Note: If using Outlook click the above bar where it says “Click to download photos” This Issue has many photos so it may take a couple of extra minutes to download.
We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
And there are many exciting changes at Northern Dipper….
Northern Dipper Has New Owners!
Carolyn Cooper & Linda Bond - New Owners of Northern Dipper Ent
In This Issue: As of July 1st Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond will be at the helm of Northern Dipper. Peter and I have decided to move back to Vancouver Island, British Columbia and we are absolutely ecstatic that Carolyn and Linda will be taking over. In this Issue, you will meet these two enterprising women and get a bird’s eye view of how they are going to improve Northern Dipper. They have some great ideas and great new products lined up for you.
Guatemalan Gourds Drying In The Sun
Guatemala is also in the forefront of this Issue. Join Peter, Carolyn and Linda as they climb up in the mountains in Guatemala to load a container of gourds. Pack your bags and fasten your seatbelts, we haven't a minute to lose...we are all off on an adventure!
Note: In last month’s Issue I had stated that there would also be an article on Mi-Shell, a Shaman/Healer who uses gourd instruments in native rituals and in drumming circles. After sitting with her for 10 minutes, I realized how interesting she is and decided that she must have a newsletter of her own. You will meet Mi-Shell in August.
"Gourd Fest" Sales at Northern Dipper
July 22 & 23 is the CGS (Canadian Gourd Society)
Gourd Fest and there will be many Show Specials presented this weekend. Following is just a taste!
(Sorry - Sales applicable only at Gourd Fest)
(Excluding newly arrived Guatemala gourds)
Large selection to choose from
Including White Ball, White Egg and Mini Bottle
50 Minis - $35.00
100 Minis - $65.00
To view a map of the location of Gourd Fest
(to be held in Bealton, not Cookstown), click here.
DIRECTIONS To Northern Dipper Cookstown
Northern Dipper's NEW Address is:
5376 County Rd 56, RR # 2
Cookstown, Ont, L0L 1L0
Directions From Cookstown To Northern Dipper:
Go west on Hwy 89 for 6km. Go north on County Rd 56 for 1.5 km. Our house is on the west side just after "Eileen's Flowers Galore Greenhouse".
To view a map of the new location of
(If the maps are not up yet please check back.)
Monday to Thursday
Then print out our map and come on by.
Friday, Saturday & Sunday
We have a retail shop that carrys many different items. Outside we have many varieties of dried gourds.
Introducing Carolyn Cooper
& Linda Bond
Northern Dipper's New Owners!
Linda and I started a woodworking business in 1998. We had a small store on our property where we sold some of our products. We also did the trade shows to get our name out. While being vendors in a show, I saw my first gourd, (it was at Canadian gourd artist Gloria Pengally 's booth) and it was love at first sight. Gourds fit like a glove for me. I have both a love of gardening and of art and gourds provided both.
Peter & Linda Loading Up Gourds To Move To
Northern Dipper’s New Location
We grew our first crop in 2002. It was a sorry sight but I was determined to learn as much as I could. I spent time doing research as well as speaking to other gardeners that might have any growing tips. Then one day I found out about this company called "Northern Dipper”. They were going to be at Canada Blooms, a large garden show in Toronto. Linda, my Dad, and I went down and our lives pretty well changed from that day forward. I was completely mesmerized by Peter and his knowledge about gourds. I couldn't really get him to talk enough about them. Little did I know that within a few short years I would be travelling to Guatemala with him.
The next year we did very well growing our own gourds. We decided we wanted to be able to supply some gourds to other painters we knew and we wanted to start holding some classes. To reach our goals we felt as though we needed a larger property so we shopped around and now live just outside of Cookstown, a pretty village located close to Newmarket, Ont. Our property is beautiful in a country setting with a pond plus wildlife and a larger store. Now there is lots of space for workshops.
