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Spring! Water toEarth Month two good reasons to celebrate

Pet Expo tricks & treats

Farmers Markets

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Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017

here time to get working


by Eric Morten, Editor

ah, spring! It's finally arrived. The snows of winter have passed (hopefully) and it's time to put all of those winter plans into action. Whether it be a garden plot or starting new seedlings, it's time to get working.

In this issue, you'll find stories with tips and how-to discussions relevant to the season–seeds, feed, repurposing. It's all part of the sharing of our agriculture. We hope there is something to take from the pages of this issue. You will read much about Duncan's upcoming Seedy Sunday, what you can do there and how to treat the proceeds for best results. Our winter issue featured as many seedy events as we were aware of. A late addition comes to us from Port Alberni. Port Alberni Farmers' Market will be hosting one on April 1st, 2017. As far as we can tell, it's the last one of the year. 9am to 1 pm, 6211 Cherry Creek Road. Seed Swap, Guest Vendors, Plants plus Farmers' Market. Indoors & Out. For info: Deana Bolger 250 723 4514 or Don't be foolish, get out there on April 1!

ISLAND FARM &GARDEN 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 Go with the Flow.................................................................................4 Move Over, Rover–Our Farm to Yours.................................................6 Big Plans..............................................................................................8 Greener Pastures................................................................................10 Hops to It............................................................................................12 Market Updates.................................................................................16 Cowichan Green Community Notes..................................................18 BC Seed Trials.....................................................................................20 Vancouver Island Pet Expo.................................................................22 How to Round Up Cattle....................................................................23 Canary in the Coal Mine....................................................................26 The Farm Policy..................................................................................28 A Great Start.......................................................................................29 4-H Farm Frolics.................................................................................30


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Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017

By Joe McCallum Regional District of Nanaimo Team WaterSmart


he Regional District of Nanaimo’s Team WaterSmart, along with local community partners, have celebrated water in the spring-time for several years now; organizing workshops and community events that have brought residents and entire communities together to appreciate our most valuable resource – water! This year, the festivities continue to grow, as an entire month of events and activities will be offered for the public to enjoy. “Water to Earth Month 2017” will kick-off on March 12th at Water Day in Parksville, will be followed by six weeks of water and earthrelated activities, and will be capped-off by the Earth, Water, and Wild Foods Festival in Nanaimo on April 23rd. These two cornerstone events to the month will be free and family-friendly, featuring interactive educational booths, vendors, kid’s activities, food,

celebrations in Parksville and Nanaimo, we hope to see you there!

Nanaimo & District Celebrates


a rt h E o 2017

Schedule of Events

* indicates advance registration required


The high quality and abundance of fresh water on Vancouver Island is no secret to those who live here, though the finite and fragile nature of this most precious and fundamental resource can be easy to overlook. By providing entertaining and educational activities to the public, we at Team WaterSmart seek to promote protection and appreciation of the freshwater that so defines our communities. Water to Earth Month’s main goal will be to bring residents and communities together to

To learn more about Water to Earth Month please visit

Many workshops and activities require registration so please sign up if you are interested. Team WaterSmart and our community partners will be on hand throughout the month and at both community


Bridging the globally recognized World Water Day (March 22) and Earth Day (April 22), the RDN’s Water to Earth Month will feature something for everyone. Weekend guided stream walks, an edible native plant harvest, and a tour of the Nanaimo River watershed and water treatment plant are great opportunities to spend time outdoors and learn from experienced guides about the connection between the water and the land, the species that live in our watersheds, and the process of getting clean drinking water to our taps. For those seeking some adventure a guided rafting tour through the Nanaimo River estuary will offer both excitement and education! More in the mood for something low-key? Take in Water Film Night at VIU or hop on a floatie at the Divein Theatre at the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre to watch a family-friendly water movie.

celebrate the natural resource that has so shaped our culture, heritage, art, and way of life.

Wat er

and live music. Both events will also feature workshops presented by leading experts in the fields of water-wise gardening, efficient irrigation, rain gardens, and lawn alternatives – all of which promote efficient water use and conservation.

Water Day Celebrations Sunday, March 12 11 am-3 pm Parksville Community & Conference Centre •Wed, Mar 22: Nanaimo River Watershed & Treatment Plant Tour *

•Wed, Mar 22: NALT AGM & Guest Speaker, Dave Clough on “Water Course Restoration”

•Sat, Mar 25: Stream Walk at Little Qualicum River *

•Thu, Mar 30: Nanaimo River Rafting *

•Sat, Apr 1: Stream Walk at Departure Creek *

•Thu, Apr 6 & Mon, Apr 10: Septic Smart Workshop *

•Sat, Apr 8: Dive-In Theatre “Finding Nemo” at Nanaimo Aquatic Centre (regular admission rates)

•Wed, Apr 12: Water Films Night at VIU

•Sat, Apr 15: Water Safety Survival Day at Nanaimo Aquatic Centre (regular admission rates)

•Thu/Fri, Apr 20 & 21: Wild Foods Harvest (contact NALT for details)

•Sat/Sun, Apr 22 & 23: Stream Keepers Workshop (contact NALT for details)

•Sun, Apr 23: Stream Walk at Millstone River *

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

Earth, Water & Wild Foods Festival Sunday, April 23 11 am-3 pm Bowen Park

Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Program




Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017


move over

rover Fron dog house to chicken coop


Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017

Our Farm to Yours


by Lesley Lorenz

ur first chicken coop began its life as a dog house. We began ‘farming’ in the Nanaimo city limits, so we were roosterless until we purchased our farm in Yellowpoint.

