Wednesday, August 14, 2024

Welcome to Victory Gardens for Diversity

Victory Gardens for Diversity: recipes for community-based ecological engagement is an artist residency project at Terra Nova Park. Our team includes lead artist, Lori Weidenhammer, Lois Klassen, Crystal Lee, Jenn Pearson, Catherine Shapiro, and Lori Snyder. Looking forward to inviting you to participate in gardening, bioblitzing, cooking, stitching, dyeing, making paper and creating with us in 2020!
Update: Our residency is now complete! Please enjoy our blog and check out our webinars posted on Youtube.

This year-long artist project is inspired by the historical WWII Victory Gardens movement and popular slogans such as: ‘grow your own, can your own’, ‘grow vitamins at your kitchen door’, ‘make-do and mend’, and ‘use it up, wear it out, make it do’. Our artist team will present a diversity of public engagement events including nature walks, citizen science activities, drama and rainbow arts with children from the Nature School, textile-based artist workshops and the creation of biodiversity banners, incorporating printing, embroidery, drawing, cyanotypes and the production of natural dyes and pigments. There will also be tea parties, bioblitzes and picnics with artist-led workshops including hands-on planting, seed-saving, salve-making, tincture-making and cooking activities.



Thursday Oct. 1 7-8:30 pm

Victory Gardens for Diversity presents the final presentation in the series Gardens of Our Lives: a webinar with Lori Weidenhammer

Kinder Gardens: New Visions for Pollinator Habitat and Accessible Food Systems

This is now up on Youtube:

A grandchild of depression-era prairie settler farmers, Lori Weidenhammer has worked as an artist-educator in several school and community gardens. She is passionate about connecting people of all ages to plant and insect biodiversity and beauty. As a wrap-up event to her group’s residency at the Terra Nova Farm, Lori will share her vision for a more ethical, ecologically sound way to produce food and preserve biodiversity in cities and rural areas. This will be a call to action: to work together as agri-cultural dreamers to learn from our experiences during the pandemic and make dramatic, lasting improvements to the way we manage our overburdened ecosystems.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Fall Harvest Recipes with Lori and Lois


It has been a great pleasure to grow plants in our plot at Terra Nova for artist materials, but also for ingredients for using in our Victory Gardens for Diversity Recipes.


Lois Klassen and I showed our audience some of our culinary creations inspired by the vegetables and fruits grown just a few feet away from the little Red Barn. We are indebted to our super volunteer Barry, who weeded and watered the plots all summer. Thank you so much!!!!!


First up: Lois's beautiful focaccia made with potatoes and beets from our garden. It's a hearty, chewy snack, or a light lunch all on it's own.

Potato & Rosemary Focaccia

Lois Klassen

  • 2 medium potatoes (the one for the dough should be 150 grams; the other can be substituted for baby potatoes for a nice display on the surface of the bread)
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 packet)
  • 2 c flour (plus more for kneading)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 c lukewarm water
  • Optional - 2 or 3 other root veggies (a carrot and/or a small beet; onions)
  • Optional – 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary or a 1 tsp of dried rosemary
  • Optional - ½ tsp wild fennel seed
  • Optional – ½ c grated asiago cheese


Boil one of the potatoes until tender. Drain, remove skin and mash well or pass through a potato ricer.

Sprinkle yeast over the warm water and allow to “bloom” (about 5 minutes).

After mixing the flour and salt together, add the yeast, honey and mashed potatoes, mix and then knead into a flat ball. Put a tablespoon of the oil into a clean bowl. Place the ball of dough into the bowl and turn it over a few times so that it is completely coated with oil. Let it rise in a warm place until it is double in size (1 hour).

In the meantime, par-boil the other potato and other veggies. Cool them with a cold-water rinse. Slice them into ½ cm thick slices.

Line a pizza pan with parchment. Press the risen dough evenly over the pan. Arrange the sliced veggies over the top. Sprinkle with garlic, rosemary and fennel seeds. Top with grated cheese if you like.

Allow to rise again for 20 min.

Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 400F (200C).  

Bake for approximately 20 minutes until the dough is cooked and the surface is slightly browned. Serve warm or cold or toasted.



Lois is a wonderful story teller and she told us the tales of two different approaches to making borcht: Martha Klassen's encouragement to use whatever is on hand, and Margaret Dragu's strict guidelines to her preferred ingredient list. Lois's warm tangy broth was like a kind familial embrace of its own. Much needed in these stressful times. Let's all make borscht!

Harvest Borscht


“… you can use as much or as little of the cabbage, carrots, beets, [tomatoes] and potatoes as desired…” Martha Klassen


2 liters meat or veggie stock (preferably home-made)

1 fall cabbage (any kind) or a big bag of oversized Swiss Chard leaves

2 large carrots

1 medium beet

1 potato

1 onion

2 bay leaves

10 peppercorns

1 star anise

1 large can diced tomatoes (or 3 cups of chopped garden tomatoes)

Fresh dill (or 2 tsp dried dill, or quantities to taste)

2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice

2 tsp sugar

Salt & pepper to taste


Make 2 liters of meat stock from left over beef or pork bones, or a veggie stock. Strain and set aside. If you are using bones, pull of any meat that might be left on the bones and shred it to add back to the soup at the very end.


