Category Archives: Markets and Special Events

Spot the Difference: Farmstand Edition

Each week we should give a prize to the first person who correctly identifies the changes we’ve made to the amazing portable farm stand! We didn’t quite get it 100% done before the first week of the Peninsula Country Market, so each week we are squeezing in a bit of work time to tick another item off the To-Do list…

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P is for Portland (bet you thought I was going to say ‘piglets’)

Technically, the day isn’t over, so there is still a chance Olivia will deliver, but when I was down at the hog hut a little while ago, she seemed uninterested in going into labour. Even without playing midwife to a recalcitrant sow, it has been a busy day. With the help of current volunteers ME (Austria) and LS (Berlin) we flew through the morning rounds and then headed up to OUR Ecovillage to attend the Mark Lakeman talk titled, Re-becoming Villagers.

ME having a look at the Sanctuary at OUR Ecovillage

ME having a look at the Sanctuary at OUR Ecovillage

Here’s a quick video, if you are interested in some of Lakeman’s ideas about re-imagining our urban spaces.

I love the solar-powered cat palace! In today’s talk he also showed slides of the coolest Chicken Coop on the planet! If I had known about it before Dani and I went to Portland a couple of years ago I would have made a pilgrimage! Of course, the City Repair Project and Urban Permaculture Design is not all about making life comfortable for chickens and cats. At its heart, this way of thinking is all about making our grid-organized urban centres into spaces where people can once again find community. The ideas are so simple and yet we seem to collectively have forgotten that we need places to gather, to sit, to stroll to – places where we can share gardens and water holes. Transforming a section of suburbia can start with the simple addition of a bench or two, planting food-bearing trees and vines, and adding personal/artistic touches designed and then created by neighbourhood residents.

Portland has been leading a revolution in terms of such community-led initiatives and the work being done there has inspired similar projects all over North America.

I was a tad bummed that I had to leave after the morning’s talk and before I had a chance to connect with everyone over lunch and then participate in the afternoon’s hands-on session.

Many thanks to LS who took a few photos of the goings on…

dcf lakeman design

How would you redesign the intersection closest to your house?

lakeman draws photo by LC

Sigh. However, I had to race back to Victoria to take part in a Food Swap, leaving ME and LS behind.

The Food Swap was pretty cool (literally – it was pouring – we were all very glad to be under cover of a tent as the event was held outside). The concept is simplicity itself – take food of which you have lots (I, for example, currently have lots of eggs as all the girls are laying and the CSA and markets don’t start up for another few weeks) and trade for goodies you fancy. I came home with a nifty assortment of unique items like flavoured salts, macaroons, lemon squares, homemade BBQ sauce, fancy tea, beef jerky, and fresh rosemary and bay leaves. The items available to swap and the quantities people were willing to swap for was all up for negotiation. It was a lot of fun to see what everyone brought and to bring home some very tasty treats to share with everyone here back at the homestead.

Victoria Food Swap

If you are in the Greater Victoria area, check out the Victoria Food Swap Facebook Page or blog  for more information. The location will change each month to make the event convenient for as many people as possible.

Interesting Opportunity for the Right Person – Farm Manager at O.U.R. Ecovillage

What an exhausting day! Though the bit where I slogged through the mud in the lower hog pen  trying to find out where the electric fence was shorting out was somewhat wearying (and worrying, I discovered said problem when I went down to do the afternoon feed rounds and found the boar, Pompadour, hanging out with Cora and the four boar younglings… wrong side of the fence!!), the exhaustion was a result of spending most of the day with the lovely folks from O.U.R. Ecovillage at our local Seedy Saturday event.

My apologies for the shocking lack of photos - it was SO BUSY!!! I hardly had time to breathe, never mind snap photos...

My apologies for the shocking lack of photos – it was SO BUSY!!! I hardly had time to breathe, never mind snap photos…

My daughter works up at the Ecovillage part time and we (our farm and the Ecovillage) do a bit of collaborating on projects, so we brought some of our eggs to sell at their table while helping the ecovillagers chat with members of the public about the very cool work that goes on at the village. Give me a pile of fence posts and a post-hole digger and a mile of fencing to tackle and I think I’d be less bagged at the end of the day. How can it possibly be so tiring to smile and chat? Inside, no less – no torrential downpour, no nosey boar nudging the backs of my knees, no howling wind…

O.U.R. Ecovillage is a pretty nifty place – 25 acres of sustainable farming and natural building projects… educational programs, permaculture projects – and a whole lot more. An intentional community, here’s how they try to do the quick summary on their website:

Vision: Sustainable well-being for the land, ourselves, and our worldwide village
Mission: To educate and inspire by establishing a thriving learning community and permaculture demonstration site that actively stewards sacred knowledge and a sense of place.