We started with just three hens, which provided eggs for a family of five very nicely. We cut open the side of the dog house (which we got for free) and mounted the cut piece on a hinge to make a large door for cleaning the coop. We used some rustic arbutus for the perches (not too large in diameter, as the chicken’s foot should encircle the branch). Nest boxes were mounted on the opposite side so that the girls wouldn’t poop into the nest boxes while they were roosting. A small low-watt red bulb on a timer was added to the coop in the winter to encourage a longer laying time (it’s the amount of light that matters to the girls, not the temperature, although it did keep their water from freezing too, which was nice.) Next we made a sliding panel to fit over the front opening.

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A chicken wire box was fitted to the front (floor included) to contain the girls when necessary, but they could also be let out the big side door for mucking about in the big yard, as they do most days. Wheels could be added to the unit if you wanted it to be mobile.

Lesley’s Tip for Moving/Banding Chickens You might want to put a leg band on a successful brooder hen, or move an aggressive bird to another coop. Move your chickens at night, as they get very sleepy and docile and won’t flutter and squawk as much. Turn the bird around and tuck her head under your armpit and she’ll be extra quiet, and in the perfect position for banding. A burlap or large paper bag also works as a very temporary holder while you move them from one end of the yard to the other if you don’t have a designated pet carrier or appropriate box.

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w w w. w e s t v i e w f o r d . c a Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017


spring brings small shoots and

big plans


by Christine Rozema y the time this goes to press two important times will have passed for us here on Rozehaven Farm. The first is our annual New Year’s Day planning conversation – we sit together with a pot of coffee and write down all the goals and work we hope to achieve in the coming year. We make lists of projects. We factor in any events we know about and discuss how the dates of those events will impact time sensitive work on the farm. This year we have a couple trips planned but the toughest one is at the


Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017

end of April, right in the middle of bee swarm season and chick hatching season. Both of these “seasons” have pretty inflexible activities so it took some serious thought as to what we had to do to mitigate our absence from the farm for even a short while. This planning day also gives us a chance to reflect on the past year, the lessons learned and, most importantly, how are we doing towards our overall goals for the farm. The second important event is January 19th. Why that weird date, you ask? Well, for us northern hemisphere types, January 19th is the last day the earth continues to cool. Starting on the 20th, slowly and inexorably, the planet begins to retain more heat than it loses on a day-to-day basis. This date comes about from the tilt and orbit of our planet around the sun. I like to think of January 19th as the first day of spring. Gerry is much more pragmatic, pointing to our weather log showing still below 0° temperatures overnight. But we both know that spring is approaching and we’d better be ready. We already start thinking about feeding our bees by the 10th of February to see if they can be ready and able to take advantage of any possible maple flow. By the beginning of February up here in Campbell River, the hazelnuts and willows are pollinating and the bees fly whenever the daytime temps allow. The first clutch of eggs is in the incubator and there is hope for a better fertility than last year. The earliest of earlies, the broad beans, are poking their neon green heads out of makeshift plant greenhouses made out of old bulk croissant packages. They will go into the greenhouse to harden off then into the garden, cold feet and all. My seed-starting unit is set up and ready to accept the trays and trays of seedlings that will be coming. All the seeds have all arrived, the saved seed from last years is sorted and there is a general sense of optimism around here. It is what I love most about being on the farm – the renewed sense of optimism every new year. No matter what is going on in the world, here on the farm we control our own little destiny. No matter what is going on in the world, we can set goals, make plans and put our own backs into getting the work done. It is a supremely satisfying feeling and calms me. I am emboldened to resist the corporatization of our food system through saving and sharing my own seeds, by growing, creating and sharing my own food, by sharing knowledge and support with my local community and making it a better place. There are still many ways we can change the world and it starts at home.

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Island Farm & Garden - Island WinterFarm 2016&/ 2017 Garden - Spring 2017


when greener pastures may not be so



By Andrea Plaxton, DVM ith winter almost behind us and the longer days of sunshine soon upon us, it won’t be long before pastures all over the island will be greening up and growing fast. While rolling green pastures are pretty to look at, they should be greeted with warning by horse owners. And, for owners of horses with a history of laminitis or other metabolic issues, such as Cushings Disease, the green grass of spring represents a time of increased dietary vigilance. The issue with spring grass, in particular, is that the longer days of sunlight and warmth foster photosynthesis that produces non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs), which are basically sugars--glucose, fructose, and sucrose; fructans and starches. These sugars are what make it so risky for horses. If horses are allowed to graze at will once the grass starts to green up--transitioning too quickly from their winter diets of hay and nutrient supplements-- they can at risk for several significant health issues. Specifically, the horses’ digestive process converts


Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017

the NSCs to glucose. If the intake of the carbohydrates is not managed by introducing the horses to spring pastures over a period of time or a horse has metabolic/insulinresistance issues, their system is bombarded with sugar to the point that normal insulin production may not handle the processing and the blood sugar levels rise uncontrollably; and fermentation of the sugars in the large intestine can be disrupted. A huge risk of this blood sugar-insulin overproduction and/or fermentation of starches can cause a very painful and potentially fatal hoof disease called laminitis. Laminitis is a breakdown of the tissues in the hoof that suspend the coffin bone. This condition is extremely painful for the horse, causing lameness of varying degrees (affecting one to all four feet in severe cases). For horses that experience laminitis repeatedly, each session is often more severe, causing more damage to the hoof structures, and recovery often takes longer. Horses with recurring laminitis, are not only in a lot of pain for days or weeks, but they require careful dietary management, often frequent veterinary intervention, and repeated farrier visits. For most with recurring laminitis, even the use of a grazing muzzle is not enough restriction. These horses must be totally removed from grazing on green grass

