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ARDEN ARM F &G ISLANDS AGRICULTURE SHOW Sharing ideas in the Cowichan Valley

Traditional Farming Keeping grounded

Winter Cleanup Putting the beds to bed

SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESS Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018


Traditional centrepiece detail by Monika of Vert Designs (See page 24)

looking looking




by Eric Morten, Editor

e thought tradition would be a suitable theme for this issue of IF&G given that the farming, gardening and land-working mind operates within the patterns of seasonal cycles. And so many of the rest of us also tend toward tradition at this time of year. With that in mind, we're featuring our yearly Seedy Saturday/ Sunday event listings for you gardeners to follow your tradition of planning, dreaming and envisioning your garden in spring.

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Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018

And in the tradition of planning, see pages 4-5 for highlights of February's Islands Agriculture Show. The beautiful and agriculturally diverse Cowichan Valley will be the host in 2018. Ironwood Farm is an organic operation which is run using the most basic of traditional methods. We talk with the owners about their roots and their rootedness. Happy 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


Islands Agriculture Show ....................................................................4 Going Buggy........................................................................................6 Avoiding Gardening Injury .................................................................8 Horse Health......................................................................................10 Traditional Farming............................................................................12 Seedy Events......................................................................................14 Garden Cleanup.................................................................................16 Cowichan Green Community Notes..................................................18 Cowichan Farm Map..........................................................................19 Seed Cleaner......................................................................................20 Soup Recipe.......................................................................................21 The Row to Happiness.......................................................................22 Traditional Centrepiece......................................................................24 Young Agrarians................................................................................28 4-H Farm Frolics.................................................................................31


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Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018

Conference Session by Dr. Dr. Jeremy McNeil The New Normal? Armyworm & the 2018 growing season. Conference Session by Heather O’Hara Opportunities for Regional Collaboration through BC Farmers’ Markets.

Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018


going buggy Top 5 tips for creating biodiversity in your yard


by Mark Cullen

make several insect hotels in my woodworking shop for friends and family. They are received graciously and at the same time, with the common query: “What IS it? What does an insect hotel do? What kind of insects will it attract? Are they all good for my garden?” Just when I thought I had covered the bases on this subject, I came to the stark realisation that we have a lot of work to do. Clearly, this discussion has a long way to go. It started with concern about the decline in the honey bee population and has extended to the general concern shared by naturalists everywhere about the problems with our native population of pollinators. We are no longer concerned exclusively with the decline of honey bees. Truth is, there are over 700 species of native bees (honey bees are not native) that serve as primary pollinators ‘out there’ in the natural environment, many of which you can attract to your yard with an insect hotel. In addition, there are thousands of other invertebrates that either pollinate over 30% of the plants that we rely on for food or are essential members of the web of insects that make up the whole show. It is complicated. But luckily I am here to boil this one down for you. Take a moment to digest the following and you will be on your way to understanding the whole, big picture. Understand the meaning of ‘biodiversity’. The word comes from ‘biological diversity’. WWF defines it as, “The term given to the variety of life on Earth. It is the variety within and between all species of plants, animals and micro-organisms and the 6

ecosystems within which they live and interact.” Biodiversity in your yard is represented by the range of naturally occurring plant, animal and insect life that exists in it. There is much that you can do to increase biodiversity, or the ‘range’ of life in your yard. Plants – pack them in. Do not underestimate the impact that you can have on the beneficial insect life in your neighbourhood by planting flowering plants. The longer each plant produces a flower and the more of them, the better. If you have a minimum of six hours of sunshine in your garden you are in luck. The varieties of plants available to you are nearly limitless. If you are dealing with shade you also have opportunities to plant flowering plants galore, but you will need to be more thoughtful about your plan. In either case place your plants densely to attract the maximum number of pollinators.

Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018

Extend the beginning and the end. Crocuses are terrific pollinator-magnets and they bloom in March. As do hellebores, snowdrops, early iris and dandelions. Yes, you read right. If you are blessed with dandelions and view them as weeds, but want to add biodiversity to your yard, you no doubt have some conflicted feelings. Answer: let them bloom and then cut them down or dig them out. While blooming, they are visited by many beneficial insects. In the autumn, there are many flowering plants that tolerate the early frosts while blooming, rudbeckia, Joe Pye weed, asters, mums and Japanese anemones to name a few. Go Native. Or not. A recent study in England indicated that it is not important to a bug that a plant is native, as long as it produces a blossom that attracts them in the first place. According to the results of ‘The Plants for Bugs Pollinator’ research it is the diversity of plant material that attracts the maximum range of bug

species, not whether they are native. To quote the study, “The value of a site can be maximized for pollinators by choosing plants from different regions of the world.” Add water. The single most impactful feature that you can add to your garden or balcony, where attracting pollinators is concerned, is to add a still-water feature. A pond in the yard or a halfbarrel on the balcony works just fine. When you add a water feature, I can guarantee that you will discover wildlife in your yard that you have never seen before. As dragonflies, salamanders, frogs, toads, water beetles, amphibians, mammals and bugs discover your new drinking hole they will grow, thrive and breed. There is no downside. We are only beginning this discussion. As I look in to the crystal ball, I see the interest in attracting pollinators and creating biodiversity in Canadian gardens as growing steadily. Within a generation the average Canadian garden will have little to do with the plant collections and formal, clipped and manicured gardens made popular after the Second World War.

