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Flowers & Fairs a great time of year

Resilient Farms facing the challenges

Beef for the Fair 4-H youth learn the ropes


Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017




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by Eric Morten, Editor his is my favourite season. There's the scent of flowers in the air and nature is in full swing. In fact, the sense that it's time to kick back and let nature do its thing is prevalent. And there's the getting outside to markets, holidays and fairs and outdoor events.

The theme of this issue, Flowers and Fairs, comes from this sentiment. Inside, you'll find gardens galore, bursting with colour and what you can do with its produce. Take in some big gardens while on holiday, or make beautiful centerpieces for a wedding or any occasion. As the summer season ends, we find agricultural fairs in our communities large and small. And they are so steeped in community that attending just one may not be enough. In this issue you'll find a sampling of some of the must-sees in our Island Community. Family-friendly and wholesome entertainment at its best is on offer. If you are extra proud of your garden this year, let us know! Please check out and enter our garden photo contest on page 28. Enjoy the summer and happy gardening!


Island Farm & Garden - July/August 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

TABLE OF CONTENTS A Resilient Farm ..................................................................................4 Celebratory Gardens............................................................................6 Center of Attention..............................................................................8 Water Saving......................................................................................10 Seed Cultivation Tips..........................................................................12 Back in Time.......................................................................................14 Cowichan Green Community Notes..................................................16 A Recipe for Keeping Our Heritage....................................................18 The Smell of Summer........................................................................20 Take Me to the Fair.............................................................................22 Here's the Beef...................................................................................24 Garden Photo Contest........................................................................28 4-H Farm Frolics.................................................................................30


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what makes a farm


Strategies for Mitigating Flood & Drought on Your Farm Free Agricultural Workshops & Field Days on the Saanich Peninsula & Salt Spring Island


story and photo by Tayler Krawczyk

his sounds like a quality that we should ask of our farms, right? As we look ahead to the prospect of producing food for the next century and beyond, it is important to consider how we can make our farms more resilient in the face of changing weather patterns. How can we maintain productivity through these climatic challenges? Because every farm is unique - from market gardens, to grazing operations to orchards - there is no one answer. That said, it is worth remembering that, “despite all our achievements, we owe our existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains” (Farm Equipment Association of Minnesota and South Dakota). It is clear that soil health and water management are two of the most important facets of resilience on every farm. These are the focus of a three year education & monitoring project we’re working on called “Keyline Water Management: Education & Field Research in the Capital Region.” More information on the project and some upcoming free field days & seminars are available at www. Funding for this project has been provided by the Governments of 4

Re·sil·ience (noun): The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. Canada and British Columbia through the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The program is delivered by the BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative. 2017 is our last year and we have some great events that you are welcome to attend. In a nutshell, we are inviting farmers, ranchers, land-managers and forestry & watershed professionals to come learn about an Australian strategy for sinking, slowing, spreading & storing rainfall (‘Keyline Water Management’). The workshops & field days are FREE and open to the public. What Is Keyline Design? ‘Keyline’ is a design & management tool that uses natural landscape contours and farming techniques to slow, sink, spread and store rainwater as well as build soil fertility. With a detailed contour map of your farm, keyline planning can help determine the optimal placement for

Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017

farm elements such as: irrigation ponds, cropping & orchard rows, structures, roads/tracks, fences, livestock rotation, subsoil rip lines, and more. The central idea behind keyline design from a water perspective is to capture water at the highest possible elevation and distribute it outward toward the drier ridges using gravity, slowing the natural concentration of water in valleys. Maximizing the flow of water to the drier ridges using precise plow lines (or mounds) falling slightly off contour slows the movement of water and spreads it more uniformly, infiltrating it across the broadest possible area. It is both a flood and drought mitigation strategy. Keyline Plow Field Days One technique, called ‘keyline cultivation’, uses a non-inversion subsoiler (a ‘Keyline Plow’, seen below) to create sub-surface micro-drainage ditches that manage water and de-compact tight soils at the same time. At our two Field Days (September 19 & 21, 2017), you can see the plow in action and learn about some simple field tests you can do to determine your soil’s compaction levels & infiltration rates. You will also hear the results of our soil moisture monitoring program. We’ve had soil moisture probes in the ground for almost two years, monitoring the difference between ‘keyline-plow-treated’

and untreated soils every four hours! Lots of interesting data to interpret. The Important of Soil Carbon For every 1% Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) we add to the soil, we get 55,000L per acre of extra water storage capacity. That’s a good investment, since increasing soil carbon also reduces nutrient leaching, stabilizes pH and feeds our soil organisms and plants.

Our monitoring project is also measuring the response to ‘keyline cultivation’ on ‘active carbon’, by measuring side by side treated vs. untreated fields. We know that keyline plowing alone is not a panacea. Other means of achieving better soil health include timed grazing management, agro-forestry plantings, cover cropping, adding compost and more. Whatever approach fits your context, it is clear that improving soil carbon is an extremely important part of becoming more resilient. Resilient Farming for Coastal BC - We Want Your Input The project is also compiling an online resource guide, titled: ‘Resilient Farming for Coastal BC’. The guide will use the Regrarians Platform® (see below) to organize regionally appropriate resources & possible solutions to the challenges we face. We have partnered with Regrarians’ director Darren Doherty, a regenerative farm consultant, to help compile this resource guide and answer your questions related to regenerative soil and water management. This resource guide will be available in January 2018 at our project website. The Regrarians Platform® 1. CLIMATE – You, Enterprise, Risk, Weather. 2. GEOGRAPHY – Landform, Components, Demography, Proximity. 3. WATER – Storage, Harvesting, Reticulation. 4. ACCESS – Roads, Tracks, Trails, Markets, Utilities, People. 5. FORESTRY – Blocks, Shelter, Savannah, Orchards, Natural. 6. BUILDINGS – Homes, Sheds, Portable, Yards. 7. FENCING – Permanent, Electric, Cross, Living. 8. SOILS – Planned Grazing, Minerals, Fertility, Crops. 9. ECONOMY – Analysis, Strategy, Value Chain. 10. ENERGY – Photosynthesis, Generation, Storage.