and should be limited to a dry lot, fed analysed hay and nutritional supplements only. For some horse owners, removing a horse from field grazing with the herd presents a significant management challenge. Compounding the metabolic issues is the horse’s reduced level of physical activity (due to the pain) that exacerbates the situation, since the lessactive horse doesn’t burn the calories needed to lose weight, which reduces the risk for recurrence and intensity of bouts. But, if this extra care and vigilance is not employed, the horse is at risk for rotation of the coffin bone within the hoof capsule and in severe cases, collapse through the sole, potentially resulting in euthanasia. While most horses will not develop laminitis from spring grass and can transition quite naturally from winter feeding to spring grasses, owners should still introduce them slowly and pay particular attention to horse’s body condition score (risk increases with scores greater than 6 with the Henneke scoring system). It is important, however, to keep in mind that metabolic issues can arise without being obese. It is recommended that all horses are introduced to unlimited grazing on spring grasses an hour a day once it greens up, and then increased in thirty-minute increments over a period of several weeks.

Additionally, pay attention to the time of day and nighttime temperature to decide when the horses are allowed to graze. NSCs are typically more concentrated in the afternoon after hours of sunlight and usually lower in the morning, which means grazing in the morning is typically safer. But, we all know that during many Vancouver Island springs, the temperature at night can drop below 5 degrees or a frost occurs. As a result, the grass does not grow as much in the cool night, and the sugars are not significantly lower in the morning than in the afternoon. On these occasions, grazing in the morning may not be as safe as it is when night temperatures are warmer later in the season.

Also remember that stress to grass, such as a drought during our dry Island summers, can also cause grass to conserve sugar. This means that even when the grass dries up a bit, it can still be quite rich in sugar, so owners should still take care to manage grazing of their horses, especially those inclined to hold weight and suffer laminitis. Contact your veterinarian with questions about grazing management or concerns about and management of horses prone to laminitis.

Andrea Plaxton, DVM, is owner of Epona Equine Veterinary Services, which cares for horses from Nanoose to Port Hardy.

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to it! Intensive growing and demand by craft brewers keeps Island producers busy


Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017


by Eric Morten

farmed before so there are lots of good nutrients still left in the ground so we haven't had to add much in the way of fertilizers as of yet; however hops grow 20 feet plus every year so they demand a lot," says Lymburner. "Our field is designed for hand picking. The rows are too narrow for heavy machinery so it has been challenging picking, drying and processing the hops in a timely manner. However, hops start off slow so we have had a few years to get a good system down and now enjoy the hands on approach to harvesting."

here's something brewing on Vancouver Island farms. Growers are discovering hops as a crop and craft brewers are jumping to buy their product. "Hops are amazing plants," says Danielle Lymburner, manager of Eagle Moon Farm in the Cowichan Valley. "They grow over 20 feet tall each season. I enjoy growing and producing something that is used locally and supports a larger industry. I like growing quality ingredients. I get to farm the land and meet brewers who are serious about their craft." Lymburner, who lives with her family on 14 acres has three acres of hops which they began growing in 2013. Currently, there are 10 varieties under way at Eagle Moon Farm. And there are over 100 varieties to chose from. With varietal names such as "Zeus," "Fuggle" and "Sterling," hops are the fruit of bines (different from vines as they use their shoots rather than tendrils to climb) that are grown on a trellis system–a network of cables strung across the tops of tall poles. Indeed, during the off-season, a field resembles a crop of telephone poles.

Facing the challenges appears to be paying off.

Setting up such a system is where most of the work and expense lies for the growers, but it can be worth it. Sue Handel, owner/operator of Vancouver Island Hop Co. agrees, "The upfront effort and cost ($12,000-$15,000 per acre) is significant, but tapers off each year after. Hops are perennial, and the trellis system will last decades if well installed. I did a lot of research into how quickly the craft brew industry was

growing in BC and on the Island, and decided it was a good investment over the long term." Handel began last year with one acre and plans to expand an acre per year to a total of six on her Yellowpoint farm. Hops need good drainage, irrigation and air flow and thrive in nitrogen-rich soils which makes much of the Island well-suited for growing. "Our fields have not been

"The market is good," says Handel. "Local brewers buy the majority of their hops in the US (Washington, Oregon, Idaho). But given the opportunity to buy on the Island, they can offer their customers a brew made from locally sourced ingredients, and that is a strong marketing position. There is a high demand for local hops amongst island craft breweries." Lymburner agrees. "We set up a booth at the beer fest in Victoria a few years ago and received a lot of attention from Vancouver island Brewers wanting a local source for hops. To date we have been able to sell everything that

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Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017

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Danielle Lymburner tends her crop from a 20 foot platform Photo courtesy Daryl Griffith

we've produced. We are small in the hops farming world–even at full production we would never be able to produce enough hops to service a large scale brewer. But with our multiple varieties and hand picking attention to detail processing, we are a perfect fit for local micro breweries." Hops can be processed in several ways such as dried, wet or pelletized. They are the same family as hemp and marijuana

but share none of the pyschoactive properties. There is a folk remedy–related to the fact that hops are considered a mild sleep aid–of putting hops in your pillow. According to Sue Handel, the rewards of hops growing are more than business related. "I like the work itself - being outside, tending a crop, running equipment and fine tuning the irrigation system. I also really enjoy the culture of it.

Craft brewers are really passionate about the beer they're making, and always have time to hang out and talk with me about hops. The marketing side of it, making connections and building a customer base, it's a very social endeavour."