Mark Cullen is lawn & garden expert for Home Hardware, 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 - Winter 2017 / 2018


no pain?

gain Gardening injury is a tradition to avoid


by Eric Morten

ven when the harvest is through and things go dormant in the winter, there’s always work to be done in the garden. It’s best to keep up on jobs to be done and every season requires different tasks. This time of year might encompass cleanup duties, expanding or what have you. No matter what you might be doing in the garden, it’s important to protect yourself from injury. From blisters to serious back pain, find strategies to avoid getting hurt even a little. Here are some ideas to lessen the occurance of injury.


Always warm up! A limber set of muscles is less susceptible to injuries like strain and cramping. Always start slow and don't go beyond your ability.






Shoulder impingement is a syndrome which occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff become irritated and results in weakness and pain causing loss of range of motion. It can be caused by the over extension while trimming hedges or pruning overhead branches. Make sure to take frequent breaks–just take a minute to admire your work every so often.

Change up positions. When raking leaves, for example, switch from favouring one side to the other in order to even up the amount of work any set of muscles needs to do. Also be aware of twisting and remember that everything’s heavier after being saturated with fall and winter rain. As always and with everything, don’t overdo it.

Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018

Lift carefully. It can’t be stressed enough. Back strains account for around 20 percent of workplace injuries and the garden is just another workplace. They are caused by overextending muscles in a way that they are not normally used. It sounds simple and the solution is simple as well– lift with your legs from above the object. Also, consider the weight and, if a load can’t be carried in one go, break it up into manageable pieces. Use the right tools! Ergonomics are important and improvisation does not always end well. Use a shovel that is suited to your lifting ability, same with any of the long-handled gardening tools. Also, wear gloves most importantly the correct footwear for the wide range of gardening tasks you do.

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Don’t overdo it. When you’re planting or weeding or doing anything that requires crouching, prepare your back before you stand up, give a little bounce before rising rather than springing up and risking cramps or strains.

Raised beds can help gardeners give their backs a break reducing the need for excessive bending over. Just be sure there is sufficient space between the beds for a mower or mulch and, if you plan to build raised beds, remember that all of these same rules apply to their construction. And getting some help also never hurt anyone. As you warm up before, cool down after. Treat any gardening session like the workout it is. Frequent and gentle stretching before, during and after can help avoid injuries as well as keep you in shape for long-term garden activities.

Of course, it’s all common sense. The main thing is to remember to keep these tips in mind while you’re doing it. Gardening is a healthy pursuit. Keep healthy while doing it so you can enjoy not just the fruits of your labour but also your labour for years to come. Happy pain-free gardening!

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health horses?

what makes a farm

Pacific northwest grasses are deficient in essential Fecal Egg Count: A More Effective Approach To Deminerals Horses for horses Worming


by Dr. Andrea Plaxton

seizures, respiratory distress and impaired heart function.

ll horse owners should be aware that grass/hay on Vancouver Island (as well as hay from other parts of BC, Washington State and Oregon) is deficient in some nutrients that are essential for horses, especially Selenium.

A simple blood test should be conducted by your vet to determine the degree of deficiency so he or she can recommend the right amount of supplementation per horse. It is likely that many Island horses will have some degree of selenium deficiency if they are field-grazers in the summer and eat only hay in the winter with no additional supplementation.

Selenium is a trace mineral in the soil that serves as an antioxidant in the body— protecting cell membranes. It is more effective in the body when combined with Vitamin E, another essential antioxidant.

Blood testing for Vitamin E can also be important with some particular muscular conditions.

Because Selenium is so important to the body, Selenium deficiency can impact your horse’s overall health. Deficiencies of this mineral can include reduced immunity, odd/unexplained lameness, muscle stiffness, decreased fertility, and in severe cases 10

Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018

To avoid the deficiency-related health issues, feed your horse a commercial horse feed or supplement that has Selenium and Vitamin E added to it. Pay close attention to the recommended amount of feed or supplement to ensure adequate dosage of all vitamins and minerals is being consumed. Keep in mind that the formulation of Selenium is important. Look for the organic form (vs inorganic selenite) as it is more readily absorbed in the body.

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The average horse should ingest 1-3 mg of Selenium daily. While some believe mineral blocks are adequate, they are not. Horses do not sense a Selenium deficiency as they do a craving for salt; so they often do not lick the block enough to get an adequate amount of Selenium. Horse owners should note that over-supplementing can cause toxicity and can be detrimental to your horse’s health. We strongly suggest against giving Selenium injections without knowing your horse’s Selenium levels or without recommendations from your veterinarian.

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feet on the ground, hands in the


photo: Barbara Odergard


by Eric Morten his time of year, tradition so often comes to the fore. Holidays, families, feasting are all common although, for the most part, limited to occasions for many of us. For Bryne and Barb Odegard, however, tradition is a daily task and a daily reminder of their connection to the environment they inhabit. At Ironwood Farm in Fanny Bay, the Odegards use traditional methods


almost exclusively, that is to say, all the work is done by hand. “Wheelbarrow, hoe, shovel, trowel, rake, fork, sticks and string are the main tools we use. The seeding, transplanting, fertilizing, planting, weeding, harvesting, are all done physically. The only machine equipment used is a rototiller to prep rows, and a tractor is used to disc and harrow fields in spring and fall,” says Barb Odergard.

methods and are often held up in opposition to the words “Organic” or “Sustainable” in spite of the fact that many the methods used on Ironwood Farm are as old as agriculture itself. About one fifth of the world uses traditional farming methods versus industrialized agriculture thereby making it the larger producer in the world in spite of the practice being less common in North America.