We’re looking for your input! What challenges are you facing? What would make your farm more resilient? Go to www. to give us your questions/concerns or come to our free public event on September 21st at the CRD Board Room. (see below for details) We hope to see you this fall! Tayler Krawczyk manages Hatchet & Seed, an edible landscaping & ecological land design business based in Victoria, BC., providing on-the-ground services throughout the CRD & Southern Gulf Islands as well as remote, e-consulting throughout the province (using screen-share, phone and video-conference technology).

Farm Water & Soil Management:

Free Events Upcoming September 15th, 2017 - 1:30-4:00pm Keyline Plow Field Day in Central Saanich, BC and September 19th, 2017 - 1:30-4:00pm Keyline Plow Field Day on Salt Spring Island, BC • See the keyline subsoiler in action and how it can be used to help establish trees and improve rooting depth • Use a penetrometer to assess compaction and learn a DYI water infiltration test • Talk to other farmers about soil and water management challenges September 21st, 2017 - 9:00 - 4:00 pm Resilient Farm Resources & Town Hall CRD Board Room, Victoria, BC • Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of keyline geometry, keyline plowing • Learn about resources for other soil and water management strategies (eg: alley cropping, shelter belts, agro-forestry, grazing management, cover cropping) • Learn about the design & construction of irrigation ponds other retention & drainage features • Bring your soil & water management questions that will be highlighted in an online publication titled “Resilient Farm Resource Guide for Coastal BC” with input from Darren Doherty, Regenerative Farm Consultant. December 1st, 2017 - 9:00 - 4:00 pm Farm Water Management Seminar CRD Board Room, Victoria, BC • Learn about some local GIS resources that can help make soil & water management improvements • Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of keyline geometry, keyline plowing, and other soil and water management strategies • Learn about the design & construction of irrigation ponds and other retention & drainage features

Learn more and sign up for our newsletter at: Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017


celebratory gardens I

by Mark Cullen

t’s our birthday. Our country is 150 years old. What are you doing to celebrate? If travel is in your future and you are wondering where to go, I have a suggestion: Canada’s great gardens.

Staying in Canada has its advantages: no need to change money, no long line ups to talk to customs officials or risk that they will turn you away and no limit on the amount of stuff that you can buy and bring home. Finally, there are some fabulous public gardens in Canada that even I haven’t seen. The Butchart Gardens Let’s start with the grand daddy of them all. Suffice to say that more people visit the Butchart Gardens, near Victoria B.C. than all public gardens that require paid admission combined. But I don’t know that for sure. Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, member of the Order of Canada, author and broadcaster. Get his free monthly newsletter at Look for his new best seller, ‘The New Canadian Garden’ published by Dundurn Press. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCullen4 and Facebook.


Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017

What I do know for sure is that this is the most spectacular Canadian garden that you can imagine. I went there for the first time by car when I was 15. My older brother Peter drove me. All I had to do was feed him and pitch the tent each night. I haven’t found a travel-deal quite that good since. Butchart hasn’t changed much since I saw it over 40 years ago. Then again, it has. I was there most recently two years ago and I couldn’t help but notice that the place looks like new. Management are meticulous in their maintenance of the place. There are many concerts, night illuminations, Saturday night fireworks, a new (2009) Rose Carousel and Children’s garden. Above all, there is an amazing garden that will take you a day to explore thoroughly. Admission is about $33 for adults. It is a bargain. When I travel to Britain, to visit gardens, this is a very low fee, indeed, I paid over $100 Canadian to go to the Chelsea Flower Show last month. Tofino Botanical Gardens While you are on Vancouver Island, why not drive up the east coast and head west about half way up to visit an extraordinary garden in Tofino. Selected by Jane Perrone, the gardening editor for the UK’s Guardian Newspaper, as one of the best public gardens in the world. Keep in mind, the Brits might have invented ‘garden tourism’ so this endorsement means a lot.

This garden features 12 acres of shoreline, gardens, forest and ongoing activities.

Take your time here and be mindful that his valuable property is part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve: the Clayoquot Sound. Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens When celebrating Canadian history this public garden should top your list. While it is not exactly right next door to Butchart Gardens (Annapolis is in Nova Scotia) I can recommend it very highly. Bring the family and anyone you like who shares an interest in Canadian history.