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market updates Bowser Farmers Market June 14 to September 23 Wednesday 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. 6996 Island Highway West, @MagnoliaCourtSummerMarket

Breakwater Market Victoria June 19-Aug 14, 2016 11-4pm 189 Dallas Rd

Campbell River Pier Street Farmers' Market Campbell River May1-Sept25th -Dec 4, 11, 18 Sun 10-2:30pm 621 Island Hwy

Cedar Market

Next to Crow and Gate Pub May 14th- Oct Sun 10-2pm 2313 Yellowpoint Rd

Chemainus Wed Market Chemainus May 25-Sept 21 10am-3pm 9799 Waterwheel Cres


Cobble Hill Farmers Market

Cobble Hill Jun - Sept Thursday evenings Cobble Hill Farmers Hall 3550 Watson Ave

Comox Valley Farmers Market Winter Courteney Sat 10-1pm 360 Cliffe Ave

Comox Valley Farmers' Market Spring/Summer

Comox Valley exhibitions grounds Wed 9am-12:30pm Jun15-Sept14 5th St & England Ave 250-218-0321

Duncan Farmers' Market Duncan April- Oct; Nov-March 9-2pm;10-2pm Duncan square and Ingram St

Errington Farmers' Market

May 7-Sept24 Sat 10- 2pm 1390 Errington Road

Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017

Esquimalt Farmers' Market

May 26 - Sept 15 4:30-7:30 Between Fraser and Park Place

Goldstream Farmers' Market

May 7- Oct 15 10-2pm manager.goldstreamnmarket@ Memorial Pkwy & Goldstream Ave

Honeymoon Bay Outdoor Market Lake Cowichan May 7 - Oct 8 Sat 10- 2pm Follow signs from Lake Cowichan to Honeymoon Bay Market

Island Roots Bowen Road Farmers' Market Nanaimo May 11-Oct 12; May 28-Oct 19 Wed; Sat Beban Park 2300 Bowen Rd

James Bay Outdoor Community Market

Victoria May 7- Sept 24 9-3pm Menzies & Superior St James Bay

Ladysmith Farmers' Market

49th Parallel Grocery, 1020 1st Ave Tues 9am-1pm (Apr 12 - Jun 7 Sat 11am - 3pm Jun 18- sept 17 1020 1st Ave 250-245-2112 @ladysmithfarmersmarket

Metchosin Farmers' Market

May 8 - Oct 30th Sundays 11-2pm metchosinfarmersmarket@gmail. com 4450 Happy Valley Road

Moss Street Market

Victoria May 4th - Oct 26 10am-2pm, Sat 1335 Thurlow St (Garry Oak Room) 250-361-1747

Nanaimo Downtown Farmers' Market

May 6- Oct 14 Fri 10-2pm nanaimodowntownfarmersmarket. com Waterfront Plaza by Bastion and Front Street.

North Saanich Farm Market

June 4-Oct 8 Sat 9:30-12:30 10990 West Saanich Rd

Comox Valley Farmers’ Market Your Year Round Downtown Comox Source for Local Food Downtown

Thursdays 4pm to 7pm 9:00-1:00 at the Exhibition Grounds Courtenay

8th on! Hall Downtown Courtney atfrom theApril Native Son’s Wednesdays 9am to MORNING EVERY SATURDAY ALL YEAR Saturdays 9-12 1 pm Closed & Jan 3rdto ComoxDec Valley27th Exhibition Bringing local food Saturdays 9amJan to 12pm Re-opening 10th.

Local folks since 1992

Phone: 250- 218- 0321

250-218-0321 • •

Doug Routley, MLA

You won't find stocks and bonds here, but farmers' markets are a worthwhile time investment Oaklands Sunset Market Victoria June 22-Aug 24 4:30pm-8:30pm/Winter 10-4pm 1-2827 Belmont Ave markets

Parksville Museum Farmers Market

May 13-Sept 23 Fri 5-8pm 1245 East Island Hwy

Peninsula Country Market Central Saanich June4-Oct 8 Sat 9-1 1528 Stelly's Cross Rd

Qualicum Beach Farmers' Market Sat 8:30-12pm Wed 4-6:30 (June,July, Aug) Indoors Oct 15th Veterans Way at Memorial Ave downtown

Salt Spring Island Market March 26 - Oct 29 Sat 8-4 Centennial Park

Nanaimo~North Cowichan  Unit 112 50 Tenth Street  Nanaimo, BC  V9R 6L1  T 250.716.5221 | F 250.716.5222

Salt Spring Island Tuesday Market

st Avenue  Box 269 | 524 1 #1-16 High Street Ladysmith, BC  V9G 1A2  T 250.245.9375 | F 250.245.8164

June 7-Oct 25 Tues 2pm-6pm Beside Centennial Park

Sidney Street Market

May 19 - Sept 1 Thurs 5:30-8:30pm Beacon Ave

Sooke Country Market

May 7- Oct 15 Sat 10- 2pm Otter Point at Eustace Rd

Web: Email:

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

Spirit Square Farmers' Market Port Alberni All Year 9am-12pm 5440 Argyle St

Ukee Friday Night Market Ucluelet May 20-Sept 9 3pm-8pm (Friday) 200 Main St

Victoria Downtown Public Market Society Wed-Sun 11-3pm #6 - 1701 Douglas St

Email to be added to our farmers' market listings


lecas eats

2063 Evans Rd. Nanaimo, BC

Phone: (250) 754-2238

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

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

Cell: (250) 756-6838

Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017


cowichan green

community notes

seeds glorious seeds!


by Judy Stafford, Publisher

nderneath the depths of this snowy white stuff that so many of us have lost our familiarity and penchant for, there still lays in waiting the fertile soil looking to create its seed magic. And like so many, I left the winter madness of Alberta and Ontario, to come to this blessed region where the crocuses are usually peeking out by now so I have to remind myself daily – yes Spring is indeed still on its way! And with Spring, also arrives my absolute favourite event of the year – Seedy Sunday! CGC organized Duncan’s first event in 2009 held in the Mercury Theatre and it was a resounding success. So much so, that within a couple of years, the event outgrew its humble heritage space and 18

Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017

grew large enough to move to the Si’em Lelum Gymnasium. But the reason that Seedy Sunday is my favourite is not because of the dozens of vendors, the incredible knowledge of the workshop presenters, or the shear enormity of the varieties of seeds to buy – it’s seriously the best people-watching time ever! Every single person who attends, without fail, leaves happier and more inspired. There is nothing that makes my heart swell more than seeing the seed packs, seedlings, and happy brains buzzing with new-found seed stuff, literally dancing out of the gym. My favourite place to roost is by the front door – greeting the excited shoppers as they come in and saying thank you to

all the (slightly more broke) gardeners leaving laden down with their goods. It’s truly inspiring to think of all those veggies, fruits, and plants that will be soon sprouting once this wintery white stuff finally leaves. I wish the best in fertility to all you growers – whether seasoned or just learning – as we all do our little bit to grow just a little more food and help create just a little more food security in this glorious region. And I even challenge all of you to maybe grow just a little extra for a neighbour, friend, or even stranger who might just love to eat a home-grown tomato or zucchini or two. Happy growing!!

Celebrate the last day of winter at the 9th annual Duncan Seedy Sunday


by Jennifer Dorby on’t let the flurries of this past season fool you gardening season is right around the corner! So, dust off your snow boots and come to the Duncan Seedy Sunday with visions of making your yard a jungle of cucs, strawberries and flourishing flowers.

Stay warm and dry! Order from your favourite local farms online at

Cowichan’s first online farmers’ market

Cowichan Green Community Cultivating Community, Food, and Resilience

COMMUNITY IMPACT STATISTICS FOR 2016 With countless hours invested in teaching, working with, and inspiring our community about regional food issues, we took stock of the cumulative effects of the work we do. Here are just a few of our favourite statistics on the many ways we have engaged with people in the Cowichan Region over the past year.

For all those who wait in anticipation for the arrival of more sunlight, CGC invites you to celebrate the last day of winter at the Duncan Seedy Sunday. Scheduled for Sunday, March 19th from 10am-2pm, this event will be once again be hosted at the Cowichan Tribes Si’em Lelum Gymnasium (5574 River Road, Duncan, BC). Featuring up to 35 local seed and garden vendors, community booths, a seed exchange, and activities for kids, this event is a one-stop shop for all your gardening needs. This year’s event will also feature a series of gardening workshops hosted by local experts including: Creating Urban and Rural Pollinator Gardens with Ted Leischner of Plan Bee Now!; Growing Perennial Vegetables with Cyle Serra; and Seed Saving 101 with the Seed Incubator Farm Team. Admission to this event is $2.00, with proceeds going to fund the event. CGC’s members and children 13 years and under enter for free. For more information on this event, please contact the Cowichan Green Community at 250-748-8506 or jennifer@ For information on the series of workshops, check-out our website for updates:


Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Recipients


lbs of Fruit Donated to Local Food Banks


lbs of Fruit Harvested by FruitSave



Paid Interns in CGC Programs

Participants in Free Cooking Classes

Community Mentors Engaged Through CGC Programs


KinPark Summer Campers



lbs of Fruit Donated for Livestock Feed




Farmers Benefited Through CGC Promotions

$14,355 Economic Benefit to Local Farmers from Nutrition Coupons



Social Media Followers

CGC Event Attendees

Volunteer Hours

Free Community Meals Cooked and Served by CGC


Paid Internships to Local Businesses


Online Sales for Local Producers from Cow-Op Marketplace


Revenue to Local Producers from Garden Pantry Store Sales



Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017

220 Donors


BC seed B trials for farmers and gardeners

Photos courtesy FarmFolk CityFolk 20

Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017

C is fortunate to have a dedicated community of seed growers and climatic conditions that are just right for many types of seed crops. We also have a new generation of farmers getting onto the land and a strong interest in diversifying and strengthening our local food system. To support the continued growth of seed production, FarmFolk CityFolk, in collaboration with the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm and the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, launched the BC Seed Trials in 2016.

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Cowichan region’s first online farmers’ market! Seed trials, or vegetable variety trials, plant similar varieties of one crop side-by-side to compare which varieties perform best. The BC Seed Trials project combines variety trials, seed quality tests, and field training with the aim to identify top performing varieties that will provide the perfect material for seed production as well as farmers keen to grow seed and undertake further selection and breeding. The end vision is to have more regionally-adapted vegetable varieties that meet the needs of BC’s ecological growers. In 2016, the BC Seed Trials included a certified organic research site at UBC Farm, a conventional site at the University of the Fraser Valley’s research partner farm and 12 on-farm trials grown and evaluated by farmers. Half of the on-farm trials were grown by Vancouver Island farmers. The results of the year one beet, spinach and kale trials are available online. This year, with greater input from vegetable and seed growers, trials are being held for leeks, golden beets, carrots and overwintering spinach. The niche BC farmers are interested in filling is crops for winter market sales.


THE ATTACHED PROOF IS FOR APPROVAL. Please ensure everything is correct. By requesting this proof, the client accepts all responsibility for the accuracy of this ad. This advertisement is protected by copyright for The News and may not be reproduced without the Publisher’s written consent.