Carolyn & Linda’s Farm Has A Park Like Quality…It May Be A Perfect Venue For Next Year’s CGS Gourd Fest
In 2006 we once again went to Canada Blooms and once again it changed the course of our life. We ran into Peter and heard that the business was for sale. It put a bee in our bonnet and now we are the new owners. And we are so excited! That, in a nutshell, is how it all got started.
1.) To be able to supply quality gourds at affordable prices.
2.) To be a one-stop supplier of all gourd related materials including books, woodburning tools, beads, inlay and more.
3.) To focus on providing workshops to new and experienced gourders. We are in a central location and our farm is a peaceful, back to nature environment.
4.) To be the host of future Gourd Fests and events.
5.) To present at various trade shows and to educate the public about gourds as an art form.
We will be at Gourd Fest. Please stop by and introduce yourself. We would love to meet you.
Why? To Load A Shipping Container Full of
Gourds Destined For Northern Dipper
Carolyn, Isaura and Linda
Isaura is the head of the Campesino Womens' Collective
Saturday: Peter, Linda & I, Carolyn, landed in Guatemala City on a sweat filled, searing hot day. Upon leaving the airport we were immediately swept up in the throngs of people surrounding us. There were taxi drivers yelling for fares and people selling everything from food to tourist trappings. (It must be noted that Peter has travelled the world but Linda nor I had not ventured to a place like Guatemala before!) My first lesson was with a baggage handler or at least someone I perceived to be a baggage handler. It was nothing serious but it did teach me Lesson # 1 - Hold on to your bags tightly.
Upon reaching our hotel we walked down to the corner store; which was about 9 blocks away. On every block there were security guards with big guns. Being from Canada we are not very gun friendly for the most part and it does leave one feeling a bit uncomfortable. This sort of thing however happens only in Guatemala City, Guatemala. There are 4 million people, the majority living in poverty...things are bound to happen.
Linda, Carolyn, Peter, J.C. and J.C.’s sister Sylvia
Sunday: We rented a vehicle and left Guatemala City where the temperatures were a comfortable 25 C / 77 F. We headed to Chiqimula which is cowboy / cattle country and where the temperatures reach 35 C / 104 F. Our translator, driver and friend J.C. flew up the mountain paths which were winding and steep with hairpin turns. We didn’t dare look over the edge because it was such a drop; it made us feel dizzy and also a bit frightened. It was the end of the dry season and there were starving dogs and many cows walking at the side of the road. The vegetation was brown, due to lack of moisture. It was only a 150 KM distance but it took us 6 hours to complete.
To learn more about Chiqimula and the Chiqimula Zone click here.
It is difficult to see the calabash on this tree but it is loaded.
On the way we stopped at Juan’s restaurant for lunch. Surrounding the restaurant were huge calabash trees. In Guatemala calabash (tree gourds) are used for cups and containers but for the most part they are just fed to the cows. Calabash have an incredibly strong shell and are perfect for wood burning and simple carving. There are a few hundred calabash, along with hundreds of gourds,
packed in the shipping container destined for Northern Dipper.
To learn more about calabash click here.
Guatemalan Change Purses Made From Calabash
The next stop was at the Mayor’s house to pick up the keys to a warehouse where some gourds were being stored. The Mayor lives in a very small mountain village where the houses were very close together and chickens, goats and pigs free ranged throughout the town. The warehouse acts as a storage unit for a collective of rural farmers – (campesinos) It was originally set up by the European Union. We started to quality control (QC) the gourds and after a long hot 10 hour day we drove back for the hotel for a cool shower and some dinner. Lesson # 2 – Don’t shower with your mouth open. It may come back to haunt you the next day.
