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MAY/JUNE 2017

ISLAND

ARDEN ARM & G F Soil Testing Project for safe city gardens

Raising Sheep it's not so simple

Agricultural Emergency Planning writing it down

SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESS

Island Farm & Garden - May/June 2017

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bursting

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forth

T

by Eric Morten, Editor

here's a lot happening this time of year. We can say goodbye to the winter weather (hopefully by now) and let nature take its course. It may not be downhill but it's definitely picking up speed. Gardens are starting to show their payoff, livestock is out and it's rocking, and so begins outdoor living with horse competitions and the like. We've got it covered in this issue: how to get the most out of your garden using a permaculture method from Germany; the longterm value of seed saving; livestock features; and best practices of leg care for your competitive horses. I hope you will find some surprises in these pages as well–a little history, some new and ancient technologies, a little how-to, and a few delicious recipes, not to mention recipes for success on the farm. We wish you abundance this season. Take advantage of nature's time of bursting forth and happy growing!

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Island Farm & Garden - May/June 2017


ISLAND ARDEN ARM & G F Publisher: Judy Stafford, Cowichan Green Community 360 Duncan Street, Duncan, B.C. V9L 3W4 tel: 250.748.8506 fax: 250.597.1112 cowichangreencommunity.org Editor: Eric Morten | publisher@islandfarmandgarden.ca Thanks to our "experts in the field" for sharing their wisdom

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Growing Your Soil................................................................................4 Raising Sheep......................................................................................6 Return to Heirloom Seeds...................................................................8 Carry That Weight...............................................................................10 Eighty and Counting..........................................................................12 Agricultural Emergency Planning.....................................................14 30 Minute Mozzarella........................................................................16 Cowichan Green Community Notes..................................................18 Mandala Garden................................................................................19 Cowichan Farm Map..........................................................................20 Hugelkulture......................................................................................22 Behind the Times...............................................................................24 Our Farm to Yours...............................................................................25 Cattle Call...........................................................................................26 Follow the Sun...................................................................................27 The Dirt on Compost..........................................................................28 4-H Farm Frolics.................................................................................30

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growing your

soil

W

story and photos by Markia Smith

ith growing concerns over food security and food access, many people are turning to their own backyards and boulevards to grow food for their families and to establish a thriving and productive urban food garden, there is a need to ‘grow your soil’ before you ‘grow your food.’ The Healing City Soils Project was developed as a partnership between the Victoria Compost Education Centre and Royal Roads University’s BSc in Environmental Science program to address soil health concerns in urban areas. The project offers free soil testing for heavy metals and follow up gardening best practices workshops for participants. In 2016, soil tests for heavy metals such as lead, arsenic and cadmium were completed at garden sites across the communities of Victoria and Esquimalt 4

Island Farm & Garden - May/June 2017

Healing City Soils Project offers testing for your garden site

to support people already growing, or interested in growing food in their backyards, front yards, boulevards and community gardens. Soil test results are uploaded onto the Victoria Soil Quality interactive online map, hosted on the Victoria Compost Education Centre’s website. This open-access map provides community members with a picture of soil health throughout the city. While no sites in the study last year were found to contain levels of heavy metals that would indicate any significant health risks for residents, it is important to assess your soil before creating an edible garden in the city. Food can still be grown safely at sites containing heavy metals by following best practices for creating healthy gardens. In 2016, the project uncovered some fascinating information about historical land use in Greater Victoria leading to some interesting results. Participating residents raised a number of possible concerns including a history of backyard garbage burning, historic use of lead paint

on house exteriors, and small businesses of appliance repair, sign painting, and automotive repair. Though largely residential now, Victoria archives showed that a number of breweries existed in the late 19th century and early 20th century in historic Fernwood including the Lion/ Empire Brewery in Spring Ridge that burned down in 1887. Other industries on more specific locations included a metal-works near Gladstone Street and a lumber-works near Vining Street. Additionally, soil tested at the Compost Education Centre on North Park Street showed higher levels of lead, arsenic, nickel, chromium, zinc, and copper, not surprising since the site is downslope from what was the original Fairey technical building and autobody shop class for Victoria High School for more than sixty years, pre-dating the 1990 Gasoline Regulation that phased out leaded gasoline in Canada. At another site in Victoria, a house built in 1912 had previously been sanded to remove several


layers of paint in the late 1990’s. This site showed higher levels of arsenic, lead and zinc and the original house paint used is the most probable explanation for the high concentrations, given that the site pre-dates the national lead-based paint products ban in 1978. Building on the success of the first year of the project, student teams at Royal Roads are busy completing soil tests this spring at residential gardens and boulevards in the municipalities of Saanich and Oak Bay to expand the data on the Soil Quality map, with a goal to eventually map the entire Capital Regional District (CRD) and highlighting areas where heavy metals may need to be addressed before growing food. This map is paired with factsheets and workshops to empower people with the knowledge and skills to grow food safely or to heal the soil with compost, plants and mushrooms. Connecting urban agriculture, composting, food literacy, ecological restoration and bioremediation, this project brings together local government and post-secondary institutions, food security organizations and people who are interested in growing food and conserving the soil beneath their feet. For more information and to view the interactive soil quality map and fact sheets, visit https://www. compost.bc.ca/healing-city-soils/

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the ups & downs and round & round of

raising sheep it may not be a roller coaster, but it's quite a ride

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Island Farm & Garden - May/June 2017

A

By Pamela Walker n emotional carousel is how one could describe the art of raising sheep. We’ve raised them for ten years now and still don’t seem to know much more about them other than which end has the head and which, the tail. We were so happy when our lambing season came to an end with only one fatality—a still-born from a set of triplets. Some believe this is a blessing in disguise as invariably the mum chooses to abandon the third lamb. She knows full well that she only has two “dinner plates” with which to feed hungry offspring. Although logical, we humans have a difficult time with this and have been known to spend an inordinate amount of time and effort to raise a runt despite little pay-back in the end. We do that. And we probably always will despite knowing that all the lambs are compromised because of our actions. But what choice do we have? We only had two bottle-fed babies lambs this year, which was a blessing. It

is fun but exhausting work. When they are newborn, they need to be fed every two hours around the clock, just like human babies. When they are older, the frequency decreases but the volume of food increases exponentially! But it all seems worthwhile when the bottle-fed babies gambol up to you and soon as they spy you entering the barn. The sad part for us came just recently when we found a dead lamb on the ground. What could have happened? It couldn’t have been the cold and the rain as our sheep live in a loafing barn that is so palatial that we refer to it as the “Taj Ma-Stall.” But then another lamb came down with very poopy pants, called scours. And then another did the same. The pretty pink bottle of Pepto-Bismol that was recommended on the Internet probably would not even work as a placebo for this problem. We called in all the shots: first, the provincial government’s Animal Health Centre, then our trusty and knowledgeable neighbour, then the good people at Top Shelf Feeds, and, finally, when we heard that we might lose all the babies, our local vet.


