Doing meat differently

January 14, 2013   3:32 pm

Filed under: Blog,Portfolio,Radio — Tags: , , , , , — Phil @ 3:32 pm

A couple of years ago, I was sent out to interview John Duynisveld of Holdanca Farms. He’s a research scientist with Agriculture Canada who grew up on a farm, and who farms himself. On his land in Wallace, in northern Nova Scotia, he raises pigs, cattle, lambs, turkeys, and lots and lots of chickens. (He also has a pretty sweet-looking and very effective guard llama.)

After meeting John and spending some time on his farm, I became a customer, and much of the meat my family purchases now comes from him.¬† Here is my radio documentary (it’s under 10 minutes) on how John raises and markets his meat, and why he’s eschewed traditional approaches.

Raising the bar in Hammonds Plains?

August 8, 2012   8:11 am

Filed under: Blog,Portfolio,Radio — Tags: , , , — Phil @ 8:11 am

I was on Information Morning recently, talking about changes to the business culture of the Hammonds Plains Road.

Over the last decade, I’ve watched as the Hammonds Plains Road, in the western part of the Halifax Regional Municipality, has changed from semi-rural to sprawling suburban. The area is deceptive to drive through. There’s one main artery (which residents consider woefully narrow to serve their needs) and when you travel along it, you could well think you’re on any semi-rural secondary road. You pass a school, a couple of gas stations, a few small strip malls.

As you get closer to Bedford, it’s more clearly suburban — four-pad hockey arena, RIM customer service building, more visible density. But for much of the road, all you see on either side is trees and spaced-apart homes — with little indication that beyond them lie miles and miles of classic suburban sprawl: twisty subdivision roads, cul-de-sacs, and those generic subdivision names that could be anywhere. People identify where they live by their subdivision. You don’t live in Hammonds Plains, you live in White Hills (located in one of the oldest Black settlements in the province), Kingswood, Highland Park, Voyageur Lakes, and so on.

I’m fascinated by one particular spot on the road. For years it housed a convenience store called Chrissy’s Trading Post. Chrissy’s eventually closed, and since then a succession of pizza places have come and gone — each seemingly identical to the last. I keep wondering what the new business owners think is going to be different for them.

Farther up the road, there was a long-standing bakery called M&S Foods. It closed down a year or so ago, and we watched as somebody sunk a huge amount of money into renovating the place. The new business is called Edible Matters, and it finally opened in July. It’s more of a high-end cafe/eat-in/take-out kind of place. Sandwiches will run you over ten bucks, and you can buy items like homemade chicken stock and preserves to take home. I wondered if they stood a hope in hell of making it here, but also if the business was on the leading edge of a trend of more urban-style boutique-type businesses coming to Hammonds Plains. There’s a small cluster of them now, and I headed out to interview a couple of the owners, including Chris Burton of Edible Matters.

You can listen to the results here, on the website for CBC Radio’s Information Morning.

HRM drivers running bus lights

January 2, 2012   2:12 pm

Filed under: Blog,Portfolio — Tags: , , , — Phil @ 2:12 pm

I have a story at OpenFile Halifax today about the spate of drivers passing school buses while their red lights are flashing.

I was shocked when bus driver Sharalyn Boudreau first told me this was a problem, and even more shocked when I realized how prevalent it was.

My own son (who is in the piece) was nearly hit by a school bus a couple of years ago, but I thought it was a very rare and isolated incident. Apparently not.

Soon after I completed this piece, I was slowing down for a school bus on the St. Margaret’s Bay Road, near the Armdale Roundabout, when the car in front of me shot ahead and passed it as the red lights came on.

The story at OpenFile is an audio slideshow. I’ve also included a map of the worst areas in HRM, and a transcript of the audio.

Search for Boundary Rock

June 16, 2011   2:17 pm

Filed under: Blog,Portfolio,Radio — Tags: , , , , , — Phil @ 2:17 pm

How does a massive rock disappear?

The Boundary Rock was once a southwestern Nova Scotia landmark. Hunters and fishermen had their picture taken by (and on) it. It even appeared on a postcard. But sometime over the last century, its precise location seems to have dropped out of our collective memory.

In my latest radio documentary, The Search for Boundary Rock, I join Paul Maybee and a group of four others, as we head into the remote Tobeatic Wilderness area for a week. Our goal: to find the rock and drag it back into history. This is Paul’s third attempt. But this time, he’s far better prepared than he’s ever been. With the help of experienced trekkers — including Bob Johnston of New Minas, who has spent 10 years researching the Boundary Rock — Paul is convinced we can find it.

The documentary first aired on CBC Radio’s Maritime Magazine¬†(now called Atlantic Voice) in June 2011. You can listen to it here.


Below is a selection of my photos from the trip. Click anywhere to be taken to the full set on Flickr.

Daisy Dreamer

December 3, 2010   7:45 pm

Filed under: Magazines,Portfolio — Tags: , , , — Phil @ 7:45 pm
Daisy Dreamer is a 9-year-old girl with a magic ballcap that lets her turn into any animal she wants! I’ve been writing her adventures for Chickadee magazine for the last decade. Here is one of my favourite stories, courtesy Owlkids. Artwork is by Gabriel Morrissette.

Young Lego Programmers

   7:40 pm

Filed under: Blog,Portfolio — Phil @ 7:40 pm

Young Lego programmers

A short radio piece on a group of elementary school students preparing to head to the First Lego League world championships. I loved these kids.

Christmas for a Crowd

   7:37 pm

Filed under: Blog,Portfolio — Phil @ 7:37 pm
Story from the December, 2010 issue of Reader’s Digest on how the Nova Scotia village of Tatamagouche celebrates Christmas: with a huge dinner for 400. Read it here.