Dropping Off Gourds at Warehouse
Campesinos & J.C. In Front of Warehouse
Monday: Back to the warehouse to quality control and to price and bag gourds. Throughout the day campesinos would be pulling in with the back of their pickup trucks overflowing with cleaned gourds. (All gourds are cleaned with no bug holes due to the Customs Regulations when bringing them into Canada.) Half way through the day the sky opened up and the region received its first thunderstorm of the season. Driving back to the hotel was treacherous as the mud roads were wet and some of the roads are like mere passages. Linda had some comfort thinking that the sticks and wire along some parts of the road acted as guardrails. It's a good thing that she didn’t realize that they were there to keep the cows from falling over the cliffs!
Tuesday: We started the day with a challenge - changing Traveller’s Cheques at the local bank. The rule at Guatemalan banks is that you must leave your machete at the door. Close to the bank there was a stone monument which praised the gourd. Gourds are a symbol of Peace and Good Luck and everyone in this particular town has a few in their homes.
After banking we went back to the warehouse to continue to QC and bag gourds. Late in the afternoon we travelled further up the mountain to meet with one of our growers. Jose Maria, his wife and their 8 children live on a beautiful, well-kept property. Their children were wonderful; so friendly, helpful and well behaved. While there Jose walked over to a tree and picked a sugar orange for each of us. Pulling out his machete he peeled them with a few swift swipes. The flavour was like nothing we had had before. We stayed for a couple of hours but noticed the storm clouds moving in. Worried about flash floods, we quickly headed for home.
Boys Will Be Boys No Matter Where You Are In The World
In Guatemala there are no schools for the campesino children who live high up in the mountains. It is Jose’s dream to build a school in the area. He realizes that his children will probably not get a formal education but it is his hope that his grandchildren will. Interesting enough Jose’s signature was the most beautiful we had ever seen. Despite the hardships and poverty these rural campesinos must live with, they are the most gentle, dignified people we have ever met.
The Town Square
Wednesday: Back to the warehouse to load the container. In general we were delighted with the quality of gourds. When gourds were rejected, we took the opportunity to talk to the campesinos and educate them about techniques that will improve their crop. We are certain that the next trip will result in an even better crop.
Northern Dipper grows gourds in Guatemala for two reasons. The first is that Guatemala is the perfect climate for gourds. They have been growing there for thousands of years. Secondly the campesinos are very poor through no fault of their own. (See "Facts About Guatemala" in the sidebar) The money that Northern Dipper pays for growing will provide food and other essentials for many weeks and even months to come. It is money that will help them as individuals as well as helping the communities they live in.
The Guatemalan gourds will be here for Gourd Fest and will be up on the Website soon. We are tracking our container on a daily basis, as we know that our customers are waiting for them. And as you know, our priority is happy customers!
Thursday and Friday: Sightseeing at the Mayan ruins and Antigua. Time to relax, swim and drink some nice cold beer! Saturday we headed home.
To learn more about the geography of Guatemala click here.
To learn more about the 36 year civil war in Guatemala click here.
To learn more about the food & nutrition situation in rural Guatemala click here.
To learn more about Mayan culture click here.
Gourd Growing in July
You are about to embark on an intimate journey with your gourd flowers.
The key is to pollinate, pollinate and pollinate some more.
Left: Male - A pale yellow center with lots of pollen.
Right: Female - A deep golden yellow center which is sticky to the touch; perfect for holding a few grains of pollen. Look for the small gourd directly beneath the flower. If the flower is not pollinated this pepo (gourd) turns brown and dies. If pollinated it will eventually become a bowl or instrument or mask.
Your vines should be growing leaps and bounds if you are having a long hot summer. For those areas that are experiencing a lot of rain you may notice that your stems are splitting. There is nothing you can do about this; hopefully the sun will come out and your vines will survive.
July is the time where you should be out at night pollinating. The flower abundance depends on variety and weather. For example early on in the season there are hundreds of female Apple gourd flowers yet you would be lucky to find many Cannonball flowers. With Mother Nature however it always seems to work out in the end.
The best tool to use for pollinating is a paintbrush attached to a long stick. This saves your back and if your rows are wide you can reach right into the center with ease.