This garden reflects life during a time that we have almost forgotten about: the early to mid 1600’s. The design and layout walks you through a rich, historic tale of life as an Acadian in one of the first European settlements in North America. In addition to the history celebrated there is a rose, evergreen, azalea and winter garden. Kids are catered to in a big way with special activities throughout. Look for ‘Workshops for Kidz’ on their website. Admission is only $14.50 for adults. For details go to Halifax Public Gardens This is the finest example of a Victorian style garden in North America. Created in 1867, it has a rich history that pre dates Confederation. The trees alone are worth seeing. Bring a book or a lunch and plan on relaxing in this amazing public space. 14 acres featuring meandering paths, a gazebo for public performances (of which there are many), giant rhododendrons, amazing water foul and a great place to people watch in the centre of the city. Free admission. Though, they close during winter for reasons that escape me. http://

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Montreal Botanical Garden You will need a day to do this one. A treasure that is not at all well known outside of Quebec. The Montreal Botanical features extensive greenhouses (with a tropical rain forest), an orchid and Aroid collection, bonsai, a fern collection, lots of educational and fun activities for kids and one darn good walk. Plan to visit the library, a decent restaurant (it’s Montreal after all) and a special exhibit called ‘Space For Life’ in the Biodome: a participatory movement and exploration of the planets biodiversity through science you have to see it. At 190 acres it is a darn good walk too. Adult Admission $20.50.

There are many great gardens in Ontario that are worthy of your time and sometimes a small entrance fee. In the City of Toronto, there is High Park (, Allan Gardens ( prd/facilities/complex/41/), Centennial Park in Etobicoke (http://www1.toronto. ca/parks/prd/facilities/complex/798/) and of course the Toronto Botanical Garden that just gets better every year. http:// Of course there is only one ROYAL Botanical Gardens in North America, in Burlington/Hamilton, with almost 2,000 acres of formal gardens (including the new $18 million Rock Garden), nature trails, Coots paradise, extensive greenhouses, a restaurant and more. Happy horticultural birthday Canada!!!

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center of

attention I

story & photos by Monika of Vert Designs

f you or perhaps your daughter is tying the knot this Fall or Winter and are still contemplating centerpieces for your reception, maybe a little DIY is the answer.

Do-it-yourself projects, especially in crafts you aren’t familiar with, can (understandably) be daunting. But, with careful planning, the right components and the right approach, you can put together something that is not only beautiful and personal, but has the potential to be budget-friendly as well. Yes, I know… budget-friendly and wedding aren’t words you normally find together, but, it does have a nice ring to it. No pun intended. By now, you have chosen the key elements– venue, colours–and you are in the process of tying it all together. Mapping out your reception layout should be your first step. Consider the placement and the shape of the tables and how they will be arranged. Choose your linen colours. Because no bride wants the stress of unwanted surprises to contend with last-minute, every aspect of your wedding décor needs to be carefully and deliberately planned. Leave nothing to chance. Now that you have the layout and know your table shape, consider where you 8

want centerpieces to sit, what height they should be, and at what intervals. For example, a round table will have one centerpiece, but a rectangular table may, depending on your preference, have several. Furthermore, a row of tables (typical for venues such as banquet halls or barns) will likely have a centerpiece every few settings. You get the picture. Now chart it all out. This will be a very helpful tool when you are at the set-up stage when every minute counts and those enlisted with the task of helping will be coming to you with questions. Having a chart will be a lifesaver – trust me on this. Especially if you are delegating the task of decorating and set-up, drawing out each

THINK LOCAL SOURCE LOCAL: Find a local artisan who can be commissioned to make unusual vessels that can be used after your wedding as keepsake gifts to loved ones, or, used throughout your home. Consider edible centerpieces: Approach farmers, caterers, bakers at local markets and ask them what will be in season. Edible centerpieces reduce end waste; translating into a greener wedding!

Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017

Get creative with DIY wedding centerpieces

detail will go a long way to ensure that your vision is executed to your standard. Now for the fun part. What will those centerpieces be? Well, they should complement your colour scheme, theme, and more importantly – you. If cut flowers arranged in vases or poked into oasis®-filled vessels is your vision, then run with it. Chose flowers based on preference and budget. Go with what is in season and buy as much as you can locally. A florist can help with this (recommended), but if you are savvy and/or have help, you can get creative and source the flowers and elements yourself. Remember, beautiful centerpieces need not be limited to cut flowers, nor does it have to be expensive to be gorgeous. Be creative! Potted plants can be striking, especially when arranged en-mass, perhaps with tea lights clustered intermittently. Herbs (cut or potted), can add personality and a bit of whimsy. If you have access to someone who is handy and willing to help you, why not design your own containers? Wood rounds can be worked, hollowed, stacked, painted and arranged to hold the centerpiece itself, or elements surrounding the centerpieces. Tie this all in by repeating the use of these on your buffet, gift, and cake tables. Use your imagination or scour Pinterest. Don’t feel that you

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have to follow trends, either. At the end of the day, your wedding should reflect you and your partner. Work with what you have and draw inspiration from what makes you happy. Is it the beach, the garden, or a hobby? Consider growing components, but always have a back-up plan. A friend of mine has wonderful memories of dahlias that were lovingly grown by her mother-in-law for her late-August wedding. A client of mine several years back loved the idea of succulents arranged on each table that guests were encouraged to take home. Together, we chose terra cotta pots that were painted gold and the result was beautiful. Succulents are very trendy right now! And really, who doesn’t love low-maintenance arrangements that can be made well ahead of time? Decorate using greenery. Ferns, ivy, even branches can all be used in creative ways to create arrangements. Play with proportions. Learn how to make wreaths or seasonal arrangements and then personalize them to suit you. If you’re ambitious and want to up your DIY game, there are many good tutorials on the internet.



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A word of caution, though; be realistic with what you set out to do. Everything takes time and not everything you make will have a shelf-life. Be sure to consider temperature, transportation and tear-down. Ask for help or hire a professional. When push comes to shove you’ll be glad you did. Verbalize your expectations and put them on paper. It’s your day after all, so, go ahead – enjoy it!