Coccidiosis was the diagnosis: a single celled parasite that lurks on the ground’s surface easily munched up by young lambs with no immunity who are in search of fresh grass. The pest must have been able to multiply like mad in all the wet weather we’ve experienced. Five days’ worth of medical treatment and all was well once more. From the depths of despair we rose to the height of elation at seeing our flock happy and healthy once more, our carousel had taken yet another turn.

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Like most things in farming, the ups and downs are enough to make even the most fool-hardy wonder, but, in the end, the rewards always seem to outweigh the price of admission.

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a return to

seeds heirloom

the value of seed saving

I

by Marsha Goldberg t is a time honoured tradition, dating back centuries, saving seeds from your best crops. Modern day practices have shifted away from this art form and turned towards science to produce seeds. This disconnect from Nature comes at a high price. In these times of climate extremes, the modern day hybrids do not stand up.They are usually created to withstand diseases or pesticide applications. On the other hand, heirloom seeds were chosen for drought and disease resistance, flavour, and how well they would survive in storage. Another key factor, our own participation ensures the best selection for important traits in our own region. This is called bioregionalism. These seeds adapt to our local conditions and evolve quickly to changes in the weather. There is also the high cost of hybrid seeds and their dependence on many chemical inputs. When the genetic make up is too similar, should a fungus, an insect or weed evolve into a super pest, then we are creating a vicious cycle of dependence on more and more poisons. The ground water becomes contaminated, surface water is tainted

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Island Farm & Garden - May/June 2017


by toxic run off, beneficial insects and earthworms are destroyed. It is now well publicized how endangered our bee populations are world wide. The shift away from this downward spiral starts in our own gardens and farms. It has become a world wide movement, this return to sustainable practices. Our ancestors were not scientists, but their keen sense of observation and use of natural selection has provided us with a treasury of seeds that need us to protect them. In nature, seeds will also hybridize on their own as they adapt. The brassica family of plants started out with wild leafy kales. Over centuries of selecting in our own gardens, we now have hundreds of varieties, including cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. The seed saving network today endeavours to preserve our heirlooms for future generations. We can now get the benefit of vibrant delicious food by saving our own seeds. We are also fortunate to live in a climate zone that is ideal for seed production. Our milder winters and dry summers are perfect for saving lettuce, beans, peas, grains, beets, carrots, onions and brassicas. Many other parts of the world are either too cold, too hot or too humid. Professional seed growing started here in the late 1800’s with the James Seed Company of Salt Spring Island. They won international acclaim for their heirloom vegetable seeds. The seed growers in this era also marketed their own products. After World War II a huge increase of seed companies started to buy from growers. The farm based seed company became a thing of the past. As a direct result, thousands of our heirloom varieties disappeared from the market and are lost forever. About 20 years ago, this started to change. When GMOS started coming to market, the organic farming movement became the first line responders to defend us. Small farmers started growing and saving their best for seed again, creating web based businesses to bring them to market. Community events were springing up across the country as Seedy Saturdays are now found coast to coast. Gardeners are trading seeds again and making the positive choice to support their local farmers turned seed purveyors. Seeds grown with care, attention to detail, selecting the hardiest and most of all, wholesome and delicious. It is easy to get started, and we encourage you to do so. Marsha Goldberg, along with partner Jane Schweitzer, are  professional Heritage seed farmers based on Salt Spring Island BC, since 1994. Our web based business Eagleridge Seeds is proud to be a part of this movement towards sustainability. Specializing in endangered heirloom vegetables, tomatoes, herbs and flowers. Offering consultation services and workshops to support seed savers. They can be reached at www.eagleridgeseeds.com

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9


carry that

weight Horse health stands upon four good legs

N

by Winter Koyote o foot, no horse is one of the oldest clichés in horse circles, and “soundness” is the general term that describes the well-being of a horse’s condition. Defined by Karl Butler in The Principles of Horseshoeing as “a state of excellent health…referring to the locomotor system,” it marks the distinction between having a usable horse on the one hand, and an expensive lawn ornament on the other. Riders of all disciplines agree that if all four legs are not sound and healthy, your horse will be unable to perform its best— if at all. Horses appear carry their immense body weight on legs that seem as thin as toothpicks. Anatomically, horses have evolved to stand on the human equivalent of their elongated middle fingers and in spite of this we ask them to run and to jump, to collect themselves and to change their centre of balance and to do so whilst carrying the added weight of tack and rider--all the while expecting them to stay sound. 10

Island Farm & Garden - May/June 2017

As beginning riders, we learned to groom and to tack up. Perhaps we were lucky enough to own a horse and to learn what it was to care for them daily, and how to feed them. We read books, and articles online, and talked to coaches and learned how best to care for them: figuring out where they needed to live, perhaps acquiring property of our own to do so. As we learned and stuck with it, we became better riders, and we began to compete. Then we were faced with a load of choices: what discipline should I choose? What shows will I do? Which coach will help me progress? Will I need new tack? Do I need a trailer of my own? All of these decisions are common to any competitive rider's experience, as before you find your way on a particular path you make choices that lead you to it, and as people explore those separate paths they meet others upon them and begin to connect with their crowd and their own community. Although disciplines separate on these paths, we horse-people all share common ground in our connection to our most important teammate, and how our success relates to the welfare of our mount. Whether you ask the hunter/

jumper, the eventer, the dressage rider, combined driver or barrel racer, all will agree on how the important the condition of their horse is to their success in sport. So what can you do to look after your horse’s legs? First, the importance of turnout cannot be understated, especially in young horses. “Turnout,” a horse’s opportunity to be able to move freely and at their own chosen pace, strengthens their tendons and ligaments naturally without causing them harm. These free, natural movements strengthen them for later in life. Paddocks are a must to make this possible on some minimal level. Second, when at competition, it is necessary to walk your horse. Horses should never be stalled all day, especially when they are unaccustomed to it. This also applies in the winter months when the availability of turnout may be compromised by weather or wet footing. Horses evolved to be on the move, and they need to be able to move in order to optimize circulation and general health.


