Things that are SCARY:
* The virtually non-existant winter has brought an early spring. Can you say climate change? Can you say better get some roots into the soil? SCARY and EXCITING! First perennial edible plant sale here at Eco-Sense is this SUNDAY, March 8, from 10am -2pm. (more below). Plant list here:
* Entering the second year of farm and nursery sales hoping that it carries on from last year’s success. Fingers crossed, SCARY and HOPEFUL!
* Ann’s parents moving out and us trying to develop a plan that fits with our dysfunctional lifestyle (or to flip this around, developing a plan that fits with our lifestyle and our dysfunctional culture), SCARY and OPPORTUNITY. It has been a time of insecurity, of change, of challenge, and VULNERABILITY. Between Ann’s parents, Gord’s teenage kids, and navigating completely different parenting styles while trying to live outside of our cultures brainwashing, we have barely kept our head above water. GULP!
LIFE IS MESSY. So for everyone that thinks their life is the only one that’s messy, WRONG. It’s NORMAL for life to be messy, and we should all stop pretending it’s not…this is simply more cultural programming that makes us feel that our life, our family, our whatever, just doesn’t measure up.
Gord’s words speak to the essence of life… “I love change… unless of course I am part of it”. Change is not always easy, not always fun, but is inevitable on this little blue changing dot. Change really is everything we have been speaking to for years, and our experiences offer the ability to tell the new stories, and let’s face it… it really can be a time filled with exciting opportunities.
We have racked our brains trying to find that “right fit” to utilize the soon to be vacant suite next door. We would love to find that perfect fit with another couple with complimentary skills and values to become our co-housing mates, and add their efforts to ours, making the land flourish with sustainable abundance. Yet we also desire to use all the skills we have, and space we have created, to inform, inspire, teach, and to demonstrate philosophical, cultural and personal development. Yet we have limited time and resources. We have so much more to offer than just a short term B&B rental. So our latest idea is a dedicated ‘Environmental Guest Accommodation & Retreat’ to be used by environmentally minded groups, to house their guests, visiting lecturers and professors, or their members. A place of re-charge for those who have experienced ENVIRONMENTAL BURNOUT. Stay Tuned.
Sure is scary to think that nobody will come, or to wonder if our stock will sell out too soon… flip side issues of the same coin. With spring here, and plants leafing out, we have spent the week repotting hundreds of plants. We are better prepared than last year and have plants that have definitely put on happy root growth over the winter, so we have helped them spread their wings and given them bigger accommodations.
Offerings from the Nursery – New this year ***GIFT CERTIFICATES***
Perennial Leek – we sold out last year… we have double the quantity this year. Observations from last year were that the leeks poked their heads out then quickly died back, making us think we had lost the 20 or so we had planted out for ourselves. As February came along so did all those leeks and they are 2 to 3 times as tall than what we saw last year, and after only 1 month! LESSON – give them the first year to establish (this is not written anywheres).
Cornelian Cherry – one of the toughest and most beautiful trees we grew last year, with a host of uses and we sold only one. They are out in bloom, and we will likely see fruit of these youngsters. Gord is as equally excited about them this year as last… and just can’t wait to have them mature so he can break a tool handle and replace it with a wood so dense and strong that it sinks.
Kiwis, Figs of three different sizes (tree/ dwarf tree / 3 ft shrub), Hazelnuts, Chestnuts, Walnuts, Yellowhorn, Honey Berry, Chinese Dogwood, Paw Paw, Apple, Pear, Cherry (sweet 3/4 size and sour dwarf), Pine Nuts, Tea (russian and Korean), Hops (Cascade, Sterling, Willamete), Goumi, European Olive, Russian Olive, Autumn Olive, Elderberry (European and N. American), Walking Onions, Nodding Onions, Seabuckthorn (Seaberry), Persimmon… bored yet? What about Jerusalem artichokes? We love them fermented and slow cooked. These tubers also make an awesome nursery for baby chicks to grow up in. They eat the leaves, are protected from the sun and predators, and if you leave the adults with them, they will dig out and eat every single tuber. And in case anyone was wondering, YES, chickens do get gas. PFFFF! (But Gord eats them raw (the tubers…not the chickens) at this time of the year and … no gas). (As for Ann… PFFFF)!
Propagation concepts. As you are aware our passion is promoting plants and agricultural systems that can (hopefully) withstand the brunt of climate change, heal the soil, and fill the bellies of all that live here, and all the others we share the land with, doing so with the least inputs possible. This past year we became a farm and as part of the application process, the BC Assessment Authority was so impressed that they are providing farm status that goes back two years, and they are bringing their staff by for a tour. We are working both here on the land and within our new role as elected councillors to sprout new ideas and propagate the concept that we as a region could actually add to our quality of collective farm land by including parcels that may not necessarily be ‘farmland’ but become more productive through permaculture methods and food forestry.
To place this concept into perspective, think nuts. No, not Ann and I, but trees that are drought tolerant, historically grown on hillsides and have been critical food sources for a diverse number of species over 1000’s of years. The American Chestnut in the US, Hazelnuts on the coast, and Nut Pines in rocky inhospitable dry locations. If you have a nook and cranny, there’s something that can grow food for the future.
This past fall we installed a recycled solarium, made it into a greenhouse, complete with heated growing beds, derived from hot water heated via a 60 cubic yard thermophilic compost pile, with a back up of a 2 gallon electric hot water tank. The pile worked great! Far surpassed expectations. The compost pile has long since been dismantled for our gardens needs, a month early, due to the fact Spring is early, (thus a small hot water tank is doing its job, and pictures of the setup can be found on our Ann, Gord and Eco-Sense Living Facebook sites). This has allowed starting our own tea plants from our own seeds to sprout and grow this winter, quince seedling to grow, cuttings of Goumi, Olive, Fig, Kiwi, … and much more to grow. This means that we are on track with bringing in much less imported plant stock from Oregon and elsewhere, and thus decreasing our carbon footprint and imported soil.
Greywater and Composting Toilets
Nothing new here on this front… except that there is movement afoot by the Province to legalize them in such a way to have Standard Practices and regulations allowing their existence. I can’t say much more than that… but that as part of the project, we had a great visit here from the BC Ministry of Health on this “comprehensive” project and are glad to be a small part of it.
Update on being elected officials
STIMULATING! The learning curve since January has been steep, and intense… noted by one of the councillors that’s served 2 terms as Mayor and 3 terms as councillor… “this is an exceptionally heavy load”. Gord spent 17 full days in January dedicated to elected official activity, for his hard earned $500. The sessions are exciting where we can debate important decisions at a high level with the other intelligent councillors that serve the Highlands. Staff also has been great, with an amazing compliment of skills and understanding of the issues which affect our little municipality. The District of Highlands may be small with regards to human population, but large with regards to wildlife and biodiversity. As Ann noted in her election platform, she was speaking for those who couldn’t vote (all the other living beings and future generations of people). We are truly enjoying this opportunity to stir this municipal pot.
Thanks for reading,
Gord and Ann