Hi there! I’m glad you’re here, checking out my blog. Here I talk about the origins of my practices and how the blog got started. (There’s another page for Rewilding, to tell you what that’s all about.)

I became a townhouse owner in 2006. When I first visited the property in autumn, 2005, one of the things I wanted was a nice backyard. It had a tall cedar tree, rose bushes, and a pond. While I was looking out the back door, a squirrel ran right up under the deck. I’d always wanted a garden that would be attractive and welcoming to me, my pets,  my guests, and wildlife. I was sold!

However, the property was devoid of personality in front. The previous owner wanted it to look unremarkable (the neighbourhood used to be a little rough around the edges). At first when I got here, I just planted a tree and created a flower garden, and let my dog use the front yard on a long leash.

But what I really wanted was a farm, complete with chickens (not allowed). In 2010, I started growing vegetables (I had to scale back that idea) and have done so, more or less, every year since. Also, my famous pet rabbits helped keep the yard trim. I had push-back from my neighbours on the left, who didn’t want change, demanding that I not use my front yard for what I wanted. (Others from the neighbourhood have admired my garden, one telling me “I always look forward to seeing what you’re gonna do.”) And soon enough, the urban agriculture movement caught on, and the borough started creating the roadside green space you see today.

As you can imagine, if you have a yard, it’s incredibly satisfying to grow your own tomatoes and other vegetables, to enjoy its beauty, and share it with birds and other wildlife. (Not just the wild life of backyard barbecues!) Sometimes you want to share your enthusiam with others, too.

Then I started the blog…

So in 2011, I began a little blog on Blogspot called “Biophilia.” It was a passion project for a few months, but as I branched out my topics, it morphed into Big City, Little Homestead (BCLH). BCLH was about Canadian history, home ec, gardening, food processing, and sustainable living, with renovations and DIY projects thrown in.

It didn’t occur to me to become a blogger; I just wanted to write about appreciating nature, wild plants and animals, and bringing the country back into city life. I wasn’t writing for anyone else, and there were other blogs about homesteading and prepping out there. This was the heyday of blogging, and I didn’t want to annoy my visitors with sponsored content and ads. I had no idea what I was doing!

 Blogger statistics with a lot of bots from Russia!

Given that I didn’t have a blogging strategy or any goal, I tapered off in about 2015. I turned my attention towards learning how to create and run a business and projects I’m passionate about. That had mixed results, but it caused me to keep improving this site, and make my knowledge (free) and services (for hire) available to you.

So I continue to update the blog and even sporadically write new posts:

A manifesto for the present and future

Given how much we need nature to survive, let alone thrive, it upsets me when people develop green land, especially if it’s not urban or if it’s serving a natural purpose. It’s the cheapest land there is. And cities have a financial incentive (even if it’s kicking a can down the road, because they still have to service development, and they always spend their surpluses) to convert any non-revenue land into something that gives them rent. The cities still collect tax on buildings that are underused or inappropriate (ahem, everything along the 40), so as long as they have more-easily-forced small developments and “vacant” greenspace to encroach upon, they have little to no incentive to intervene and renew old real estate stock.

What we actually need is to hold off development on all green space and de-develop some places to put nature back where we took it away. So if you, like I, can find a way to combine the footprint of a building or a paved area into that of a green space at the same time, you have both the use of the building/space, and you regain at least some of its ecological value.

One of the best side effects of putting nature back is the feeling of peace and happiness one gets from being in the centre of green space. On top of that, it increases property values, retains tenants for longer, can lower energy costs, and have other long-term financial benefits. Areas with trees, areas with parks and shade, are places where people want to be.

Unfortunately, we have mixed results from learning this with the pandemic. People flocked to greenspace. And then started demanding by their use (if not out loud with their activism) that it be increasingly paved and made into “party space.” How ironic, that a need to have green space converts it even further into the built environment, and how short-sighted to fail to see that this will only exacerbate the effects of what people were trying to alleviate when using it.

We used to manicure and monocrop our green space (that is, grass and horticultural plants and easy-to-plant-by-the-City trees), and kept things as tidy as a magazine spread with herbicides and pesticides. This tidiness commanded a certain respect from its users, but we got a biodiversity crisis as a result. Thankfully, a lot of cities banned the cosmetic use of these chemicals, holding them back for use against real invasives (such as dog-stranging vine, its relative black swallow-wort, and the dreaded Japanese knotweed) and pests (emerald ash-borer, gypsy moth).

But we’re still in thrall to the ideas of perfect lawns (stop mowing them!), paver patios in the garden (decks are better for wildlife), and fully paved driveways, so we don’t always know how to really welcome nature back. This blog is meant to encourage anyone willing to try. Because trying is all it takes; it starts with one small action that you then keep doing, and watch for the results.

And for those who think they lack the skills and time to just get it done, I started the Rewilding service.

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