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Third: “standing bandages” are very helpful to reduce the “stocking up” that may occur in their legs. These provide support for your tired horse. Be certain to apply them properly, as improper application may cause more harm than good. Do not attempt them unless you have demonstrated to a coach or trainer that you know how. Riders should speak with their coaches about best practice methods that suit their horse and discipline. Never apply a treatment without proper understanding. You can do more harm than good. Your horse’s legs are fragile and you do not want to damage them. Other ways to protect your horses legs when you are at a show, immediately after the show or at home, include putting on jumping boots or “polos,” icing or applying ice-boots, applying poultices, and trailering in shipping boots. The bottom line is to always protect your horse’s legs remembering that without a foot/leg, you won't have a horse. Winter Koyote is a Training level Eventing Rider and Canadian Pony Club B Candidate.

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eighty &

Somenos Women's Institute, 1942: Standing, left to right: Mrs. Lomas, unidentified, Mrs. J. White, unidentified, Mrs. R. Peterson, Mrs. B. Johnston, Mrs. Tisdall, Mrs. Berger

counting

W by Ruth Fenner

hen Somenos Women’s Institute was formed late in 1935, who could have known it would still be operating enthusiastically in 2017? A group of some twenty women started the group, and in the eighty years since, the membership has fluctuated, but never exceeded 35 members. What have we achieved in 80 years? Numerous roles, always in support of our community and local people. Early 12

Island Farm & Garden - May/June 2017

The Somenos Women's Institute celebrates their history of service

on, we backed the founding of the Boy Scouts troop in Duncan, and presented Scoutmaster Harry Wood with his warrant, and the charter to the troop.

namely the British Columbia Children’s Hospital in Vancouver and the Queen Alexandra Solarium/Centre here on Vancouver Island.

Starting in 1927, local Women’s Institutes gathered and donated surplus vegetables, fruits, eggs and preserves to the Queen Alexandra Solarium at Mill Bay. This facility now houses the Brentwood College. Members from across British Columbia sewed and donated pajamas, dresses, shirts, pants and other articles for use at the two children’s hospitals our organization had founded in the 1920’s –

Numerous parcels were provided for local military men in World War II. Institutes in England and Scotland were adopted, and sent annual parcels of such necessities as tea, food and items of clothing. We knitted and sewed during and after the war for both the Red Cross and for the Unitarian Service Committee – in 1962 alone, we made 200 shirts, plus large sized bed quilts for the USC.


On the home front, entertainment and fostering morale was vital. Dozens of seasonal events, card parties and other entertainments, for the community at large were organized and well attended. Somenos Women’s Institute members are very active in supporting the efforts of the District, Provincial and National Boards of the organization. Many competitions were entered, and over the years the awards won dot the pages of the history books the group has maintained. Whether the competition was for baking, sewing, writing, quilting, or challenges like raising funds for the International Year of the Child, we are always willing to participate.

to the Cowichan District Hospital, the Cowichan Lodge, local 4-H Clubs, and more recently, we are offering bursaries to local High School graduates. In recent years, we have tailored our catering to “Grown in the Cowichan Valley” foods and have met with success. We opposed Genetically Engineered Foods, and are trying to support the local farmers as they produce healthier foods, closer to home and therefore, we feel, more nutritious. We have offered home preserving courses, both on our own and through the Cowichan Green Community in an effort not only to pass on the skills, but also to utilize the produce that goes to waste annually in the Valley.

Newspaper photo of cheque presentation to the Cowichan District Hospital in 1967

We have been supporters of the Cowichan Exhibition; there we won the District Display on a number of occasions. A huge display, it contained examples of local agriculture products from field and garden, as well as preserves, honey, dairy products and others. Today we sponsor a preserving class with the exhibition. In the 1960s, the group purchased the old Somenos School in cooperation with the Boy Scouts, and later handed it on to the Somenos Community Association. It was used by the Institute until recently, and there are many fond memories of the events held there, such as our 1986 50th anniversary marked with a party in Somenos Hall. We have gone on farm tours, enjoyed guest speakers and we support a local family each Christmas, to help make their holiday a little brighter. We have made annual donations to both the British Columbia Children’s Hospital in Vancouver and the Children’s Health Foundation on Vancouver Island, formerly the Queen Alexandra Centre;

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In 2008, we played an important supportive role when the District hosted the Provincial Women’s Institute Convention here in Duncan. Our members organized displays, tours, the tree planting and other activities, as well as playing the role of hostesses.

Somenos' entry in 1993 Provincial Women’s Institute competitions, it took first prize in the province.

Past membership lists record names of many members who donated their time and talents most generously to Cowichan Valley residents. Dorothy Shaw: her voluminous knowledge of gardening and the tours of her gardens on Norcross Road; Margery Jaggers: her prize winning dahlias; Joan Mayer and June Skeet for their work with 4-H, plus others, too numerous to list. We salute each of them, in this our 81st year. Ruth Fenner is the historian for the Somenos Women’s Institute

Dressed for the 1958 Centennial Celebrations: Back Row: Left to right: Mrs. Beddis, Mrs. Paradis, May Evans, unidentified, Dorothy Shaw, Ivy Johnston, Lucy Watt Centre Row: Ann Loveseth, Elvira Loveseth (hidden), Mrs. Whitehead, Irene Justice, Mable Cross, Mrs. Sinclair Front Row: ?, Mrs. McCondach, Mrs. Gibson, Eileen Paddle, Mrs. Barry

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13


hope for the best &

prepare An agricultural emergency plan is invaluable against extreme weather events

Project participant Laurie Belanger on her farm near Duncan

story & photos by Tamara Leigh Farmers across Vancouver Island face increased risk of extreme weather events including flooding, drought and wildfire according to climate change projections. Having a plan in place to manage these kinds of events can help protect infrastructure and livestock, and reduce the impact and disruption to the farm. In the Cowichan Valley, livestock producers and local government have partnered to develop a regional emergency management plan for agriculture, as well as a planning template and guide to assist producers with mitigating risks and livestock protection before, during and after an extreme event or emergency occurs. 14

Island Farm & Garden - May/June 2017

Led by the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Public Safety Division with support from the BC Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative, the planning template was piloted on five Vancouver Island farms before being shared with another 12 producers in a workshop setting. “It’s definitely a benefit to the farmers to be in control in an emergency. They know their needs and their animals best,” says Sybille Sanderson, Emergency Program Coordinator for the CVRD. “This template provides them with the tools to think their way through an emergency in advance so they can make best possible decision for their farm animals and operations when the time comes.”