In a bit of an Orwellian language twist, the term “Traditional Farming” as often as not refers to the more industrialized

One can imagine that doing it by hand is a lot of work. “There are lots of good things about having a tractor and

Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018

rototiller and a pump that moves water up the farm to irrigate the field. Believe me I have experienced having to haul water to plants and dig rows by hand,” says Odergard, “I truly appreciate these conveniences. Perhaps that is the difference. I can recognize that some of these things make the work of farming easier but they are all things that can break down and they do. This is when human ingenuity and resilience show themselves at their best.” Bryne and Barbara have been full-time on Ironwood Farm in 1996 and gained organic certification in 1997. “We started growing on a smaller property in Parksville in 1990 and selling at the Errington market. We really enjoyed producing food and participating in the weekly market there,” says Barb, “It was becoming important for us to obtain a standard of growing that we could be proud of and represented our interest and growing concern about how food was being grown. We decided to take the leap and look for a larger property. We found Ironwood Farm on a crisp, cold February day in 1996. We made an offer the same day.”

And they haven’t been keeping all of that information to themselves. Ironwood Farm has been host to people from all over the world to share the experience of sustainable agriculture. “They have come through numerous different programs that offer these types of travel/learning exchanges,” Barb says.

photo: Barbara Odergard

The Odergards’ journey to the present required the same determination that hoeing a row by hand would. One couldn’t just google for information when they were starting out. “Obtaining certification helped a lot. It gave clear guidance to methods and standards for growing food in the most sustainable and environmentally sensitive way,” say Barb, “ As the organic standards morphed and evolved so did we. We have involved ourselves on almost every level of the organic movement. We have served on local and provincial boards and organic associations to stay abreast of and encourage the growth


of the organic sector.”

Nancy Vieira

In spite of the hard work, or pehaps because of it, the Odergards can’t imagine life outside Ironwood Farm. “Our lives are outside lives and we can’t go too long before we need to be outdoors tending to whatever needs tending to. We never tire of the anticipation of a new season – planting those seeds and watching them grow and photo: Bryne Odergard evolve into edible plants. The produce is vibrant and alive with energy and vitality. It is such a pleasure to be able to display and offer the weekly harvest to our customers. This life and lifestyle keeps us endlessly busy and occupied. It forces you to think and be innovative and you are always transforming the land as well as yourself. I can’t think of a better way to live.”


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photo: Barbara Odergard

“One thing about hosting interested people on the farm is that you get to see yourself and the farm through fresh eyes all the time. Almost none of them have ever had an experience like this and it gives us great satisfaction to see how much the experience affects them. They get a glimpse as to how much work it is to bring seed to food to table. Their testimonials are truly humbling at times.”



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getting on the island

Your "to-do" list for the Saturdays and Sundays to come January 13 Saanich Seedy Saturday

10am to 2pm Haliburton Farm presents its 5th annual Seedy Saturday at Horticulture Centre of the Pacific, 505 Quayle Road, Victoria Quality vendors, seeds, plants, starts, local wineries, seed exchange, children’s table. Nourishment provided by Charlotte & the Quail. Speaker at 11 : Bill Jones of Deerholme Farm: Gardening with Mushrooms. Admission $7 includes entry to the Gardens at HCP.  Contact:

February 17 Victoria’s Annual Seed & Garden Show

Denman Island Community Hall

10am to 4pm Victoria Conference Centre, 720 Douglas Street. Admission: $7 cash at the door, under 16 free Seedy Saturday Victoria, hosted by the James Bay Market Society, promotes seed diversity and local food security. Entering its 25th year of operation in Victoria, Seedy Saturday hosts more than 70 local businesses with seeds, plants, food products, garden services and not for profit organizations who continue to assist in growing greener communities in the Capital Region. For more information on Victoria’s annual Seedy Saturday find us at www.jamesbaymarket/ SeedySaturday. For Exhibitor and Volunteer enquiries, or comments, please email

February 3 Qualicum Beach Seedy Saturday

February 24th Tofino West Coast Seedy Saturday

January 27 Denman Island Seedy Saturday

10am to 3:30pm Qualicum Beach Civic Centre, 747 Jones St., Qualicum Beach Mark your calendar! Seed Swap, local garden related Vendors, Master Gardeners, Seedy Cafe and the “Shoots with Roots” family program. Admission by donation, proceeds going to school and community garden projects. Raffles and Door prizes! Check out our new website for more information. 70+ Vendors, Farmers Market, Seed Swap, Milner Garden’s “Shoots With Roots” children’s program, Master Gardeners, Seedy Cafe, Door Prizes and Raffle. Town of Qualicum Beach collecting garden chemicals.

February 10 Salt Spring Island Seedy Saturday

10am to 3pm Farmer’s Institute, 351 Rainbow Road Salt Spring Island Island Natural Growers presents: Salt Spring Island's 23rd Annual Seedy Saturday


Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018

10:00 am - 3:00 pm at the Tofino Botanical Gardens, Darwin's Cafe A fun filled, family friendly event that includes kids planting table and seed bomb making, island seed companies, garden related vendors, farmers coop table (local farm fresh food), seed swap table, compost demonstrations, workshops. Bring your cash to purchase this years seeds, local food and lunch! Suggested donation of $2.

March 3rd Comox Valley Seedy Saturday

10am to 3pm Florence Filberg Centre in Courtenay Comox Valley growers and seed savers host speakers are Des Kennedy and Lynda Smith. 40 vendors with locally and organically grown seeds and other garden related products. As always there is the seed exchange where you can bring in seeds to exchange or you can buy them. Vegetarian lunch will be served at the Seedy Cafe and there is a children's playroom. Entrance is $5 from 10 till 2 and free from 2 till 3.

