Page 1





ARDEN ARM F &G Taking Care

of Business Plecas Meats McNabs Corn Maze Waypoint Insurance

Garden Photo Contest Pretty as a picture

Horse Health

An effective approach


WaterSmart Garden


Residential soil augmentation and irrigation efficiency upgrades


Rainwater Harvesting Harvest rain AND SAVE both money and water!



One-time well water testing, and various wellhead protection upgrades



Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017

20 CD 17-1417



Rural Water Quality




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by Eric Morten, Editor

utumn is a busy and beautiful time of year. In this issue, we focus on "Taking Care of Business" featuring stories ranging from meats to finance to agritourism because the business of farming is and always has been diverse. It needs to be in order to achieve success. Speaking of diversity, see too the results of our garden photo contest starting on page 26. Thanks to all who entered and congratulations to our yet-to-be chosen at random winner! We're all winners when we participate in growing. Fall is also the time to start putting away for winter. Learn about squash and enjoy two jam recipes from CGC staffers. It looks like they've been busy as well! Happy gardening.


Island Farm & Garden - September-November 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 Editor: Eric Morten | Thanks to our "experts in the field" for sharing their wisdom


Horse Health .......................................................................................4 Mother Nature's Helper.......................................................................6 A Community Resource ......................................................................8 Protection Beyond the Heirloom.......................................................10 Duck, Duck, Goose.............................................................................12 An A-mazing Opportunity................................................................14 Cowichan Green Community Notes..................................................17 Going South.......................................................................................18 All About the Squash.........................................................................20 Remembering Russell........................................................................22 Jam Recipes.......................................................................................23 Making a Garden Grow......................................................................24 Garden Photo Contest........................................................................26 Salt Spring Apple Festival..................................................................30 4-H Farm Frolics.................................................................................31


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health horses?

what makes a farm

Fecal Egg Count: A More Effective Approach To DeWormingFecal Horses Egg Count: A more effective approach to de-worming horses

by Dr. Andrea Plaxton


mall strongyles, bots, tapeworms, large strongyles, and pinworms are common parasites in horses.

FACT: The purpose of de-worming horses is to keep the level of parasite infestation to a safe level, not to eliminate them completely. FACT: The age of your horse greatly affects the type and frequency of deworming, with horses under 2 years of age needing to be wormed every 2-3 months with specific wormers. FACT: It is estimated that only 20% of horses carry 80% of the parasites, which means the majority of horses have low parasite levels and may not even need de-worming. FACT: The years-old “norm” of using rotational de-wormers on a regular schedule was basically shooting in the dark. Not only was there no measurable way to determine effectiveness , but the “routine” of such de-worming resulted in overtreatment that has made some of these parasites increasingly resistant to the current (and only!) de-wormers available on the market. 4

Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017

In addition, the de-wormers (often six per year) not only created extra expenses for the horse owner, but their use also put medications in the horses that may not have been necessary. Instead of the old way of blindly de-worming each horse in the herd with these rotational de-wormers (yet never measuring anything to determine if the wormers were effective), current veterinary recommendations for more effective parasite control focus on determining the Fecal Egg Count (FEC) in the manure of each horse. After talking to your vet about measuring Fecal Egg Count for your horse or herd, your next step will likely be collecting a fecal sample per horse. Simply use a surgical glove or sandwich bag to cover your hand to pick up some fresh manure and put in a clean sandwich bag that is marked with the horse’s name. Taking a fresh sample to the vet is important, so eggs do not hatch. If you can’t go right away after collecting the sample(s), store the bag(s) in a cool place or refrigerate until you can get to the vet. Be sure you do not freeze or leave it in a hot car, as extreme temperatures will affect the eggs. The vet will analyze the manure for fecal eggs and can then make a recommendation regarding treatment for each horse.

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If treatment is recommended, you will likely repeat the same test a couple weeks after treatment to see if the de-wormer has proven effective for reducing the eggs in that particular horse. Repeating these Fecal Egg Counts several times a year will give your vet a good indication as to whether your horse is a “high” or “low” shedder of eggs. Again, this will depend on many factors for each horse such as age, de-worming history, nutritional status, etc. For most, de-worming is up to twice a year—often in the spring and fall. Horses with higher counts, however, may need more frequent de-worming. If you are not using Fecal Egg Count to control parasites in your horse or herd, the first step is to talk with your vet. With fall upon us, and the first hard frost around the corner, tapeworms will be the focus. Now is the time to contact your vet to plan your FEC as part of your horse wellness program. Dr. Plaxton is founder of Epona Equine Veterinary Services, which provides mobile equine services from Port Hardy to Nanoose.

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mother nature's


Planting a tree by the numbers


by Mark Cullen

A lifetime of tree planting and tree hugging has taught me a thing or two about tree planting.