Shred and chop the veggies. In a soup pot, add the stock and everything except the dill, vinegar, sugar and s&p. Simmer for about 30 minutes. After cooking, add dill, vinegar, sugar and s&p to taste and bring back to a simmer.


Serve with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream in each bowl, if you like. This soup is of course better after aging for a day or two in the fridge. It can also be made in larger quantities and kept frozen in quart jars for future meals.


Adapted from “Borscht (Cabbage Soup)” in Martha’s Traditional Favourites by Martha Klassen, Self-published for her family in 2017.



One of my favourite recipes is Lois's fig platz. I have made it with plums, like my grandma used to bake it, and with fresh figs. It was wonderful made with grapes from Lois's back yard and ground cherries from our garden at Terra Nova.

Fig Platz (or, modified with other fruit)


Lois Klasses


2 ½ c flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 ½ c white sugar, divided

½ tsp salt

1 c butter, cold and cubed

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

¾ c milk

2 tsp orange zest (lemon is a good substitute)

Ripe fresh figs (about 20) cut in half (top to bottom); or 2-3 cups of seedless backyard grapes or ground cherries; or other fruit (for the classic “platz” use stone fruit like prunes, plums, apricots or peaches that are cut open with stoned removed)


Preheat the oven to 350’ F. Line a cookie sheet or 10x15 inch jelly-roll pan with parchment.


In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, 1 c of the sugar and salt. Cut in the butter until the pieces are the size of small peas. Set 1 c of the crumbed mixture aside for the topping. In a small bowl, mix eggs, vanilla and milk. Stir the wet ingredients into the crumbed mix. Stir in the zest. Spread the mixture into the pan. Arrange the figs (or other large fruit) with the open side in rows; or sprinkle the smaller fruit in an even layer over the batter. Large fruit should be close but not touching so that the cake can be cut into individual pieces, each featuring half a fruit piece, for serving.


Make the topping by mixing the reserved crumb mixture with the remaining ½ c sugar. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit.


Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until browned and the toothpick comes out clean. Once cool, cut into dessert-sized squares, each featuring a fruit half (if using large fruit).


Adapted from “Fig Platz” by Lois Klassen in Flavours of Vancouver complied by Sheila Peacock and Joan Cross (2005, Douglas & McIntyre)


And here's Lois's adaptation for those who would like a gluten free version of the platz.

Recipe: Gluten Free Platz

  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup golden brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups of fruit (I used ground cherries sprinkled in a layer on the cake base for this demo; figs, prunes, plums or peaches that are cut in half with stones removed and arranged in rows with the cut side up makes the classic “platz”).


  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/8 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×11.5 pan with parchment.

In a large bowl, combine the rice flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. I just do this with my hands….seems to do the job well!
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, brown sugar and vanilla. Stir into the rice flour mixture.

Pour into prepared pan and cover evenly with the fruit.

Combine the crumb ingredients in a bowl and sprinkle over the fruit and batter. 

Bake for 30 minutes or until the base is nicely browned.

Adapted from “Gluten Free Guide to Niagara” by Irene and Chelsea ( )



It was a chef named Danilla that got me addicted to the snack called samosa chaat. It’s usually made with samosas, and some delicious toppings: chutneys and crunchy bits. So I’ve basically taken the ingredients and made my own deconstructed version. It’s nice for an afternoon snack or even a light lunch. Chickpeas are a good source of fiber and protein and also contain calcium, folate, vitamin b6, vitamin c, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.

Deconstructed Samosa Chaat: a riff on a South Asian street food

Madame Beespeaker



Pastry Crackers

½ cup AP flour

1/8 cup plus ½ cup spelt flour

1/2 tsp salt

½ c butter cut into small cubes

¼ cup cold water.

2 tsp curry powder (I use a French vadouvan blend)

½ tsp peppercorns, cracked

1 tsp coriander seeds, cracked


Mix flours together with the salt. Use your fingers or a pastry cutter to blend the butter with the flour until it makes pea sized pieces.

Add the cold water and knead the dough until the ingredients are combined and hold together.

Divide the dough into four pieces and roll each piece into a rough circle, 1/8 inch thick. Cut into square using a knife, or use a heart-shaped cookie cutter.

Bake at 375 F for ten minutes until lightly browned.


Salsa Verde aka Green Chutney

For the recipe I used garlic and walking onions grown in my own garden, but you can use regular white onions, or whatever you've got on hand. This salsa is great in soups and stews and you can use it as a condiment for anything that appeals. I hope you are enjoying this wonderful harvest season!