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The BC Seed Trials has been an incredible opportunity to forge stronger relationships within the research, farming and good-food-supporting communities. To bring gardeners more directly into the seed conversation FarmFolk CityFolk is adding a Citizen Seed Trial this year. Designed to offer the opportunity to participate in a seed trial with a minimal amount of space or time, the Citizen Trial features four varieties of lettuce. Participants will be coached through the trial process via emails and will have the chance to select their favourite variety and grow it out to seed. It’s a great way to sharpen your observation skills and learn about seed production. See year one results of the BC Seed Trials and follow this season at: Sign up for the Citizen Seed Trial at: or pick up a package at the Duncan Seedy Saturday.

hungrybin Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017




come on down to the pet expo


quick scroll through your Facebook feed is photographic (and video-graphic) proof that our pets are the new kids on the block. With 57% of Canadian households boasting at least one pet, and 86% of dog owners and 89% of cat owners to consider their pets as part of the family (Source: Canadian Pet Market Outlook, 2014), it is not surprising that pet owners are seeking better nutritional options, niche consumer goods and social activities within their communities. And like our human kids, we are crazy about seeing our “fur babies” doing really cool stuff that we can capture on camera and share on social media. Headlining this year’s is The Super Collies with Sara and her performing dog Hero. Sara is considered one of the top trick dog instructors in the world. Known for her appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, and multiple other TV commercials, etc Carson and her dog Hero have captivated audiences all over the world. Vancouver Island Pet Expo fan favourite competitions return DockDogs, the premier canine aquatics competition. A 27,000

Vancouver Island APRIL 8 & 9 SAT 10 AM - 5 PM & SUN 10 AM - 4 PM PEARKES RECREATION CENTRE The World’s Premier Canine Aquatics Competition

The Super Collies

Watch Sara & Hero Perform


Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017

Bring this ad and receive $2 off admission

Pet Expo

gallon pool will be erected within Pearkes Recreation Centre to host a variety of diving, retrieving and swimming competitions. The 2017 Pet Expo also features the ever-popular annual Dachshund Dash wiener Dog Races. Local owners of dachshunds can register their pets to participate in this hilarious competition and win prizes and ribbons “Well behaved” Pets are welcome to attend with their owners (of course with a signed waiver) The Vancouver Island Pet Expo April 8 & 9 at Pearkes Rec Centre connects passionate pet owners with useful local resources. Visitors to the 2017 Pet Expo can meet experts to learn more about local resources including health insurance, behaviour training, rescue organizations, dog and cat grooming, missing pet location services, dental care, human/animal therapy, nutrition and supplements, and a variety of consumer goods for all four-legged, finned and feathered family members.

how to round up


Oh sure, it LOOKS easy

by Eric Morten

Step 1–Await the call. Years ago, when my kids were small, I got a phone call from my friend up the road. Could we do them a favour? On their small farm they had, at various times, raised chickens, goats, pigs, horses and cows. Their milk cow, a Jersey, was a beautiful creature with a smooth, fawncoloured coat and large dark eyes with long lashes which made her look like she had just stepped from the pages of a children's story book.

The beef cattle were a different story. Spending most of their time grazing in the back forty, they were woolly and wary. Practically wild animals who, if one was approaching you, it would be a guess whether the reason was curiosity or territoriality. Their eyes were seemingly always expressing alarm and distrust. I'm fairly certain they didn't realize that they weighed half as much as my Volvo with similar power behind them. They seemed frightened of me. I reciprocated. On that day, they had pushed over the

fence making their way through a wooded ravine and into a neighbouring farm's field. Could I and the kids come lend a hand rounding them up?

Step 2–Organize the Posse! It was a beautiful summer afternoon. The air was ripe with adventure. We piled into a couple of vehicles and drove three adults and six kids around the creek to the neighbour's to assess the situation. What a wholesome and healthful way to spend the afternoon. continued next page Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017


Step 3–Assess the situation

started walking forward. Then jogging, then running.

As we went into the field near the road, below us, in the lower field near the woods of the ravine, stood our quarry munching on the fresh green grass near the shade. We simply needed to urge them up the track to where we were, then direct them down the trail that led through the ravine, over the creek, and home. A piece of cake, really.

It was then I realized all the possible consequences while watching my four-year-old standing in the way of 5000 pounds of running beef and hoof slowly waving his tiny arms as if making a snow angel. As I started running faster, so did they, thundering down at a serious little boy in their way. I thought to myself, "Oh, his mother would not like this."

Step 4–Think, don't act, plan... Moments before we had our plan of attack completely plotted out, down the track ran the eldest boy, an exuberant 10-year-old wrangler with an eight foot bamboo switch–in place of a lariat, I suppose. He went straight for the center of the herd (all four of them) as they scattered to the four points of the compass across the field. He was yelling, his dad was yelling at him and it became clear that we were in the midst of a double roundup. First, get the darn kids under control, then deal with the cows. Half an hour of getting the herd of cows and herd of cats back into their respective groups, and we were ready to start at the beginning. Deep breathing is key. Getting cows to go where you want them to go is relatively easy, provided you can make them go there while you are behind them. But what if there is a choice in front of them? The trail through the ravine was also a track to a neighbouring field. A large and open field full of summer hay where I imagine a cow, in her dreams, would spend cow eternity munching and basking in the sun. What we don't want, my friend said, is to let them get in there, 24

Then they turned right. Right down the path we wanted them to go. Then they turned left. Left down another path and straight into the field we so desperately wanted to keep them out of.

Cows obey fences for the most part, I'm told. Even though these particular cows pushed through one to get them where they were at the time. I'm assured that they obey fences. otherwise it'll take forever to get them out.

Step 5–How to make cows turn right We had the herd positioned perfectly at the head of the trail. I don't know what number constitutes a herd but, for argument's sake, let say it's more than two. The trail ran straight to the hayfield with a lesser path veering off to the right–the path we needed them to take. From there, a straight run over the creek and home. I believe I mentioned already–a piece of cake. Cows obey fences for the most

Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017

part, I'm told. Even though these particular cows pushed through one to get them where they were at the time. I'm assured that they obey fences.