1. Choose young trees. We are always anxious to get on with it. Whether we are ordering lunch or planting a tree, we are not very good at waiting. When shopping for a tree look for a young, vigorous specimen. The keyword here is ‘vigorous’, as in, ‘ready to go’. Young trees have young roots that are in the pot when you buy the tree. When you buy a large tree, usually wrapped in burlap and placed in a wire basket, many of the young, fibrous feeding roots are still in the ground on the nursery farm. Young trees want to put down roots and get growing. They usually catch up and surpass the growth of a larger tree within a few years.

This coming Wednesday, September 27th is ‘National Tree Day’ in Canada. The perfect time to create a living legacy in your own yard. Here is how to ensure the best possible chances for tree planting success:

2. Soil. ‘Quality soil’ can mean different things. For the most part, it means this: well drained, nutrient rich, organic and lots of it. I use a combination of 70% well composted cattle manure/mushroom compost and 30% sharp sand.

was hiking with my son Ben, this summer, when it hit me: all my attempts to plant trees cannot compete with Mother Nature. There she was, growing birch and cedars out of sheer rock at an 80 degree angle. How on earth did she manage to get her trees to grow without earth when we mortals have our problems when planting in rich soil?

Mark Cullen is lawn & garden expert for Home Hardware, 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.


Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017

Composted manure provides all the nutrients needed to support tree-life. No need for chemical fertilizers. The sand provides drainage, as very few trees enjoy having wet feet. Sharp sand is sometimes called ‘builders’ or ‘play’ sand, as in the stuff that you put in a sandbox. But it is NOT beach sand, which is too fine for water to flow through freely. A reminder: use lots of new soil. For a 2 metre high maple tree, you should use 4 to 6 bags of quality ‘triple’ mix or ‘garden soil’. 3. Stake it. It will take up to 5 years for your new tree to put down roots and anchor itself into it’s new home. A tree stake on the north or west side will help to hold it upright in stiff winds until the day comes when it can support itself. 4. Right tree, right place. Think about the location of your new tree and consider the space that it will

take up eventually. 20 or 30 years seems like a long time away and you may not even care what your tree will look like at that time. This is a service to future home owners. And you will be amazed at how quickly a tree can fill in the space that you allow for it, even a small tree like an ivory silk lilac. 5. Go for ‘quality’. There is a golf course near my home that was established just over 50 years ago. The founding-fathers invested in hundreds of fast growing poplars, willows and soft maples when they designed the course. No doubt they wanted the shade and cover in a hurry. Trouble is, they are cutting those trees down now and the course is looking rather bare. Had the first members of the club planted quality sugar maples, lindens, oaks, beech and other hardwood trees, they would be enjoying an amazing canopy of shade that would last for up to 300 years.

And at the end of the day, that is the nut of it, isn’t it? We plant trees not for ourselves but for our grandchildren and theirs as well. It is an unselfish act that pays untold dividends down the road in the form of oxygen, a cooler environment, slower street traffic, enhanced real estate values and an altogether nicer place to live, work and play. If you can’t plant a tree on your own property, consider having one planted on the Highway of Heroes by donating to the Living Tribute. We are planting 117,000 trees, one for each of Canada’s war dead since Confederation. Details at Happy National Tree Day.

Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017


Spanning generations, the Plecas family's knowledge-sharing among local farmers has made Plecas Meats

a community


W by Eric Morten

hen it comes to folklore, the farming community is secondto-none. It's how we've survived over millenia. And in every community, there are always one or two families who, due to tradition and experience, are a wealth of information. The Plecas family is one of these. Wife Rhonda says of her husband, "Anyone who knows Rod today can tell you there is no end to the amount of storytelling and knowledge he willingly shares with others." Processing beef, pork, lamb, bison and rabbits for farmers, Plecas Meats currently serves close to 600 customers which include farmers and their customers ranging as far north as Sayward and south to Sooke as well as the Gulf Islands. Years ago, Dan and Alice Plecas opened a 8

small processing and custom cut and wrap shop on their farm in South Wellington, Nanaimo. They raised and processed beef for themselves and provided the service to the local farming community.

business of Plecas Meats, continuing to serve the farmers who relied on them for meat processing. And in 2010, Plecas made the required upgrades to qualify as a Government Class “A” Facility.

In the beginning, they worked together with Dan picking up animals to be processed and Alice doing the wrapping. "Dan was the guy farmers called whenever there was a question regarding the feeding, raising or handling of their animals," says Rhonda.

With the addition of Rhonda and her family, Plecas Meats remains a family operation.

