Page 1







Rainwater Harvesting Heirloom Seeds Solar Farming

SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESS Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018


We Care For Your Island Horses Epona Equine cares for horses of all ages. The doctors are based at their hospital facility in the Comox Valley, but provide mobile care for horses from Nanoose to Port Hardy, including several gulf islands and Powell River. EPONA EQUINE SERVICE OVERVIEW • Wellness • Diagnostics • Dentistry • Ophthalmology • Nutrition • Reproduction • Lameness

• Field Surgery • Sports medicine • Pre-purchase & Coggins/export exams • 24/7 emergency services

ideas new & old

Dr. Andrea Plaxton

Dr. Anne Marie Guillemaud

250-218-6610 |

photo courtesy of Minto Road Farm Solar farm on page 16 best referred to as farming solar 2.0


by Eric Morten, Editor

t may have been said before once or twice: spring is a busy time for agriculture. When we can finally get outside, all of the planning and ideas that have been being mulled over all winter can now be put into effect. It’s all about the cycles and here we are again at the turn of that cycle. Agriculture and gardening is also all about ideas, old and new and part of what’s great about nature and its repeating cycles is the gardeners’ opportunity to experiment. Human beings innovate by our nature. We are not only problem solvers, we also are problem makers, That is, with our ability to foresee outcomes, we can predict what challenges we might face in the future and solve them before they become problems. And gardeners are thrifty so a simple idea is as good as a complex one, and an old solution is as good as a new concept.

Custom Grinding, Granulating and Mixing

Calcium Carbonate Dolomitic Lime Fish Bonemeal • Gypsum Granulated Feathermeal Support your soil and it will support you. Find distributors at Email Int’l Toll Free 877-571-3555 OMRI, WSDA Organics and ODA Certified


Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018

In this issue, we’re focussing on innovation and invention. From rainwater harvesting, which can be as high or low-tech as to meet your needs, to solar farms, companion planting, heritage seeds and food recovery, there are a lot of great ideas and innovation in this issue. You will also find inspiration and encouragement. Because, at the end of the day, the idea we’re proposing is to get out and working on it! Happy spring gardening.

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


Tuber Time............................................................................................4 Weather Permitting.............................................................................6 ABC's of Rainwater Harvesting............................................................8 It's a Beautiful Thing..........................................................................12 A New Old Idea..................................................................................14 Solar Power Taking Root....................................................................16 Cowichan Green Community Notes..................................................18 You Learn Someting New Every Day.................................................19 Waste Not...........................................................................................20 What's Cooking?................................................................................22 Soup Recipe.......................................................................................23 Scenes From an Ag Show..................................................................24 Start Small.........................................................................................26 Giant Leaps........................................................................................28 4-H Farm Frolics.................................................................................31


Over 40 years in business and Vancouver Island’s #1 Dealer

Our Canadian Made homes are the best!

Stunning homes delivered to private lots, farms and equestrian centres all over Vancouver Island LET OUR TEAM OF EXPERTS HELP YOU From sales and design, to services, site preparation and set up, our team works together to

MAKE YOUR DREAM HOME A REALITY Available with drywall, 5/12 roof pitch and much more!

Find us at hundreds of locations on the Island, including all VIRL branches, medical centres, coffee shops and these fine establishments. COURTENAY/COMOX LADYSMITH SOOKE Island Farm & Garden Pemberton Holmes SAANICH Buckerfield's Marigold Nursery WESTSHORE Willow Wind Feed DUNCAN Cowichan Exhibition Cowichan Canine Cowichan Economic Dev. Top Shelf Feeds Equine Emporium Buckerfield's Shar-Kare Island Tractor Marigold Nurseries Royal LePage

MLA Routley Office Shar-Kare CASSIDY Riverbend Hay NANAIMO Buckerfield's Fredrich's Honey Gordon's Homes Harbour City Equipment MLA Routley Office Plecas Meats Shar-Kare PARKSVILLE Shar-Kare Buckerfield's PORT ALBERNI Arrowvale Farm Alberni Economic Dev.

Black Creek Farm & Feed CV Economic Dev. Top Shelf Feeds Westview Ford CAMPBELL RIVER Shar-Kare POWELL RIVER Top Shelf Feeds

Ask about being included in our distribution list.

is available as a free digital version Subscribe and have your copy delivered hot off the press @ $20 per year. Our advertising family is growing as more and more of our 10,000 plus readers refer to the businesses who support us to meet their agricultural needs. Let our happy readers from all over the Island know about your business and enjoy our affordable rates.

Contact Eric Today!

We Carry

E-Z Log Structures 1985 S. Wellington Rd. NANAIMO 1.800.616.1291 250.753.6223 Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018


tuber time


by Mark Cullen like to think the gardening season is here.

Take dahlia and begonia tubers for example. If you over-wintered them in your basement or your vegetable crisper, now is the time to take them out and start them for a summer full of colour. If you didn’t hold yours over from last fall, now is the time to buy them from your favourite garden retailer. We urge you to do this soon, while the selection is at its best.

Water it well and place in a sunny window. Gallon sized pots are a bit large for most windowsills. We put ours on the floor at the sliding door at the back of the house. As the plants push through the soil, in about four to six weeks, turn them every few days to encourage even growth.

If you start tubers now, you will end up with the longest possible season of colour. The later you start the shorter the flowering period. Here is how to get started:

Tuberous begonias are famous for their large double-sized flowers that look much like roses. Because they grow so well in part shade (not full shade) they are a great substitute for roses on the north side of your house or under the dappled shade of trees. The hanging varieties are very showy in hanging baskets.

Dahlias. The large, cactus flowering dahlias are remarkable, mostly for their pie-plate size and their suitability for cutting to bring indoors. The smaller pom-poms are just as popular but are used more as border plants. There are many varieties of dahlias in between, in a riot of colours. Remove the mother-tuber from its winter storage and separate the long, finger-like tubers from the main stem. Each one will grow up to 10 times their original size in good soil and sunshine. A tuber about 10 to 15 cm long and 3 to 6 cm thick will produce a good-sized plant come late spring. Pot each tuber up in to a gallon size pot now. Use a quality potting mix that drains well like Pro Mix. 4

Push the soil down around each tuber and firm it into place about 5 cm deep. No need to worry about ‘which side is up’, place the thick root in horizontally, you won’t go wrong.

Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018

Tuberous Begonias

Placing your begonia tuber in the soil right-side-up is important. The convex side (the bulged portion) goes down while the concave or indented side faces up. Spread a quality peat-based seed starting mix in a seed starting tray soil about 5 cm deep. Leave room at the rim of the tray for water to percolate down into the root zone of the soil. Push each tuber into the soil and give it a twist. Be firm. Then apply a one or two cm layer of soil over the top of the tubers. Water well and let the soil become dry to the touch between watering.

The Best Tiller

on Earth

innovative technology

Why buy a separate power unit for every piece of seasonal outdoor power equipment? With BCS, you can power dozens of quality attachments with a single two-wheel tractor! ALL-GEAR DRIVE means power and performance with a LIFETIME TRANSMISSION WARRANTY. ROTATING HANDLEBARS allow for Front & Rear-Mount Attachments.

Grant’s Small Motors

Place the tray on top of your refrigerator, where the warm heat rising up the back of it will help to encourage early root development. In about four to six weeks, gently tease each tuber out of the soil and plant them, new roots, green shoots and all, into 10 cm (4 “) pots. Place the potted begonias in bright sunlight until planting time in late May or early June. Note that both dahlias and begonias are ‘hot crops’ that enjoy heat and wither in cold weather and cold soil. Plant them out when the soil has warmed up to about 15oC. While we are on the topic of things to do this time of year now is the perfect time to call a landscape architect or garden designer to help you create the garden of your dreams. Their phones are just beginning to ring with eager people like you. Within a month, it will be ‘ringing off the hook’. When a garden design professional consults with you this time of year, they do so without the pressures of a highly seasonal (read, “spring”) business hanging over them. You will get their full attention and, we speculate, a more thoughtful design this time of year.

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.

7865 A East Saanich Rd, Saanichton, BC V8M 2B4

(250) 656-7714

Greenhouse gardening starts here!



Popular 86 (8’x6’) $995 + tax

Halls English Greenhouses

are known for quality and affordability. Five models: 6’ or 8’ wide, 4’ to 14’ long. Easy to assemble kits. Dealers across Vancouver Island.

For details, visit: Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018


weather permitting Trying new things in the garden is a great idea. Research and planning is an even better one.


by Chris Rozema

y the time this hits the magazine full on spring fever will have spread across Vancouver Island. More contagious than Spanish Flu and fed by Seedy Saturday after Seedy Saturday, the drive to get into the soil becomes overpowering.

Cursory walks around my gardens shows that I have a lot to do to get ready. An overly busy Fall meant that I didn’t get green manure growing, didn’t get beds weeded and didn’t get the garlic patches mulched. My bean poles are still up, and likely will require a change out of the bamboo poles. The bird netting over the blueberries didn’t get stored but looks in ok shape so far. While it is still fairly cold I can get the mulching done, pack out the largest of the weed clumps as long as I don’t walk on the soil, and even some edging can be accomplished. But mainly, my January and February are spent combing through seed catalogues, sorting my existing seed library, and plotting out each bed for the new season. I rotate my crops so find that drawings of the beds year over year help me decide what goes where, shows me where I need more amendments (if a crop didn’t do well) and keeps me focused. I also find these plot diagrams help me with my seed starting progressions. In reviewing the diagrams I am reminded which seeds need to go next into propagation.


Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018

My home built propagator is nothing more than a plastic shelving unit from Canadian Tire that I have wired grow lights to the underside of each shelf. It works very well as I can get four seed trays across each shelf and as the early seeds start to become too big, I can move them to the unheated greenhouse to acclimatize. Every year I try something different. Two years ago when the greenhouse was new, I tried watermelon. I hadn’t been successful in the past because watermelons like heat at night. Here on the West coast the nights are cool and the melons just don’t flourish. But in the greenhouse enough residual heat remains that I had a bumper crop. I grew both Halbert Honey, an old American variety, and Jade Star, from

Westcoast Seeds. Both were good but I like the flavour of the Jade Star better. I also liked that they were about 2lbs each and just enough for the two of us to consume in one sitting. Last year, I tried quinoa, lentils and chickpeas. The quinoa was a success with high stalks and thick seed heads. The lentils and chickpeas ended up in a patch of garden that wasn’t hugely fertile so I will try them again. I did get crops from each of them but not a lot. This year, I am planting more hot peppers. I had several varieties last year in the greenhouse and got enough peppers to make some fermented hot sauce. It was very good (but not nearly enough once

we found how tasty it was) so I am going to grow more – some in the greenhouse and some in one of my hottest beds. These plants take a long time to mature (and can be overwintered in doors) so I have seeded them in January to give them a huge head start on the season. The one thing that we learn doing this year over year is that the potential of our patches remains for us to nurture. Whether you are a hobbiest, a serious sideliner or a full time farmer, the biggest input you need is optimism and determination. Get out and get digging!

SPRING READY! Farm, Garden, Pet Supplies


5410 Trans Canada Hwy 1-1277 Island Hwy S 587 Alberni Hwy 1970 Keating Cross Rd 975 Langford Parkway

Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018

250.748.8171 250.753.4221 250.248.3243 250.652.9188 OPENINGSOON 7

the abc's of

rainwater harvesting


by Dora Herald and ABC Water Systems


esourceful and sustainable living is nothing new to the Vancouver Island farmer and gardener. Central Island residents know that water is a scarce and valuable resource, and anything we can do to alleviate the shortages and problems associated with poor water quality is paramount.

Since I am using rainwater do I still need to have the water tested? It depends if you require potable water so not really necessary if the water is unpotable. However, if you require potable water then testing is even more important than a well. This is because of the contaminants the water picks up as it makes its journey to the holding tank. Sian Mallett: ABC Water Systems – Technician

For the many homes who depend on a well for their water needs, a multitude of issues including water quality and quantity, make rainwater harvesting a beneficial and cost-effective undertaking. Rainwater harvesting can help protect our precious Island resources and save us money in the process. At its simplest, rainwater harvesting consists of a roof, gutter, downspout, collection device and distribution mechanism — such as a pail, watering can or garden hose. Even this simple form can provide much of the water needed for outdoor watering use including: Irrigating lawns and gardens;


washing vehicles, decks and sidewalks; and topping up ponds, pools and hot tubs. Adding a few bells and whistles (such as a proper treatment system), and rainwater

Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018

harvesting can be used for all our human consumption needs including drinking, washing, cooking and bathing. The trick to a good rainwater harvesting system is getting it from the sky with the least amount of contamination. The end use (e.g. watering lawn vs. drinking water) ultimately determines the components and complexity of the system. Rainwater is nature’s watering system. It doesn’t contain chemicals found in centralized water systems; it has no sodium and is virtually mineral-free; and it requires only a simple process of purification or disinfection for use indoors. It is ideal for washing and bathing because it is naturally soft.