The Ecovillage is currently looking for a farm manager – a full time position best suited to someone interested in living on site, someone with a knowledge of (or interest in) permaculture, and ideally someone who knows both livestock and crop production. There’s a detailed job description here: please pass the info along to any farmer-types who might be interested.

Here’s a bit of trivia for you… When Dani and I were working on the early draft of  our new book on homes around the world, we stayed in the Sanctuary at the Ecovillage. Here’s a photo:

sanctuary-labrynth

The structure (built using various natural building methods including cob and straw bale) is about the best place possible to write a book about housing past, present, and future…

It was great seeing so many familiar faces today – and having a chance to meet so many new people interested in the work being done up at the village. We sold some eggs and bought some seeds – and several varieties of seed potatoes. I love harvesting whatever we are growing, but there is something extra special about digging up fresh spuds. For one thing, it’s always a bit like digging for buried treasure – you never quite know what’s lurking down there under the soil. And, for another thing, DELICIOUS!! I like potatoes pretty well any way they might be prepared, but there is just something about freshly dug potatoes consumed right after harvest that makes me drool… Like right now my keyboard is in mortal danger of getting clogged up because I am salivating just thinking about how good those meals are going to be in just a few short months! And, yes, some of those spuds will also be making their way into our CSA goody boxes… Which reminds me, I really have to get on with adding the CSA page to the website. Not tonight… refer to earlier comment about being bagged. But soon, soon – I promise!

Save the ALR (Agricultural Land Reserve) Rally – Victoria, BC

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The sun came out and shone on a large crowd gathered on the lawns of the legislative buildings today at the Food for the Future Rally. Many thanks are due to the organizers, the sterling lineup of speakers, and even more importantly, the families and individuals who showed up to make it known that there are plenty of citizens who do not support the government’s move to dismantle the ALR. We are fortunate here in BC to have landmark legislation in place to protect farmland from development. Here’s hoping the powers that be take note and respect the wishes of those who are determined to protect what little farmland we have left.

ALR Rally 06

ALR Rally 07

ALR Rally 05 ALR Rally 04

ALR 02Though the day was warm, there was still some sparkly evidence of the recent cold snap.

alr rally o3One question… who ARE those guys up on the balcony that show up at every protest and take photos of the crowd with their long camera lenses?

ALR Rally 08Who are you working for, gentlemen? And what are you doing with the images?

 

 

 

Farmer’s Field Trip – Part One

If I ignore the parts of the day that involved hacking through thick ice on the various animal troughs with the back end of my trusty axe, today was a lot of fun. Too much fun, in fact, to try to include everything in one blog post.

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After morning rounds (which, with all the water hauling, ice chopping, etc. took exactly twice as long as usual or a full four hours) we headed into town to one of my favourite stores, Russell Books. There, I found copies of two books I’ve been meaning to read for ages:  One-straw Revolution: Introduction to Natural Farming, by Masanobu Fukuoka and
and  Greenhorns: 50 Dispatches from the New Farmers’ Movement edited by Zoe Ida Bradbury, Severine von Tscharner Fleming, and Paula Manalo. This is a companion collection of essays to the documentary the greenhorns (which is on my ‘must watch’ list).

Books in hand, we headed over to The Hudson Public Market as Wednesdays is the day when they host a local farmer’s market and I was, of course, curious to see what was being offered up. I also had another reason for popping into the office – not long ago The Hudson ran a felfie contest and my entry won! This meant I had $20.00 market bucks to spend!

In case you missed it, here’s my Regal Hen and her Farmer entry…

DCC Love My Chicken!

Who says selfies/felfies can’t lead to fame and fortune? Or, a modest fortune, anyway – the people in the office didn’t recognize me, perhaps because I didn’t bring my chicken. Fame, it seems, remains elusive…

First stop was the Damn Fine Cake Company where Dad and I enjoyed some delicious coffee as we perused our new books (and maps – Dad is in the throes of planning a trip to the south of France… Without me, I might add, because I will be here hacking into hog water buckets with an axe. I’m ok with that. Really.) Damn Fine

The cakes were, indeed, mighty fine!

Fruity Cake

Oh… look at all the chocolate [this one’s for you, Melanie in IA).

Chocolate Overload!I had a more modest snack – a VERY tasty chocolate, banana, walnut muffin –

Coffee and a MuffinBetween the lovely coffee, the tasty snack, the good books, the funky decor, and attentive service, I have to say that was a most excellent use of half of my prize money!