A nine-year-old Rodney became part of the operation and helped as much as he could to assist with the family farm and the day to day duties surrounding the Plecas Meats operation. According to Rhonda, "His favorite thing was to ride along with dad when he went to farms to move or pick up animals. He especially enjoyed the storytelling you get when two farmers get together." When Dan became ill, a 17-year-old Rod stepped up and took a larger role in the

Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017

"It has been a challenge to find people to help run the business as it requires expertise that is not taught today," says Rhonda, "Our butcher, Bradley, my cousin’s son, learned as he went with hands on experience how to break down and cut product under the watchful eye of Rodney." "Brad’s mother Jean, plays an important role of gathering cutting instructions, taking bookings and general duties. My son Trevor assisted by writing our failsafe computer tracking system and looks after any issues we may have with the system. Rod still looks after the pickup and processing side and I help with wrapping

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and look after the business side," Rhonda says. Plecas does not sell meat commercially but they can offer the public beef by the whole, side and quarters. "Our beef are born and raised on our farm. We occasionally purchase animals from our customers when we need to keep up with the demand."

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Proudly Supporting 4H Our mission at Plecas Meats is to support our farming community and inspire youth to pursue a life in agriculture.

"We also like to buy a 4-H animal each year to support their members," says Rhonda. "Rodney and I were both involved with 4 H. Rod as a child and myself as an adult. Rod belonged to the Cedar 4 H Beef Club for many years and I started the first 4-H horse club on the Island. We continue to support and encourage youth to continue their passion for farming. We understand the importance of the 4-H program and the life lessons it teaches the children of today." "The best part of doing the work we do is to that in some way we are working to keep our island green. To do that, we continue to offer a clean and safe environment for the farming community to take their animals for processing." The most rewarding element for us is knowing that farmers can be proud of their hard work as they move their product forward," says Rhonda.


lecas eats

2063 Evans Rd. Nanaimo, BC

Phone: (250) 754-2238

• CUSTOM PROCESSING AND TRANSPORTATION: Beef, Pork, Lamb, Goat & Rabbits • CUSTOM CUT & WRAP: Labeling, Sausages, Organizing for Pickup • BEEF SALES: Whole, Half, Quarters and Boxed Meat.

Mon-Fri 9:00AM to 4:30PM

Cell: (250) 756-6838

Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017


protection beyond the heirloom In an age where where farming is more than just growing a crop, coverage is a necessity


by Jennifer Adams

ccessing locally grown vegetables and fruits or farmers products is easier than ever. Agricultural tourism, Direct Sales and Farmers’ Markets are changing the way farmers sell their products. Liability Insurance for farmers and their operations beyond farming is often overlooked. Appropriate insurance is essential to the success of any business and its’ costs should be included in the pricing of farmer’s products. Payments to injured third parties could seriously harm or even bankrupt a business but you can prevent that by understanding how your insurance works to protect your operations.

Commercial General Liability A farm insurance policy covers farm 10

operations. A Commercial General Liability policy covers commercial operations, including products sold and operations completed. If operating extends beyond just farming it is important to consider a Commercial General Liability Policy. Examples include, vendors at farmers’ markets, direct sales of farm products or even a bed and breakfast.

named in a suit resulting from negligence of the tenant.

Commercial General Liability protects against liability claims as a result of negligence for injury to another person or damage to another person’s property during the course of your daily activities arising out of the premises, operations, or your products. It also covers advertising and personal injury liability.

It is recommended that tenants obtain liability coverage and name the owner as an additional insured under the policy. Owners can request a certificate of insurance evidencing this.

Owners and Landlords Liability Insurance Policy Land owners who rent their land require protection from liability claims. This type of policy protects an owner if he/she is

Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017

For example, the tenant is using the land for agricultural tourism operations, but doesn’t purchase the correct insurance. A visitor is hurt on the premises and sues. The liability could be passed to the land owner.

Drone Liability Insurance General Liability Policies don’t extend to cover operations of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s). UAV Insurance protects against third party accidental injuries or property damage resulting from the UAV. Transport Canada has strict regulations with regards to usage of UAV’s and




BETTER WATER That’s the BC Aquifer Way! requires commercial drone owners carry a mandatory $100,000 liability limit no matter the size of the drone. Without this coverage a UAV owner could be exposed to liability claims and fines/penalties from Transport Canada. Selling at a Farmers’ Market Some Farmers’ Markets offer insurance to vendors but often this coverage does not extend to the products sold. A Commercial General Liability policy for vendors will provide cover for premises and products claims that occur at the market. Examples include slip and fall, dog bite at a booth and injury from a contaminated product. Jennifer Adams has an extensive insurance background in Canada and the UK. She has returned to Canada with her family and joined Waypoint Insurance as the Branch Manager, Marine Drive, North Vancouver. To discuss your insurance with Jennifer, or another Waypoint specialist please call 310-8442 or visit us online at

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Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017


duck, duck,

goose! The story of a growing family


by Monika of Vert Designs never set out to add ducks to my flock. I started out with one chicken and now I have – ahem – considerably more. This is how my duck story begins.

