Tonight I prepared the refuse for pick up. It took me about half an hour. This was my first time, and I wanted to do it properly, and, well, there’s a lot of steps. I didn’t want to mess it up. Halifax is at the front of waste reduction initiatives: it is the ‘greenest’ of the Canadian provinces and HRM is the greenest city in NS. So, we’re talking the greenest of the green. Green of the crop if you will. Massachusetts is one of the greenest states, but Halifax begins where Massachusetts ends. I am used to sorting out bottles, cans and paper for recycling, but here, there were four piles in all–one for paper, one for recyclables (cans and bottles plus milk cartons, plastic bags and plastic containers #1, #2 and #4. Starting next week, they will also take #5 plastic) one for ‘organics’ (food and yard waste as well as dirty paper plates, towels and napkins) and one for garbage. It is quite an eye-opener to see how small the garbage bag is, when everything that can be recycled is taken out. And here’s the best part: the city provides each household with two compost bins–a little kitchen composter and a big ‘tip in’ Green Bin for the weekly pick up. When you move, you have to leave your bins for the next resident. The municipality also picks up the waste at no additional charge–I hesitate to use the word free, because it’s not, but I was paying $300 a year for trash pick up in Massachusetts.

My landlady takes great pride in not using the Green Bin, which stays out back, because she composts everything herself, ‘using all of it.” She does vermiculture, (composting with worms) and the kitchen composter gets what the worms don’t like. Except for protein, fat, bones and shells, which could be put in the Green Bin, but instead get put in the trash, as do dirty paper towels and serviettes. In my mind, that’s kind of cheating. I bring this up because we are having a bit of a conflict about trash. She tells me to put bones, lobster shells and paper towels in the garbage, but then says I make ‘too much garbage!’ Last week, on trash day, I came out of my room with a small bag and she said “More?” in an incredulous voice. More? It was one little bag of trash from my room, mostly tissues from morning allergies. And it was a week’s worth! I felt like Oliver Twist asking for another bowl of gruel. A couple of times I have even ‘packed’ trash out to furtively stuff it into a public receptacle. Still, though, I felt really cheap sliding my trash out, and resented feeling like I had to.

I arrived at what I thought was the perfect solution. The lot next to ours holds a garden where an old man from the next house putters around every morning. I noticed that he never moves his Green Bin to his yard (like he is supposed to) but leaves it on the street between our houses. Perfect—I’d just throw my ‘organics’ into his bin! The other night, my landlady was complaining to her boyfriend about the amount of freezer space I have used (it’s less than the worms have, by the way). I said “Oh, not to worry, a lot of that is lobster shells and stuff that will be gone by Tuesday, and told her of my brilliant plan to toss it in the neighbor’s Green Bin. My plan displeased her.

“If I saw someone throwing anything into my trash bin, I would be very upset!”

“But he leaves it out all week!”


“Yesterday, he was urinating in his garden!”

“So? It keeps the ants away.” she staunchly replied. (!)

“My point is, that anyone who leaves his bin out all week and urinates in public view can’t be so bound by propriety as to take offense at anyone’s adding to his midden!” She sniffed and stalked off. I asked the boyfriend if he would be offended if someone put trash in his barrel and he said “of course not.” So last night, like a ninja, I stole out to add my organic refuse to the neighbor’s Green Bin. So far, so good.

Canada Day Eve

Canada Day is tomorrow (July 1) and all of the stores are selling flag-themed and maple-leaf-strewn everything and anything and yes, even that!

Remembering the days when I searched in vain for Canadian stickers for my luggage, I of course had to succumb to temptation of so many patriotic purchases! One corner of my room could be an ad for “Wake Up Canadian”

Just so you don’t think I’m throwing money around, I bought a men’s hat at Value Village for $1.50 and covered the Patron tequila stitching with a flag patch I got for 75¢. Of course, I also had to buy a sewing kit first… I also bought a red hoodie at Value Village (they had a 50% off sale June 27 $2.50!) and a can and bottle coozy and a flag umbrella hat and a bandanna for the dog and some tape for my bike and a bunch of flags for the basket of my bike…so I should be good to go tomorrow. there’s a parade and a barbeque, a multicultural fair, a pow wow and fireworks. Whoo-hoo!
Took Max over to Point Pleasant Park, a park with ‘leash free’ areas. How cool is that? Here is a picture of Max taken today. Who’s a good dog?

Max at the Park

Also got an email from my landlady. Constant rain has compelled her to cut short her bicycle vacation and she’ll be home Saturday. Sigh. Somehow, I was expecting something like this might happen. I had a feeling she would not be gone for the whole three weeks. More than sense, too; she never showed me how to use the lawn mower. So what was I supposed to do, just let the grass grow? Of course, I see clearly with the retrospectacles. Dang. I need to borrow a ladder from a neighbor so I can fix the damn laundry line. And it’s the beginning of a holiday weekend. Oy, Canada!

Community Supported Fisheries: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Tonight I went to a really cool event, the Summer Season Launch of Off The Hook 2011, a community supported fishery here in Halifax. CSFs give local people the opportunity to support their neighbors and get fresh fish harvested in a sustainable fashion. Being from away, CFAs are new to me, but I belonged to a CSA farm in Massachusetts, so I get the concept. At the beginning of the season, people buy shares from the farmer, or in this case the fisher. Every week for a certain number of weeks, the producer gives you an amount of the seasonal produce (or fish). This concept is win-win: the farmer/fisher gets some cash up front when they need it, and the customer gets the very freshest produce/catch organically/sustainably grown and harvested. Like CSA farms, CSFs  at their best become a community of people who share ideas, recipes and a commitment to small scale cooperation. In checking out the Facebook page for Off The Hook, it seems to be all of that, with wall photos of members at get togethers (one fed 160 people!) and photos of fish pizza, fish in foil and Brazilian Fish Stew among other choices. This is an example of Facebook using their powers for good and not for evil, by the way.

In the CSA farm system, a ‘share’ is just that–if the farmer has a bad season, or a storm at the wrong time, you share in the poor harvest. I don’t know how that works with a fishery–is it ever a bad year for fish? I suppose if there was some environmental problem like a red tide or something (heaven forfend) the subscribers would share, which is only fair, but I can’t imagine something taking away the whole season like a bad storm might do to a particular harvest. I never thought to ask.

I thought the subscription prices were quite reasonable: $120 for a 2-3 lb. whole (gutted) fish every week for eight weeks. At an average of 2.5 lbs./wk, that’s about six dollars a pound for fresh haddock or pollock. Your order can be picked up at the Brewery Market (on the Halifax Waterfront) every Thursday. Here is a photo of Chef Chris Velden demonstrating how to debone a whole fish.