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on the farm

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with Sol Farm

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recently attended an all-day farmers’ conference held in Victoria, with about 150 other busy farmers. In addition to an interesting selection of workshops led by a diverse group of people including farmers, chefs, elected government officials, writers and others, we were welcomed by Her Honour, Judith Guichon, B.C.’s Lieutenant Governor. A cattlewoman herself, the Lieutenant Governor brought her own farming perspective to her opening remarks and made some interesting observations that apply to all of us, not just farmers. Guichon expanded on the theme that we are all stewards of the land, and the only species that can build top soil by recycling nutrients and sequestering carbon. She referred to farmers as those who “harvest sunshine”, a rather lovely image and one I’ll reflect on as I spend these less than sunny spring days seeding. Brent Warner, the keynote speaker, was the Industry Agritourism and Marketing Specialist with the BC Ministry of Agriculture (27 years) and was a board member of the North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association for 15 years. He spoke about how food buying factors into the average family’s disposable budget. North Americans spend most

of their disposable income on communications, and way at the bottom of the list—dead last—is food. The next time you grumble about the price of groceries, think about how much you spend on your phone lines, internet, computers, televisions, iPads etc. Food is an amazing bargain, and we are blessed to live in an area of the world where we can grow or harvest virtually anything. We eat amazing, healthy food—for peanuts. The rest of the day was spent in various workshops where farmers generously shared their insights and hard-won expertise, and I’ll pass a few tips on raspberry varieties to you. We learned about the best varieties of berries for the island from a small-fruit breeder who focuses on berry cultivars that are resistant to pests and diseases. Recommended raspberry varieties include “Cascade Delight”, which has some resistance to root rot, “Qualicum”, “Tulameen” which tastes wonderful but is somewhat susceptible to root rot, “Chemainus” and “Cascade Bounty” which is a good variety if you want to get into jam production. Many of these varieties were developed for this part of the world, as you can probably guess by their names, and they should all be available through your local nursery as they are in current production. Happy berrying! Ramona FroehleSchacht of SOL Farm raise vegetables, berries and chickens with her family. www.solfarm.ca

serving fair trade certified organic island roasted coffee delicious homemade soups artisan teas specialty coffees

At Whippletree Junction

fresh baked goods Food to go

250 597 4490

What The Hub?!!!

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irthday parties are always fun, but April 12 is the rare chance to enjoy a 125th birthday bash – the birth of The Hub of the Universe, no less, which happens to be just 5 minutes south of Duncan. Back in the good ol’ days, when Duncan was just a lonely little train stop, Cowichan Station was a bustling metropolis (community hall, hotel, 2 churches…) which pioneer Jack Fleetwood dubbed “The Hub of the Universe.” To celebrate 125 years after the opening of our namesake train station, Cowichan Stationites have celebrated by turning the old school into “The Hub”, the valley’s vibrant new community centre. Volunteers have raised over $650,000 from grants (including $265,000 from Heritage Canada), amazing CVRD support, corporate discounts, and bounteous community member contributions to revitalize the old building, including: • New gym and school roof, restoring the heritage twinpeaked design • Renovated gym and theatre for multiple cultural and sports events • Renovated annex, which is now rented to various groups and a (soon to be launched) Montessori preschool

• Geothermal heat pump for Green energy • Expansion of the kitchen and indoor seating area for coffee shop and events

While work continues on the main part of the old school (and hopefully a new clay studio), you can already find people at The Hub most anytime, enjoying concerts, capoeira, school plays, seniors social, art shows, men’s groups, fitness boot camp, drop-in soccer & youth hockey, movie nights, Girl Guides, homelearners open gym, open mic nights … Please join us at The Hub in Cowichan Station (2375 Koksilah Rd, just West of the Highway) on Friday, April 12, 7pm until late, for some 125th birthday cake, ribbon cutting, dessert potluck and community DANCE. It’ll be the Party of the Century and a Quarter! Rick Juliusson FreeRange Consulting Sustainable funding * Effective operations * Achievable vision

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April Issue 53  

For those who love to eat, live, play and shop in the Cowichan Valley.