Monika is a local freelance floral designer whose passion is to create luxurious custom arrangements for all occasions, whether personal or corporate. Vert Designs was created with a vision to be a green as possible. From simple hand-tied arrangement, to exotic olive branch table runners and bejeweled bridal bouquets; botany knows few, if any, boundaries. Monika can be reached at:

hungrybin Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017


water saving tips for july & august


by Marley Cummings

very year, come April and May, farmers and gardeners alike cross fingers and toes for a moderately warm and occasionally rainy summer. The months of June – August of last year were tense, and over the 2015 season, British Columbia saw more than 30,000 hectares of forest consumed by flame. This of course affected


Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017

many local farms, as water restrictions reached level 4 (the highest possible restriction) in certain areas of the island. This year, so far, we are not dealing with the same forest fire trepidation that left our farming communities holding their collective breath. Thus far, the water restrictions have remained low, and maintaining your green and fruitful land has not been a source of great stress.

That being said, we should still strive to cut down on water usage and remain conscious of the long term effects that can have an impact on the dwindling 3% of fresh water the planet supports, of which only 1% is considered safe for drinking!


So here are some tips for saving water, and whether or not you’ve heard them before, a reminder or two (or 6!) can’t hurt.


In the home One of the number one ways to conserve water is to turn off the tap when brushing your teeth. This can save up to 6 litres of water per minute. Same goes for shaving, use a plug and fill up your sink, and think of all the water you could drink.

Look out for leaks. There could be areas in your plumbing, inside your home or throughout your irrigation that let out more water than you’d like. When using your hose to water plants or for washing your car, use a nozzle to ensure each drop is used, rather than putting it down and letting it run. Plug it up! When washing dishes in your sink, fill it up and use the same soapy water. Another tip for the kitchen sink: try not letting the water run as you clean fruits and veggies, fill a pot with water and swish them around in there instead. Garden Water Saving Techniques Start with soil care! Keeping your soil rich with organic matter helps the structure, which in turn holds in more moisture. In the Spring, layer some mulch around your flower beds and trees, but be wary of building up too much around strawberries or other low ground fruit and veg, as this can cause rot.

Water only when necessary. To know when to water, check about 3-4 inches into the soil. If it is damp, the plants will be fine, if it’s dry, time to water. The best time of day to water is in the evening, to minimize evaporation. Added bonus: this protects from possible burning, as water spray on leaves during the day can act as a magnifying glass and singe your plants. Invest in a butt. By that I mean, a water butt, which is what the British hilariously call a rain barrel. This is essentially a large grey bin you position under your roof drain pipes to collect runoff from the rain. These are excellent for keeping your gardens watered! Especially since we live on the wonderful West Coast, where we get a good amount of rainfall every year.


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Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017




Seed cultivation tips for edible pollinator flowers


by Aislinn Cottell

ossibly one of the oldest farming practices, the art of seed saving is a large contributor to the vast variety of plants grown around the world today. From species whose lineage has been preserved by farmers for generations, to new hybrids with special strengths or unique appearances, most have been created through mindful cultivation and collection of seeds. When seed saving, there are often several factors to take into consideration, including cross-pollination between varieties, ensuring enough plants for genetic diversity, and wet-harvest techniques for collection from fruits. The substantial amount of information available on these topics may seem overwhelming for gardeners just starting their seed-saving journey. (Although with a bit of research and experimentation, anyone can become proficient.) For those wanting an easy introduction, many flowering plants require much less maintenance for cultivation and are a good place to start for amateur seed savers. The following selected species are quite straightforward in their harvests, and have the added benefits of being both pollinator-friendly and edible for human consumption. 12

Borage is a blue flowering annual which produces numerous edible blossoms for both bee and human enjoyment, as well as boasting a host of other garden and culinary uses. A competent self-seeder, borage will happily spread throughout a bed on its own. However, if looking to cultivate in a more controlled manner, the seeds can be quite easily collected and are a good first project for beginners. Each flower will produce up to four seeds, which mature soon after the flowers are dropped–make sure to harvest before the seeds fall on their own. Spread seeds in a warm place for several days to dry, then pick out any chaff and store in a moisture-proof container. Borage seeds have a minimum three-year shelf-life for germination, although they have been known to stay viable for up to five years after harvesting. Also known as anise hyssop, agastache is a purple-flowered perennial with edible flowers and leaves that can be made into a tasty tea. Each stalk has many blossoms, providing excellent foraging for pollinators. Harvest when these stalks

Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017

begin to dry and turn brown–flowers will still be present, but a small black point should be visible at the throat of each blossom. Be careful not to tip stalks upside down, as seeds will fall out. Shake stalks into a container to remove seed. This may require several sessions over a few days as seeds on the same stalk will still mature at slightly different times. Spread seeds in a warm place for several days to dry, then pick out any chaff and store in a moistureproof container. Buckwheat is an annual pseudo-grain, often grown in large scale for commercial harvest. However, it can also work as a beautiful and beneficial weed suppressor in home gardening practice. The clusters of small pink and white flowers provide plenty of nectar for pollinators, and if your crop is large enough, excess seed

can be ground and made into fresh flour. The harvest window for buckwheat is fairly narrow; a general rule of thumb is to collect when three-quarters of the seeds are mature. Mature seeds will be dark brown to black in colour, and unable to be pierced with a fingernail. Set out the harvested seed clusters to dry, then shake or thresh onto a clean surface. Sift through to remove chaff and any green seeds before storing in a moisture-proof container. A true classic, sunflowers are well known for their large heads of edible seeds. Fun fact: this head is actually composed of hundreds of tiny individual flowers, each of which produce a single seed. This provides excellent concentrated foraging for both pollinators and seed collectors. The seeds will usually be ready for harvest about 35-40 days after blooming, when the


back of the sunflower head turns from green to brown in colour. To protect from birds until fully mature, cover the flower heads with a light fabric and rubber band when nearing the end of their season. When ready for harvest, cut the sunflower head about four inches down the stalk, remove seeds with fingers or fork, and store in a moisture-proof container.

