Sustain Yourself, In The City

Living Downtown Is No Reason Not To Do-It-Yourself

Are you smarter than an Australian brush-turkey?

If you think you are, then according to Scott Kellogg, you should have no trouble composting. If these birds can do it, most likely you can.

Kellogg is a self described “post Earth Day child” who is the primary teacher of R.U.S.T. (Regenerative Urban Sustainability Training) and the co-author of Toolbox for Sustainable Living: A Do-It-Ourselves Guide.

He will tell you that living in an apartment in downtown Montreal is not a valid excuse for not composting. And that it shouldn’t prevent you from growing your own food, collecting your own water or having a worm-box, either.

During his presentation at Concordia’s Hall Building last Thursday, Kellogg explained that all of the above are both feasible and rewarding in urban areas.

He journeyed from Albany, NY to open a two-day long conference called “Moving Forward: An Inter-Community Discussion,” an event that’s overarching purpose was to uncover the university’s role in urban sustainability.

Kellogg explained to students and members of the community that while cities are not commonly regarded as an ideal place for agriculture, the two can actually fit together quite well. He cited many plants, such as the kiwi-berry, that can easily grow up walls, and said most mushrooms thrive in shady dark areas that are plentiful in cities.

Kellogg also touched on types of sustainability that had nothing to with food. An audience favourite was his suggestion of biological lawnmowers.
“Goats in the city,” he said. “It’s an idea whose time has come.”

While each individual’s efforts are important, Kellogg said, community interdependence is the key to successfully practicing any kind of urban sustainability. “It will do us no good to be self reliant if our neighbors aren’t as well,” he said.

Cameron Stiff, coordinator of Concordia’s Food Systems Project, was also in attendance. He updated students about some of the initiatives they could take part in, and Laurence Feauteax, Coordinator of Vert en ville, provided information for anyone interested in contributing to or volunteering at Concordia’s greenhouse.

Kim Fox, one of the event’s organizers, said she hopes that everyone who attended left excited to start projects with urban agriculture around the city and that they realize that they have the opportunity to control their own food despite living in a city.

“There is so much opportunity and access to resources, even right here at Concordia,” she said. “The hope is that the various projects at Concordia will give people a base training so we can then hook them up with the community where they can apply their skills or do it themselves.”

This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 31, Issue 25, published March 8, 2011.

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