Step 6–Watch in horror as nature takes its course So we lined up the kids as a human fence where we needed the cows to make the turn. Ranging in ages from four to 10, the six of them were positioned side by side slowly waving their arms as a kind of human fence. We adults made our way back to the herd and positioned ourselves to funnel the cows into the trail. And we and the herd all

Step 7–Remember the law of Murphy That's when the herd decided then to go their separate ways. Sun and tall grass tickled their backs and bellies. As cows have, I now believe, a different concept of time than humans, if they indeed have any concept of it at all, they were unaware that we had been sweating it out for several dusty hours by this time and most, if not all, the fun had gone out of this adventure. It's been said that herding cats is difficult. These were cows with feline tendencies.

Step 9–Perservere... for goodness sake! Ever have an experience where nothing happens for a long long time, then everything happens at once? I have. We spent an hour herding cows and kids, all plans going out the window due to the non-cooperation of all. Much yelling and threatening had no effect, even with those who

understand English which I'm convinced the cows did not. And at the time had little faith that those kids did either. Then, miraculously, there they were together in the sun, moving together to the break in the fence going just where we wanted them into the wooded trail. It was that exact moment we realized that everything depended upon the the cows knowing the way they were supposed to go. My friend was scrambling over the fence to try to make sure they didn't just return to our starting point back up the path. Surprise becomes alarm at this realization. No amount of yelling or advice can make cows do what you want them to. They do what they want, ultimately. Thank goodness everyone's desires aligned at that moment. The herd moved down the path toward home, we followed walking after them, then jogging, then running, then the herd was out of sight, disappearing in the woods of the ravine.

Step 9–Never give up! (until you give up) It seems unnatural to think of cows in the woods wandering about as if in prehistoric times. But that was thousands of years ago when some kind of dino-cow ruled the land grazing on strange plants and butting over trees with its ridiculously enormous horns. Thousands of years. That's about how long it felt we walked around in those woods that afternoon, calling out, our voices echoing back and forth to one another and hopefully getting to those invisible cows. But they weren't listening anyway. It was getting darker. It was not the fun adventure we'd forseen before we left home. So I called it. C'mon kids, let's walk back up to the farm. I surrender. Time to retire my lasso, hat and saddle. I'm a failed wrangler, rustler, cowpoke, whatever you want to call it. In the fading like light, we emerged from the forest. There before us stood four cows grazing in the back forty of my friend's field. Just as they were, just as they should be. Like ponies who've been on too many trail rides, once they had a whiff of home, there they had trotted with increasing speed. I would think that those cows had a good chuckle at our expense. But really, they didn't care. Not one bit. That's how you round up cattle. Work hard, sweat in the sun, brush the dust off your chaps at the end of the day and dream of the next barbecue. With relish.



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 Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017


canary in the

coal mine


By Mark Cullen onsider this: One in four Canadians buy bird food and/or consume ‘birding’ products. The average amount spent is $1,000 per year. If that sounds crazy, count me as one of the crazy ones. With 14 feeding stations on my property, I spend a lot of time and money providing sustenance to my local bird population. Most Canadian bird lovers live with the fantasy that we feed them to help the little darlings along the way. They need us. Not true. If all of us hung up our feeders in the garage and stopped feeding the local bird population they would be fine. We feed them to bring them to us: they are our entertainment.


Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017

In Decline However, the part about them ‘being just fine’ is not accurate. According to Bird Studies Canada, the countries foremost authority on the subject, our bird population is anything but ‘fine’. There are many bird species in decline. The population of Eastern Meadowlarks, chimney swifts, Barn Swallows and nighthawks are all in trouble, if the numbers mean anything. Across Canada, 4 bird species in 10 are in some form of long-term decline, some of them quite seriously. “When bird populations change so profoundly, we are seeing a clear sign of environmental decline that affects our health, happiness and even livelihoods.” says Steven Price, President of Bird Studies Canada. After years of reviewing the facts, Bird Studies Canada has determined that birds are an excellent ‘indicator’ of environmental health and trends. BSC uses their now famous ‘citizen science’ models to help them determine how many birds are out there, one species at a time.

Here are some of the facts, courtesy BSC: Birds eat enormous amounts of seeds, fruits, insects and invertebrates. Changes in bird population numbers often reflect changes in less visible forms of life in nature. Put another way, a decline in some bird species may allow for an unnatural outbreak of certain insect infestations. A farm without a hawk or other raptor hovering over the fields will have far more rodents prowling around. Birds provide ‘eco systems’ services. This scientific term is used to describe the control of insects and rodents by birds. And their recycling of organic material through their scavenging, dispersals of seeds and fruits. Steven adds, “If we had to pay for these services it would cost the economy billions of dollars. Birds are a ‘canary in the environmental coal mine’. For example, the dramatic decline of the Bald Eagle population, two generations ago, was an indicator of the effects of the chemical

BY THE NUMBERS $5 billion the value of equipment, feed/ seed, supplies, vacations and other items related to amateur birding in North America per year.

50 million the number of birdwatchers in North America 9 out of 10 birders are ‘backyard’ birders vs. wilderness birders 25% of all Canadians buy bird products and feed wild birds (Stats courtesy Bird Studies Canada)

DDT on our natural landscape. Once humans were alerted to it we mobilized to change our behaviour (though, none too soon). Cats. For all of the discussion about how birds meet their demise at the ‘hands of man’, none is more impactful than cats. I am not suggesting that you should get rid of your cat, but be mindful of the impact that a cat with claws can have in your yard and neighbourhood. Consider not letting it out of doors or limiting their time outdoors to the night hours when bird activity is low. Plant native shrubs and trees, especially those that produce fruit. To maintain a healthy bird population, plant Service berry, mountain ash, American highbush cranberry and many native perennials that can stand upright over winter to provide food and shelter for birds.