She was a muscovy duck that someone decided to just drop off one day. I virtually came home to a duck on the front lawn. It was clear she wasn’t afraid of me and that she had already come to an unspoken agreement with the rather large dog who seemed to be relieved that I showed up when I did. “She” would eventually be named Mother Goose (I’m not kidding – and my slightly twisted humour is showing). Mother Goose got along well with the rest of the flock. I had fashioned a home for her by transforming a large, wooden dog house into a secure and cozy place. She chose to live in the chicken coop along with the 12

bewildered flock she would follow home every night as if to say to me, "That wasn’t good enough – try a bit harder, please." Yes, she was a character. It didn’t take long to figure out that the only gifts she would accept from humans were handfuls of oats or frozen peas; she really loved those. And I really loved my interactions with her. Any time she would see someone with garden tools walking about, she instantly walked by their side and followed them to the property line. You see, for her, garden tools were mysterious instruments that yielded worms – her favourite guilty pleasure. Eventually she became broody and decided to “try out” her little apartment. The problem was that she would sit on her eggs which (I feared) would eventually result in absolutely nothing hatching. Sometimes she would go for her daily swim and leave behind her nest and cargo.

Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017

Many times I witnessed a chicken or two that would find her nest, lay their egg, and walk away. She gladly accepted their gifts and continued to sit. I couldn’t allow this to go on for long so I sought out the advice of a woman who was selling fertilized duck eggs online in my community. She highly recommended the Khaki Campbell duck breed saying that in her years of duck-keeping, they were the family favourite. So, egg carton in hand, I went back to Mother Goose with my best gift to her to date. Four weeks later she did hatch two of her eight eggs. Those were the most darling little creatures I have ever seen. I mean, if you think chicks are cute – and, I do – wait until you see ducklings. Instantly they became the center of attention and the chickens would line the fence trying to catch a glimpse of these little fuzzy, oddlyshaped creatures. They grew into the nicest ducks. Though the male did have

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a strong sense of distrust being handled by a human, the female was calm, tame, and easily handled when caught. The following year, something sad happened. Mother Goose died while sitting on her nest. Three baby ducks had hatched and suddenly they had no mother – the youngest just a day old. A friend of mine gave me some high-quality wool and the babies were kept in a small animal crate. They were voracious eaters and enjoyed the run of a small, chicken wire portable frame which was on the lawn so that we could all keep a watchful eye on them. Once in a while, I’d scoop them up and plunk them into the bathtub where they would splash and dive around. I sent a short video to a friend and her son, Oliver, named the littlest one “Tyco”. It was perfect. Fast-forward one year later and my flock of ducks has grown from one, to three, to five. It will stay at five fuzzies for the foreseeable future as they are such a lovely bunch and I enjoy every fun-filled interaction with them, rain or shine. On a side note: they prefer rain. Yes, they are a handful, but would I trade them for something else? Absolutely not.

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Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017


an a-mazing



by Eric Morten ircumstances make for a life filled with twists and turns, sometimes the path is unclear, and sometimes one can feel utterly lost. Some people, however, like that feeling. Ask Nanaimo farmer and entrepreneur Murray McNab, owner of McNab's Corn Maze and Produce Farm. "I suspect that from what I got Grandpa Murray, that we're the eleventh generation farmers in our family. And that ours is the first to go off the farm to get an education and other jobs," says McNab.


The farm has been in the McNab family since 1960 when founders Archie and Barbara purchased the 140 acre property and moved onto the land two years later with six children. Selling produce and forestry products while slowly developing the farmland, the large family struggled on to make the mortgage payments. A turn for the better came in the form of sweet corn. As the family worked hard clearing bush and weeds to develop the farmland, growing corn and produce proved the best path to success. Archie could often be seen around Nanaimo selling the corn from his van on the side of the road.

Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017

On the McNab farm, trailblazing is now a family tradition

By the 1980s, the second generation had all taken jobs off the farm, so in 1988, when Archie passed away, the developed land was leased to several local farmers. At the same time, the McNabs continued to harvest forest products: poplar whips for bank stabilization; seedlings for pulp production; and spruce and fir seeds for Christmas tree farms in New York State and Europe. However, the desire for sweet corn in season never wanes, and in 1998, Murray's 12-year-old son Adam, with his friend, started growing corn to sell at their roadside stand as well as local farmer's markets. This renewed interest in the farm continued until the boys graduated high school.