Some reasons for rainwater havesting include:

Necessity, as when mains or city-supplied water is not available. Protection, to fight fires during the dry season and protect your home, family and pets.

Kate from ABC Water Systems models some water sample bottles

Redundancy and support for a limited water source. Economy, to save on municipal water bills, qualify for rebates and store water cost-effectively. Future considerations, as water sources deplete, the cost of water rises and new government regulations need to be met. In some communities, for example, by-laws require new housing developments to install a rainwater tank. Health: rainwater is considered pure, natural and fresh. Quality: rainwater can be free of chemicals and has a pleasant taste. Your water may be hard or odorous or contain heavy metals; rainwater is naturally soft and free of metals. Environmental considerations, which are numerous. Independence and freedom.

Basic components of a rainwater harvesting system include: The Roof: Collecting rainwater from a rooftop is one of the most common and simplest means of harvesting rainwater. Certain roofing materials lend themselves more favourably to water collection than others, but other roofing materials (e.g. containing lead or other contaminants) should be avoided. The Gutters, Downspouts: Most existing gutters and downspouts can be used in a water collection system, and using only one or some of the available downspouts may be sufficient to satisfy your water needs. (continues next page) Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018


Debris boxes are an economical option that separates and collects leaves and other debris from the rainwater prior to it entering the storage device.


What are the mistakes that some people make with RWH systems?

A “first flush diverter” flushes the first few gallons of water during a rain event into the overflow drainage system; this effectively removes a large portion of the potential contaminants and debris before it enters the storage system. Every rainwater catchment system, including those that do not involve drinking water, requires a means to divert the water from the tank. For example, the water will need to be diverted when the roof or gutters are being cleaned or when the rainwater is contaminated with pollen. The simplest form of diverter is a single valve to change the direction of the water away from the tank (as well as away from the home’s foundation).

It depends on whether they are collecting Potable or Non Potable water. Non Potable issues tend to be miscalculating total water requirements, gutter maintenance etc. Collecting potable water generally should have upfront advice from a professional. There are now a lot more engineered products available – so this tends to reduce “home built” installations. Jason Schmidt, ABC Water Systems – General Manager Storage Devices: These can range from a simple rain barrel to a large underground concrete cistern. Systems are designed according to the specific needs of the user, from the casual gardener maintaining the curb appeal of their property to a farm with animals and crops to sustain.

Factors that may impact the type of storage device you choose include the end-use of the water, the quantity of stored water required, aesthetics (curb appeal), the type of terrain and budget. For most above-ground applications, a plastic tank that is FDA- and NSF6I-compliant for drinking water is suitable for virtually any

Rainwater collection is flexible and systems can be designed to meet almost any requirements, with cistern tanks available for underground and above ground use. They are not high maintenance. Most cisterns range in size from 110 imperial gallons to 4160 imperial gallons. All cisterns that we use for rainwater collection at ABC Water Systems are FDA and NSF61 GUTTERS compliant for drinking water. They are one piece impact resistant and UV DOWN SPOUTS PUMP Stable and come in a variety of HOUSE shapes and sized to fit your needs and landscape. Rainwater can supplement demand on your deep well.

calculate your needs and design a system suited to your home, farm or business.


Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018






* Conceptual illustration, ABC Technicians would be happy to analyze your water,




application and is extremely cost-effective. High-volume storage requirements and below-ground applications include a much broader range of alternatives including reinforced plastic, steel and concrete. The size of the storage tanks required is highly variable, and careful planning and consideration is needed to build the proper system. A water systems expert can help you balance your needs with your budget and other considerations. Filtration: Like storage devices, the types of filtration available for any system are highly diverse and need to be tailored to the unique needs of the project. There are many filtration options on the market including sediment, charcoal, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet-light systems. If the end-use of the water is simply to augment lawn and garden irrigation, then little or no filtration may be necessary. If the end-use

is potable water for human or livestock consumption, filtration will be necessary in order to meet the Canadian Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality. In the case of drinking water, regular testing of the water quality is highly recommended. The type of filtration you choose will depend on many considerations, including the ever important end-use of the water and the specific conditions of your property. A water systems’ expert will incorporate your filtration needs into the design that is safe and consistent with your budget and other needs.

Some Uses for Rainwater and Other Water Facts: Rainwater is the most natural, high-quality source of water available to us. Rainwater that is collected from roofs and stored appropriately represents a sustainable source of water for both inside




and outside the home. There are significant economic, social and environmental benefits from rainwater harvesting systems. Our water is becoming increasingly scarce and as a result, are subject to water restrictions and levies based on usage. The goal is to restrict water use and conserve our water supply. Health benefits have been associated with rainwater that has not been treated with chemicals. Rainwater harvesting can reduce damage to our environment by preventing runoff that can damage our creeks and rivers and harm water habitats and their organisms. For more information, a “Rainwater Harvesting Handbook” is available from

Rainwater collection is flexible and systems can be designed to meet almost any requirements, with cistern tanks available for underground and above ground storage. VARIES







VALVE (TYP.) PUMP (TYP.) * Custom Design, Installation & Maintenance by:

Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018


it's a




story & photo by Monika Vert Designs

hey say that Spring is around the corner. We so deserve it. This winter has been particularly tough on my garden. Southern Vancouver Island was hit with numerous storms last fall. We saw more of that in January and February again. What lies outside now is a disorganized arrangement of cracked and broken branches, fallen trees as well as indents and channels in the ground forged by water looking for somewhere to flow. All of the disarray isn’t pretty, but tidying up leads to a sense of satisfaction. Stay with me here... Sometimes it is good to get out there and pay attention to the things that need added consideration such as garden beds that need an extra nail or


Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018

two to reinforce all that wet earth they contain. It could be some neglected fruit trees need extra pruning. Laying down some extra cardboard or landscaping fabric while the weeds are down now and it is easier to assess what is in front of you is also a good plan. All that makes for good garden “housekeeping”. Okay, I’ll admit, “housekeeping” is my least favourite part of all of this. But, it has to be done. What about making things beautiful while outside? For some of us, aesthetics is everything. If I can’t make something pretty, then I don’t enjoy it as much. This definitely a psychological “thing”, or, it could be a florist “thing”. Somehow, however, I get the feeling I’m not alone in this line of thought. There is a certain sense of pride one feels when looking at a tidy garden. I’m not referring to anything formal or strongly symmetrical. I have seen the gardens at Versailles – they are breathtakingly beautiful. But I could never, ever attempt to recreate such magnificence in a tiny, raised-bed garden. Nor would I try. It would look incredibly out of place. Plus, have you seen the price of sculptured boxwood topiaries these days? My prince doesn’t bring home that kind of bacon. Actually, I don’t have a prince. That could be part of the problem. What I have found to be the easiest way to add some noticeable appeal to the garden is with simply inter-planting some flowers among the veggies. This practice isn’t new. It is companion planting at it’s finest. Who doesn’t love the punch of colour from a jumbo orange marigold among the tomatoes, or, borage (which is multi-purpose and edible, too!) growing alongside trellising cucumbers?