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Producing gorgeous, daisy-like purple blossoms with distinctive cone-shaped centers, Echinacea is a unique and beautiful addition to any garden. The petals of the flower are edible and can be used to brighten salads as garnish, and the roots and leaves can be brewed to make an immune system-boosting tea. To harvest seeds, snip stalks after the flower petals have dropped, keeping as much stem as possible. Place stalks flower head-down in a dry paper bag, secure with a rubber band, and hang in a warm place for several days. Seeds will fall into the bag as the heads dry, and can then be collected, cleaned, and stored in a moisture-proof container.

FARM GARDEN PET SUPPLIES Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017


back in

time The Wollemi pine is making a big comeback


story and photos by Eric Morten here’s a dinosaur living in Lantzville, lurking among the rose and bougainvillea, hiding in the prehistoric mists that rise from the hedges and beachfront verandas of the sleepy village north of Nanaimo. But before conjuring images from Jurassic Park and running for cover, you should know that the “living fossil” in Lantzville is of the vegetable variety, not a scaly, sharp-toothed predator. Thought to be extinct for at least 2 million years, the Wollemi pine was rediscovered in 1994 by David Noble, a National Parks Wildlife Officer in New South Wales, Australia. While hiking in the Blue Mountains 200 km west of Sydney, Noble discovered the strange plants in a deep gorge in a remote section of the Wollemi National Park. When the Haseltines, a Lantzville family, read about the discovery online, it piqued their interest, as did the National Geographic application to become a grower of the strange tree as Vancouver Island was an approved region due to its climate. National Geographic confirmed the Lantzville address and approved the location of the planting in their garden. Their first attempt ended badly with two plants withering and dying. It was determined that these smaller, approximately two-foot tall, plants were too small and the third planting with a five-foot specimen ended with success and, seven years later, their Wollemi pine is around 10 feet. It’s possible that it will grow as high as 125 feet tall. As very few Wollemi pines existed in the wild (fewer than 100), there was a massive undertaking to propogate them as house and garden plants to try to ensure their survival. In 2006 over half a million plants were made available for sale. National Geographic spread the word in North America and sold the seedlings in the U.S.


Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017

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It’s easy to understand the scientific organization’s interest in this amazing plant. The fossil record shows that the Wollemi pine was widely present over a time span of 250,000 to 1.6 million years, and all across Australia–likely the entire southern heminsphere including South America, India and Antarctica. The Wollemi is impressive in a garden. Related to the monkey puzzle pine, it has broad, flat needles and strange bark that has been described as bubbling chocolate. Its new leaves are apple-green and take on a bluish hue when they mature. Although described as a slow starter, once the roots are established the Wollemi pine can grow as fast as three feet per year. As well as reproducing with pollination, the pine will spontaneously sprout multiple trunks from its base, known as self-coppicing, which protects it as the smaller branches can continue to grow should the main trunk die.

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Wollemi pines like a well-drained, slightly acidic soil and moderate light although they will grow more slowly under a canopy or in shadier locations. Their flexible limbs make them resistant to winds and they can survive temperatures from -5 to 45C. The temperate climate of Vancouver Island gives the tree the opportunity to thrive although it requires watering during times of drought. Pruning can be as much as two thirds of the plant. Prune larger branches during the colder months. Wollemi can also be kept as a potted plant almost indefinitely either indoors or on a patio for which it is better suited. Indoors, it should be kept near a window. Thinking about having a living fossil in your garden, but can't afford the livestock to keep a Tyranosaurus Rex fed? Consider the Wollemi pine!

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Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017


Cowichan Green Community Cultivating food, community, and resilience



Outfitted to suit a variety of cooking needs, CGC has an Island Health certified commercial kitchen available to rent seven days a week from 8am-10pm. It is equipped with a 6 burner gas stove and oven, a convection oven, walk-in cooler and freezer, tables and seating for workshop facilitation, and a complement of basic cooking utensils and equipment. There is also a second area perfect for simple food preparation. For guidelines, information & rental rates visit 16

Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017


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


cowichan green

community notes a fair bit of joy A by Judy Stafford, Publisher

few years ago, I was asked to be the convener for a local fall fair. It seemed like a pretty sweet gig, find judges, decorate tables, take in the cornucopia of homemade jams, jelly, pies, cookies, and other baked delicacies, sample the prize-worthy entries, and then hand out brightly coloured ribbons to the winners! Fun and easy right?

Well, I quickly became suspicious that maybe there was more to this coveted job, when I showed up to the fall fair planning meeting and everyone cheered and rushed up to thank me and shake my hand! Did they think I was organizing the whole event or something? After a few apprehensive discussions and some sleepless nights involving sugar plums and pie fairies, the day quickly arrived and I was immediately surrounded by more calories than I’d seen at my favourite bakery in years.