Then, in 2002, Murray McNab had his "amazing" idea. After researching and visiting a corn maze, he decided to plant and create his own on seven acres where it is situated today. The McNab farm is owned by all six of the McNab children who each contribute to the business in some capacity, but the corn maze and pumpkin patch is the responsibility of Murray who lives on a subdivided portion of the family's 100 acres. "I used to have a 'real job' until a couple of years ago," he says. A perfect example of agri-tourism, the attraction features the corn maze, a pumpkin patch, hay rides and a produce stand with more attractions planned.

Aside from Murray, the venture employs one other person so far. "There's been enough coming from the maze to help support the entire farm with equipment," says McNab. "We've gotten into squash," he says "the maze and pumpkin patch complements the other business of the farm, like the produce stand." McNab produce is sold at their roadside stand and at farmers' markets in Nanaimo and Duncan. "The push towards buying locally has been good for the farm." Fall is of course the busy time for the maze and pumpkin patch. McNab's hosts school groups at the maze as well

as corporate groups celebrating staff appreciation for example. In spite of all the visitors, the toll on the farm is not high. "I'm surprised how good people are on the property. Most people are very good about staying in the maze area," says McNab. The growth of the business has been steady over the years and donates to local charities as well as hosting numerous fund raisers for local schools. "The community has supported us and we're glad to give back," say McNab. "Its a good feeling to grow things."

Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017


Cowichan Green Community Cultivating food, community, and resilience


Your year-round guide to locally produced food and drink in the Cowichan Region. Over 50 farms, vineyards and Cowichan food processors listed!

Pick up a copy or visit the map online: WWW.COWICHANGREENCOMMUNITY.ORG/FOODMAP

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for more information visit: 16

Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017


cowichan green

community notes

yes, you can T by Judy Stafford, Publisher

purchased boxes of produce, herbs, and fruit to process but it’s not quite the same.

here’s nothing quite like finding yourself in the depths of winter with no freshly grown produce in sight and then opening your pantry doors to the stunning array of jars displaying the bounty of the summer and fall seasons just waiting to be

For 11 years, I’ve had the joy of living on a float house but with its very limited growing space my canning days definitely took a downturn. I’m extraordinarily excited to be moving back to land where I already have visions of sore feet after hours of standing in my new kitchen over pressure canners and dehydrators and I cannot wait.

I’ve been an ‘on again off again’ preserver since I can remember. Helping my Nonna stuff newly-picked fat, juicy plums into dumplings destined the freezer when I could barely see over the counter, to endless long nights of wine and laughter at my girlfriend’s farm house, making ‘dead sea salt’ pickles completely inedible due to a slight recipe ‘misinterpretation’.

I hope wherever you are and whatever your situation that you have the luxury of preserving, drying, freezing, or canning something you’ve been able to grow yourself – whether it’s garlicy pesto from window box basil or delicious tomato sauce from your own vines. And that more and more people are able to enjoy the riches of their own grown food well into the upcoming colder winter days.


Living where I have the luxury of growing my own produce and fruit to then ‘put up’ into endless jars lining my cupboards is when I’ve felt the richest. When I’ve lived somewhere that’s not conducive to a garden space I’ve

I encourage you all … can all you can!

Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017



south, Cowichan’s first online farmers’ market is expanding


by Heather Kaye

ince August of 2015, online shoppers in the Cowichan region have been able to buy local produce from the convenience of their own home via, the region’s first online farmers’ marketplace of locally grown and processed food. This summer opened its’ virtual doors to Victoria consumers who wish to enjoy a taste of the Warmland while directly supporting local family farms and businesses. has partnered with Olive the Senses, a premium olive oil shop located in downtown Victoria at the Hudson Public Market on Douglas St., to offer a convenient pick up location for weekly online orders of Cowichan-grown seasonal produce, baking, meats, sauces, spreads and more all grown, harvested, handmade, or processed in the Cowichan region.


Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017

The online model is convenient for food producers and customers alike, as the farmers save time by harvesting exactly what has been ordered and buyers are able to shop from their computer or mobile device yearround with a once weekly pick up. Not to mention, all orders are harvested fresh for the customer each week so quality, taste and nutritional value are unparalleled. Blessed with Canada’s only Maritime-Mediterranean climatic zone, the Cowichan is gaining wide recognition for its’ unique terroir and taste. Ordering from the Cow-op helps strengthen our island’s agricultural community and preserve our precious agricultural land not to mention buying local means buying fresh! is an initiative of the Cowichan Valley Co-operative Marketplace (CVCM) developed in partnership with Cowichan Green Community in Duncan. Incorporated in November of 2014, the CVCM is a notfor-profit co-operative with over 50 food processor and farmer members all focused on

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care Child ed! d inclu

For more information: or join our Facebook group “Cowichan Family Cooking” In partnership with:

increasing farm viability in the Cowichan region. How Does it Work? The weekly ordering cycle runs from Friday to Tuesday, when the system temporarily closes to allow farmers and processors to fulfill their orders and prepare for delivery. All Victoria orders are packed up and delivered to Olive the Senses on Thursday mornings for pick up by the customer each Thursday afternoon, between noon and 6pm.