Sunflowers to guide peas or beans? What about a vibrant pink pansy in and around other vegetable-bearing plants. Nasturtiums are edible, as are roses, calendula and lavender. You’re already watering those beds so introducing some flowers shouldn’t create any extra work. If anything, you are potentially crowding out the weeds. You gotta look on the bright side.

years ago and absolutely loved the burst of colour they provided. I painted them with auto paint. The wooden handles have since rotted the few inches that sat in the ground, but the paint, to this day, remains intact. The yellow cheerfully contrasts everything in the garden. You don’t need a lot of these to add a touch of fun to the garden, just two or three strategically placed where you can enjoy them.

Many people also incorporate herbs such as thyme, rosemary, lavender, sage and mint to repel aphids, beetles or other pesky garden insects. Then, when you’re out harvesting, the seasoning you’ll need is already underfoot! You can choose plants that are tall (such as mint), bushy (such as sage), or low creeping (I’m looking at you, lemon thyme). Switch it up – all of these elements help to add visual interest.

Depending on how large your garden is, or how creative you want to get, you can take this project one step further and go online for inspiration. Certainly no shortage of ideas there and some of those genius ideas are surprisingly inexpensive and easy to do.

A word of caution: be wary of mint and other herbs that are invasive in nature and may threaten to take over your entire space next spring. Try planting these in large, colourful pots instead. Also, it is a good idea to double-check your companion plant of choice to make certain it is in fact compatible with what you are planting beside. Good resources to reference include your nursery, farm/ garden center, books, or even Google. This is because some plants attract and repel insects that may or may not be beneficial. Other plants don’t play nice with each other and stunt the growth of what’s planted around them. Do your research as it only takes a few extra minutes to look something up and there are many charts accessible to you online. If you’ve got old wooden spoons kicking around in the kitchen, bring ‘em outside, spray some paint on them and plunk them into the ground. I did that a few

Nancy Vieira

Vancouver Island

Lastly, remember to enjoy your garden time. The hours you spend outside should be nurturing and therapeutic. Grow what you like and don’t get hung up on details like symmetry or colour. Plants will surprise you by the way they mature and develop. So just get out into that garden of yours – after all, it’s already a beautiful thing!

Monika is a local freelance floral designer whose passion is to create luxurious custom arrangements for all occasions, whether personal or corporate with a vision to be a green as possible. Monika can be reached at:


Personal Real Estate Corporation

Personal Real Estate Corporation


Even if the weather is poor at the moment, you can always start your beautification plan on paper. Budget how much you want to spend and maybe think of what you can transplant or trade to stretch your gardening dollar. Keep in mind that while individual plants may not be expensive, it all does add up.



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.

Call Nancy Direct (250) 514-4750 for Victoria & Southern Vancouver Island Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018


a new

old idea Stories of the return to family heirloom seeds.

W by Marsha Goldberg

hat was once old becomes the new choice for today’s food Gardeners. The stories told of Family Heirloom vegetables brings a greater awareness of our own history. When selections are made over generations, the result is a stable, disease resistant variety. Modern day vegetables simply can’t compare. Oh yes, and then there is the flavour ! For those cabbage lovers out there, our first story has a long standing German history. During the Middle Ages, when fermentation was one of the few ways to preserve vegetables, in the little town of Filder, sauerkraut was created. The cabbage they grew became known as Filderkraut. This huge conehead type has no core, so the leaves are very tender and there is no waste when shredded. We now know the many health benefits of fermented food and large kraut crock pots are making there way back into our kitchens once more. Conehead types are less prone to insect damage. There is no splitting and they handle west coast winters without turning soft. Our next journey brings us to ancient Egypt, during the times of the Pharaohs, thousands of years ago. Egyptian Walking Onions are traced back to this time and are one of the oldest vegetables alive today. Their popularity has increased over the past 20 years due to their easy cultivation, hardiness and delicious taste. This longevity is due to the unique seed they produce on top of long stems in early summer. These mini onions or bulbils are not pollinated by bees, so they stay true to type. Once these stems turn brown, they fall down or “walk” ensuring their survival. This perennial has been thriving on our farm for over 20 years. When winter comes a layer of mulch of leaves or straw protects them. Harvest of these delicious greens extends in our zone for 6 months or more.


Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018

Eagleridge Seeds Growing organic heirloom seeds of all kinds since 1994. Tomatoes and peppers are our specialty. Farm planning design and garden consultations.

Phone: 250-537-5677 Email:

Alberni Valley Seedy Saturday March 17 10am-2pm

Char's Landing, 4815 Argyle St. Port Alberni

Nanaimo & District Celebrates Schedule of arth M E o Events o r t 2018

* Please register in advance

h nt

This last variety has a local connection. As the custodian of this endangered family heirloom, Mary’s Austrian Paste Tomato was passed on to us by one of the early pioneer families on Salt Spring Island . This seed was brought with them when they emigrated from Austria at the turn of the century. This was a very common practice to bring these family seeds to their new country. We have never encountered a tomato like this before.The sparse rugose foliage is an indicator that the age is likely centuries old. The long pendulum type red fruit are 4-6 inches long with a pointed end. The skins are tender, the flesh is meaty with few seeds. Excellent for multi purpose uses, as the taste is balanced used fresh or cooked. Picked fruit stores for weeks and even the green fruit ripens perfectly indoors.

Specialty section of Endangered Heirlooms grown on Salt Spring Island, BC

Wa te

The next variety comes to us from Hungary, a country passionate about its peppers. When you travel into the countryside, every village and town will have their own family selections of Paprika, Pimento and Hot types, some dating back centuries. The oldest variety in our collection is a Pimento type called Klari Baby Cheese. The flavour is reminiscent of a time long past. This pepper has a flat 2 inch round shape, thick walls and a juicy smooth texture. These productive sturdy bushes are easy to grow in pots, are very ornamental as the colour changes from pale yellow to orange then red, when they are perfect to eat.

A word of thanks to those who have entrusted us with maintaining and sharing these living treasures with gardeners and farmers everywhere.