At this time of year your plants will require a lot of water. Try not to get the leaves wet as they don’t like it.
This is an Email that we received in June.
Q – I have a question about growing. My blossoms are yellow. I thought they were suppose to be white. What is going on?
What you are growing are the ornamental gourds. These are what you will find in the fall at roadside stands and in the grocery stores. They make nice displays for a Thanksgiving table. Ornamentals have yellow blossoms and they bloom during the day. You do not have to pollinate them because there are lots of bees and other insects to do the job for you. Ornaments only take 70 days to mature and they dry quite nicely on the vine.
Hard-shell gourds have a white blossom and bloom only at night. Due to pesticides and enviromental pollution, there are not as many nighttime insects, therefore we highly recommend that you go out nightly and pollinate. The blossoms last only one night and you will find that some nights there are few flowers and other nights it will seem like thousands of flowers. Blooming is activated by dew. Hard-shell gourds take anywhere from 110 days to 140 days to mature.
I hope this helps alleviate your confusion. Good luck with your crop.
For a good website on the cucumber beetle click here.
July Dates To Remember
July 1: Canada Day, On June 20, 1868, a proclamation signed by the Governor General called upon all Her Majesty's subjects throughout Canada to join in the celebration of the anniversary of the formation of the union of the British North America provinces in a federation under the name of Canada which would take place on July 1. On October 27, 1982, July 1 which was known, as “Dominion Day" became "Canada Day". To learn more about Canada Day click here.
July 4: Independence Day
"Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof."
These words are written on the Liberty Bell.
Wherever Americans are around the globe, they will get together for a traditional 4th of July celebration! There are day-long community picnics, lively music, baseball games, parades and fireworks displays. And of course it is a day off for everyone. To learn more about Independence Day click here.
July 31: Lughnasadh / Lammas This day originally coincided with the first reapings of the harvest. It was known as the time when the plants of spring wither and drop their fruits or seeds for our use as well as to ensure future crops. The Christian religion adopted this theme and called it 'Lammas ', meaning 'loaf-mass ', a time when newly baked loaves of bread are placed on the altar. An alternative date is around August 5 (Old Lammas) To learn more click here. http://www.wicca.com/celtic/akasha/lammas.htm
Haying Season In Bealton
Before and After
It was a good yield this year and throughout the area the fields are filled with huge bales of hay.
As you picked up from this month’s Issue Carolyn Cooper is very versatile when it comes to gourds. Not only is she a grower, she does fabulous pyrography and decorative painting. Her speciality is "gourd sculpturing". In light of this we are going to introduce a new monthly column called "Dear Carolyn". In this column Carolyn will answer any questions you may have about gourding so please feel free to send your questions in.
We will also have the Winners of the CGS Gourd Fest and perhaps a short interview or two with the organizers of this grand event. As well there will be the long awaited article on Mi-Shell, a Shaman/Healer.
In the meantime please welcome Carolyn and Linda and keep your eye on the Northern Dipper website. There will be, in the next month, many new products for you to purchase.
See you at Gourd Fest ... Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond
Back issues of our newsletter Gourd Fever are on our Website. If you have missed any issues there are some interesting tutorials and grow information you may want to check out.
PS If you have any stories or ideas that you would like to contribute to this newsletter please send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 2, Number 17
In this issue
Northern Dipper Has New Owners!
Gourd Fest Show Specials
Introducing Carolyn Cooper & Linda Bond
Our Trip To Guatemala 2006
July Gourd Growing Report
Dates To Remember!
Gourd Sightings & Trivia
Northern Dipper Cookstown Welcomes You
Just look for the gourd lady on the bike and you will know you have found Carolyn & Linda's.
(There will also be a Northern Dipper sign!)
