Renee Belisle

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since Jul 23, 2013
Worked in the restaurant industry for over 15 years.  My perspective on food and life has evolved.  I've begun working for myself.
geraldton, ontario
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Recent posts by Renee Belisle

We have planted bloody dock, true French and another larger leaf kind, and wild wood sorrel is left for ground cover in our gardens.  All seem to do well in our zone 2a.  Winters reach -40c usually with lots of snow for insulation.  Rabbits love the bloody dock.
5 months ago
We’ve just recently completed/survived our week of self-reliance and have learned a whole lot. In hindsight, most of what we learned could have been figured out on paper without this ordeal but it would still have been only theoretical.

Some things that we learned:
-that we can survive on under 1000 calories each, per day
-that we can’t eat/stomach enough potatoes to increase those calories
-the more crab apples you eat, the more sour they taste, and that they can’t replace regular apples
-how to successfully roast vegetables without oil
-the importance of not wasting any food
-the large amount of time it takes to prepare fresh foods for three meals a day
-how much plastic/waste store-bought food items create and what little to no waste we created this week
-that we really need to have more grains and energy-dense foods for next year’s “two week challenge”
-that any maple syrup we can generate for next year would be a game-changer
-why people keep telling us this would be easier if we weren’t vegans
-how to make delicious Naan bread with three ingredients:  any flour, any squash/potato, sea salt
-variety is important in order to maintain a productive digestive system and to keep the bowels moving
-we love coffee

In conclusion, we can now say that we can (barely) feed ourselves about 2% of the year. With the rest of our yield from this season, we have about 5% of our annual caloric needs met. With our fruit trees and shrubs gradually coming into maturity, this should hopefully keep pace with the annual doubling of our future self-reliance challenges. We only had 1.5 cups of buckwheat flour to work with all week, so if we can get some serious grain production next year we’ll have an easier go of it.
2 years ago
Thanks Mike. We should clarify that we’re integrating home-grown foods into our daily meals on a regular basis and that the concept of the ‘local food only week’ is to add another level of awareness to our attitude toward food.

Dan, we really like your comments. Much of our motivation for this is to rewire our brains and to interrupt the reliance we have on the grocery store. When the food we grow is treated as a supplement to a mainly corporate/factory fed diet it is easy to lose sight of our goals. The week that we are preparing for is already producing results in terms of how we think. We’ve also become far more aware of the wild edibles that are all around us and plan to integrate more into our meals. Our solar dehydrators are running steadily and we’re in the process of building a PAHS style root cellar/basement. We’re still very early in the process of developing our growing areas with a focus on mostly perennial trees and shrubs, but in the mean time we’ve got vegetables, berries, potatoes, etc growing. We’re also trying to rewire our food attitudes away from novelty and exotics toward local, seasonal and practical.      
2 years ago
Before we set out on our quest for self-reliance we researched the forums a lot seeking ideas for all kinds of things. One topic that we were discouraged by was the question --how much of peoples’ food needs were being supplied by their gardens/farms? Some of the forum regulars that we’d expected to be the most self-sustaining turned out to be only marginally so. The numbers that were given were also very uncertain and based on no real measurements. Knowing how difficult it is to track the amounts of home-grown food that we include in our diet, and being determined to work toward feeding ourselves with as little commercial “food” as possible, we decided to simplify the measuring process by setting a goal of feeding ourselves for one week with exclusively home-grown or wild-harvested food. If successful, we can then comfortably say that we’ve accomplished a 2% rate of self-reliance and increase our goal for the next year and the next, until we hit our limit. 2% does sound pretty unimpressive, but the reality of it is quite daunting. Regardless, the preparations so far are going well and we’re looking forward to “the week” which will likely be sometime this fall.    
2 years ago

Eric Grenier wrote:I'm on the Quebec side of cochrane Ontario and Egyptian onions/ mint/ chives/ rhubarb/ gooseberries/ raspberries/ Rosemary are the plants we have so far. All are very easy to grow but heavy mulching and mulching in spring is a must for early years. I'd be open to trading if your interested


Also no zones are set in stone many plants I have aren't supposed to grow here and do just fine. Anything zone 3 and above is worth a try usually

I thought rosemary was zone 7 or 8? and it survived the winter in your area?
5 years ago
We have chosen edible perennials zoned 4 and below (why not?!). These are the perennials we have planted so far: raspberries (spreading like crazy in the hugelkultur), strawberries, haskap, Egyptian onions, apple trees, cherry trees, beaked hazel, grapevine, asparagus, chamomile (it survived the winter in our hugelkultur even though it is labelled as an annual, apparently it re-seeds itself), blueberry, garlic, rhubarb, lavender (zone 4 or 5 yet it survived the winter on the hugelkultur), good king henry (did not sprout, will try again, it's like a perennial spinach), mint, chives, and of course LOTS of comfrey everywhere.

I stratified and planted seeds early this spring (most did not do so well) and we will also be planting some of those seeds in the fall to naturally stratify over the winter (burdock, rugosa rose, soapwort, sea buckthorn, lady's mantle, stinging nettle, chinese lantern, etc.). I have planted a lot of annual vegetables also, and I will be leaving a lot in the garden to reseed and see what pops up in the spring on it's own.
5 years ago
Just introducing myself and hoping to find others to share their experiences in growing food in our zone. Plant suggestions would be great.
6 years ago
My partner and I have recently purchased several acres of land on the outskirts of my hometown with plans of growing food and making a home. Is there anyone on here that's near zone 1b?
6 years ago
Geraldton, Ontario Canada Zone 1b
7 years ago

Mike Sved wrote:First year of our first ever hugelbed in Zone 1b, northern Ontario.

more images of the construction and progress of this hugelkultur here:

7 years ago