2018 Water Day

“Nature for Water� Exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges in the 21st century.

Saturday, March 10:

tNile Creek Streamwalk Thursday, March 22:

t/BOBJNP3JWFS8BUFSTIFE8BUFS Treatment Plant Tour * t&WFSZPOF8FMDPNF4XJm  3BWFOTPOH1PPM  Saturday, March 24:


Marsha Goldberg and Jane Schweitzer own Eagleridge Seeds on Salt Spring Island BC. This living Seed Bank and Seed Company has been searching the world since 1993 to collect and preserve our seed heritage. Their web based catalogue can be found at

Tuesday, March 27:



Thursday, April 5:

t7*68BUFS'JMN/JHIU Wednesday/Thursday, April 11/12:


For more details on the listed events & to register: #water2earth


t/BUJWF1MBOU8BML Saturday/Sunday, April 21 & 22:


Saturday, April 21:


Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Program




2018 Earth Day "What is the BUZZ about Cross Pollination?"

Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018


solar farming


by Matt Price

arms are the original solar panels, capturing the energy of the sun and turning it into energy for humans, in the form of food. Let’s call that solar 1.0.

But farms around Vancouver Island have now begun to add solar 2.0 to their operations in the form of electricityproducing panels. Farmers have a mixture of motivation, from care for the environment, to self-sufficiency, to long term economics as the cost of solar comes down. “I don’t see a way around BC Hydro electricity prices continuing to rise,” says Zoe Norcross-Nu’u of Minto Road Farm near Courtenay that produces pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys and market vegetables, now with the help of solar electricity. “Hydro is expanding and upgrading its infrastructure, and they’ll pass along those costs. Our solar panels somewhat insulate us against that.” Zoe first invested in solar when she was renovating an old farmhouse on her property which she wanted to make “net zero,” a building that produces as much energy as it consumes. She liked solar so much she added panels to her barn to offset the electricity use from the freezers and heat lamps used there. Nearly all solar systems installed on the Island are connected to the main power grid rather than to batteries, as would be the case with remote off-grid locations. This lets farms roll back their electricity


Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018

bills, and even to generate a credit with BC Hydro if their panels produce more than the farm uses. Tim McGiffin of Mile End Farm in Cobble Hill likes how tangible his solar panels are. He now sells “solar powered chickens” for a small premium to his Victoria wholesaler after he installed 48 solar panels on his chicken barn. Tim had an assessment done by Viridian Energy Coop to determine if his site was suitable for solar, and finally went ahead with the project when he learned that the productivity of solar panels had jumped by 25 percent for the same price. “We find that farmers really like the independence that going solar gives them,” says Steve Unger of Viridian, also the co-owner of InishOge Farm in Sooke. “As the cost of solar comes down and hydro prices go up, the economics of going solar get better – it’s already a four to six percent rate of return, which is better than you’d get from a GIC, and farms set us as a business can deduct the depreciation from their taxes.” Viridian installs solar all over Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Nicki Wylie likes to look out at her solar panels on a sunny day in Saanich and know they are making money. White House Stables’ main business is breeding racehorses, but Nicki and her family also produce meat birds, eggs, and market vegetables. “We raised our kids by giving them the tools to survive, including being able to grow their own food, and solar is an extension of that.” Nicki and her husband had a southeast-

facing barn roof with no shading that turned out to be suitable for solar. They invested part of their retirement savings into the system, preferring to reduce or even eliminate one of their main bills – electricity. Since they also have an electric vehicle, their panels are saving them on fuel bills too. Russell Fahlman has been selling Kilrenny Farm products at the Duncan Farmer’s Market since it started up 25 years ago, so knows his customers well. Three years ago, Russell decided to go solar. “Our customers really like it that we use solar power, so it’s very much a positive.” Russell has produced meat and vegetables for decades, and recently got into making fresh pasta. “We have freezers and coolers going almost continuously, so solar has been great to offset some of that electricity use,” he says. Kilrenny Farm had a good southfacing barn roof where Russel had ten panels installed. Unlike other provinces, BC so far has no incentives for business or homes to go solar, but with panels getting cheaper and more productive, this now matters less. As Nicki of White House Stables says, “Before, we were waiting to see if government would help out. But if you wait, you’ll wait forever. We jumped in and it’s the best thing we ever done.”

If you are interested in exploring solar at your farm or home, visit www.

taking root Tim McGiffin in front of his solar-covered barn at Mile End Farm in Cobble Hill photo courtesy of Mile End Farm

photo courtesy of Mile End Farm Viridian Energy Coop installing solar panels at White House Stables in Saanich photo courtesy of White House Stables

Solar installed at Minto Road Farm near Courtenay photo courtesy of Minto Road Farm Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018


cowichan green

community notes

seeds... planted I

by Judy Stafford, Publisher

t’s hard to believe that this Spring brings CGC’s 10th annual Seedy Sunday. On one hand it feels like we’ve been doing this event forever and that other communities have been too, but in actuality, the idea of a community getting together to swap and share seeds only really started in the late 80s. Over the years, it became harder and harder to find heritage varieties of vegetables, fruits, flowers, and grains. Thousands of different seeds have been lost and the idea of officially conserving them for future generations was the impetus for the Heritage Seed Program of Canadian Organic Growers, which in 1984 became the charitable organization Seeds of Diversity. In 1988, Sharon Rempel, an agronomist working in BC, wanted to find period-appropriate heritage vegetables, flowers and wheat for the 1880s heritage gardens she was growing at the Keremeos Grist Mill museum. She obtained many seeds from the Abundant Life Seed Foundation in Washington State. Sharon then went onto organize the first Seedy Saturday event in 1990 at the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver. Since then, the Seeds of Diversity has helped support many of the


Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018

events and their volunteers maintain a website and help educate people about the importance of saving seed. There are now Seed Saving events all over the world, including the first one held in Brighton, England in 2002. The European Union holds national seeds lists and if a vegetable cultivator is not on the list it can’t be sold. It’s extremely expensive to get onto the list so not many seeds make it. In Canada, there are over 100 events every year. Close to home, Salt Spring has been hosting their annual event for 23 years, Cobble Hill, since 2000. Hopefully, no matter where you live you will be able to collect, share, and grow seeds and help to keep the diversity and knowledge of seed saving alive. We look forward to seeing you at Duncan’s event on March 18th at the Cowichan Tribes Si’em Lelum Gymnasium, 5574 River Road. Happy seed saving!