March 4th Nanaimo Seedy Sunday

10am-3pm Nanaimo District Secondary School, 355 Wakesiah Ave. Nanaimo Seedy Sunday is all about the seeds! The Seed Swap is the core of our Seedy Sunday event. This is Nanaimo’s only event all about gardening and growing plants from seed. Admission is $3. Included in the price of Admission are 6 FREE 1 HOUR Workshops. Highlights: Seed exchange, 65+ Exhibitors of local seeds, seedlings, plants, small fruits and succulents. Displays of garden  & food products, Fertilizers and much more! Admission $3. Contact info Glenda 250-618-6323 or

March 10 Cobble Hill Seedy Saturday

10am to 3pm Cobble Hill Community Hall, 3550 Watson Ave, Cobble Hill Seeds, seed saving, community seed exchange, vendors of heritage seeds, organic seeds, locally grown plants, displays and info. FREE admission.

March 18 Duncan Seedy Sunday

10am to 2pm Cowichan Tribes Si’em Lelum Gymnasium 5574 River Rd., Duncan Cowichan Green Community hosts the 9th annual Duncan Seedy Sunday. An event for local gardeners to source locally and ecologically grown seeds, garden starts, and perennials, this event will also feature activities for children and a series of gardening workshops. Admission is $2/person. CGC members and children under the age of 13 years enter for free.

March 18 Campbell River Plant & Garden Expo

11am to 2pm Campbell River Community Centre A fun and interactive event for the whole community. Seed swap and sale featured. Attendance is free; refreshments available.

can't make the


Check out these local seed producers online Brother Nature Organic Seeds Providing, preserving, protecting and teaching about sustainable seed, soil & food sources. Catalogue on line only. Eagle Ridge Seeds Rare and endangered vegetables, herbs and flowers are our specialty. We practice organic gardening methods, use raised beds, water saving techniques and companion planting. Our designs attract beneficial insects. Order on line only.

Nature’s Garden Seed Company Quality products inspired by nature that will allow you to give, or enjoy for yourself, the everlasting gift of nature - of flowers, butterflies, hummingbirds and bumblebees, year after year.

Fraser's Thimble Farms Pacific Northwest natives, ferns, hardy orchids, erythroniums, corydalis and other rare plants. Main catalog on-line.

Ravensong Seeds Medicinal and Culinary herbs seeds organically-grown on Vancouver Island. Seed garlic too. Herb plant starts can be bought direct from the farm. Free catalogue and online.

Full Circle Seeds A certified organic seed co-operative that carries many heritage vegetable, herb and flower seeds. Catalogue on line.

Salt Spring Seeds Organically grown open-pollinated seeds. Specializes in beans. A large and interesting variety of vegetables grains and garlic. Catalog on-line.

Green Space Design Green Space Design grows a comprehensive selection of organic flower seeds, organic herb seeds, and organic vegetable seeds on Cortes Island. Catalogue on line.

The Market Garden Over 200 varieties of certified organic seeds.

Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018


bed and so to

Time to give the garden its yearly break


by Debra Cebula

h, winter gardening. We have already had a hard frost that killed most annuals and some of the tender perennials. Although we are in a mild climate zone here on Vancouver Island, we do get cold snaps, lots of rain, frost and snow during the winter months. Don’t let the cold and wet dampen your winter gardening tasks. By this time of year you should have trimmed all the dead and damaged branches from the perennials, shrubs and small trees in the garden. You have probably already raked up most of the leaves and put those into the compost. The roses and woody shrubs have been cut back by one third. The weeds and damaged or diseased plant parts have been disposed of to prevent spread. And finally, the garlic has been planted and a layer of mulch spread over them for the winter. But there are a still few more things to do in the garden before the cold and wet season sets in. Now is the time to prepare raised beds with mulch or leaves for easy Spring planting. Mulch, mulch and mulch some 16

more! Protect delicate perennials with a layer of composted manure or mulch from broken down leaves or even pine needles. Use straw for around the strawberries and green manures around the fruit trees. If there are container gardens in the yard, protect pots or containers from the rain by placing them under a roof overhang, in a greenhouse or in the shed during the cold weather. Vegetables Harvest the remainder of the vegetables. Cut globe artichokes to the ground and protect the roots with straw to protect from severe frost. Pull the last of the cabbage out, compost the extra leaves and hard stems and continue to harvest the Brussel sprouts as the buttons become firm. Plant a cover crop of winter rye, oats, clover or vetch to protect the soil from erosion and to keep the soil beds moist. This will also give the soil a boost of nutrients when turned under in the springtime. Fruit: Regularly check the apples and other fruits in cold storage and remove any of them that are showing signs of decay. Protect the strawberry plants from the cold and wet with a layer of straw; using materials that are free of weed seeds is highly recommended. Protect loose

Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018

soil around fruit trees with bark mulch or wood chips. Bare root fruit trees and shrubs can be planted from now until early spring provided the soil is not waterlogged or frozen. Planting shrubs, especially this time of year, will provide forage for song birds, try Oregon grape, sea buckthorn, black hawthorn, yew, holly, or berberis , to name a few. Provide some fresh, clean water in the garden for the birds to drink as many water sources may be frozen. Prune red and black currants from now until early spring. Protect the trunks of young fruit trees from pests with metal or plastic guards around their base. Young trees are the most tender so they are the first ones to be attacked. Protect perennials by putting them under cold frames or cover them with burlap sacks and a layer of mulch. Tender perennials, like the dwarf pomegranate, can be brought into the greenhouse or into a cool and dry area of the garage or shed. Be sure to allow air to flow through vents or leave the door or window open a little. Water the plants moderately during this time to prevent fungus gnats and moulds from forming on the soil. Flowers: Protect perennials flowers with a layer of mulch around the base of each plant. This can be composed of green



manure of comfrey, for example. Protect perennial herbs in cold frames or cover them with a layer of mulch. For new flower borders, dig the soil about 8 - 10 inches deep and mix in plenty of well-decayed manure or garden compost. Remove and dispose of all perennial weeds. Mulch. Cut back irises about 4 inches and dispose of the leaf ends. If the patch is quite large, consider dividing the iris rhizomes. Use a fork to lift the rhizomes carefully, and cut or break apart gently. Each rhizome should be about 4 inches in length and have at least one fan of leaves. Do not remove the roots. Plant now in a prepared bed or store them until spring in dry sawdust or sand in a dry, cool, but frost free area. Prepare aquatic areas by cutting back leaves and branches from around the edges. Remove water hyacinth and parrot feather to prevent rot


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Clean your tools. The lawnmower, weed eater and leaf blower should be cleaned and stored for the winter. Shovels, hoes, rakes and forks need to be cleaned as well. Clean with water and let dry before storing them in a dry place. A protective layer of allpurpose oil or penetrating oil can be applied to metal shovels, rakes and hoes to prevent rusting. Clean the wheel barrow and store for the coming growing season. Have a safe and fun winter and sleep easy knowing that your garden has been properly put to rest for the season. There are a number of burlap coffee bean sacks that can be purchased in Cowichan Green Community’s Garden Pantry Store at 360 Duncan Street in Duncan, BC.

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Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018


awe can tradition all share by Judy Stafford, Publisher


love traditions of all kinds. At least, I love the ‘idea’ of traditions. I think I just have a romantic feeling and vision of what traditions are supposed to look like but perhaps I’m somewhat lacking in the delivery. You see, I moved around a lot and my younger life was pretty crazy and somewhat unstable so there weren’t many traditions that ‘stuck’ as I was growing up. Which probably has led to my slightly erratic commitment to anything traditional. Having said that, I also think traditions can come and go. Some traditions get passed down from generation to generation, sometimes with no real reason other than, “We’ve always done it that way.” But other traditions have real meaning behind them as well. I’ve shared some traditions with my children – saying blessing and being grateful for our food before meals, or giving a new Christmas stocking every year. I have to admit, I was kinda late on starting that tradition with my daughter who was probably 7 years old when she got a new one to keep but now at 25 she has quite a fabulous collection …. I already have this one purchased and tucked away! I’m trying to end my frantic, leave-til-the-last-minute holiday shopping tradition this year and even have my little stash building up in one safe spot in my house. In years past, a lousy

tradition was to pre-buy presents and then proceed to lose them before Christmas day only to be unearthed months or even years later. But one successful tradition that seems to stick around is the basic menu for Christmas dinner. Although even that’s been tricky for sure, considering I have been a meat eater (26 years ago), a vegan, a macrobiotic, a vegetarian, a vegetarian except home-raised chickens, to back to vegetarian, to back to vegan, to sort of a locavore – you get it. But what doesn’t change is the turkey, local and organic all the way, except those of us who opt for the Tofuturkey, mashed potatoes, with butter or margarine, or oil, or neither, sweet potatoes, with or without marshmallows, brussels sprouts (no matter what!), stuffing, and some completely crazy variations of gravy! The vegan gravy I’ve experimented with over the last few years has become the most popular and is even preferred by the meat eaters in the group! But regardless of what holiday traditions you celebrate with your families and loved ones, I really hope local food becomes a bigger part of your culinary creations. We need to support our farmers year round and what better way than to enjoy the deliciousness of locally and lovingly grown food close to home. I wish you all the best for a healthy, happy, and yummy holiday and New Year!

cowichan green


community notes

Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018


cowichan grown

farm map keeps growing

If you are a Cowichan-based food, farm, or drink producer or processor, and are interested in registering for the 2018 map, please visit to sign up today or call Laura at 250-748-8506.

This year for Christmas, offer local, edible and thoughtful gifts to your relatives! Pick ava up no ila w Vic ble in tori a!

by Laura Boyd-Clowes 2018 will mark the release of the 9th edition of the popular Cowichan Grown Farm Map. This annual guide has now been helping Cowichan residents and visitors seek out and discover Cowichan-grown food, drink, and value-added products for almost a decade. The Cowichan, which reaches from Shawnigan Lake to south of Nanaimo, is Canada’s only Maritime-Mediterranean climatic zone. This means that farmers in the region are uniquely positioned to produce high-quality agricultural goods that may not be found elsewhere. As such, Cowichan has made a name for itself as a region capable of producing an astounding diversity of farm-fresh produce, artisanal foods, and beverages. The Cowichan Grown Farm Map shines a light on this bounty, and the talented and hard-working producers behind it. In 2017, 57 different farms and businesses were featured, all with something unique, fresh, and delicious to offer consumers. From seasonal fruits and veggies, wines, baked goods, honey, tea, seafood, nuts, berries, and meats to more unusual products like steelhead trout, hemp, limes, and balsamic vinegar, local ingredients and products can be easily found by browsing listings on the paper map or by using the online search tool at www. Searches can be made by farm name, product, production method, or location. We recommend keeping a copy of the paper map in your car for those times when you need help finding a last minute ‘something special’ for a gift or dinner party, or just to help you stock the fridge with the best that Cowichan has to offer! Limited copies of the 2017 print map are still available at Cowichan Green Community’s office at 360 Duncan Street in Duncan, or phone 250-748-8506 for other pick-up locations near you.