And other than a couple of very long days, that experience continues to bring me smiles and warm fuzzies reminding me of all the incredibly generous, and hard-working, and ‘excited’ community members who tirelessly organize all the fall fairs scattered throughout our beautiful islands. From the folks who arrange the booths, map out the areas, design the brochures, take the entry tickets, herd the animals, award the winners, and console the losers, there are unending numbers of volunteers who come together like a well-rehearsed orchestra to create the behind the scenes magic so most of us can just show up and enjoy the day! I applaud all those who create the fall fair wonderment and hope you all find time this season to savour a local pie, pet a fuzzy sheep, congratulate a zucchini-bus creator, marvel at a homemade quilt, and just enjoy hanging out with some neighbours and new found friends. Keep an eye out for a CGC booth – we might just see you there

As it turned out, there really was no trick to my convener ‘job’. Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017


afor keeping recipe our heritage A

by Pamela Walker friend of mine, new to the Cowichan Valley and, indeed, new to Canada was thrilled to taste rhubarb pie for the very first time. She was, however, quite skeptical when she saw the raw fruit with her own eyes--or should I say, “vegetable,” to be technically correct? The rhubarb looked more like a fat piece of grass to her and nothing like the ruby-coloured berry that she had been expecting. Undeterred by its looks or flavour when eaten raw, my friend started concocting recipes with this new Canadian ingredient based loosely on her grandmother’s instructions that she had learned as a child in Pakistan. The result was a totally new recipe for an incredible chutney. She began bottling and selling it at local farmers markets and through the Cow-op, a local on-line store. Now, many other inventive cooks have come to rely on this chutney as a key ingredient for their own kitchen creations. As you can tell, it’s just not the recipe but the story behind the recipe that piques the appetite. And, even though it’s true that the incredible


Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017

diversity of food that is grown in the Cowichan Valley provides a constant source of inspiration in the kitchen, it is also true that the stories behind concoctions are something to savour. Indeed, this combination of ingredients makes fantastic fodder for both flavorful food fare and fascinating fables. In order to preserve both, it might be an idea if someone were to write it all down. Enter the “Cowichan-Grown” cookbook. With funding from the federal government and other sources, Cowichan Valley Co-op Marketplace Manager Heather Kaye has assembled a steaming-hot group of foodies who are currently sifting through their contacts for cooks willing to share their best recipes made with locallysourced ingredients. But that’s not all. These foodies are also looking for the lore--the stories behind the recipes that will make reading this cookbook more than just a breakfast/lunch/ dinner instruction manual. With any luck, culinary stories from all corners of the Valley will season the selections: traditional Hul’qumi’num gathering stories, stories about savories from the Salish Sea, stories from old-time farmers and fabulous restauranteurs as

well as stories from new immigrants. These narratives will pepper the pages and act as amuse bouches for both reader and cook alike. So if you have a recipe or a story that you think would be of interest, contact Heather Kaye now. The plan is to have the book printed and ready for the December holiday season. To find out more, go to or email Heather at And just to whet your appetite a little more, I’ve shared a favorite recipe from my farm where our 2000 blueberry bushes grow in soil that once grew potatoes for the Old Scofield Farm. This history is still written in between the rows as several Netted Gem heritage seed potatoes sprout every year under our blueberries giving us both a first course and a dessert for the fruits of our labour. I’m still searching for a recipe that would combine the two foods together (perhaps blueberry potato pancakes!) but, until then, try this recipe that is sure to warm your tummy as much as rhubarb warms my friend’s.

Local Food Recipes Wanted for a Cowichan-Grown Cookbook

Blueberry Lavender Muffins BOXED RECIPE

2½ c flour 1 tsp baking soda 2 tsp baking powder pinch of salt 1 c sugar 3 tsp lavender buds ½ butter 1 egg 1 c yogurt 1½ c blueberries Zest of 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 380F. Crush lavender into sugar (or use food processor). Mix all other dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients. Add lavender/ sugar to wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry and fold until almost mixed. Add Yellow Point Blues blueberries. Bake for 20 minutes in buttered muffin pan. Makes 12.

The Cow-op is making a cookbook featuring local wisdom and seasonal Cowichan-grown ingredients. If you love local food, cooking, gardening and farming, we want to hear from you! Contact us at or visit for more info. Cowichan Green Community

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

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

For more information: 360 Duncan Street, Duncan BC | 250-748-8506

Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017


Peonies are complicated. And they take their own sweet time. But still...

the smell of 20

summer Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017


by Chris Rozema his time of year can be pretty iffy in the garden. The weather changes on a dime and plantings are often redone due to poor germination or die-offs from wet, cold, or droughty conditions. I just barely keep up. The planting, weeding, watering, planting, weeding, watering is often overwhelming. It is the pleasure of once again being barefoot in the dirt, being quite literally grounded, that calms me. This is also the time of the Peony. For me, peonies evoke my grandmothers -- both had peonies of various types in their gardens. And, because they both lived in Saskatchewan, the re-emergence of these bold, fragrant flowers was always something of a miracle to me. Covered for months in snow and ice, peonies seemed to burst from the ground to perfume the air. They represent the hardiness of the people and the beauty to be found through adversity. Peonies are not simple flowers. Often upset by being planted too deep, or being moved, or weather conditions, peonies choose when they bloom. When we moved, I dug several peonies from my yard and planted them in deep pots. They stayed in those pots only sporting leaves and branches for a couple of years before I found their forever home. Once planted, they took their sweet time settling in and only last year, four years after moving, did they grace me with their beautiful flowers. The remembrance of the garden from which they came moved me to tears and I was grateful that they finally settled. And yet, they do not perform this magic on their own. Their symbiotic relationship with ants, crawling all over the bulging flower buds, is explained in some gardening circles with the fact that peonies excrete small amounts of nectar and this is thought to encourage ants to nibble away at the bud covering helping them bloom. In other circles, this is viewed as folklore at best or poppycock at worst. The fact remains that they have this relationship, unexplained maybe, but a relationship nonetheless. Is it because, in the secret language of flowers, peonies can symbolize boldness or bashfulness? Complete contradictions with their big, thick flowers both standing out in a garden while also bashfully bowing their heads towards the earth, they need the grounding of the ants to ease their entrance into the world? Regardless of their countenance or symbiotic supports, they are stunners. These show-off blooms, often with a most perfect scent, are, for me, the flower and smell of summer.

Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017


take me to the


Ahh, summer! The time for fairs & festivals, something for all Islanders to look forward to! Keep reading for a sample of the best the Island has to offer.


Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017

take me to the fair

cobble hill


ome on out and enjoy our Old Fashioned Country Fair! This year’s 108th Cobble Hill Fair will entertain while offering an affordable day for the entire family. Join us on Saturday, August 26th from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. as we celebrate ‘Canada’s 150 Years of Growing.’ Our Fair honours the past while showcasing the wonderful bounty of Cowichan. Earn bragging rights! Check our online catalogue then follow the easy entry process and get set to win with your handicraft, baking, needlework, field produce, flowers, pottery or poetry. You can always enter your homemade wine

or many of the other categories offered at the Fair. How far can you Wang a Welly? Can you win the much coveted ‘Pie Eater of the Year’ title? The Fish Pond and Children’s Area are sure to generate lots of fun and try your hand at the Treasure Hunt to win big. Are you a photographer or a fantastic cake decorator? If so, then there’s room at our Fair to show everyone your hidden talent. Enter the woodworking division where your skills can be on display with your wonderful birdhouse, hand carving or homemade wooden toy. The grounds open at 7 a.m. and at 7:30 a.m. you can start your day with South Cowichan Rotary’s delicious pancake breakfast. Watch the parade at 9:30 a.m. then view the Official Opening at 10 a.m. The children’s games, sheep dog trials and the miniature horse show always delight. Don’t forget to indulge in the fabulous food offerings and be sure to check out some of Cowichan’s finest photography displayed in the Youth Hall. There will be plenty of vendors on hand along

with historical displays and the Mill Bay firefighters who always delight in giving the next generation of volunteers a chance to demonstrate their firefighting skills for a while. Whether your interest is in old farm machinery, livestock, home crafts, domestic science, needlework, stage entertainment or the horseshow, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The sun always shines on the Cobble Hill Fair, so it’s sure to be a fine day to meet with family and friends in a wonderful rural setting. For more information about the Cobble Hill Fair pick up a catalogue or view it online at Email your enquiries to schfias.secretary@gmail. com Don’t forget to mark Saturday, August 26th on your calendar.... SEE YOU AT THE FAIR!

Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017



the beef Raising beef cattle for show teaches 4-H youth about real life

T 24

story & photos by Eric Morten

young person standing next to an enormous, shiny steer.

he hub of any exhibition is the agricultural displays. From the rabbit fanciers to the largest pumpkin growers, participants dedicate a a lot of work and time to their discipline. One of the more impressive displays is the beef cattle, perhaps due to the sight of a

Susy Chung, from the Saanich Peninsula 4-H Beef and Swine Club has been a 4-H leader for 30 years after participating between the ages of 13 and 21. “I was raised on a farm and my family owned the only Island processing plant, Island Meat Packers.�

Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017

story continued on page 26

take me to the fair

islands folk festival


by Kelly Nakatsuka, photo by Kevin Oke

ere we are again in July, and the 33rd edition of the Islands Folk Festival is set to roll out once again at beautiful Providence Farm in the Cowichan Valley. One of the longest running festivals in the province, this year marks the first one for me as Artistic Director. I’m honoured to have been entrusted with this role, and thrilled to work with an amazing team of volunteers, many of whom have breathed life into this festival for all three decades. I’m excited to welcome artists like The Bills, long one of Canada's finest folk bands, they’re celebrating 20 years together this year. The Lonely Heartstring Band are one of the most buzzed-about young folk and bluegrass bands in North America and will be making their festival debut. Award-winners like Big Little Lions, Linda McRae, The Ecclestons, and Quinn Bachand’s Brishen will also be joining us. Fast-rising young artists like Fox Glove, West My Friend, Sarah Jane Scouten, Lion Bear Fox, and Jake Morley and Grace Petrie from the UK are living proof that the future of folk and roots music is in great hands. This year we’re also launching an initiative that will see growing numbers of Indigenous artists performing this year and into the future. I’m excited to welcome artists like Asani, the award-winning a cappella trio. Art Napoleon and Ed Peekeekoot will be performing for the big folks… and a special set for the young folks too. The amazing Tzinquaw Dancers from Cowichan Tribes will be on hand as we celebrate another wonderful year of music and community on Cowichan Tribes traditional territory. And I’m especially excited to welcome Supaman, a ground-breaking, genre-defying artist from the Apsaalooke Nation in the US, who combines ancient and modern music in the most unique way. As always kids and families are a centrepiece of the Islands Folk Festival and beyond the music from artists like The Kerplunks and Knackers Yard, we have a newly revamped SparkleZone that is full of fun things for our wee ones all weekend long. I hope to see you at the festival. I’ll be on the dance floor if you need me.

Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017


continued from page 24 Chung’s long association with 4-H demonstrates her belief in the value in the club. “My son went through 4-H Beef for 12 years and I have remained involved as I believe in the program and what it teaches young members as well by volunteering for other children is giving back to the program for which I am grateful of the opportunities I have had through this program.” A youth can expect to dedicate a lot of time and effort once a comittment is made to the program. “Beef members obtain their steers in October or November of the prior year. So members who registered for the 2017 year would have purchased a calf in October/November 2016,” says Chung. “It takes a lot of time, commitment and responsibility in order to raise a steer (male castrated) and typically is the project of choice for meat. Some members choose to raise a heifer (female) in order that they can carry this project for several years and not have to send off to slaughter,” she says. A youth doesn’t necessarily need to live 26

on a farm to participate. “Some members have their own farms where they can raise their animals, but, for those who do not, 4-H finds farms to house their animals for them and the member must make a commitment to attend a certain number of times per week to the person who is keeping their animal for them,” says Chung, “Members raise their beef animals for 11 months and animals are about 18 months when sold in the auction. So they typically get the animal when it is about 5 or 6 months old.” Chung herself has given young members the opportunity to raise beef. “Through my years I have had a number of children on my farm and given them the experience of raising beef and being a part of the program.” If a member doesn’t have the ability to own a steer, they may “lease” through 4-H in that they borrow an animal and are entitiled to use the animal for the show season. The only difference is they don’t sell the animal after the season. There have even been special arrangements that have been made with some members who may not be able to afford the cost of a beef animal and the feed it will require for the year and they have been sponsored in order to give them that opportunity.

Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017

There is a lot to be learned by participating in the program. More than one would expect. “Raising beef within 4-H teaches young members husbandry, feeding and overall responsibility of caring for an animal,” says Chung. “It also teaches them financial and business skills in the records that they are required to keep. It’s not just about the animal–the program covers many life skills.” Chung says, the goal is for “the individuals to be come good citizens and leaders of the community. On an education side, they learn about public speaking, demonstration skills, judging and presentation skills.” “Yes, it is hard work but it is also very gratifying. The more work that they do it will typically pay off in the show ring as well as at the auction,” say Chung.

For information about the Saanich Peninsula 4-H Beef and Swine Club, visit For information on 4-H or

vancouver island exhibition take me to the fair

saanich fair take me to the fair


aanich Fair Salutes Canada on Labour Day Weekend! Featuring: “Heritage Breeds & Seeds.” The grounds will be bustling with all kinds of activity for all ages. There are over 5,000 exhibits to browse through including photography, art, honey, vegetables, flowers, fruit, needle art, baking, homemade preserves, field crop displays to our junior department ages 3 – 16. Check out who has the biggest pumpkin. There are food concessions serving up food from all over the world, carnival games, continuous stage entertainment, Kidzone, midway, 4-H animal displays and shows from rabbits, poultry, beef, swine and mini horses. The Draft Horses will be showing off their talents.



he VIEX is held Aug. 18-20 at Beban Park and this year's theme is There's Magic In The Fair. Enjoy family entertainment and extensive animal displays, food vendors and a fun amusement park.


August 18, 19 & 20, 2017 ★ Family festival feeling ★ Live Music Midway Strathcona Mounted Troops

Featuring Heritage Breeds and Seeds September 2, 3 & 4

250-652-3314 • 1528 Stellys Cross Road Saanichton, BC V8M 1S8

Catalogues are now available online and at the Fair Office. CHECK OUT Department 19, page 49 for those ages 3 to 16.

MANY NEW CHANGES FOR 2017! Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017


show us what you've got Enter our garden photo contest You've worked hard. You're proud of your achievements. You want to show off your garden and we want to help you do it! It's easy. Submit the best single photo of your food or flower garden by emailing it to us at: We will enjoy all of your submissions and select our favourites to be published in our September issue. And one lucky shutterbug will be selected at random to receive a small gift courtesy of Island Farm & Garden. Happy shooting and happy gardening!


Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017

cowichan exhibition take me to the fair


he Cowichan Exhibition is celebrating the 149th Annual Fair with the theme, “Bee Cause Bees Matter.”

This year’s Fair will have a distinct two-part buzz to it. The first one comes from the flapping of little wings in the honey producers’ demonstrations. The second one comes from the buzz of chainsaws in our Land of Legends – Logger Sports, the action starts on Saturday, September 9th in the Exhibition’s Lumber Yard adjacent to the Vintage Machinery displays. This year’s stage entertainment is stepping it up a notch with Completely Creedence, a CCR tribute band playing on Friday at 8 pm on September 8th. On Saturday evening, Zachary Stevenson takes to the stage, this is one show you don’t want to miss. For the bargain price of just $10 a day, we have so many great events lined up for you and best of all lots of free parking right on site. Check out the Hall exhibits, Animal displays, Tractor pulls, Horse shows, Kids’ Corral, Gold panning, Archery, Laughing Loggers, Carnival Rides, Fine foods and much more! Join us Sept 8th – 10th for the family entertainment deal of the year. Check us out at




Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017



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



Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017


Come to the Alberni Valley! •

Family Farm Days brings customers directly to your farm • 2 Farm Markets per week where you can sell your produce • Annual “Taste of the Valley” helps customers find you faster • 2 Agricultural Support Workers helping Alberni Farmers get food to folk’s forks • Poised to launch an online distribution/sales channel, providing another sales outlet Thinking about Aquaculture? Explore with support from the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District For further information please contact: Alex Dyer 250 720-2708

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Island Farm & Garden - July/August 2017

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