you learn something new every day by Kat Brust

On the shelves of many stores we will find packages with shiny labels showing pictures of delicious looking vegetables and beautiful flowers. I had never put much thought into where my seeds came from. I never considered where the plants were grown or how the plants were grown. I didn’t really think about how their seeds ended up in the stores, ready to be bought and planted. It wasn’t until I began working for the Cowichan Green Community, more specifically, for the Cowichan Incubator Seed Farm that I gave seeds the consideration they deserve. With a background in management and a newly acquired certificate in horticulture, I considered myself ready for this chapter in my life. I was going to become a seed farmer. Well, there were a lot of things that I didn’t know and I am sure there are more things for me to learn. But, if you will, allow me to tell you what I have learned. I had never heard of an incubator farm before I started working for one. What does an incubator farm do exactly? An incubator farm provides the use of land to new farmers and teaches them hands on how to farm. In the case of the Incubator Seed Farm, we will be teaching new farmers how to grow seed crops, how to harvest, clean and store the seed. I have also learned that there is a shortage of locally adapted seed. So an incubator farm focused on seed farmers is not misplaced. I have also learned about how to clean seed. There are fancy machines to do the work for sure, but not everyone can afford these machines. So I’m going to tell you ways of cleaning seed that everyone can do. Threshing: removing the seed from the plant material such as removing bean seed from the bean pods. We like to use the stomp and twist method. It might sound strange but we stomp on the, we’ll say beans for example, and then twist our foot. This breaks open the pod and releases the seed. Screening: removing larger chaff (plant material) from the seed with the use of screens. Winnowing: using wind to blow the plant material farther than the seed in order to free the seed from the threshed plant material. A box fan and two totes work well. For a demonstration on these methods of seed cleaning, please join us for Duncan’s Seedy Sunday on March 18th at the Cowichan Tribes Gym, 5574 River Road, Duncan from 10:00 till 2:00. We will also be selling our locally adapted seed at Seedy Sunday. You can also find our seed for sale in our Garden Pantry store located at 360 Duncan Street open Tuesday-Friday 10:00 till 4:30 and on Saturdays 10:00 till 5:00. More of an online shopper? No problem. Our seed is also available on the Cowichan Green Community’s online farmers market, the Cow-Op.

FREE FAMILY PRESERVATION WORKSHOPS Funded by Our Cowichan Communities Health Network (OCCHN), Cowichan Green Community (CGC) is hosting a series of FREE food preservation workshops geared toward young families. This project aims to teach or feature a variety of preservation techniques in workshop format from pickling, dehydration and freezing to hot water-bath and pressure canning. If you are interested in attending any of these workshops or wish to learn more please visit our web-site:




Mar 24

12- 4pm

Canning Applesauce & Dehydrating Fruit

Apr 21


Pressure Canning: Salmon

May 12


Culturing Foods: Kombucha, Keifer, Yogurt

June 9


Strawberry Jam

June 23


Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Filling

Space in these workshops are limited so contact Debra from the Cowichan Green Community to reserve your spot today! Phone: 250-748-8506 Email:

Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018




Announcing the new Cowichan Food Recovery Project


by Nathan Harben

he Cowichan Food Recovery Pilot Projec t is a new Cowichan Green Community initiative, funded by the BC Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. The mandate of the project is: to establish a food recovery system to reclaim waste food and redistribute it to a series of emergency food providers” and, “to create a series of value-added products as a stepping stone to creating a self-sustaining social enterprise. This project realizes a seven year dream of the CGC board and staff and they’re all thrilled that the project is finally underway. Please welcome the five person team who will be working diligently over the next few months: Supervisor Nathan Harben. With a background in Marine Biology, Nathan originally set out to work solely within marine conservation but since moving to the island 5 years ago, he has developed a 20

new passion for sustainable farming and the Cowichan region. He now owns and runs ‘Local Forage Farm’ in Glenora that focuses on ethically raised animals and has an abundance of fruit and vegetables. He has also networked within the community and worked at a number of local farming businesses including Averill Creek Vineyards, Evening Cove Oysters and The Happy Goat Cheese Company to name a few. Nathan’s new position within the food recovery team aligns his desire to connect with community and move towards a more secure and sustainable food system. Marcia Forst. She is a recent addition to the Cowichan Region, having come from the lovely Sunshine Coast. Marcia is a passionate gardener and cook who at one time owned an award winning restaurant that served organic produce from their 18,000 square foot garden. Having grown up in a community that canned, froze, and foraged, she is delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to food security in this community.

Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018

Jan MacKirdy. Self-sufficiency and food security have been her dual passions her whole life. She had the privilege to work alongside her late in-laws, who instilled respect, admiration, and love for hard work, gardening, and sharing food with friends and family. A firm foundation in permaculture, food preservation, and wild crafting was another of their gifts. She is thrilled to be participating in this innovative project and to be part of an amazing team. Nancy Rizk. She enjoys preparing tasty, healthy food and serving it to family, friends, and groups in an attractive way. This allows them to savour the tastes and enjoy the time spent in preparing and eating this food together. Her background is in administration and the coordination of various projects in the Cowichan Valley. These skills have been used to bring food and people together. The previous projects expanded her talents to include organizing volunteers and encouraging them to develop their own sense of helping their community. Along

CHOW DOWN FREE Family Cooking Classes Mondays 4-6:30pm

To pre-register with Jennifer, please call 250-748-8506

care Child ed! d inclu

with related academic studies, her experience has opened her eyes to those in need in relation to the vast amounts of available, yet currently inaccessible, quality food. Dennis Jess. Dennis grew up in Toronto and first became involved in food security work over 15 years ago. She organized a food recovery program called the Midnight Kitchen at the University of McGill in Montreal that still exists today and provides pay if/as you can lunches from donations of food that would otherwise have been thrown away. Since moving to BC, Dennis has farmed for eight years and worked on initiatives to support new farm entrants, protect farmland, and make farmland more accessible to new farmers. She is a new resident to the Cowichan Valley and is thrilled to join CGC. Dennis hopes to contribute creative solutions to help reduce food waste, promote food security, strengthen our local food system, and empower all residents to have access to healthy, sustainable food. Food brings people together, and for Dennis, working on the Food Recovery Project is also an opportunity to develop and foster connections in her new community.