Laurie Belanger developed an emergency preparedness plan for her mixed livestock operation as part of the project. Belanger runs a herd of 25 Dexter cattle, as well as sheep and horses, on her farm near Duncan. “It is really important to have a plan in place. Have a phone list of people to call, and a place to take your livestock if you have time to move them,” says Belanger. “Lots of people have the information in their heads, but if something happens to you, it doesn’t help.” Getting the information out of her head and onto paper was a significant part of the process, including the phone list and a detailed map of the farm that identifies gates and pastures. As part of the plan,


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Belanger made arrangements with producers further afield who can take her livestock in the case of an emergency, and developed a back-up plan for if she can’t evacuate her animals and has to manage them on-site. “The maps are really good. In an emergency you can hand it over to somebody and say open this gate, this gate and this gate, and they’ll know where to go,” she says. “The process got me thinking about other things, like showing people where the water bibs and hoses are, marking the hoses and putting sprinklers on the roof. Where are the wells? Where are the outbuildings? Which ones do you want to save? You can’t do everything yourself, so you need a plan.” Planning for additional workshops is underway and the template is available to download at: http://www.bcagclimateaction.ca/ regional/vancouver-island/

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The same warm, dry summer conditions that increase the risk of wildfire on Vancouver Island, impact the availability of water for crops and livestock. Water management and on-farm water storage have been identified as important elements of climate change adaptation for farmers in the Cowichan Valley from the initial planning stages of the Cowichan Valley Regional Adaptation Strategies, published in 2013, to subsequent workshops on planning and preparedness for extreme events. In 2016, the BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative held a knowledge-sharing event, in conjunction with the Islands Agriculture Show, focused on water storage and water management for drought conditions. Highlights of the farm tour and panel discussions are now available in a 20-minute video that can be streamed online at: www.bcagclimateaction.ca/ regional-project/cw08/. The Climate Action Initiative is currently supported by the BC Agricultural Research & Development Corporation and the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC with funding provided by the governments of Canada and British Columbia through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

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Island Farm & Garden - May/June 2017

15


30 minute

mozzarella

Recipe and steps by culturesforhealth.com

Supplies:

A pot big enough to hold one gallon of milk Thermometer Colander Slotted spoon (not plastic) Long knife Microwaveable bowl (if you’re using a microwave to stretch the curd) Small pot (if you’re using a stovetop/ waterbath method to stretch the curd Rubber gloves (optional)

Ingredients:

1 tsp. cheese salt (optional) 1 gallon gallon of cow or goat milk 1 1/4 cup cup cool, chlorinefree water 1 1/2 tsp. citric acid 1/4 rennet tablet or 1/4 tsp. liquid rennet

Large bowl of water, placed in the refrigerator when you start Large bowl of water, placed in the freezer when you start

Instructions:

1. If using a rennet tablet, dissolve ¼ rennet tablet in ¼ cup water. Wrap the rest of the tablet in plastic and store it in the freezer. If using liquid rennet, dilute the rennet in ¼ cup of water. 2. Mix 1½ teaspoons citric acid into 1 cup water and stir until the citric acid is dissolved. Pour this into the big pot. 3. Pour 1 gallon of milk into the pot and stir vigorously with the slotted spoon, while heating the milk. If using raw milk, heat it to 88°F. If using pasteurized milk, heat it to 90°F.

4. Take the pot off the burner. Add the rennet and slowly stir it in with an up and down motion of the slotted spoon for approximately 30 seconds. 5. Cover the pot and let it sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. If you’re using raw milk, let it sit for 10 minutes. Check the curd at this point. It should look like custard, with a clear separation between the curd (solid) and the whey (liquid). If the curd is too soft or the whey is too milky, let it sit for a few more minutes. 6. Cut the curd with a knife that reaches to the bottom of the pot. Click here for instructions on how to cut the curd. 7. Put the pot back on the stove and slowly heat it up while stirring the curds around with the slotted spoon. If using raw milk, heat it to 90°F. If using pasteurized milk, and you’re going to use the microwave to stretch the curds, heat it to 105°F. If using pasteurized milk, and you’re going to use the stovetop to stretch the curds, heat it to 110°F.) 8. Take the pot off the burner and stir slowly for 2 to 5 minutes. More stirring will make a firmer cheese. 9. Pour off the floating whey.* 10. Stretch the curds using one of the two methods below.

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11. Form the cheese. You can make the stretched curd into a large ball, or a collection of small balls. You can braid it, or make it into a log, or roll it into a number of sticks. 12. Cool the cheese by submerging it in the bowl of refrigerated water. Leave it there for 15 minutes, then put it in the bowl of ice water. This cooling step is important to keep the cheese from becoming grainy. USING THE STOVETOP (WATERBATH) TO STRETCH THE CURDS (You can do this with half the curds at a time.) 1. Heat a pot of water to 185°F. 2. Ladle the curds into a colander, folding them together gently toward the center and draining off the whey as you go.

3. Dip the colander with the curds in it carefully into the hot water a few times, then use the slotted spoon to fold the curds back into the center of the colander until they become stretchy. This will happen when the curds reach 160° to 170°F. 4. Remove the curd from the colander and stretch it like taffy. If it does not stretch easily, return it to the hot water bath. 5. At this point you can add cheese salt, if you like. Then stretch the curd by pulling it like taffy until it is soft and shiny. The more you work the cheese, the firmer it will be. *You can save the whey and use it in other projects!

KINPARK KIDS CAMP July 4 - Sept. 1 | Ages 6+ | 9am - 4:30pm

Join us for a green, fun-filled summer! Learn how to grow, cook, and eat fresh local food! Play in the park and make friends! Learn about bees, recycling, and the environment! ~ $150 per week (weeks 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9) $120 for Week 1 (Canada Day), and Week 6 (BC Day)

For more information: camp@cowichangreencommunity.org 360 Duncan Street, Duncan BC | 250-748-8506

Photo from SkillsLink “Before Your Plate” program

Spring greens and more! Order from your favourite local farms online at www.cow-op.ca.

www.cow-op.ca

Cowichan’s first online farmers’ market Island Farm & Garden - May/June 2017

17


cowichan green

community notes

what's cooking at cgc

I

by Judy Stafford, Publisher t seems just when I think Spring has arrived, meaning I can bust out the flip flops, some more inclement weather keeps my boots by the front door. But here at CGC, we refused to be deterred and are in full planning mode for all our Spring and Summer activities. Luckily, our indoor cooking classes are not weather dependent so they are all full steam ahead. It’s truly heartening to see our commercial kitchen abuzz with so many folks learning how to prepare yummy meals. Between youth chefs in training and other small scale food processers – from kimchi to chicken soup – it always smells delicious around here. Luckily, they are often looking for taste testers and staff are very obliging … of the many perks of working at a food organization! Despite it being dreary outside, CGC’s annual Kinpark kid’s summer camp is also in full planning mode. I remember as a mom of young children in Toronto, camping out overnight to ensure a spot at an urban farm camp – wow aren’t we so lucky to be able to offer an amazing farm experience for kids where parents don’t have to sleep over to secure a spot?