Order your fresh local veggies, meat, baking and more online each week.

There is no commitment on the customer’s part. They can shop one week but not the next and all forms of credit cards are supported on the site. For more information or to start ordering online, visit or contact us at

Pic k av now up ai Vic labl tor e in ia!

Cowichan’s online farmers’ market Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017


squash all about the


by Laura Boyd-Clowes

hat would October be without pumpkins? There is nothing more evocative of autumn’s abundance than the sight of freshly harvested squashes of all shapes and colours, piled high at the market or in the cellar. In the spirit of the season, let’s learn more about this diverse group of hearty vegetables. Squashes belong to the genus Cucurbita, which includes ‘Summer Squash’ such as Zucchinis and Patty-Pans, ‘Winter Squash’ such as Pumpkins and Butternuts, and gourds. They were domesticated in Mesoamerica and South America thousands of years before the domestication of maize or beans. There is evidence of intentional squash breeding in Oaxaca, Mexico, dating back over 8000 years ago. Although most of the commonly-known squashes are annual plants, there are some members of Cucurbita that grow


Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017

perennially. They are considered “xerophytes” (from Greek for ‘dry plant’) due to their ability to survive drought. This is thanks to tuberous roots that store nutrients and water underground. Xerophytic squashes tend to produce much smaller, less palatable fruits than their annual, water-loving cousins. The seeds, however, can be highly nutritious and have traditionally been used as a source of oil for soaps. Mathias Willemijns holds the world record for heaviest pumpkin. His 2,624.6 pound baby was the champion at the Giant Pumpkin European Championship in Ludwigsburg, Germany in October, 2016. Normally mild in flavour, summer squashes may occasionally taste unpleasantly bitter. This is due to a mutation in the plant that results in an overproduction of plant defense chemicals called, appropriately, ‘cucurbitacins’. To manage such mutations in your own garden, try handpollination; Observe your chosen plant each day to ensure the presence of both male and newly-forming female flowers.

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On the first day that a female flower opens, break off one of the male flowers from the same plant, peel down the petals, and press or brush the yellow pollen into the center of the female flower - known as the stigma. You can also collect pollen from the male flowers using a cotton swab, and gently transfer it to the stigma of a female on the same plant. Then, seal that flower up with an elastic band or cover with a small bag to prevent any cross-pollination by bees. This guarantees that the resulting fruit will produce seed that comes ‘true to type’ in subsequent years. Save your squash seeds! Even if you don’t have room in your garden to experiment with growing them all out again next year, you can always roast and salt them for a protein-rich snack. Of course, if you do choose to experiment with handpollinating and saving squash seed year after year, you will be taking part in a fine and ancient tradition.

Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017


russell remembering


by Franya Jedwab

he Cowichan Valley farming community commemorated the life of a well-loved farmer, and owner of Russell Farms Market and Garden Center. Russell Stewart was described by many as having a heart of gold. A unique to the Valley, tractor parade took place with various farming families awaiting the procession at the end of their driveways. The Trans-Canada Highway was temporarily shut down, while forty-six tractors, headed to Cowichan Exhibition Park, for a huge celebration of Stewart’s life. Stewart’s very own orange Kubota tractor, endearingly entitled, “The Cadillac” led the way, driven by childhood friend and long-time employee, Ron Halk. Stewart, who did not possess a driver’s license, used “The Cadillac” to transport


produce between field and farm, and would cross the highway almost daily. Seventy-eight-year-old Stewart was born in Westholme and raised in the Valley by a homesteader family, and was an entrepreneur and visionary. Russell Stewart owned a vast amount of acreage, where “he never left a patch of land bare, when it could be used to grow produce,” laughs his long-time friends and employees, Ron Halk, Jag Dhaliwal, and long-time friend, Don Allingham. Brimming with generosity, community champion, Stewart regularly donated his produce to food banks, homeless shelters, and various religious communities and hubs around the Valley. An emotional Allingham recounted many stories of ‘the gentle giant’, who never let a friend pay for their dinner at a restaurant, nor leave empty-handed, and never said a

Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017

bad word about anyone. “We talked about what he would do if he won the lottery once,” Allingham recalls with amazement. “He said if he won, he would give the money towards the Cowichan District Hospital for new hospital equipment and specialized machines.” Russell Farms Market and Garden Centre provides local, well-priced produce for the community, and hosts a variety of community events, such as gardening workshops, customer contests, and farm festivals. “This tractor parade honors Russell’s legacy, he has no children, no brothers or sisters, but he has created a huge, loyal community following, and we will do everything in our power to keep that going,” reflects Allingham.