1 lb tomatillos
1 cup chopped purslane (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c chopped onions
4 cloves garlic
juice of one lime
4 seeded jalapeno peppers

Optional: cilantro and or mint to taste

Simply put the cleaned and chopped ingredients in a food processor and blend to the desired texture.



Deconstructed Samosa Filling

5 small potatoes

1 14 oz. can chick peas



1 bunch fresh cilantro

salsa verde and chutney

plain yogurt or raita


Peel and boil the potatoes until they are fork tender. Drain and cool.

Drain the chickpeas. You can save the liquid in the tin (aka aqua faba) for other recipes.  Rinse the chickpeas in a strainer. Put the chickpeas in a small pan with ½ cup of water and 1 tbs chopped cilantro. Simmer for five minutes over medium heat (or longer if you prefer a softer texture). Drain.

Before serving, reheat the chickpeas and potatoes. Cut the potatoes into bite-sized cubes and fry with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Fry the chickpeas in olive oil until heated through.

Put a portion of potatoes in a bowl and spoon on some of the chickpeas. Add some of the crackers on top and spoon on some chutney/salsa/raita.



And that's a wrap! Thanks to everyone who came to our workshops and we hope that these recipes become your own family favourites! From our heart to yours, please take care of yourselves and nourish your heart, belly, mind, and soul. Bee safe, bee kind and bee calm.

Photo by Crystal Lee

Sips, Salves, and Plant Medicines with Lori Snyder



If you are walking along the Wet Dyke trail, try to find these gorgeous rose hips. They are huge! Inspired by seasonal apples and rose hips, I shared a warming and nourishing apple cider recipe that doesn't require special equipment. It's easy to make and you can spice it up any way you like.

Simmered Apple Cider


Madame Beespeaker


Apples: 1 bag

Rose hips: 1 handful wrapped in a tea bag made of gauze

Citrus: 1 lime

Sweetener: Maple syrup to taste

Spices: grated Ginger and turmeric, chai spice blend and/or dried dragonhead and lemon verbena


Core the apples and chop up the lime, cover with water in a large pot.

Add the rose hips in a tea bag made of gauze, ginger, turmeric and chai spices.


Simmer for two hours, or until apples are soft. Take out the rosehip tea bag.

Mash the apples against the side of the pot and simmer ten minutes or more.


Strain and clean out the pot—put plant material in compost. Put the cider in the pot—taste and sweeten. Reheat and serve warm.


Lori Snyder picked some examples of plants growing in and around our garden plot and talked about their medicinal properties. She also shared two of her favourite resources:

The Boreal Herbal by Beverly Gray and the Wild Wisdom of Weeds by Katrina Blair.

Lori talked about Calendula, dandelion, yarrow, nasturtium, borage, plantain, and horsetail. She called us to help grow corridors of Indigenous food and medicinal plants throughout our urban spaces.


It's always a pleasure to hear Lori Snyder talk about her passion for plants!

Lori and I also shared our tips for making salves from plants we grew in our garden plots. It has been a pleasure to work with her during this residency and the many years we've been teaching together.

Calendula was still blooming brightly at the garden. The flower heads are infused in olive oil for 2-3 weeks. The oil itself is a wonderful treat for your skin, especially since we are washing our hands so often these days. Adding wax to the oil makes it into a salve or balm--a wonderful self care treat.


And of course, bees love calendula too!

Here's what it looks like when the dried flower heads are infusing into the oil.

Calendula or Yarrow Salve


1 c calendula or yarrow oil

2 tbs candelilla wax

2 tbs shea butter

essential oil (optional)


To create the calendula oil, first gather the heads of the calendula flowers later in the day when they are not moist with dew. Dry them on screens stretched across frames in a well ventilated room out of direct sunlight. Once the flower heads are “crunchy” they are ready to use. When making yarrow oil, it’s the same process, but you can use the stems, leaves and flowers.



Stuff the plant material into a clean jar and fill with olive oil. Let it infuse for 2-3 weeks. Every three days tip the jar to mix the plant material with the oil.



Gently heat 1 cup of the oil in a double boiler, adding the butter and wax. Simmer for a few minutes just until all the wax is melted. Add essential oils, pour into jars until firm.





I have been making kombucha all through this residency and lately I've been adding fruit to the secondary fermentation. I picked the same variety of small cherries (Prunus serotina) that Jenn Pearson used to make ink and put them through a sieve to extract the juice. Adding this to kombucha makes it extra tasty and nutritious.



2 tsp black or green tea leaves

water that has the chlorine take out of it with a charcoal filter or charcoal stick (kishu bunchotan)

2 tbs cane sugar —NOT honey

1 scoby (try to source one from a friend)

pint jar (holds 2 cups)

tea pot

Boil the water and make the tea in your pot. Let sit until room temperature. Pour into the jar and add the sugar. Stir until mixed. Add the scoby. Cover the jar with a clean cloth and let sit for three or four days until it forms bubbles around the scoby. Taste and see if it is at you desired sweetness. I like it quite sour, almost vinegar. Refrigerate and enjoy!