Cowichan’s online farmers’ market


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Come see what the island has to offer

for the holdiays! Cowichan Green Community

Laura is a Farm intern with Cowichan Green Community, and a keen locavore.

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360 Duncan Street

Cowichan Green Community

Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018



the newest

old thing

If something works, why change?


by Foster Richardson t never ceases to amaze me how often in small scale farming we turn to the past in order to move forward. This has been particularly tangible when it comes to seed cleaning. Case in point, the Cowichan Incubator Seed Farm’s ‘brand new’ seed cleaner. One could waste away the hours searching for a newly made, appropriately scaled, top of line modern seed cleaner (trust me, I did), only to find a price tag well beyond most small seed growers’ reach. Enter the height of technology circa 1900: our Eureka Seed Cleaner, made in Silver Creek 20

NY, a hundred years or more ago. Originally driven by hand crank, the Eureka now sports electric motors for both the fan and the shakers, making it about as high tech as we could need around here. The Eureka is great example of a technology that really hasn’t changed much in an awfully long time. Today you can purchase brand new machines that contain the exact system of seed cleaning employed in the late 19th century models, and in sizes that range from desktop versions, to models you could fit in your garage. So why haven’t we moved past this old technology? Well, because

Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018

it’s simple and it works. Contained in the cheerful little wooden contraption are three main components: a top ‘scalping’ screen that eschews larger materials, a second ‘grading’ screen that allows small and weedy seeds to pass through, and a fan that removes any chaff or other light material. The screens, of course, are interchangeable, and one could spend on small fortune amassing the dozens of different sizes and shapes available. We’re starting with 6 sizes and will fill our collection as needed. You could, of course, do this same process with a few hand screens, some buckets, and a fan; in fact that’s exactly the

method we’ve employed up to now. But the added efficiency and consistency of a seed cleaner makes it a necessity for doing the quantities we have. We were able to acquire this tool – in dramatic online auction fashion – thanks entirely to the generosity of the local group Agricultural Awareness, who contributed $2500 to its purchase. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. We have bags and bins of seed, hundreds of pounds in total, that will find their way through this antique, but thoroughly chic, cleaner this year.

Vegetable Soup with Beets by Debra Cebula

Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 40 minutes INGREDIENTS 2 tbsp. olive oil 2 tbsp butter (optional) 4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable) 1 red onion diced 4 cloves garlic minced 2 carrots diced 2 stalks celery chopped 1 potato (bite size pieces) 1 turnip or rutabaga (cut into strips) 1/3 red or green cabbage thinly sliced Handful of beet tops chopped 2 beets cut into bite size pieces 2 beets shredded ½ can tomatoes or 4 – 6 fresh tomatoes blanched, skinned and chopped dill weed; bay leaf; thyme 1 tbsp vinegar Salt and pepper to taste INSTRUCTIONS 1. In a medium pot, cook the onion until translucent. Add the celery carrots and diced beets. Let cook a few minutes, then add the potatoes, garlic and salt and pepper. Cook a few minutes longer and add the broth, bay leaf and some dill. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer for 20 minutes. 2. In a frying pan melt the butter. Sauté the sliced cabbage, the turnip or rutabaga, the beet tops for 5 minutes. 3. Add the tomatoes and the sautéed vegetables to the soup. Bring to a simmer and add the shredded beets, the vinegar and more dill. Check the seasonings and cook until the potatoes are tender. 4. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a slice of bread.

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

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

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

Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018


the row to

happiness Surprise! Gardening is good for you

W by Eric Morten

your lungs. More oxygen makes you stronger, smarter and happier. Studies continually show that getting outside is directly linked relieving to anxiety and depression. And it’s year-round here. There is always something that can be done in a garden.

inter can be a down time. As the days become increasingly short and the weather turns many of us indoors, it can be a challenge to to stay positive. Even here in our coastal paradise, we can suffer from things like cabin fever and the more serious seasonal affective disorder. But gardening can make you happy.

Here are some ABCs of the emotional benefits from gardening. Accomplishment. From the sprouting of a seedling to a bountiful harvest, nothing feels so good as the sense that, with nature, you’ve grown something from almost nothing. The amount of work you need to put in depends only on what you want out of it. For many, a few flowers or a bowl of berries is enough to feel like you’ve really made something happen. Air. It’s usually necessary to get outside to do the work. To get the job done, you’ve got to get some of that good air in

Meet our Agriculture Services Specialists 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) Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018

Better Sleep. It’s also been shown scientifically that gardening reduces anxiety and stress. According to a study where two groups who were measured for anxiety spent time reading indoors and gardening outdoors, both groups’ stress levels were reduced but the greater reduction was from gardening (perhaps the best solution is reading about gardening – Ed.). I find that it’s so much easier to get to sleep with a clear mind. And the physical exercise you get from gardening activities will always result in a well-earned healthy rest. Better Eats. Nothing beats food fresh from the garden. Easily grow organic and delicious home-grown fruits and veggies. Our family has always done well with beans or peas, Share it with your friends and family and feel great about it. The Canadian Mental Health Association links good physical health to better mental health and includes physical activity as well as access to nutritious food.