There will be multiple ways to get involved whether as a volunteer, a steering committee member, a food partner, or even a donor. Please contact for more information or check out project/food-recovery-project/

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










what's cooking?

this... H

by Pamela Walker ow does one become a good cook? Is it through trial and error, chance, curiosity, necessity, love, or a simple delight in the creative possibilities of food? My own journey started abruptly when my mother ran away from home. I was 14 and being the only female left in the household, I was unceremoniously given the task of filling the vacancy of chief cook and washer of bottles. I quickly discovered something called Hamburger Helper and ground beef. It became a staple at our—now smaller—dining room table. I also found a recipe that simply required the opening of lots of cans: mushroom soup, celery soup, and tuna, if my memory is right. I’d mix the slurry with some kind of noodles and then pour a bag of smashed potato chips on top. Not a very auspicious beginning to a culinary career to say the least! Perhaps one can become a good cook via 22

many different avenues. A friend of mine became quite good at it after she became an expert vegetable grower, seed saver, and compost maker. She realized that she would have to learn quickly about how to cook all the groceries she was creating out of thin soil and air. If you are at the beginning of your cuisine quest or if you are already a Red Seal chef or, in fact, if you have a double Michelin star affixed to your very own restaurant, I have a tip for you: check out a new cookbook called Cowichan Grown: Seasonal Recipes & Local Wisdom. This cookbook is chock-a-block full of fantastic, easy-to-make recipes that have clear instructions, interesting cooking tips, and brilliant photos illustrating what the dish is supposed to look like. The favorites of Cowichan connoisseurs, Cow-opers, winery owners, wise farmers, and friends of fresh food, the recipes are organized by season and feature local ingredients that can be found right here in the Valley. All the recipes have been

Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018

scrutinized by an expert team of appetite affectionados. In short, it’s a cookbook that you and visiting guests cannot do without. To whet your appetite even more, one of the recipes that couldn’t be included because of space restraints has been printed below. No matter what road one takes to heft up one’s kitchen skills, it is worth the effort. And living in the Cowichan Valley with access to so many premium vegetables, it’s almost as if we all owe it to the produce to learn what to do. And certainly we owe it to our family no matter what size it turns out to be.

Cowichan Grown: Seasonal Recipes & Local Wisdom will be available at the Cowichan Green Community store and on line at

Simple But Delicious Potato Leek Soup Serves 8 INGREDIENTS

1 TBSP butter (or olive oil) 6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces 4 leeks (whites only), thoroughly washed and sliced 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock 1 bay leaf 1 1/2 tsp each fresh thyme and chives, finely chopped Salt and freshly ground pepper 1 cup heavy cream

Fresh ideas for your garden Consultation ❀ Permaculture Design Installation ❀ Organic Maintenance

Call us today! 250.748.8506 a social enterprise initiative of



Heat stock pot over medium heat and add butter. Add potatoes, leeks and celery and saute for 2-3 minutes.

The Region’s Cookbook is finally here! Available March 10th at

Add the stock, bay leaf, thyme and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and let soup cool a few minutes. Using an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender or food processor), blend the soup until smooth. Return the soup to the pot. Add the cream and simmer until the soup has thickened, about 20 minutes. Serve garnished with fresh chives! TIP: To prepare leeks before cooking, chop them first, then immerse in a bowl of water to clean thoroughly. Leeks like to hide sand and soil in their layers!

Funded by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program

Cowichan Green Community

Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018


scenes from an

ag show


Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018

Farming folk got together at the Cowichan Exhibition Grounds this February to strut their stuff. From emus to wheelbarrows, here are some images from the show.

Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018





story & photo by Monika Vert Designs

ne of the things I look forward to each Spring is pulling out my seeds and deciding what to plant first. If we’re being honest, I’d also like to be stowing away my bulky sweaters and leg warmers right about now. It is snowing (again) as I write this so that won’t be happening any time soon. Dear Mother Nature; I am so confused. Back to Spring. Something else I really look forward to (note the word “really”) is planning the layout of my humble garden. I just love the creative process of deciding what goes where, and when – because, as you know, timing is everything.


Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018

I have not been gardening for long; just a few years. So, new gardeners take heart – it is possible to just jump in and grow! The first year, during growing season, I spent a lot of time looking up how to grow the things I wanted to grow. I surfed the net, questioned Google, crept in and out of forums, and spent an hour or two at a time on YouTube. I enjoyed every minute of it as it satisfied my insatiable need to know it all, but I wasn’t outside. I didn't get outside until June.

March 18th ~ 10am-2pm Si’em Lelum Gymnasium 5574 River Road, Duncan

I admit it did take me a while to “get it together” that first year. I like to think of myself as someone who can usually attempt anything with confidence, but in reality, projects like this remind me of what a chicken I actually am. Yes, I fear the unknown.


I succeeded in growing healthy-looking, lush plants that year but yielded next to nothing. I was certainly disappointed but I didn’t give up hope for the next year. I may fear the unknown, but deep down, I am a dreamer.

Meet our Agriculture Services Specialists

The following year I realized that relying more on common sense than Google was the way to go. My gardener friend, John, said it the best; relax, plants just want to grow! He’s right. I need to relax. And plants really just want to grow. That’s all they know how to do. If I do my part, the plants will do theirs. Mother Nature, please cooperate accordingly. Now that I’ve gained a little more gardening know-how (read: confidence), my raised beds are established and my ideas binder is bursting... I’m ready to put my boots on and march outside. Ultimately we do not control the weather or other factors that can influence a garden’s outcome. But what you can do is get accustomed to the rhythm of each season. Pretty soon it will become second nature rather than second-guessing.

Jeremy Siddall District Manager, Agriculture Services for British Columbia 250-681-4656

Brian Gordon Area Manager, Business Banking Victoria, BC 250-507-0088

1633 Ellis Street, Unit 100 Kelowna, BC

1070 Douglas Street, 4th Floor, Victoria, BC


The TD logo and other trade-marks are the property of The Toronto-Dominion Bank. M05334 (0415)

Doug Routley, MLA Nanaimo~North Cowichan 

So what’s the take-away from this article? If I can do it, anyone can. Really. You will never know what you are missing until you try. Start small and let your ideas grow. I dare you.