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Island Farm & Garden - May/June 2017

After conducting a camp survey earlier this year, we’ve made some positive changes to our programming and are looking so forward to seeing lots of little budding gardeners at our farm and keen young cooks learning how to grow tomatoes and can pickles in our kitchen. Kids are going to enjoy more farming activities, more yoga, more cooking, and just more fun all around. The Farmer’s Market Nutrition Coupon program has been awarded to CGC and the Duncan Farmer’s Market again this year, therefore in partnership with the BC Farmer’s Market Association, 65 families and seniors will receive weekly coupons to purchase fresh produce and meat on Saturdays here in Downtown Duncan. These folks will be able to participate in a number of free cooking classes as well. So as usual, all of us here at CGC are busy cooking up lots of plans and sharing our love of food whether it’s growing, cooking, or eating and we are all looking very forward to warmer, sunnier days out at our teaching farms. We certainly hope to see you here or there!


community garden is

growing up Kin Park mandala garden expanding and adding trellises

W

by Laura Boyd-Clowes ith more people moving to cities every year, there is a push toward efficient, ecologically sustainable urban food production. Although British Columbians are coming to appreciate the value of ‘eating local’ most of us like to imagine that ‘local’ implies producers working in bucolic settings outside of town. But the upsurge in inspiring urban agriculture projects that demonstrate how city-dwellers can enjoy nutritious, delicious, hyper-local food. Many urban farming entrepreneurs are developing innovative growing methods to increase the profitability of farming. One model works on unused land owned by other people. Small plot intensive, or SPIN, farming, allows people with little start-up capital to grow impressive quantities of vegetables on borrowed lawns, yards and boulevards. As the name suggests, this method maximizes small plots by growing plants closer together, and planting multiple short-season crops in the same space throughout the year to ensure regular harvests. Proximity to markets and locavore-centric restaurants means that distribution is cheap and less carbon-intensive. Combined with simple vertical farming technology such as plant towers or self-watering containers, this model can optimize the productivity and economic value of even the smallest urban nook In Victoria, a group called TOPSOIL is expanding to grow fresh vegetables on over 15 000 square feet of undeveloped urban space for direct sale to local restaurants. Their clients are close enough that they guarantee order delivery – via bicycle - within ten minutes. Using lightweight textile planters, wellmade compost and an automated watering system, they have transformed an otherwise grey, neglected space into a lush, productive proof-of-concept. In 2016, they grew a total of 7,175lbs of food at their Dockside Green location.

Cowichan Green Community’s

8th Annual

Edible Garden & Farm Tour Saturday, july 8, 10AM - 3PM Tickets are $20.00 per person Purchase your tickets at the Garden Pantry Thrift Store, 360 Duncan Street For more info call 250-748-8506 Or email info@cowichangreencommunity.org

Not all urban farmers are working at such a large scale. Shelley Chowaniec-Burns runs Early Girl Urban Farm on just half an acre in Nanaimo. She produces seedlings, vegetables, herbs and microgreens for sale at her farm gate and to nearby restaurants story continues on page 21 Island Farm & Garden - May/June 2017

19


cowichan-grown has never tasted better by Heather Kaye

marketing effort to help agriculture in our region grow.

For the last eight years, Cowichan Green Community has been quietly publishing a local farm directory to the bountiful Cowichan region. Originally called the Buy Local! Buy Fresh! Cowichan Farm Map, the publication has maintained the same formula of a folded map with space for up to 60 farm listings on the back side which help residents and visitors to the region search out Cowichangrown food, drink, and value-added products. The map’s popularity is evidenced by plenty of anecdotal feedback. Every year, we receive comments from farms saying the map has generated an enormous amount of calls about their products. One meat producer indicated that a local chef had found him on the map and with one phone call ordered all of his pork that season. On the consumer side, the Tourism offices indicate the map is one of their more popular items. We have heard that some visitors are using the map as a way to tour the region going from farm gate to farm gate, seeing what they can discover and taste. This year, the map has a new name: Cowichan-grown Farm Map, using the logo Economic Development Cowichan

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Island Farm & Garden - May/June 2017

Blessed with Canada’s only MaritimeMediterranean climatic zone, the Cowichan is capable of producing a diverse range of high-quality farm-fresh produce, artisanal foods, and beverages. The map showcases this bounty and the talented and hard-working producers behind it – this year, 56 unique farms and agribusinesses all with something distinctive, fresh, and delicious to offer consumers.

launched a few years ago to breathe new life into the brand identity of Cowichan farms and food processors. It only makes sense to align ourselves with what’s happening in the region already in terms of branding. Cowichan is really gaining recognition of its unique taste, quality, and terroir. Locals and those outside the region are taking notice and we need to make a cohesive

It has been interesting to see the changes in farms and farm offering over the years. As some of our older farmers retire and sell their farms, we seem to be able to attract younger farmers and food processors to the region who are keen to dive in and bring their products to market. From seasonal fruits and veggies, wines, ciders, baked goods, honey, tea, seafood, nuts, berries, and meats to more unusual products like aquapaonic steelhead trout, limes, and balsamic vinegar, eating an entirely Cowichan-grown diet is possible. Every year, new farms are welcomed to the map and this year is no exception.


Former chef turned farmer Jeff Hetherington and his partner Lhasa own and operate Farm 1740 (Koksilah) offering pasture-raised non-GMO poultry, lamb, pork, eggs, veggies and preserves; Cedar Grove (Westholme) offers a market garden of rhubarb, tomatoes, garlic, peas, beans, herbs, and berries; Yesteryear Farms (Yellowpoint) offers pasture-raised lamb, freerange Berkshire pork and chicken as well as a full compliment of hand-crafted sausages and meatballs featuring local ingredients; Cowichan Incubator Seed Farm (North Cowichan) is the region’s first seed farm offering open-pollinated, sustainablygrown seeds and seedlings; Muddy Feet Farm (Sahtlam) offers free-range heritage pork by the 1/4 or side, heritage free-ranging meat chickens plus a range of pure pork dog treats from their own pigs. Local ingredients and products can be easily found by browsing listings on the map or using the online search component at cowichangreencommunity. org/foodmap. Search by farm name, product type, production method, or location. Print maps are also available at Cowichan Green Community’s office at 360 Duncan Street in Duncan (or phone 250748-8506 for other pick-up locations near you). Pick up a copy and start shopping the Cowichan-grown way today! Heather Kaye, with Cowichan Green Community, coordinates the Cowichan-Gown Farm map and the new online farmers’ market, Cow-op.ca.