Comox Valley Farmers’ Market Your Year Round

Downtown Comox Source for Local Food Downtown Thursdays 4pm to 7pm OPEN EVERY SATURDAY 10-1 Courtenay

location: Native Hall Son’s Hall Downtown Courtney atWinter the Native Son’s Downtown Courtenay Wednesdays 9am to 1 pm Saturdays 9-12 EVERY SATURDAY MORNING ALL YEAR Closed & Jan 3rd ComoxDec Valley27th Exhibition Bringing local food to Saturdays 9amJan to 12pm Re-opening 10th. Phone: 250- 218- 0321

Local folks since 1992

250-218-0321 • •

Community. It’s a mistake to think that gardening is a solitary endeavour. For my part, anytime I’ve been out working, neighbours and passers by can’t resist stopping for a comment, expressing interest or just saying “Hello.” Like most pastimes, there’s a community of people who share your interest and are also excited to share ideas and methods as well as their own experience. Calm. The beauty of gardening is the ability to do as much or as little as you want. You can take out your entire lawn and plant it with vegetables or you can fill a couple of pots for your window sill with flowers. Nature is amazing and it’s also forgiving. Given the conditions, nutrients and water, plants will grow. And often, if something is not working, simple changes can yield better results. And there are many who are willing to help with experience and advice. Take it outside, do what you will, enjoy the airs and the weather when you can. The payoff is exercise and lessons from nature as well as its rewards. The whole of you, including your spirit, will feel better for it.


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

250.748.8171 250.753.4221 250.248.3243 250.652.9188 Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018


a tradition of


Turn the page to learn how to create this beautiful winter-themed centrepiece for your table or mantel.


CHOOSE YOUR BASE. Chances are you already have something suitable.

Maybe there is a special or sentimental dish or bowl you like to put to use every holiday. If not, a trip to your local florist or thrift store can yield a good container. Flat, tray-style containers will allow the finished arrangement to stay below eye-level. You don’t want anything too tall — your guests will want converse across the table without peeking through the foliage. If you are making a fresh arrangement, remember to be sure your container is 100% waterproof.


The best way to soak floral foam (available at florists, craft and dollar stores) is to place dry foam on top of water in a bucket, sink, or tub. Walk away. (Forcing foam into the water creates unwanted bubbles.) Once the foam fully submerges, it’s ready to put into your container.


using waterproof tape. This is especially important if you will need to move the arrangement or if your arrangement will include candles or other accessories. If you choose to include candle(s), make sure you account for placement at this stage and place the tape off-center. While you can carefully remove and reposition the tape, it isn’t recommended. You want the most “stick factor” possible to anchor your masterpiece and ensure your foundation doesn’t budge. Remember, there are many layers to a centerpiece; securing it at every step is crucial.


Look no further than your backyard for greenery! Take your garden shears and cut small branches up to 12” lengths (you can re-cut as needed as you arrange). All you need is an armful. Be sure to rinse it all when you bring it inside to wash away unwanted bugs or debris. I like to spray it down outside and then bring it inside in a rubbermaid-type container or place it into the bathtub. Cut each stem at an angle and clean off the bottom 2-3 inches so that the stems enter the foam cleanly and firmly when you work them into the foam. Working on a large surface, lay out your materials and prepared stems. Use an old plastic table cloth or drop cloth to make clean-up easier. Be careful of sap. Prep your fresh flower stems too and leave them in a vase until you are ready to insert them. Insert stems firmly into the secure foam. Try to aim for a “diamond” shape – long at either end and shorter on the sides. You can rearrange the greenery until you are pleased with the shape, but never re-insert in the same location to avoid unwanted bubbles. Aim for the least rearranging possible. You may wish to have another foam block on hand, just-incase. Insert stems at varying angles to create height as well as dimension. Alternate your greens; for example, some greenery will give length, others offer fullness. Use greens such as ivy or holly for contrast and interest.The greenery should completely hide any mechanics. Alternately, purchase a ready-made swag (or garland) and assemble an artificial arrangement. For this, simply switch out wet floral foam with the dry, styrofoam kind (available at big box stores, craft stores, or dollar stores). Use this type of hard foam whenever you are working with artificial stems which don’t require water. You will still want to secure the dry foam to the container with some sort of heavy-duty tape. 26

Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018


We use a flameless candle (or, LED candle) with a setting that automatically turns on (and stays on for five hours) at the same time each day. It’s safe and beautiful. The higher-quality the flameless candle, the more realistic the flame is. They do come in many colours but we prefer the classic white. If using dinner or taper candles, candle anchors are necessary for safety: you don’t want to risk a lit candle falling over and starting a fire. Anchors can be purchased at craft stores or online: ask if your local florist stocks them. Use them even if you do not intend on lighting your candles just in case someone “helps out” and lights them for you. We use waterproof glue as an extra measure when placing the anchor into the foam: it’s a bit of extra insurance against dangerous mishaps.

ADD FLOWERS AND ACCESSORIES. Congratulations, your

arrangement is coming together! If you are using real flowers, chose long-lasting blooms such as carnations or mums. If you’re looking for something a bit more formal or exotic, orchids are reliable blooms also. Roses can work, but be prepared to re-cut and re-position every few days. Have spares on hand to replace as needed. Depending on the size of your arrangement, you should only need a few blooms per side – don’t go crazy and buy large bundles; you won’t need that many. You might also consider adding other seasonal items such as pine cones, ribbon, bows, candy canes, chocolate, candy, cinnamon sticks, berry strands, berry stems (try hypericum), holly, festive picks or small ornaments. Some items will need to be wired into the arrangement so they don’t move.


Your centerpiece needs hydration in order to look its best, so remember to water your arrangement regularly. A word of caution: know how much liquid your vessel holds and check the current level with your fingers before adding additional water to prevent any overflow onto your table. You might want to place a baking tray under your centerpiece to catch overflow.