Damn Fine Cake Company

Sugar Pot

Good Books!We browsed through various other market vendors – both the permanent businesses and the temporary vendors who are there only during the Wednesday afternoon farmers’ market.

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IMG_8075[1] IMG_8086[1] IMG_8077[1]Though we chatted with Zach from Amuse, a restaurant associated with Unsworth Vineyards in Mill Bay (and I was sorely tempted by the duck liver pate), tasted some delicious sprouted peanuts from Salt Spring Island, and sampled an invigorating herbal tea from Infuse Herbals, it was the Baker on the Bike (Il Forno Di Claudio) who won my heart and took the rest of my Market Bucks.

Came home with some of this:

Sfilatino

Sfilatino Origin: Piemonte and Lombardia regions

Ingredients: Organic white wheat flour, figs, walnuts, malt extract, sea salt, yeast.

Description: The sweetness of figs married with the savoriness of the dough and bitterness of walnuts makes for a unique flavor. This is a rich in flavor bread with a chewy crust and inner crumb. It is an excellent bread to eat with any blue cheese or any strong flavor cheese; or you can just make a bread and butter sandwich and enjoy it.

and some little cookies and a couple of varieties of these:

Focaccine

Focaccine Origin: Liguria region

Ingredients: Organic white wheat flour, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, yeast.
Description: A small size focaccia bread with nice crumbly texture. Available with different toppings, commonly with rosemary, or onions. The onions version has a nice sweet and juicy taste. Great snack for quick bite, a kid party or as appetizer. They make also a good base for a sandwich.

Oh. So. Good!

Then it was home again, a quick trip out for a bit of hay and some pumpkin scavenging from Michell’s before feeding all the critters, chopping more holes in more ice, putting in all the poultry and then rushing back out to the most excellent Deconstructing Dinner talk by Jon Steinman. The evening, though, deserves its own post, so I’ll save that for another day. If I’m very organized and I don’t chop off a limb or something during the ice wars, I might get a chance to write up my notes tomorrow, but if not, then look for that on the weekend.

Visiting the local market reminded me yet again of how lucky we are to live in a community with such an interest in supporting local food and food producers. It also reminded me how much fun it is to get out and about and off the farm every now and then! Even if I can’t get to France this spring, there is no reason not to explore more of the fun food festinations [that’s not a word, but it should be) right here!

 

Whatcha’ Doing on Wednesday?

I’m thinking of going to this:

deconstructing dinner posterAnybody else going? Drop me a line and let me know if you want to meet up…

 

Green Drinks and Level Ground

Level Ground TeaEarlier this week we went to a Green Drinks evening. I’ve had ‘Green Drinks’ at marked down in my daytimer several times over the past while, but somehow the schedule has been so full I haven’t made it to one yet. I had thought that this was a local thing – there are a lot of green people in this neck of the woods. Turns out, Green Drinks International is a whole movement! How could I have slept through this?

From the website:

Every month people who work in the environmental field meet up at informal sessions known as Green Drinks.We have a lively mixture of people from NGOs, academia, government and business. Come along and you’ll be made welcome. Just say, “are you green?” and we will look after you and introduce you to whoever is there. It’s a great way of catching up with people you know and also for making new contacts. Everyone invites someone else along, so there’s always a different crowd, making Green Drinks an organic, self-organising network.

This particular meeting was held at Level Ground Trading, a local success story started up by four Canadian families “for the purpose of improving the lives of disadvantaged producers through trade.” The evening started with a short, excellent talk about the company, how it started, and how it works (coffee and tea are a couple of their main products and company members travel to the small farms and farmer collectives in countries all over the world to meet the growers, sample product, and negotiate fair trade deals). After that, we all donned aprons, hairnets, and beard nets (!) and set off on a tour of the coffee roasting facility.

Dad in his beard net, a sight I never thought I'd see!

Dad in his beard net, a sight I never thought I’d see!

Our tour guide, Stacey (one of the founders), was passionate and knowledgeable about his subject, which made for a fascinating evening.

Stacey at Level Ground

Coffee Warehouse

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The sacks used to transport coffee beans are destined not for the landfill after they are empty, but for local gardens and farms where they are used as mulch and over paths between beds. Fully biodegradable, they compost and disappear completely within a year. The whole facility is garbage free (as in, they send nothing to the landfill). This was a side note in the presentation but seemed to be typical of a company that appears to be trying hard to operate ethically and sustainably.

At the end of the night we were all given something to take home. I’ve been enjoying my loose leaf black tea (from Assam, India) and some delicious dried pineapple from Santander, Colombia (SO good!).We saw some short video clips of the various farmers at work and it was fascinating to learn more about where these products come from and what goes into producing my morning cuppa…