Northern Dipper’s new location is 15 minutes outside of Cookstown. This quaint little village is filled with interesting shops, antiques and many excellent restaurants. Make a day of it by visiting Northern Dipper for your gourds and supplies and then treat yourself to a lovely lunch in town. For more info on Cookstown click here.
Carolyn counting out hundreds of Minis
Gourd Art by Carolyn Cooper of Northern Dipper
and Other Info...
Just so you know:
Both Carolyn & Linda will be involved
in the business of Northern Dipper.
Both excel with wood including
Carolyn has been creating & selling gourd art for the past
Linda is a full time paramedic.
Both have a real knack of making
their customers feel at home.
Woodburned lion with painted eyes
The faces, arms and legs are sculpted out of Fimo.
When placing orders with Northern Dipper use the Comment section. Let us know whether you are painter, carver, woodburner, etc and we will chose the best gourds for your projects.
Little girl selling hand made
One campesino who is growing tecomates (gourds) for Northern Dipper.
Some Facts About Guatemala
1.) In Guatemala the dry season is called the time of death. From November to April, there is no rain, little cultivation, few crops, almost no work. Food is scarce.
2.) Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in the Americas. “Almost 60 per cent of Guatemala’s 11 million people live on less than $2 a day.”* “...24 per cent of the population suffers from malnutrition and hunger.”
3.) A primary factor is that 88% of those who make their livelihoods from agriculture work own only 16% of the arable land.
4.) In 1960 the country was plunged into a civil war that would last 36 years, the longest civil war in Latin American history. Death squads murdered an estimated 50,000 leftists and political opponents during the 1970s. In 1977, the U.S. cut off military aid to the country because of its egregious human rights abuses. The indigenous Mayan Indians were singled out for special brutality by the right-wing death squads. By the end of the war, 200,000 citizens were dead.
The above facts are from the Project HARVEST website.
To learn more about Guatemala and how Project HARVEST is helping the campesinos click Wells of Hope Guatemala.
Bringing in the crop
Entire families participate in the growing, drying and cleaning of the gourds. Here the son of a campesino carrys a bag of gourds into the warehouse.
Carolyn with campesino with white hat.
A freshly planted gourd field .
Northern Dipper has provided the camposinos with a few different varieties of seeds – some that Guatemala has never seen before! This will mean that there will be a large variety of gourds coming out of Guatemala next year.
Notice the 4 gourds on top of it.
Woman with loom in the marketplace.
In Guatemala courtyards that feel like secret gardens are common.
Steps at the Mayan ruins
Peter armed with his paintbrush.
If you look closely you can see the hundreds of flowers that need pollinating every night.
Soon you will be seeing gourds like this in your gourd patch.
Ornamental Gourd Flower
We pollinate until sunset every night.
If you miss a night you can go out in the morning. The flowers are usually gone
by 9:00 so get out there early.
Gourd Sightings -
Year of The Dragon (1985)
Young Joey Tai becomes the head of Chinese mafia in New York and undisputed leader of the Chinese community. He is up in the hills inThailand visiting White Powder Ma. There is a gourd hanging on the wall directly behind White Powder Ma’s head. This film is a Mickey Rourke classic.
To learn more click here.
Gourd Fest 2006
Bev William’s Unique Gourd Drum
Don’t forget that the CGS Gourd Fest
is on Sat., July 22 and Sunday, July 23.
There will be gourd art displayed, competitions, demos, workshops, vendors and more! For details click here.
For a map on how to get to Gourd Fest click here.
Gourd Fest is being held in
Bealton, Ont, not in
Northern Dipper is located.
The roses are spectacular this year.
Royal is our thunderstorm indicator. We put the T-shirt on her as it seems to calm her down. Poor little puppy how she quivers!
Designed & Published by Pam Grossi
1666 Villa Nova Rd, RR # 2
Wilsonville, Ont., N0E 1Z0
Northern Dipper Farm
5376 County Rd 56, RR # 2
Cookstown, Ont, L0L 1L0