What can I do? You can count the birds on your feeder and report them to BSC on their website. Project Feeder Watch was instigated by Bird Studies Canada in 1976. Through a partnership with Cornell Lab of Ornithology as their U.S. partner, they have expanded the program to cover the entire continent. The program occurs from November through April (so there is no better time to get started than now). For details of both programs visit www.birdscanada. org.

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 - Spring 2017


the farm policy –

business or personal?


our agri-business is not just a lifestyle but also your livelihood … and sometimes your obsession. You have a deep understanding and care for your work, the role you play in the community, your land and animals. You do this for love, yet are considered to be a business; self employed possibly, but still engaged in an occupation that generates income – or is intended to. Webster defines a business as: a purposeful activity, a particular field of endeavor, usually a commercial or mercantile activity engaged in as a means of livelihood, dealings or transactions especially of an economic nature... It goes on, but you get the basic idea. So the question we hear often is - why are Insurance Companies asking us to insure in the manner that they do? Effectively, we are underwriting a business combined with a personal homeowners policy. This results in a policy that has completely unique risk factors that are as distinct and different from most other insurance contracts. In most cases a Farm policy is a hybrid of a business policy and a homeowners policy, created to cover the unique exposures of farming life. Modern farming includes sophisticated and precision equipment, which is often indispensable to keep up with the increased output and efficiencies required to stay profitable. Machinery or property of this kind is not normally insured under a personal homeowners policy. As an example, a building contractor or excavating contractor would not be able to insure his contractor’s equipment on his home policy – that is more properly insured under a commercial policy along with the 28

Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017

business operations. As a farm, you enjoy the land and location as your own personal space while also operating a business. So not unlike a home office, you have a dual-purpose location. Over the years, the insurance industry has compiled coverages that overlap each other to provide you with an insurance package that will respond to both the personal and work aspects of your life on a farm. Home insurance which includes your personal Contents, your personal Outbuildings, personal Liability, and Additional Living Expenses which offers coverage in the event an insured loss makes it impossible to live in the home during repairs or rebuilding and then the policy is expanded to take into consideration the ‘working’ side of the farm. Property such as your barns, silo’s, corrals, fencing, feed, machinery and liabilities for the farming operations, sales of produce or animals as well as liability against damage to others caused by your farming operations. You can even go farther and insure your animals against death by specified perils, add limited pollution coverage, equipment breakdown, coverage for harvested crops, fuel and fuel tanks, business interruption and more. Whether you have a small hobby farm or a full revenue generating operation, you can tailor the policy to meet your individual needs. Make sure to review all of your operations with your insurance broker and research the options available to you. Insurance policies are evolving and more options are available to you. So is a farm policy business or personal? It’s the perfect combination of both.


by Nora Arajs or avid gardeners and farmers, poring over new seed catalogues is an exciting winter pastime. Buying seeds is a small investment and you want to have fresh seed and ideally locally grown seed if possible. One you have your seeds in hand, you’ll want to ensure those tiny miracles of plant life get a good start.

back of the packet, as not all seeds require the same germination treatment.

a great


Label your containers as you seed. There's nothing more frustrating than forgetting what you planted, especially if you’re seeding numerous varieties of one vegetable type. Loosely cover your freshly seeded trays or pots with plastic or remay, allowing for air circulation, while keeping the soil just moist, not wet. At the first sign of fungal growth, remove the covering as there is not enough air circulation. Chamomile tea is an effective preventive against dampingoff disease in seedlings. Chamomile flowers are a naturally high source of sulfur and their tea kills fungus. 

If you’re not experienced with starting your plants from seed, following are a few guidelines to ensure success: Start with quality, fresh seed to ensure good germination. Purchasing your stock at one of the regional Seedy Saturday/ Sunday events is a great place to start. Local nurseries also have a great selection of seeds from regional growers.

Seeds sprout best at temperatures of 18 to 24°C. Cooler than that and the seed may rot, warmer than this and the seed may die from the heat. Bottom heat is best to encourage root growth.

Most annual flowers and vegetables should be sown indoors about 6 weeks before the last frost. In our region that’s about March 30th. But it’s best to read the guidelines on the back of the seed package as many plants require different timing and growing conditions.

After the seeds have sprouted, and show their first signs of green growth, remove the cover and put the pots in good light, retaining the warm environment until they have a second set of true leaves. At that point the seedling can be transplanted into a larger pot or transplanted into the garden, depending on its growing requirements.

It’s also important to start with fresh seeding mix. Use a sterile ‘starter mix’ from your local nursery, or you can make your own mix. Following is a basic recipe: 4 parts screened finished compost 1 part vermiculite 2 parts peat moss or coir (coir is preferable as it’s a renewable resource) 1 part kelp meal or worm castings

depending on your volume. Moisten the mix with warm water.

Mix all ingredients together in a large tub or wheelbarrow,

Fill clean containers to just below the rim and tap the soil

Enjoy starting your own plants from seed. It’s a very satisfying process and cost effective, too. to remove air pockets. Try using toilet paper rolls or egg cartons to start seeds and save on the plastic. Read the instructions on the

Nora Arajs manages Ceres Edible Landscaping which offers organic horticultural services from garden design to maintenance.

Island Farm & Garden - Spring 2017



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Island Farm & Garden - Spring 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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