If using fresh flowers, be prepared to change out wilted or dying stems before your company arrives. Fresh arrangements soak up the most water in the first few days. Remember: the warmer the room, the shorter the life of your flowers. One solution is to move your centerpiece carefully to a cooler room and bring it back out each evening. If you choose to make up the base with fresh greenery and then insert silk flowers (try poinsettias), you will only need to hydrate your base every few days. The result will be just as beautiful but with less fuss.


If you choose to use real candles, remember to check that they are secure each time you light and extinguish them. Never leave lit candles unattended.

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. 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: Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018



Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018

running with the


Agricultural traditions thrive with Young Agrarians land access initiatives


by Darcy Smith & Moss Dance

t started with a love for food. Roger Woo worked in kitchens around the world before he decided to start his own farm in the Lower Mainland in BC. Roger is a food poet of sorts—the founder of The Farmhouse Bard, he operates a market garden where he pursues his passion for heirloom fruit and vegetable varieties, keeping traditions alive with each seed he sows. “I wanted to taste their colours and tell stories of their origins,” writes Roger, “to grow the history of crookneck watermelons, and the tale of mortgage lifter tomatoes. And so I travelled to seek old seeds, forgotten recipes, and traditions we had abandoned in our modern quest for volume, speed, and productivity.” With experience growing across North America, from Virginia to Ontario, he felt most drawn to growing food in the fertile Lower Mainland valley for a number of reasons, including a sense of community and access to markets. Like many other young and new farmers in the region, he knew he was starting down a tough path. “I knew I wanted to farm in B.C.,” Roger says, “but I saw significant challenges to acquiring appropriate farmland in the area, both in terms of finding land and cultivating relationships with landowners. I know there are people out there who have land, and people who want land, but we aren’t necessarily able to make the connections ourselves.” Surrey, where Roger is now farming, has 3,000 acres of unused farmable land. story continued next page

Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018


About the Young Agrarians Land Matching Pilot That’s where Young Agrarians comes in. A resource network for new and young farmers, Young Agrarians offers online resources, educational events, land access programming, and business mentorships for new farms in start-up. Landowners, whether they’re farmers themselves or want to see their land farmed, can also plug into the Young Agrarians network to find a farmer. Through an online U-MAP (a play on U-Pick) land registry, both landowners and farmers seeking land can list themselves and connect with others in their region. The land registry is enhanced by the Young Agrarians Land Matching Program, which offers personalized, hands-on support connecting farmland owners across the Lower Mainland with experienced young farmers who are seeking land in a real estate market that has all but priced out agriculture. In this innovative model, a Land Matcher screens farmers and land opportunities, then matches farmers and landowners with similar visions and needs. If there’s a spark, the Land Matcher facilitates a “dating” process, where the farmer and landowner get to know each other and map out their land agreement with the Land Matcher’s support. The program has already helped a number of landowners achieve their vision and empower farmers, and witnessed the birth of five new farms, 30

with a few more in the works. For one such new farm, landowner David Feldhaus met Roger through the Land Matching Program, and in May they broke ground on David’s land in Surrey. Roger’s new farm, The Farmhouse Bard, is now supplying restaurants in the Lower Mainland with tomatoes, greens, and much more, as well as running a 16 week Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. “For years we have been wanting to make a positive change,” says David. “Seeing our fields blooming with row after row of organic vegetables is a very happy outcome.“

Land Linking: Save the Date! Are you a landowner with dreams of blooming rows of veggies or fields dotted with pastured chickens? Or maybe you are hoping to get into farming by finding the perfect land match? Please save the date for our Vancouver Island Land Linking event in Shawnigan Lake on February 10, 2017 from 1-6PM! Our Land Linking events give landowners and land seekers a chance to present land opportunities, network, and learn about land leasing. Registration for the Land Linking will be free. We will be hosting our 5th Annual Winter Mixer concurrently with the Land Linking event. Our Winter Mixer will be a two-day gathering filled to the brim with workshops, skill-sharing, and networking for new and young farmers. Registration will be sliding scale $75150 and will include overnight shared accommodation and delicious local

Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018

meals by Nature’s Chef. Details on our 5th Annual Vancouver Island Winter Mixer are coming soon. For now, please save the dates: February 10-11, 2018 at Camp Pringle in Shawnigan Lake. Stay tuned for more details on both events at: Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at: @youngagrarians About Young Agrarians (YA): In B.C. Young Agrarians is a partnership with FarmFolk CityFolk. Our mission is to grow the next generation of farmers in Canada. To learn more about us visit: The Young Agrarians Land Matching Program is a partnership with the City of Surrey, in collaboration with Quebec’s Banque de terres agricoles. Funding is provided by Vancity, the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, and the Ministry of Agriculture under Growing Forward II, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

Darcy Smith is the Young Agrarians Land Matcher for the Lower Mainland, offering hands-on, personalized matchmaking services to farmers seeking land and land owners with land available to lease, and support in developing land agreements. Moss Dance is the West Coast Coordinator for Young Agrarians. She lives on Salt Spring Island, where she is hatching plans for the 5th Annual Vancouver Island Winter Mixer, and sowing seeds for her next farm project.

4-H FARM FROLICS What do we want? Low flying airplane noises! When do we want them?

NNNEEEEEEOOOOOOOOWWWWWW Why did the cowboy get a

dacshund? He wanted to

get a long little doggie.

What did the left eye say to the right eye? Between you and me, something

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

Q: Why did the banana go to the



A: Because it was not

peeling well

Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018



Island Farm & Garden - Winter 2017 / 2018

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Island Farm & Garden Winter 2017-2018