Saturday, April 18, 2009

Organic Gardening with Mark Cullen and the Tea Emporium

This week, I had the pleasure of attending two FCP Events. The first one was a Wednesday Organic Gardening seminar hosted by Mark Cullen and the second one was a Thursday Tea seminar hosted by Shabnam Weber, owner of the Tea Emporium. Yes, I managed to weasel out of a Thursday Meeting to attend the Tea seminar, but I wasn't lucky enough to get out of attending a pre-meeting though. Oh well, at least I only had to sit through a half-hour pre-meeting instead of attending a full one-and-a hour meeting. Yay! That made my day!

I really enjoyed Mark Cullen's presentation of Organic Gardening. He definitely has a great sense of humour and was very funny throughout the presentation which was dotted with many humorous anecdotes.

One anecdote which resonated with me in particular was when he mentioned his wife's desire to raise chickens for eggs on a farm they moved to just north of Unionville three years ago. I too would like to raise chickens one day. Apparently, interest in urban farming , including the raising of chickens is on the rise. It is not illegal to raise hens in some GTA regions like Brampton and the Niagara area and Toronto is currently revisiting the possibility of lifting the ban on raising chickens in city backyards. It makes a lot of sense for people these days to pursue these D.I.Y. projects in order to live sustainably and have more control over procuring their own food supply. You can read about it here.

The Tea seminar was also very enlightening. All attendees were each given a fabulous cup of Rooibus Tea to enjoy while we listened to Shabnam Weber, Tea Lover and Tea Expert Extraordinaire Emporium rave about Tea. I certainly learned a lot about Tea and have come to appreciate it more.

For instance, did you know that all teas come from the same Tea Plant, whether it is white tea, green tea, oolong tea or black tea? It all depends on when the tea leaves were picked and how the tea leaves were processed. Also, tea does contain caffeine, but it differs from the caffeine found in coffee in that the caffeine in tea is a slow release stimulant which will have a gentler, but more long lasting effect, whereas the caffeine in coffee will give you an immediate jolt but you'll come crashing down after about an hour or 2 and you'll want to have another cup to give you that wide awake feeling again.

Rooibus Tea, the lovely tea that we got to sample, is considered an herbal tea as it is not made from the Tea Plant. Rooibus Tea is made from the leaves of the red bush tree (Rooibos) from South Africa and has a very smooth aromatic flavour. For people who are concerned about caffeine, this great tasting tea is perfect because it is naturally caffeine-free.

Other Herbal Teas include brews or infusions made by steeping flowers, herbs and spices in Boiling Water. Some of the more common Herbal Teas include Camomille, Hibiscus Flowers, Peppermint, Spearmint, Ginger and Cloves. All of these make for very soothing and relaxing beverages.

Thank goodness for these lunch hour seminars presented by FCP. They really are great stress-busters from the crazy hectic busy days at the office.

Here's Mark Cullens' "The Canadian Garden Primer" containing many beautiful photographs and great tips on both edible and non-edible organic gardening.

Here's the signed version.

Here's Mark's Earth Friendly promotional material which you can place directly into your front or backyard for planting. It's made of recycled paper embedded with assorted native Canadian wildflower seeds.

This was the Tea Card we received for attending the Tea Seminar. Looks like I'll be making a trip to the Tea Emporium soon.

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