continued from page 19 and caterers. Her production is based out of her house and backyard, and she takes custom orders. For those urbanites that don’t have access to a large backyard, but still want to participate in the local food movement, there aren’t always many options. Luckily for members of the greater Cowichan Valley community, there are garden plots available for rent right in downtown Duncan. At Kinsmen Park, the Cowichan Green Community (CGC) is overseeing the construction of even more raised beds in their new Mandala Gardens. These will be wheelchair accessible, and will integrate trellises to maximize the possibilities for urban food production. In keeping with their mandate to improve the region’s food security, CGC has partnered with the Cowichan Valley Basket Society to dedicate some of the new beds to the food bank. All food grown in these beds will be donated to those in need. Everyone eats. But not everyone has easy access to fresh, locally grown food. Perhaps out of necessity, more and more people are turning to the concrete jungle to grow their own. Between 1993 and 2005, the amount of food grown and consumed in cities around the world rose from 15% to 30%, according to the United Nations Development Program. That’s a good thing, as it means a diminishing dependence on imported crops. Urban farming is a lowcost, eco-friendly way forward for food production. And it’s happening right here on the island.

COMMERCIAL KITCHEN

FOR RENT

Outfitted to suit a variety of cooking needs, CGC has an Island Health certified commercial kitchen available to rent seven days a week from 8am-10pm. It is equipped with a 6 burner gas stove and oven, a convection oven, walk-in cooler and freezer, tables and seating for workshop facilitation, and a complement of basic cooking utensils and equipment. There is also a second area perfect for simple food preparation. For guidelines, information & rental rates visit

www.cowichangreencommunity.org Island Farm & Garden - May/June 2017

21


Hugelkultur: the ultimate raised garden bed

things are

piling up

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A by Nora Arajs

t this time of year one sees plumes of smoke dotting the landscape – evidence of annual spring yard clean-up fires. There’s another use for all those rotting logs at the edge of your property, spring fruit tree prunings, or the mountain of yard debris sitting in a pile from last fall. Hugelkultur, pronounced “HOO-gul-kulcher”, is essentially a layered pile of woody debris and an alternative to needless fires which send unnecessary CO2 into the atmosphere. Roughly translated from German as “mound culture”, hugelkultur is a method of building raised beds by simply creating a large, rough compost pile, covering it with soil, and planting directly into it.

Dig a shallow trench, about 12 inches deep, in a sunny spot in the shape you wish your garden bed to be.

Here’s how it works. The logs and branches act like a sponge, storing rainwater which is then released during drier times. The gradual decay of wood is a consistent source of long-term nutrients for the plants living in the bed. A large bed might give out a constant supply of nutrients for 20 years (or even longer if you use only hardwoods). The composting wood also generates heat which should extend the growing season. Soil aeration increases as those branches and logs break down, meaning the bed will be notill, long term.

Then evenly pile woody debris with the logs on the bottom, working up to smaller diameter branches and limbs as you increase the height of the pile. The greater the mass, the greater the waterretention benefits.

And here’s how to build this innovative and earth-friendly garden bed:

Now plant your vegetable starts, fruit trees, berry bushes, perennial herbs or flowers directly into the bed and water well. Mulch around the plants and watch them grow!

Gather a large amount of woody debris to build the mound with. You can use logs, tree limbs and branches, woody shrub prunings, leaves, etc.

As the pile increases in height, you may wish to jump on it to compress the mound. Steep beds mean more surface area in your garden for plants and the height makes for easy harvesting.  Finally, cover the wood pile with good quality soil, mixing in compost if you have it, too.

The more wood inside your hugel bed the less water it

Illustration used with permission of Permaculture Magazine.

will need. The larger the pile, the more heat that will be generated from the decomposing wood inside. This tall garden bed will settle over the next few years as the contents decompose and become rich soil. The benefits of using the hugelkultur approach are surprising: they help to retain moisture and need very little watering, soil fertility is increases as the wood decomposes, and they provide improved drainage to wet areas. And they use up woody

debris that might otherwise be thrown into a bonfire. Get together a group of friends to help you build your first pile. There are many resources online, just search for “hugelkultur” and you’ll find videos, images on how to, and other helpful resources. Nora Arajs is the Manager of Ceres Edible Landscaping, a program of the Cowichan Green Community.

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behind

times the

I

by Chris Rozema

t is the light early in the morning that tells me spring is really and truly here. Donning my wellies go let the chickens out, I find I don’t need the flashlight anymore, my heavy sweater is warm enough, and the frogs are singing. By most accounts, this past winter on Vancouver Island has been long and harsh. I am seeing winter killed plants already and expect some more to declare themselves over the month. At our farm, our planning days in early January didn’t account for the idea that winter would last well past the beginning of March. But is spring really later than normal? What is “normal”? I consider our bloom date record as the definitive word on the subject. In 2015, the first dandelion we recorded as blooming was February 28th. In 2016, the first showed its head on March 7th. This year, we didn’t see a single dandelion in the area we monitor until March 20th. So yes, things are very late this year. Even our Pieris Japonica hedge is 18 days later than average. Because of this we have been feeding our bees much longer than in the past and are just now seeing good volumes of new nectar and pollen coming in. The question is: will it only be the early bloomers that are on average 18 days later than previous years with the mid and later blooms coming right on time, or will everything be pushed back? I am betting that the mids and the lates will be close to their time in previous years. Keeping good records means we will be able to tell with some accuracy.

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A long winter begs the question of a delayed summer

So, with spring finally here, work at the farm ramps up. Biggest to do list item is turning in all the winter cover crops we managed to get planted. This winter we used a mix of fall rye and hairy vetch and I can already tell that the overwintered patched have less broadleaf and grassy weeds than the plots which didn’t get a cover crop. Hopefully the volume of organic material these crops produce will benefit my very sandy soil and give it better water retention and microbial life. During the growing year, we use an in-between crop cover of buckwheat but are careful to not let it flower before turning under. And, while our bees do love the nectar, buckwheat is a prolific re-seeder so needs special attention to keep it from becoming invasive. Our main crop is garlic. Monsoon-like rains kept us from planting on our traditional Thanksgiving weekend and then snow and frozen ground extended the agony. It wasn’t until Dec 2 and Jan 28 were the days the crop went in and, with much angst, we wondered if they would survive at all. Yesterday, while walking the plot, I noticed what looks like a good germination rate in two of the three garlic beds. I maintain hope for the third, which is the last one planted, as the soil warms. I am determined to keep these beds better weeded so that the bulbs can grow larger by not having to fight for nutrients. Fingers crossed that we at least get strong bulbs for this fall’s planting. As all farmers and gardeners know, Mother Nature is our greatest teacher and it seems every year there is a new lesson to learn. Let’s just hope we listen carefully enough and have a successful year.