Unit 112 50 Tenth Street  Nanaimo, BC  V9R 6L1  T 250.716.5221 | F 250.716.5222 st  Avenue  Box 269 | 524 1 #1-16 High Street Ladysmith, BC  V9G 1A2  T 250.245.9375 | F 250.245.8164

Monika is a local freelance floral designer whose passion is to create luxurious custom arrangements for all occasions, whether personal or corporate with a vision to be a green as possible. Monika can be reached at:

Web: Email:

92509250 Somers RoadRoad - Port- Port Alberni Somers Alberni This well was aValley well known Alberni Valley This well maintained farm was a maintained well knownfarm Alberni landmark dairy operation landmark dairy operation for many years. The farm provided for many years. The farmon provided site feed, a milking parlour for over site feed,on housing andhousing a milkingand parlour for over 100 dairy cows. 100 dairy cows. In the last years the farmInhas utilized solelyhasasbeen a wellutilized irrigated haying operation thebeen last years the farm solely as a well irrigated haying operation three quality producing two to three quality cuts a year. All theproducing product istwo soldtolocally in the Alberni cuts a year. All the product is sold locally in the Alberni valley valley and nearby communities. More could be produced andbesold as demand is high. and nearby communities. More could produced and sold as demand is high. The farm has two very nice family homes and over 50,000 square feet of outbuildings all in quite good condition years useful lifehomes left. and over 50,000 Thewith farmmany has two veryofnice family square feet of outbuildings all in quite good condition with There is an abundant supply water thelife property manyofyears of on useful left. with domestic water coming from several shallow wells. Also, irrigated water is pumped from Bear Creek, which There is an abundant supply of water on the property with traverses the length of the farm. domestic water coming from several shallow wells. Also, irrigated water is pumped from Bear Creek, which traverses Two water licences for 103.4 acre-foot/annum is in place.

Kurt Nielsen

Cell/Text 250.898.7200 Office 604.694.7629 Kurt Nielsen Cell/Text 250.898.7200 Office 604.694.7629

the length of the farm.

Call for details...

Two water licences for 103.4 acre-foot/annum is in place.

Call forIsland details.... Farm & Garden - March/April 2018

Kurt Nielsen Cell/Text 250.898.7200 Office 604.694.7629 27


leaps Some views on the evolution of agriculture.


Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018

Top Shelf Feeds Vancouver Island’s only feed manufacturer Top Shelf Feeds DUNCAN 2800 Roberts Rd. 250.746.5101


by Eric Morten

erhaps the most important innovation in human history is agriculture itself. It’s development 11,000 years ago with the domestication of grains and animals made it possible for people to settle for longer periods of time, to form societies and to develop culture. Since then, agriculture has been an ongoing experiment: from fertilization to mechanization to organics to hydroponics. Regardless of where the evolution of agriculture may lead, we all have our own relationship with it.

Opinions about what innovations are most important to agriculture depend on how we use or participate in agriculture. We polled the Cowichan Green Community office to ask staff and volunteers their opinions as to what innovation has impacted agriculture most and their relationship with agriculture.

Isabel Rimmer, CGC Board member, Hobby farmer

Most important innovation - Social Media: the degree to which producers can be linked to consumers is unprecedented.

Kat Brust, Incubator Seed Farm Intern, Back yard/deck grower Most important innovation - Micro irrigation because it allows us to water the intended plants at the base of them slowly, wasting little to no water through evaporation or run off. 

continues next page

Island owned and Top Shelf Feeds operated With 5 Top Shelf Feeds DUNCAN 2800 Roberts Rd. retail 250.746.5101 locations to Island owned and operated, you! with 5serve stores to serve you!

Large or small, we feed them all! LANGFORD COURTENAY 2714 Sooke Rd 2901 Moray Ave 250.897.3302 Top Shelf Feeds Willow 250.478.8012 Wind Top Shelf Feeds POWELL RIVER LANGFORD BLACK CREEK DUNCAN BLACK CREEK POWELL RIVER 4480 Manson Ave 7648 2714 Sooke Road North Isl. Hwy. 2800250.478.8012 Roberts Rd 76481.604.485.2244 North Isl. Hwy 4480 Manson Ave 778.428.4444 250.746.5101 778.428.4444 604.485.2244

Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018


Cyle Serra, Ceres Manager

I am a Certified Horticulturist that has been gardening most of my life. I have a passion for helping people know the importance of and accessing fresh nutrient dense food. Most important innovation - This is a hard question. The development of the haber process to create nitrogen fertilizer out of thin air and modern massive tools are obviously necessary for sustaining a population of our size, however,I don’t resonate with that scale. My answer would be the relationship between top class restaurants and farmers markets. I feel as though this connection is making farming a very cool career and hope that it encourages more youth to start market gardening. 

Most important innovation - Automated greenhouse systems that use sensors to collect data on plant growth, water and nutrient levels etc. because it has made massivescale production even easier to manage. With automated temperature control, greenhouse produce can be grown year-round. The role of farmers and horticulturists in these growhouses has been diminished, as increasing dependence on computer-driven systems requires a completely different set of skills - namely IT and mechanical/electrical engineering. The impact is huge!

Amy Luck-MacGregor, CGC Board Member, Homesteader/Permaculture enthusiast

Sandy McPherson, CGC Volunteer, Food-growing gardener

Most important innovation -Keyline design. Probably a very old technique, but described and popularized by P.A Yeomans and taken up by permaculturalists.  Opens up possibilities for agriculture on lands previously unsuitable for growing, changes the way water is moved and stored within the landscape, implications for soil fertility and therefore biodiversity and carbon sequestration.

Alan Philip, CGC Director, Permaculture gardener

Most important innovation - The first is from a global, historic perspective. It is unfortunately a negative impact. The rise of Industrial Agriculture after the second world war, using ever larger monoculture farms, larger machinery, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, while temporarily boosting food production, has so negatively impacted the soil and the environment that it is going to take major innovations in thinking and practices to enable us to feed the growing population in the future. On a personal level, the innovation that has most impacted and influenced me is Permaculture; in it’s most basic definition - gardening or farming WITH nature, not against her. I think applying the principles of permaculture could lead to a turning point in how gardening/farming is practiced, to the huge benefit of the planet. 30

Laura Boyd-Clowes, Urban Farm Intern/Manager of Kin Park Youth Urban Farm, Small-scale market gardener

Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018

Most important innovation - I think the Hugelkultur has had, and can have a huge impact. It embodies many Permaculture principles. This article from Permaculture Magazine says it all much better than I could. My husband and I have two “Hugels” and have harvested a lot of food from them.

Foster Richardson, Incubator Seed Farm Supervisor, Farmer

Most important innovation - Mendelian Genetics (Traits of inheritance proposed by Gregor Mendel in 1866 as a result of experiments with seeds-Ed.)

Heather Kaye, CGC Farm Map Coordinator/ Market Manager, Gardener at home and promoter/supporter/consumer of local farms and foods.

Most important innovation - No till farming! The first inch of no-till soil is significantly less vulnerable than that of plowed soil since no-till increases the amount of water in the soil, decreases erosion, and increases the amount and variety of soil micro-organisms!!!


This 4-H page is brought to you by...


Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018



Island Farm & Garden - March/April 2018

Island Farm & Garden Early Spring 2018