“If we wait for hope, we’ll never find it. 
           If we wait for someone else to fix the problem, we’ll never solve it. 
But when we go out and look for hope, when we take action together, when we raise our voices to call for change – that’s when we find that hope is all around us.”
Katharine Hayhoe, Climate scientist and author of Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World.

 Concern for our collective future is all around us. We don’t need to tell you that, not if you have heard of COVID or climate change and humans limited attempts to correct the situation. 
We think that December, the month of peace and goodwill, should be above all a time to reflect on what we can do to create and celebrate hope and joy, which are useful by products of peace and goodwill…if we work at it. 
Hayhoe says it well when she suggests that hope is all around us, but only when we act together to create it. After all, it is not like hope is about to jump out from behind the bushes and grab us.

As gardeners, we are ever mindful of the experience of working with nature to grow green solutions to hunger, climate change and myriad social ills like loneliness and depression.

We plant trees and shrubs, natures great clean-air machines, and support progress against climate change.
We grow food, sustainably, in soil that we made ourselves (well, nature really made it, we just heaped all the ingredients together). 
We also support the industrial complex of pollinators: insects, hummingbirds, butterflies, moths and bats (yes, bats). Industrial in a healthier sense. 
No matter how you look at it, we win.
The insects win.
The bats win.
The earth wins. 

And isn’t it about time we did more to help the earth, which has served our purposes well since before the industrial revolution (another use of the word).
When we look at the collective efforts of Canadian gardeners and small, sustainable farmers, we see hope. There it is like a field of sunflowers on the horizon: hope for a planet, for future generations. It just so happens, yellow is the official colour of Communities in Bloom Hope is Growing campaign
And Joy? 
We were blessed this spring with a new son/grand son, Peter Mark. Thank you Ben and Sam. The overused expression, “a little bundle of joy” seems appropriate here. But we have to say that until you hold a new life in your arms it is impossible to measure the joy that beats with that heart. 

 What is our wish for you this Christmas/Holiday season?
Hope. That you discover the miracle of the gardening experience in 2022 like never before. And if you have already discovered it, to live it and share it with more meaning and purpose.

And Joy. A new baby doesn’t come around every Christmas, but all of us can sow a garden, however small, arrange a container of flowers or plant a tree. Stand back, behold.  This is hope and joy manifested by nature into a miracle that even science has not yet explained.

With best wishes,

Mark and Ben Cullen
Merchants of Beauty and Beans
We write about some of the best gift ideas for the gardeners on your gift list in The Star and 30 other syndicated papers, this coming week. We are obliged not to reveal too much or our editors will have our knuckles.

However, we can let you in on a little gift-giving secret. Food and Shelter by Heather Cullen. You will find a unique line up of hand made (local) gifts that are thoughtfully curated with you in mind. That is, if you are interested in sustainable, reusable, recyclable, quality goods. Have a look.

Full disclosure Heather CULLEN is related: Ben's sister and Mark’s daughter. But no matter, we have never steered you wrong and we won’t start now.
Merry Christmas.
We are the gardening editors of the Harrowsmith Almanac and we are very proud of this all Canadian product. 

Weather predictions, small farming tips and of course amazing gardening advice. 

Great Christmas stocking stuffer.
There is change afoot in the world of urban tree planting. The successful Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign is now fully funded. We have planted over 1.4 million trees this year and we are turning the page: a new chapter. Trees For Life.

With over $3 million in seed-funding, we are off to an amazing start. And this month we announce that David and Sharon Johnston are now our new Honorary Patrons, as they were from the early days of the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign.
So much news to share.

Please go to www.treesforlife.ca for details and be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter to keep abreast of the fast-developing tree news.
All Canadian.
Planting trees where Canadians live, work, play and get educated.
The Cullen’s Foods 2021 crop is off the field and at the “cleaners” – where the good beans are separated out from everything else.

Regrettably, a chunk of the Ontario crop was left in the field during a harvest season in eastern Canada that was in some parts too wet, in contrast to the earlier-season crop losses due to drought in Western Canada. Despite the challenges, a nice looking final product is coming off the cleaning line and headed to the cannery for a January 3rd “cook” date. 
Order seed catalogues. We received our 2022 Veseys catalogue this week. www.veseys.com

Save your real Christmas tree to stand in your garden for the winter. Hang suet on it and let the birds forage.

Apply Wilt-pruf to broadleaved evergreens like boxwood, holly and the like, to prevent winter desiccation (apply when temperatures are above freezing). Use Wilt-Pruf on your Christmas tree to help it retain moisture longer.

Pick up a Poinsettia plant to brighten your holiday home. Poinsettias may be popular in the winter but they cannot stand freezing temperatures. In the walk from the store to the car, be sure to wrap your plant in a plastic bag. A good store will provide you with cold protection, no questions asked. Choose a bright room in the house but do not place the poinsettia in direct light.
Remove the decorative wrapping (it looks good but it hinders proper air flow and water drainage). Unlike many other plants, the poinsettia's soil will need to stay slightly moist. Watering will depend heavily on your home's climate.

Relax, enjoy and indulge. Our long Canadian winter provides lots of time to be alone and to work off the excess of the holiday season.
We write a weekly column for the New In Homes & Condos section of the Saturday Toronto Star.
In case you missed it, these are the exciting gardening/environment columns we wrote in November.
Choose Birds Over the Holidays
By: Jody Allair
December is the start of the winter birding season, we are reconnecting with northern bird species like Snow Buntings and Dark-eyed Juncos who come down to spend the cold winter months in southern Canada, Project FeederWatch is in full swing and Christmas Bird Counts will soon be taking place all across Canada. It’s also a time when many people are spending time and money purchasing gifts for friends and family.
My hope for the upcoming holiday season is that you will choose birds. Choosing birds could take many forms such as joining a bird count, donating to support conservation or making Bird-Friendly purchases for your holiday gift-giving.
Dark-eyed Junco
Photo credit: Ron Ridout
Our team at Birds Canada has put together a list of bird-friendly gift ideas for you. These include items that directly support conservation either by safe-guarding habitat for birds, or through direct donation to Birds Canada.

These items include:

·        Bird-Friendly Coffee from Birds and Beans
·        DIY Bird-Friendly Window Tape for your home
·        Gift memberships to Project FeederWatch
·        along with several more…

Find something special for your loved ones AND make a meaningful impact for birds! You can check out our complete Bird-Friendly gift guide at: Bird-friendly holiday giving guide | Birds Canada | Oiseaux Canada
Good Birding!
Jody Allair
Director, Community Engagement
Maple-Pecan Whoopie Pies

Whoopie pies are as delicious to eat as they are fun to say. In these Maple-Pecan Whoopie Pies, luscious maple cream cheese “buttercream” is sandwiched between two maple-pecan cake-like soft cookies to make a decadent treat. So much to love here and simple enough to add to your holiday baking list.

See the recipe here:
Don’t miss an issue of Harrowsmith’s gardening, cooking, sustainable living and DIY tips. Find the Winter 2021/2022 issue on newsstands now and subscribe at www.harrowsmithmag.com/subscribe.