Plum Jam

Wash in soapy water and then sterilize 7 8 oz jars in the canner. (Make sure to pour all of the water out when it is time to fill the jars) Keep the screw cap rings and lids in hot water until ready to use.

recipes by Debra Cebula

Black Currant Jam

INGREDIENTS 4 cups of prepared currants 71/2 cups sugar 1 pouch liquid pectin DIRECTIONS Stem and crush 1.5 quarts of berries one layer at a time. Add 1/2 cup of water and simmer, covered for 15 minutes. Add the sugar all at once and stir to dissolve. Boil hard for 1 minute and then add the CERTO. Stir and skim as needed.  Pour into hot sterile jars and place the hot lids on and twist on the rings.    Process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath canner Turn off the heat and leave to rest a further 5 minutes in the canner.  Remove to a safe location on clean tea towel to set over night. The currants were picked from CGCs Cowichan Incubator Seed Farm. Summer students Hannah, Aislinn and I picked them. Then we spent an afternoon making 3 batches of delicious currant jam. They were a big hit and now there are only three 8oz jars left.

“From the sale of your residence to the purchase of a new home, Nancy works with you every step of the way. With over 20 years experience she is dedicated to making your dreams come true!”

INGREDIENTS 3 1/2 lbs of ripe plums about 30 plums ½ cup of water 7 ½ cups of sugar 1 pouch liquid pectin (open and stand in a cup until ready to use) DIRECTIONS In a large pan bring the plums and water to a simmer. Cover and gently simmer for 5 minutes Remove from heat and measure out 4 ½ cups of prepared fruit Add all the sugar and bring the mixture to a hard boil (one that will not stir down) for 1 full minute. Remove from the heat and add the pectin, stir to dissolve. Bring the mixture to a hard boil again for 1 minute. Remove from heat and test. To test if ready, put a teaspoon full of jam onto a cold plate, if it wrinkles when you push your finger into it, it is ready. If not, bring to a hard boil again and test. Quickly pour the hot jam into the hot jars, clean the rims of any jam and put on the lids and rings. Gently turn rings until finger tight. Process the jam covered in a hot water bath for 10 minutes, turn off the heat and remove the cover and let rest 5 more minutes. Remove from the canner and put the jars on a tea towel in a place that they will not be disturbed for 24 hours. Do not tighten the screw rings further. This jam will store for up to 12 months once processed. These beautiful yellow plums were picked in Cherry Point by a volunteer Fruit Save Picker. Because of the ripeness of the fruit 2 large boxes were brought into our offices. We were able to process most of the beautiful yellow plums. As one Fruit Save picker put it, they are like “little packets of golden sunshine.”




Find nourishment on this family farm. Multiple streams of income on 40+/- pristine acres. Potential for expansion of existing mixed farm; allowing for numerous ventures.You too can dream, make this property your dream come true on one of the best blueberry farms on southern Vancouver Island! The Sweet Pickins Farm.

NANCY | Pemberton Holmes Ltd 250.514.4750 | REALTOR® rural specialist Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017



making a garden One man's idea for a public garden in the Cowichan Valley


Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017

M by Ian E. Efford

ark Cullen wrote in the summer edition about five Canadian gardens that deserve celebration. Only two were on Vancouver Island although there are over 25 publicly accessible gardens on the island, many of which deserve celebration and are in easy driving for most of the residents of our beautiful island. On returning to BC, after many year’s absence, I joined the Cowichan Valley Rhododendron Society and immersed myself in learning about this group of stunning plants which seemed to do so well on the west coast. As a novice, I needed to see a variety of rhododendrons and would hear comments about different public gardens where they could be seen and where they were labelled. This led me to prepare a short pamphlet listing these gardens. This pamphlet evolved into The Public Rhododendron Gardens of Vancouver Island, a 150 page book with colour photos of all the gardens available in bookstores and tourist centres on the island. In each of the regions there are outstanding publicly accessible gardens. Victoria has around ten, including the internationally known Butchart Gardens mentioned by Mark Cullen. It also has Abkhazi Garden, one of the most beautiful, Finnerty Gardens at the University of Victoria with an outstanding collection of labelled rhododendrons, Glendale Gardens where, again, the plants are well-labelled, and Hatley Park at Royal Roads University. The central region of the island has Milner Gardens and Woodland, well worth a visit, still further North, Smith Hill in Courtenay is a lovely private garden with all the rhododendrons labelled and a wonderful setting on the edge of a hill overlooking the city. North of the Cumberland Valley is Campbell River which has Hidden Acres Rhododendron Nursery surrounded by an everexpanding landscaped garden. The owners, Paul and Linda Wurz have a wonderful collection of rhododendrons and other plants in a woodland setting where new beds are added each year. On the west coast, Tofino has its Botanic Garden but also the much admired private garden of Ken Gibson and the equally famous garden on Clayoquot Island which is open to the public on a few days each year.

