Discussion forum for recent developments affecting Downsview Park and adjacent community
 Downsview Lands Community Voice Association                    
Newsletter  47                                                                 30 April 2019

Catching up with the Park's Urban Farm
On 28 April the DLCVA's Pat O'Neill met up with Julianne Keech who manages the 3-person, 3-acre-plus-single-greenhouse operation overlooking Keele Street.  This is one of the originating centres of parent Fresh City Farms, a distributor and retailer of farm-fresh organic and local food..

1.    Pretty cold out yet I see a couple of freshly planted rows of green?
Yes they are salad items, our main crop so to speak, which head office always needs.  In this case, fennel and onions.  Some of our member farmers have already put snow pea and lettuce seeds in the ground, but with no results.  It is still too cold.
2.    Please tell me you don't do all this farming work by hand?
No this is not your 19th century homestead.  We may be organic but are not into subsistence farming.  We have a two wheel roto-tiller that helps us maintain the established ridge and furrow pattern along the rows.  We plant on the higher ridge portion where we also run a drip irrigation system.  In addition, plastic covers and landscaping cloth help to reduce weeds and minimize moisture loss.
3.    How good is the soil here?
Pretty good.  We get it tested every year and have improved it over the 8 years we have been here.  Because the field slopes down to Keele St it gets a full day's sun.  It's a good location.  Next year of course we have to move [to south end of Park between the Orchard and Stanley Greene] so we'll see how that turns out.

4.    Do you fertilize?
Interesting question.  We do not use manure but improve the soil by introducing compost which we get from an outside source.

5.    What are your plans for this year, any changes?
Yes we are always changing.  One problem every urban farm has is newcomers strolling in and helping themselves any time of day.  This year we want to have official U-pick days when visitors can come in and harvest a few items for themselves.  Probably on Sundays once the growing season permits.  Another innovation will be volunteer weekdays when anybody interested can come in and help out.  Surprisingly, a number of people have asked for this. 
6.    How about pests?
In the greenhouse we do have insects which, if you let them, will feast on the seedlings.  To keep the six-legged population under control, we have purchased ladybugs from an outside supplier.  They are the natural enemy of soft-bodied insects (aphids, mites, white flies) which is why we like them so much.
Outside in the field we definitely have a problem with rabbits, which seem to like all the greens that people like in a salad.  There is also a deer that visits on occasion.

7.     There seems to be a strong educational component in what you do?
Very much so.  Fresh City Farms empowers young people to farm organically in backyards, front yards and beyond.  Part of our mission is to reconnect people with the rhythm of farming by making it part of their daily lives.  Living locally respects your body, the planet and our shared tomorrow.

This has been great.  Thanks for your time.  
For more information about Fresh City Farms 

Last time out we reported that the long-promised City of Toronto Firehall would soon be under under construction on Finch.  We should have said on (the east side of) Keele just south of the Mattamy sales pavilion

Tree management in William Baker woodlot: Last month DLCVA complained to park management about more than 50 recently-cut-down trees lying on the ground.  To our embarrassment, it turned out that most had been there over a year, deliberately cut down to contain contamination from Emerald Ash Borer disease.  The Park says its "best practices" program includes "year round pruning, wood chipping and other brush clean up .. to ensure optimum plant health ...[and] keep our urban forest thriving".

Toronto Star April 25: Centennial College's new Aerospace Centre as the first step in the Downsview Aerospace Innovation and Research Program (DAIR)  HERE

On 25 April 2019, Bombardier donated the CRJ200 plane pictured below to the DAIR Program
The story HERE


What the City of Toronto advises on dealing with coyotes (Derrydowns Park)


Along the new sesquicentennial trail

Bombardier's CRJ200
Canadian Regional Jet

Single aisle

44 - 50 seats

Range 1200 miles

Low noise level

Popular in the 1990s

Over 1000 built

Production ceased 2006

Bird boxes in the Park
Recently installed
For tree swallows
(cavity nesters)



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Rosanna Iaboni    Sec
Rita Delcasale       Treas.

Albert Krivickas     VP
Linda Gagaro         Hist.
Pat O'Neill               PR
Josie Casciato       M-ship



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