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Friday, January 22, 2010

 So I got the go ahead from Chef. My build Fort McMurray's first rooftop garden this Spring. How am I going to do this...with anything free I can get my hands on. Luckily the Hotel is going to foot the cost for anything I cannot scavenge.

 We work for a hotel that is Eco why not enhance our Environment and our Menu at the same time. Everyone likes to know that what they just ate was grown locally...even more so when it's nourished by the very cooks that made the meal. The current plan is to grow a variety of Herbs...the stuff you cant normally get off suppliers, Heirloom Tomatoes ( I harvested my own sees in British Columbia all last summer), Swiss Chard, a variety of Leafy Greens, a bunch of Edible Flowers...and anything else anyone comes up with that is practical.
 We will use the harvest on the restaurant menu only...not like I can plant enough to use throughout our kitchen. Anything we have an over abundance of we will donate to local Soup Kitchens or other deserving causes. I plan to enlist the help of the odd cook at the hotel..but would also like to get the local community involved in parts of it. Our Nations kids need to know where their food comes from. What better way to teach them.
 So the process is going to begin today. I will start stashing away all of the buckets our Salt Beef for Jigg's Dinner arrive in. Why you ask? That is what our rooftop garden is going to be built out of. Each growing unit is going to be constructed from 2 recycled buckets, a piece of PVC piping, some flexible tubing and a bar glass. The system will be self watering and self little work as possible once the initial setup is built. You dont get cheaper than that. The only things I will have to purchase are the PVC piping(watering tube), flexible tubing(creating a siphon irrigation system from a master barrel) and the dirt. I know your wondering why I would have to purchase the dirt when we live in the Wilds of Alberta. We live smack dab in the middle of the Oil Sands.

All soil in the area contains Bitumen ...

Naturally occurring or crude bitumen is a sticky, tar-like form of petroleum which is so thick and heavy that it must be heated or diluted before it will flow. At room temperature, it has a consistency much like cold molasses.[1] Refined bitumen is the residual (bottom) fraction obtained by fractional distillation of crude oil. It is the heaviest fraction and the one with the highest boiling point, boiling at 525 °C (977 °F).

 If I dig into my backyard....I smell crude oil...the whole city smells of crude on a rainy day. All the soil in the area contains oil....not exactly the best growing medium. Not exactly the healthiest of things to be digesting.So I will be purchasing the soil and fertilizer for the project.

 I love to garden...I should say I love to farm period. It doesn't matter what kind of farming...Beef Ranching...Organic Vegetables.  I have been lucky enough at the last few places I have worked to meet with the actual Farmers supplying our Produce and Proteins. Even luckier to have gotten the privilege to actually go and work on most of the farms. I have gotten to be a part of the entire seed to fork process. My wife and I have helped drive whole herds of cattle up mountains...then been on the kill floor of the local abattoir as they were turned into steaks. We have gone home with blistered hands from digging up Fingerling Potatoes...and sore backs from planting a thousand seedings in a day. All of it being sooo take pride in your product..if you had something to do with putting it on the plate. Seed to Fork at it's best.

 So it's time to start the whole process. I will bring everyone thru this process via photo's and explanations as it occurs. A photo journal of an Oil Patch Garden. Hopefully it will inspire a few of you to do the same...even the average homeowner with less than an acre of yard can produce over 2000lbs of produce in their yard during the growing you realize how much that would actually save you in grocery bills a year.

 So now I have to start digging out seeds...I should say "ask the Wife where she has stashed the little darlings". I will also beg borrow and steal any that I can get my hands on. If you have something that you think would be interesting...become a part of the process...we will pay the shipping on anything anyone wants to send. Contact me via the blog or email with any ideas or suggestions you may have.


  1. Way to go Ken! Keep up the great work, you guys. This is very creative and reminds me of what I love about cooking-and great food in general.
    Cheers!! Lou-Anne PS-not sure how to post as other that anonymous, lol.

  2. Hey Ken I am the Executive Director fo the Fort McMurray Food Bank and we would like to look at doing a roof top garden on the roof of the food bank's new building we would like to talk to you about how you did this and maybe come see what you did. please call the food bank 780-743-1125 or email us at