over the last three years. As a result you can make up your own mind and be more in control of your situation. That my friends, is what resilience within limits is all about.

Food comes from farms, better local farms than far away, Farms need paying customers they can rely on. Families need nutritious affordable food. In a time of disruption to the business as usual world we want to believe in, these are all in question. Nicole asks us to consider what we going to do about that for ourselves and gives us a head start.

Come out on Friday Nov 30th at 1pm to listen, learn and think for yourself. Nicole will speak from 1 to about 2:30 and we’ll have informal discussion from 3 to 5. There will be lots of times for questions.

thank you.

Food Farms & Family Announcement Nov 30

Old 99 Farm and Permaculture Site

How to contact us:
Our Website: Old 99
On email:

On Thursdays, 4 to 6pm: 1580 Old Hwy 99. From Dundas take Governors Rd west to Binkley, turn left and immediate right onto Old 99, second farm on right.
Or by appointment, please call ahead.

This newsletter contains background on Nicole Foss, coming to Copetown Community Centre, Nov 30, 1 to 5pm.

Food, Farms & Family: Building resilience within Limits

Copetown Community Centre, Nov 30 1 to 5pm.

Nicole is a Canadian with a science and legal education who is travelling the globe (15 countries so far) to engage people in the drivers of change in our time. We have the great good fortune that she is passing through our area and has agreed to speak on Food, Farms and Family: Building resilience within Limits.

Most of her work consists of speaking to community groups, and latterly municipalities as well. She has done hundreds of lectures worldwide over the last three years, including media appearances (five Max Keiser TV interviews, many radio interviews on Financial Sense Newshour, national radio in Australia and New Zealand, national TV in Sweden, many local radio shows and many newspaper interviews).

“I worry a lot about food production in the future. We’ve built a farming system with critical dependencies on things that won’t be there, at least to anything like the same extent, in the future. I also worry about the health timebomb we’ve created in the era of industrial food production, as it will be harder to deal with chronic health issues in an economic depression.”

“What I typically do is to integrate various subsystems into a bigger picture, so that people grasp what limits to growth really means, and I explain about different timeframes. Almost no one talks about the bigger picture, so people struggle to integrate information in context. I help them to do that, so they can identify critical vulnerabilities and prepare for challenging times.”

“I always address money and energy. Energy is foundational, and financial crisis has the shortest timeframe of all. Ontario is a financial disaster area in waiting. We’re seeing the beginnings of dealing with that in the dispute with the teachers. If people don’t understand financial crisis, then they risk losing all their freedom of action at the first hurdle and then have no capacity left to deal with other challenges. People need to know about finance because finance is the operating system, and it is about to crash. If people are not careful they will end up watching unprepared as all the assumptions they have built their lives on are invalidated. They need to know about energy, especially in Ontario. It’s all about helping people to prioritize scarce resources (physical, financial and time) in a changing social/psychological context – the psychology of contraction.”

Nicole will discuss food, agribusiness, landbanking, strip-mining soil fertility etc. Food & Farming is certainly a critical system. “I do typically emphasize the tendency towards centralization and increasing scale, and why I think it’s so important to decentralize and restore local control.”

So dear subscriber, if you have read this far, please go ahead and sign up for a very important event that will shed light on the near future that your family is facing.

Old 99 Farm, Week of Nov 11, 2012

For orders go to and be amazed at how much selection there is!

This week I’m reserving this post to announce an important event happening on Nov 30th. Nicole Foss is coming to Copetown Commmunity Centre to present her views on Food, Farms and Family – Building resilience in this era of limits. Nicole is well-known outside Canada, has lectured in 15 countries over the past two years. Before that she was E.D. of the Agri-Energy Producers’ Association of Ontario. She says" I live on a farm myself and was once a biologist and an environmental consultant, so I have plenty of background in these areas. I also have a great interest in health and nutrition, which fits in with a food focus, and a considerable dislike of GMOs."

I hope you will make every every to attend and bring your teenage or older children if you have such. I think Nicole has a sparkling way of exposing the cliche assumptions about the future and presenting real alternatives.

Copetown Community Centre, 1pm to 5pm, Nov 30. Donations suggested subject to ability to pay: $10. You can register with your Old 99 membership account.

This event is co-sponsored by Old 99 Farm, Transition Dundas, and the Wentworth chapter of the National Farmers Union.

Week of Nov 4th, 2012

Well,I just blew my whole month’s Rogers web download (pay-per-use contract) on watching David vs Monsanto, a 2009 European documentary on our heroic Sask farmer, Percy Schmeiser’s fight for seed rights and food purity. You should too. Spend an hour and watch. You’ll be appalled and dismayed by the ruthlessness of Monsanto (it could also be Dupont, Syngenta, Dow, BASF) , but also heartened that there are indeed still people like Percy and Louise, who will stand up to corporate malfeasance, no matter the cost.
bq. “This film is reassuring. Reassuring to all who fear that as an individual, no one would have any power to confront policymakers, large corporations or the business world. “David vs. Monsanto” proves the opposite.”
The link is!

Yes there are vegetables, meats and eggs here this week, all grown organically with no (known) GMO contamination. As of Nov 4th, I can offer the following crops: potatoes, tomatoes (last week) basil, chard, spinach, kale, carrots, onions, baby lettuces, parsley (two types), mizuna, arugula and hot and green peppers. For meats, I have lamb, pork, beef and roasting chicken and geese (just a couple left).

Now the climate is another matter, worthy of your consideration. But a matter with personal consequences for you and your families. We have to get real about fossil fuel based carbon pollution. It has to be a matter of public debate and private choice every time we shop, travel or consume.

I excerpt below from a recent interview with Kevin Anderson, the Deputy Director of the UK Tyndall Centre, an expert on greenhouse-gas emissions trajectories. He will be giving the annual Cabot Institute lecture, ‘Real Clothes for the Emperor’ on 6th November in Bristol, UK, which has already sold out. Read the interview here:

“I don’t want to pretend that it’s easy. I do not think that the future, for those of us that are in the very fortunate position of living in the West, is full of win-win opportunities. People who have done well, very well out of our western system, and live very carbon profligate lifestyles are going to face difficult challenges, and we should not pretend otherwise.

Until we actually embrace alternative means of finding value in our lives, I think that transition from where we are today, high-carbon, high-energy lifestyles, to ultimately lower-carbon lifestyles is going to be both difficult and unpopular. But ultimately, I do not see an alternative. Rapid and deep emissions reductions may not be easy- but 4°C to 6°C will be much worse.

But also I find it increasingly difficult not to challenge friends and family, who often appear to have complete disregard for the impacts of their action. I’ve got to the point now where I think that when we’re profligately emitting, we’re knowingly damaging the lives and the prospects of some of the poorest people in our communities, both in the UK, but more significantly globally. Yet we obscenely carry on doing this. We’re happy to put a few pence into a collection pot in the middle of town to help people living in poorer parts of the world but we don’t seem to be prepared to make substantive changes to how we’re living our lives- even when we recognise the impact our emissions are having."