Publicly accessible gardens are present in all populated regions except the Cowichan Valley. Lake Cowichan has two, one at the University of Victoria Jeanne S. Simpson Field Studies Resource Centre on the north shore of the lake and the small Lake Cowichan Memorial Rhododendron Garden in the centre of town. There are restrictions on visiting the University area and the Lake Cowichan garden is still in the development phase. A botanic garden in the Cowichan Valley would bring a number of benefits such as an increase in tourism and a resulting increase in jobs, opportunities to volunteer and to learn more about plants and gardening, and significant educational benefits for children and adults who would be able to study horticulture and various aspects of plant biology and conservation; At the moment, anyone wishing to take a course in horticulture must travel to Glendale Gardens in Victoria or Milner Gardens in Qualicum Beach. Finally, there is a spin-off benefit to the horticultural industry in expanding the customer base and helping with technical issues. To establish a botanic garden, we need to identify a piece of public or private land that would be available. Of the accessible gardens on the island many are or were private gardens that became public, or public spaces where the plants were provided by gardeners or garden clubs. Only in three were gardens founded and planted with government funds. Examples of gardens that were created by gardeners on public land include Playfair Park in Victoria, the Haley Garden in Bowen Park in Nanaimo, the small Rhododendron garden in downtown Courtenay, and the developing Lake Cowichan Memorial Rhododendron Garden in Lake Cowichan. We have the expertise, the plants are readily available, all we need is to identify a suitable piece of land. Once the site is determined, it would be a matter of finding financial and in kind support to prepare the site and asking various clubs and local experts to donate plant to form the bases of demonstration beds, etc. Many well-established plants are destroyed each year when old properties are re-developed and many of these can be saved with a little co-operation from the developers. Experience has shown that enthusiasts are very generous as they would like their particular group of plants to be shown more widely

Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017


show us your garden Thank you for your inspiring entries! A winner will be picked at random. Here is a sampling.

A triptych from Linda Garrow: Good Summers Grow Sweet Corn; My Russian Sunflowers; Country Girl Guards My Begonia 26

Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017

A sunny smiling selfie from Caimen Shapiro

Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017


Two from Laura Boyd-Clowes This is the first year I have grown Red Orach, but I'm hooked! The leaves are such a soft, deep fuchsia / burgundy, and it is incredibly hardy. A nearby runner bean has also gotten hooked on the orach, ad the contrast between the colours is delightful. A highlight of this year's garden for me.

We are proud of our gorgeous giant red amaranth plants, which have been arranged in a line that curves through the middle of our flower and vegetable plots.


Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017

Buddha in our flower bed from Rosalie Power

From Windsheperd Farm Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017


The 18th Annual Salt Spring Island Apple Festival Sunday, Oct 1, 2017 Theme:  Go right to the Tree that Grows Your Favourite Apple. Growing over 430 apple varieties organically, the Salt Spring Island Apple Festival is your chance to visit Apple Heaven while still on earth! You will never look at apples the same way again. We have a very unique, diverse, exciting organic Apple Festival. The 1200 or so happy people who attended in 2016 are our best advertising. At the end of the day, they were, full, satisfied, happy and enthused. They all became Salt Spring Island apple connoisseurs. • The display of 430 apple varieties all grown organically on Salt Spring Island. • Tasting of 80 apple varieties at just one farm (Apple Luscious). Most other farms have tasting of their own varieties. • At least 15 labelled varieties of apple pies baked into 150 pies by the Pie Ladies. • 18 farms open to the public. • A rich history of apples going back to 1860. • At least 23 varieties of red-fleshed apples. • Tours of all farms, many not normally open to the public. • Educational information on organic apple growing. • Apple identification services. • Orchard bee and honey bee experts available. • Apple art by local artists. • Incredible lunches by local chefs at many of the farms.

photos by Gord Singbeil

The Salt Spring Island Apple Festival is farm based, connecting you to the incredible organic farmers on Salt Spring. They are your best guarantee of food quality and good health.


Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017


Why were the baby strawberries crying?

Their ma and pa were in a


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Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017



Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017

Island Farm & Garden Fall 2017  

September/November 2017 issue

Island Farm & Garden Fall 2017  

September/November 2017 issue