Saturday May 10th: Edible Perennial Plants at Eco-Sense featuring The Autumn Olive

Our 3rd open house of the season on Saturday from 10am-2pm:
3295 Compton Road, Highlands, BC

Last Saturday we had another successful farm gate open house at Eco-Sense. Enthusiasm for perennial plants and local living is growing…almost faster than our food forest. People come to Eco-Sense to buy perennial food plants, eggs and seeds but ALSO to talk, walk, and learn.

We love that we are not just a nursery. We are a place to share stories, learn, connect, and feel inspired to put some permanent roots in the soil.

Also on Saturday is this very special workshop hosted by our good friends at Hatchet & Seed:  An awesome opportunity to learn about specific perennial plants.

Also on Saturday is this very special workshop hosted by our good friends at Hatchet & Seed: An awesome opportunity to learn about specific perennial plants.

People are coming and bringing their friends and family to stroll through our various gardens, peek at the cob house, the Eco-Hut, chicken coops, root cellar, and to socialize, hang out with chickens and ducklings, and to get ideas and share ideas.

For further details click here:  OPEN FARM DETAILS:

What fun! Thanks everyone!

Autumn Olive – Elaeagnus umbellata

Why Autumn Olive?

If you have never read about permaculture then you would never know why we consider this to be one of, if not the most, important plant we grow. This plant has many uses as a food source as well as a support plant for the fruit and nut trees and ground covers which means that we include many of these small trees.1326053669-eleagnus1_web

First off, lets just say the autumn olive is not a olive at all, but a fruit that looks like an olive, except yellow, orange and red. The fruits are delicious!   But not getting all anthropogenic and thinking about our taste buds (and health) this shrub is a nitrogen fixer for the soil.   Classified as a pioneering species, its role is to collect nitrogen from the air, suck it down to the roots where mycorhizzae (fungi) develop a transport system that takes that nitrogen and then feeds it to surrounding plants.   This means we do not need to bring in fertilizers to feed the other plants! We ultimately wish to have one plant for each of our various fruit and nut trees (this means upwards of 50).


This deciduous shrub grows 12 ft tall, hardy to -30C, and handles dappled shade to full sun.   We grow ours in the understory of our arbutus grove and in two areas that get full sun. We have found those in the dappled shade have grown quicker.


The berries!   Delicious and high in lycopenes, an intermediary in the creation of carotenoids, which integrate into the lymphatic system and both aid in reduced cancer (especially prostate) as well as increasing the resistance to skin damage by UV radiation .autumn olive berry closeup

Other uses

Nitrogen fixation for use by the other plants surrounding the autumn olive is one of the most important for us.   The flowers are a key insectiary attractant.  It was introduced to North America 100 years ago as a soil stabilizer for heavily impacted and damaged landscapes, and as it is a pioneering plant, it performed this job very well… some may say too well, but we can’t blame a plant for our own human invasiveness and land impacts – here we keep it in check by eating it… and the deer do too, (too bad scotch broom is not edible). It is also a key source for mulch during the growing season as its prunings are chopped and dropped and become mulch, as with the leaf drop in fall.

We have Garnet and Ruby cultivars, and by the end of next week will have Amber too!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.