Our garden to yours welcomes vegetarians at the table

the gardener’s friends

T

by Lesley Lorenz his Easter I put two extra leaves in the table and prepared a brunch for my 5 children and their partners and friends. Half the crowd was self-proclaimed vegetarian, the youngest only six. With so much growing to do, he still needs lots of protein. Here’s a few ideas for incorporating vegetarian dishes into a traditional family meal.

Roasted Tomato & Garlic Pasta 8 Roma tomatoes, sun-ripened 1 head garlic 3 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp sea salt handful of fresh basil 1/4 c shiraz 1/2 c Asagio cheese

Cut Roma tomatoes into quarters and spread them out on a baking tray. Cut off the top 1/2 inch of a head of garlic and place on baking tray. Drizzle liberally with olive oil. sprinkle with sea salt. Roast at 350º for about 45 minutes. Squeeze the cloves out of the garlic head into a blender, and then add the roasted tomatoes. Whiz well and return to a large pan. Add fresh basil and a splash of red wine. Simmer for another few minutes while you cook your pasta. Toss together and top with fresh grated fresh

Asagio cheese. Easy to put together while enjoying conversation with your guests, and makes your kitchen smell amazing! Pair with meatballs or a steak, & cheesy garlic toast.

Curried Devilled Eggs

1 dozen eggs 1/4 c mayonnaise 2 tbsp each chopped red pepper, celery & chives 1 tsp curry powder. Salt to taste These are great as a protein alternative when you’re making a ham or roast pork. Hard boil and peel your eggs, then slice in half and scoop out the yolks. To the yolks add finely chopped red peppers, celery and chives. Add mayonnaise and curry powder to taste. Whip and stuff back into the empty egg halves.

Stuffed Zucchini Boats 4 medium size zucchini 4 cloves garlic 4 eggs 1/2 c each jack & cheddar cheese 1/2 c milk or cream 1/2 c crushed ritz crackers

A great way to please non-meat eaters and make use of over-zealous zucchini production in your garden. Cut zucchini in half and scoop out to make a boat. Put

the pulp into a bowl, removing any large seeds. Finely chop some garlic, then add to the pulp. Thrown in a couple of lightly beaten eggs and a little cream. Grate jack and cheddar cheese, then add to the mix. Put chunks of cooked ham or chicken in some of the boats if desired. Pour the thick filling into the zucchini boats, top with crushed ritz cracker crumbs and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350º.

Saffron Prawn Pasta 1/4 c butter 1/4 c flour 3 cloves garlic 1 c cream 1 lb uncooked, shelled prawns 1/4 c pinot grigio 16 saffron threads grated parmesan salt to taste

Easy, fast and delicious. Melt butter in a pan, then add equal amount of flour to form a paste. Add finely chopped garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add cream and bring to boil, then lower heat as it thickens. Add prawns and saffron threads and simmer until prawns change colour. Add a splash of white wine and grated parmesan. Salt to taste and serve over your favourite pasta.

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25


cattle

call

Verification program for beef farmers

W by Annette Moore

hether you have 5 cows or several 1,000 cows if your selling beef to the public you are “it.” You’re the face behind the beef. You not only represent your own farm, ranch or feedlot, you’re representing every beef producer in Canada. Wow, those are some big boots to fill, but it’s real, especially if you’re making particular claims about your beef. Claims like antibiotic / hormone free, humanely handled, grass fed, natural, etc. It’s easy to say, but how would you prove it if you were ever questioned? One way is to be part of a recognized auditable program and there are many. The Verified Beef Production Plus program (VBP+) is one that not only supports producers of Canadian beef; it also delivers substantial value and opportunities that extend to retailers and consumers too. Although the program concentrates on practices up to the farm gate it is designed to complement food safety programs and market requirements for things like animal care and environmental stewardship all the way up the value chain. VBP+ is a national program with a very simple goal: to enhance confidence in Canadian beef across Canada and around the world. Consumers not only want to know how their beef got to the local store, they also want to know that it comes from a sustainable source that treats their 26

Island Farm & Garden - May/June 2017

animals well, that it’s safe to eat and that environmental resources were managed responsibly to get there. VBP+ does that by helping producers review their operation’s practices and record-keeping processes and verifies them through an audit process. As one producer was surprised to find, “none of these standards are really anything new or different than what I’m already doing. All it’s asking is that I have it verified.” This is often true, as all of the standards recognized by the industry are field proven and shown to benefit both the animal, and the end product. However, if there are any areas needing some improvements, VBP+ will also help provide education in an easy, practical, and cost effective manner. Producers enrolled in VBP+ say such things as: “Being part of the program and the audit process is a far more pleasant, learning experience than I expected.” “The people helping us are very professional, knowledgeable and efficient.” “Each time I do this process I pick up another tip or technique that helps me fine tune my operation as well as give me a better sense of confidence about what I’m doing in the eyes of the consumer.” Record keeping is certainly a part of the program and can be done by either paper or computer methods, as it’s the content not the format that counts. Although many may sell to a no antibiotic/

hormone market, sometimes the use of animal health products are required for basic welfare concerns or if they have a preventative vaccination program in place. To be able to show proper segregation of those animals from any market wishing to exclude these animals, basic records are necessary in supporting this claim. For those producers who don’t keep records now, VBP+ will work with the producer to help them find a system that works well for them. Many producers carry on their business assuming they are doing things properly. Most are, but even the best producers often tell me they were pleasantly surprised to find that some aspect of the programs’ requirements, whether it be a new look on a record, practice or communication method helped them become even better. One producer said it very well at a workshop, “At the end of the day we are all selling the same thing – beef. If we don’t all improve together and help each other showcase the good stuff we do, nobody wins because the lowest common denominator is what always surfaces. The more of us that join a program like VBP+ only makes good sense as it helps us all improve as well as showcase the good stuff we do.” To learn more about VBP+ visit http:// www.verifiedbeefproductionplus.com or contact Annette Moore, BC-VBP+ Coordinator at 1-866-398-2848 ext 2 or email: VBP@cattlemen.bc.ca.


follow the T

sun

Plant these impressive flowers now

by Marley Cummings all, slender, and attention grabbing, with a gorgeous golden petalled mane.

