ORGANIC LIVING – Rene Michalak tends to plants in his backyard homemade three-season greenhouse where he grows a variety of plants and herbs.

Local resident showcases sustainable living model

Advocate Rene Michalak opens his home in Oriole Park for tours

  • Jun. 11, 2014 3:00 p.m.

Local urban grower and sustainable living advocate Rene Michalak recently opened the doors of his home in Oriole Park to the public for tours.

Michalak has spent the last four years converting his home into a demonstration site for sustainable living to give people an appreciation and understanding of what sustainable living looks and feels like.

He hopes to show the public sustainable living is not as daunting of a task as many assume as well as show the power of urban growing.

“If we can show through what we are doing here that you can grow enough calories in all forms to sustain a family of four, then there is a case there that you don’t need a farm-sized area to live sustainably and maintain that level of sustenance,” explained Michalak.

“We are creatures of habit and we like things to stay the same, but the world is a changing place – so what we are trying to do here is show how we can adapt to the increasing volatility of change we are experiencing in the political, economic and natural world.”

The hour-long tour through his home began in the front yard.

Here instead of a traditional grass lawn, a mock forest bed had been made of mulched wood chips with grass growing below to mimic the floor of a forest and a variety of young food-producing shrubs and trees were placed.

Upon entering the home, tourists saw the power of indoor growing with long lines of plants being grown in the living room of the home next to a south facing window.

Here Michalak explained how he is able to get a head start on the growing season by germinating seeds indoors and transplanting them outside when the weather allows him to do so.

Next to the seedlings sprouting in the sitting area are a number of books and learning materials, which he has collected to expand his knowledge of sustainable living and urban growing which he insists you will not find in your local library.

In the backyard of the home, Michalak has placed a number of five-gallon pales full of dirt in which he grows a number of different kinds of garlic, which he hopes to begin selling soon at local markets.

Here the tourists also saw a forest-like setting composed of a wood chipped ground with under shrubs below larger trees, which will one day grow into a canopy of fruit-laden trees including apples, plums and apricots.

In the far corner of Michalak’s backyard rests a homemade three season greenhouse, called a hoop house – made from rebar, tarp and PVC pipe, which is home to cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and asparagus.

Next to the greenhouse is a medium-sized garden in which a variety of vegetables grow along with fruit trees which peek into the back alley through the fence.

Inside his garage, he hosts both an aquaponic and airoponic growing system for four season growing where he has herbs and vegetables growing alongside his worm composting site.

He calls the worms his productive pets, which he explains can also include rabbits, chickens and bees – all of which can be raised to produce food.

Michalak’s inspiration for his site came after he tried a home-grown tomato for the first time and he experienced how different it tasted from a store bought tomato, which led to the beginning of him comparing as many store bought foods to home-grown foods as he could and he said his curiosity, “Just grew from there.”

“The fact that we even have to label foods as organic now is startling,” said Michalak.

“It’s unfortunate how manufactured and processed food don’t have to label their products as processed then you start reading the ingredients on these products and good luck trying to pronounce half of them.

“Food used to be strictly organic, and now we are at a point where we have to feed so many people in the world that organic has become a luxury as opposed to organic being the norm.”

Michalak explains that in the future he hopes to help bridge the gap between people and their food.

“There are too many degrees of separation between people and their food and the people growing that food,” he said. “It’s to the point where most people really have no idea where the food they are putting into their bodies comes from or how it was grown.”

For more information on Michalak’s demonstration site or on how you can get started on your sustainable living site email info@rethinkreddeer.ca or visit

http://www.rethinkreddeer.ca.

jswan@reddeerexpress.com

Just Posted

Red Deer’s newest outdoor ice facility opens to the public this week

The speed skating oval at Setters Place at Great Chief Park will be open Dec. 17th

Yellow Vests protestors take to Red Deer streets

Trudeau government’s immigration and oil industry policies denounced at rally

Rebels lose to Medicine Hat Tigers, 4-1

Tigers break Rebels’ three-game winning streak

Exhibition explores the rich history and culture of Métis people

The exhibition is on display from Dec. 15th to March 10th at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery

2019 Hockey Alberta Provincial Championship host sites announced

A total of 39 Provincial Championships will be hosted across the province

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

World Sikh Organization demands Canada prove Sikh extremism is a threat

Sikh community says this is first time such extremism has been mentioned in federal terror-threat assessment

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

‘I practically begged’: B.C. woman with breast cancer denied referral to Calgary

Breast cancer patient left to fight disease alone after being denied referral to Calgary

Facebook reveals bug gave apps unauthorized access to 6.8 million users’ photos

It’s believed up to 1,500 apps built by 876 developers had access to Facebook Stories, private photos

Most Read