Lorraine Johnson - Gardens, Goats & Greenways: An Unconventional Tour of Paris
Friday, April 21, 2017
The Hort Admin

April 24, 2017 Meeting

Meetings are held at the Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church, 250 Dunn Avenue, just south of Queen Street West. Arrive after 6:30pm and enjoy coffee and cookies while you check out the Hort library, chat, and ask questions!

Quelle surprise…with Lorraine Johnson leading our adventure we’ll visit Paris community gardens with chickens, goats doing lawn care at Jardin des Tuileries and a 17th century peach wall being lovingly restored. Also, her new edition of 100 Easy to Grow Native Plants will be available at the meeting. 


I was mildly irritated that, in the first bio I wrote for April’s speaker some years back, I’d described the striking short- cropped hair and black and white striped leggings she was wearing the first time I saw Lorraine Johnson. Oh, well, can’t do that again. The fact is, mind you, that she hasn’t changed that much…the hair, the tall slender woman, the spoon and fork earrings, anyway. But that first meeting was over 30 years ago and I dare say, it’s really quite incredible that someone can write so many books and articles, speak all over North America on a variety of topics, and still manage to discover new things that surprise her! Good for us!

This time it’s the fledgling élevage d’animaux (animal husbandry) taking place in the City of Light. Until last year, Lorraine had an annual month-long, “best gig in the world”, cat-sitting arrangement in Paris, which is decidedly not élevage d’animaux. This gig allowed her to spend a lot of time discovering the city in a leisurely way. This past summer, she began to notice livestock in various places—goats ‘mowing’ the grounds of the Jardin des Tuileries by the Louvre, sheep performing the same task in other public parks, chickens in Monet’s garden and community gardens, and chickens and beehives on the rooftop of the four-star Pullman Hotel!

As she is sure to do, Lorraine will explain this discovery in its ecological and agricultural contexts. These were topics that informed her most recent book, City Farmer: Adventures in Urban Food Growing, and propelled her into the spotlight as one of very few outspoken champions for the backyard chicken movement.

She is herself nesting on the Toronto Islands these days, where she and her new wife, Pam, eloped while awaiting the completion of a house reno. In the insular, wintry escape, they are plotting a rejuvenation of their garden, including Pam’s idea of using vertical space, which is fitting after Lorraine’s visit to ancient, espaliered peach orchards on the outskirts of Paris. As to her previous trio of hens, they’ve gone back to the farm, but when she reconvenes the little flock, she is now considering including quail!

Lorraine has also just published a revised edition of 100 Easy-To-Grow Native Plants for Canadian Gardens (although it is really 101 plants, she confessed), which includes botanical name changes and a bit about pollinators. She will be happy to take questions on plants after her talk.

Maria Nunes 

Article originally appeared on The Horticultural Societies of Parkdale & Toronto (http://www.parkdaletorontohort.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.