Sunflowers. These impressive plants commandeer the gardener’s admiration, and provide lots of late summer beauty. They are native to North America, and grow best in drier climates. They are hardy and drought-resistant, and are attractive to the birds and the bees. Grown for looks or for the purpose of harvesting the seeds, they are an easy to care for flower that boasts big, bright yellow petals and large brown or black centers. There are a few different varieties of this large flower, and including some that are on the smaller side. The “Mammoth” is the most commonly recognized version, with 8 foot stalks and giant seeds perfect for snacking pr for feeding the birds. The head of these can be saved with seeds intact to make great little bird and squirrels feeders to put out in the winter. “Autum Beauty” is known for the many blossoms on one stalk, in varying shades of yellow, red and gold. They can grow up to 7 feet and also provide seeds that are best for feeding smaller birds, such as chickadees and sparrows. “Sunbeam” is a smaller, 5 foot variation, great for bouquets and made world famous by the artist van Gough. These pretty flowers grow 5 inch blossoms with a rich golden colour. The smallest of all is the “teddy bear” sunflower, which only grows to about 2-3 feet, and has lovely little blossoms. These are great for indoor

growth, and if you’ve got kids, how cute would it be to plant a “sunflower family” using these and the larger ones for each family member! The reccomended time to plant is mid-April to May, after the dangers of frost have passed. Sunflowers grow best in locations with direct sun, about 6 to 8 hours per day. Because of how tall the sunflower plants can grow, it is ideal to plant them close to a fence or a wall, to have some support, especially when the flower becomes heavy with seed. Sunflowers have long roots which need to stretch out so the plants flourish in loose, well-draining soil. Choose an area that is close to your compost or has lots of organic matter, because they need plenty of nutrients to grow big and strong! Seeds are ready to harvest when the centers turn dark brown or black, and the heads can be cut off and seeds removed with a fork or your fingers. Ensure you allow the seeds to mature and dry on the stalk, for best results and flavour. To prepare the seeds, remove them and then soak overnight in water that has been salted (about 1 cup salt per 16 cups water). Then spread the seeds out on a baking tray and roast at 250 for 4-5 hours. Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, B1, and copper. ¼ cup of seeds has 204 calories, and is an ideal snack to take out hiking or whenever you are on the go. They have a mild nutty flavour and are delightfully crunchy additions to any salad or bread. Here is a recipe for multigrain bread that is delicious!

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all the

dirt on compost M by Mark Cullen

ay 7-13 is ‘Composting Week’ across our great nation. This is a perfect time to reawaken your commitment to save the planet and the green world on it. Convert the raw, organic material from the kitchen and the garden into the magic elixir that feeds the earth and all plant life that relies on it for sustenance.

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Here is your compost update:

1. We throw out up to 50% of our compostable materials. According to Susan Antler, executive director of the Composting Council of Canada, we generally are not very good at composting the organics from our kitchen and yard. “Whether at home in the backyard composter or through green bin composting programs, those banana peels (no stickers please), apple cores, fallen leaves and garden trimmings can be recycled.” Antler says that 61% of Canadians have access to some form of composting and that many of us do not take full advantage of it. 2. We do compost, but we could do better! 45% of households reported composting kitchen waste; 68% of Canadian households recycle garden waste. The big challenge is implementing broad based programs in ‘multi family dwellings (apartments and condos) where recycling rates are much lower than single family dwellings. 3. What happens when you put a banana peel in the garbage (landfill)? The decomposition of organic waste in landfills produces a gas which is composed primarily of methane, a greenhouse gas contribution to climate change. Methane is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of its global warming potential. 4. Organics = soil health. Make no mistake: 90% of the success you achieve in your garden is the direct result of proper soil enhancement and natural fertility. The concept of ‘soil health’ begins with the acknowledgement that soils are living ecosystems. Susan Antler reminds us that, “A handful of healthy soil contains more living organisms than there are people on the planet.” When we add finished compost to our soil we enhance the life-giving bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes and other more visible creatures such as earthworms. A 2cm to 3cm layer of compost over your garden soil this time of year is just a stupendously good idea. 5. The Environmental Commissioners report (Canada) states that, (healthy soil) “is like Times Square on New Year’s Eve, all of the time.” In other words, the activity below the surface of your lawn and garden is immeasurably active and alive, especially when it is healthy. What is healthy soil? It is soil that makes nutrients available to plants in a variety of unique and effective ways. It builds and enhances soil aggregation and porosity, sequesters nitrogen and other nutrients, reducing nutrient

loss to pollution, it out-competes disease and pest organisms, enhancing crops yields (and blooms!). In short, composting and adding quality compost to your garden is the ultimate Carbon Trading Scheme as plants use photosynthesis to fix carbon in an organic form from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And no money flows through bureaucratic government sponsored hands. Composting in your yard? What you need to know: a. Brown stuff/Green stuff. The green organic material that you add to your compost bin or pile is nitrogen-rich. The brown stuff (fallen leaves, shredded newspaper) is carbon-rich. Ideally you should put one part ‘green’ into your compost for every 5 to 10 parts ‘brown’. This will help to prevent your compost from smelling bad. b. Turn it. Oxygen is your friend. Like starting a fire by blowing on it, you will ignite the decomposition process in your bin or compost pile when you turn it over with a garden fork every few weeks. It is ok if you don’t do this, but you will wait much longer for results. c. What is a visible marker that your soil is healthy? Earth worms. The more the better. Odette Menard works for the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. She is an esteemed member of the Soil Conservation Hall of Fame (yes, there is such a thing in Canada) and she is an authority on earthworms. “Earthworms stabilize the soil by digesting it and combining it with organic matter which leaves it less vulnerable to erosion. They create a lot of space for roots and air, helping to provide an ideal environment for microorganisms to grow.” Do the earth a favour: this Composting Week, make a pledge to really help the planet and grow a better garden. Compost.

Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, member of the Order of Canada, author and broadcaster. Get his free monthly newsletter at markcullen.com. Look for his new best seller, ‘The New Canadian Garden’ published by Dundurn Press. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCullen4 and Facebook.

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4-H FARM FROLICS

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JOIN OTHERS IN YOUR FIELD!

Come to the Alberni Valley! •

Family Farm Days brings customers directly to your farm • 2 Farm Markets per week where you can sell your produce • Annual “Taste of the Valley” helps customers find you faster • 2 Agricultural Support Workers helping Alberni Farmers get food to folk’s forks • Poised to launch an online distribution/sales channel, providing another sales outlet Thinking about Aquaculture? Explore with support from the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District

www.acrd.bc.ca For further information please contact: Alex Dyer 250 720-2708 adyer@acrd.bc.ca

The Alberni Valley

Over 7000 hectares of land in the ALR

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