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Green Dream

Spent the evening in Victoria so I could attend Elizabeth May‘s first speech as a Green MP Elect. It was inspiring. The residents of Saanich Gulf Islands have sent a true leader to Ottawa. With our help I believe she could be a transformative presence on the Hill. Go to http://livestre.am/MFBE to view a video of the event. Speeches start at the 10 min. mark.


Planting Up the Greenhouse

With a little help from our friends – Chef Steve Boudreau from Poets’ Cove, Sam and Steve’s wife Julie – we were able to get most of the planting done in the greenhouse. Just in time – so it seems – as the weather appears to be improving. All that’s left now is putting in irrigation and filling in a few remaining gaps with peppers and melons. I may also build just one more bed to accommodate some Picolino cucumbers that we couldn’t fit in…

Proud Papa Steve

Chef Steve and Sam from Poets' Cove pose with the tomatoes they are planting

Growing More Food for Pender Island

It’s been awhile since our last entry. Truth is we’ve been going like stink here on the farm – taking advantage of the relatively dry weather to get some of our primary and secondary tillage done. We’ve also been hard at work prepping the latest addition to the Hope Bay Farm ‘stable’, so to speak – the commercial greenhouse located across from the Pender Island Community Hall!

The 'new' greenhouse!

The current view inside... Stay tuned for the 'new view'!

This past winter, Don and Linda Wein, owners of the greenhouse property and the Pender Island Home Building Centre approached us asking if we would be interested in using one of their greenhouses. Without thinking, I said yes. After much discussion and figuring on paper, we have finally come to an arrangement that would see Hope Bay Farm, in effect partnering with the Wein family this year, to prove out a productive above ground growing method (the greenhouse is on a gravel pad), similar to that being used by  United We Can at their SOLEFood Farm on East Hasting Street in Vancouver, BC.

SOLEFood Farm's raised bed system (Photo courtesy SOLEFood).

In english, this means filling half of the main greenhouse with 4’x12′ raised beds in which we will grow heat-loving crops like cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and basil over the coming summer. Depending on the how the system works and how we perform as managers/tenants, we could expand the system to fill the rest of the greenhouse and it’s sister (there are two currently on site) to grow more food throughout the entire year – not just the summer.

Tim building the first raised bed in our new 'house'

We are thrilled to be part of this new food-related development on Pender. We are also very, very thankful to the Wein family for their generosity and confidence in our ability to make this a reality. We both see that this project could strengthen the existing community  food hub that started with the location of the Community Hall and establishment of the Saturday morning Farmers’ Market.

Stay tuned for more pictures and updates!

The Galiano Community Food Program’s Nettlefest 2011

Co-program Coordinator, Janice Oakley introducing the Galiano Community Food Program to Local Trustees at the March 2011 Islands Trust Council Meeting on Galiano Island.

The Galiano Community Food Program is the inspiring and, in their words, the “funky offspring” of the Galiano Club, a local organization founded in 1924 to: encourage social activity; foster agricultural interest; form a public library; and build a public hall to be used for the above three purposes. Established by the Club in 2008, the Community Food Program has been organizing and leading great food-related activities and projects on Galiano. It is an inspiration to other food and agriculture-focused groups and organization in the Islands Trust archipelago.

On April 3rd they host their 4th annual Nettlefest, a not-to-be-missed event featuring the health-infused, prickly plant that hikers and gardeners love and loathe. Come one and all to this unique Gulf Island happening!

Nettlefest 2011

Image courtesy the Galiano Community Food Program

Organic Farming Conference this Weekend!

Looking forward to hanging out with my friends and learning more from fellow farmers and foodies at the Certified Organic Associations of BC Annual Conference and General Meeting in Sidney BC this weekend. The Conference, entitled: The Next Generation, is focused on ‘tooling up’ – basically, how to get more folks growing successfully. The Saturday gala should be good. Expect great food, stimulating converstation, and inspiring speakers speaking about a timely subject – investing in the food system we want. I’m really looking forward to hearing Davide Berge from Vancity’s  and Anthony Nicalo from Slow Money  speak  on the opportunity and challenge for investing in the food system we all want (and need!). There are a only few tickets left. I’ve attached some more info. on the featured speakers. Look forward to seeing you all there!

Where Innovation and Impact meet – Vancity speaks as a financial co-operative about finance, food and farming: David Berge (7:00 – 7:20pm) David is the Senior Vice President of Community Investment at Vancity, with $14.5 billion in assets and over 410,000 members. Founder and CEO of Underdog Ventures, LLC, a company which creates and manages customized community investment venture capital funds, integrating socially responsible investment, community development finance and philanthropic components.  Its last venture fund has to date created more than 9 x invested capital in equity and cash gifts from entrepreneurs to benefit non-profits.   Underdog Ventures was recognized as one of ten U.S. financial institutions providing especially strong benefits to the environment and one of the top five funds supporting social mission.

Slow Money: Anthony Nicalo (7:20 – 7:40 pm) Slow Money is both a movement and an organization. The movement is a response to money that is too fast, companies that are too big, and finance that is too complex. Its goal is to make it possible for people to easily and directly connect our values to the way we spend and invest our money. It starts with local food because building healthy, robust local food systems is the first step towards building a restorative economy. The organization focuses on four initiatives: building networks, creating new financial products and services, developing educational programs, and designing assessment tools to further the efforts of the movement.

Anthony has spent his career as a chef and entrepreneur dedicated to the notion that story should be a key ingredient in everything we consume: the story of what, the story of where, the story of when, the story of how, and the story of why. Every business he turns his hand to celebrates provenance – from provenir (Fr.) “the origin or source of something” – as the heart of what makes things good. His grandfather’s garden – a lush acre that echoed the story of his family’s long history with the land — was the first place he learned to love the taste and texture of produce pulled fresh from the earth. He carried this love through days spent scouting local flavor as a chef in locations from Hawaii to Italy, and into his role as director at Inevitable Table, private chef service of the Obamas. Anthony then turned his focus to sourcing and promoting quality food and wine for fellow lovers of story. The journey began with Farmstead Wines, the result of Anthony’s efforts to share the dedication and passion of winemaking vinaroons, and continued in his work with Farmfed, a non-profit organization dedicated to reconnecting producers, consumers and food. Now Anthony is pouring that same passion for provenance into Foodtree, a global, participatory database of local food. His goal is to make it normal to know where your food comes from, while helping growers and suppliers use social technology to share their product’s story with consumers who care about where their food comes from, and how it ends up on their table. Anthony is a founding member of the Slow Money Alliance.

Morning at Royal Roads University

Spent the morning helping out with the Governance for Sustainability course up at RRU – it’s part of the Masters in Environmental Management program. The course instructor, Derek Thompson, asked me to come and speak to the class about my experience working in the field of sustainability and food. Pretty amazing group of students. A wide breadth of experience. Critical thinkers. Deeply interested in and involved with the challenge of sustainability.

In addition to participating in regular class lectures the students have been split up into groups, each considering the issues and governance issues associated around water in a significant watershed, or in some cases, watersheds, in different parts of the world. Very interesting to see how each group was dealing with the challenge of uncovering and analyzing the complex issues and situations around each of their assigned watersheds. These types of educational exercises really reveal the diversity that exists within our species.

Agricultural Visioning on Pender

Anna and Catherine record the ideas.

The folks from the Pender Islands Community Farmland Acquisition Project held a visioning exercise this afternoon at the Community Hall. Participants were asked to consider a new vision and mission for the fledgling organization. It was great to hear the ideas and vision that these folks hold for farming and food production on the Penders!

View of the participants.