Climate Change and food

FIRST OPEN FARM for sales of Perennial Edible Plants of the fall season is Saturday Sept 23, from 10am-2pm.  3295 Compton Road, East Highlands, Victoria, BC (More details below).  

ps…you don’t have to buy plants to come out and walk around…but please park below (by our lower gate), and save upper parking for people buying plants.  🙂

IMG_20170828_110330Well, what a summer of climate chaos around the planet.  Multiple hurricanes, floods and fires are causing a stunning amount of destruction and suffering.  The planet and humanity are taking one hell of a beating and according to climate science this is exactly what we can expect more of as we head into a volatile future.  Climate hell is already baked into the cake.

Economy:  Meanwhile here in Canada our economy is booming.  Climate change is good for consumption and growing the economy.  It’s important to translate what economic growth really means.  Economic growth means more climate change and more human suffering.  Economic growth is BAD for the planet and bad for people.   ALL of humanities problems are a result of economic growth.  Think about that next time politicians and economists talk about economic growth as being a good thing.  Economists and politicians are NOT scientists (except for Dr. Andrew Weaver, MLA)… they speak (mostly) with enormous cultural delusion and not hard facts.  Economic growth is literally destroying the ability of the planet to sustain life (including human beings) and it is currently toasting our ability to meet basic needs… you know those pesky needs like eating and drinking water…not to mention extreme poverty.  ACK!  But, hey, in the short term (for us privileged folks)… it’s party time.  More ACK!  We can join in the delusion, distraction, and entertainment OR we can wallow in misery and guilt.  Actually, there is another much preferable option:  Awareness, tears, connection, joy AND action.  


Aware, happy, AND taking action

Food:  So what does this all mean for agriculture?  The CBC has recently done a series of podcasts discussing climate change called 2050: Degrees of Change.  The third episode is on how agriculture in BC will be affected.  Episode 3: Agriculture.  The 30 minute podcast is quite good at exploring what we can expect here (British Columbia) in the next 30 years, however it is sadly lacking in what this next 30 years will mean globally and how those global impacts will have secondary and greater effects here.  These indirect impacts are sadly lacking from the discussion.  There are going to be a lot of hungry homeless people globally… billions.  I don’t even know how to process that, but you can bet there will be some fierce struggles for survival… there already are if we choose to see through our privilege.  Can you say climate refugees?  War?  Famine?  Disease?  Violence?  We have a global civilization and we will feel these impacts in the form of global resource scarcity.

IMG_20170828_105601Discussions about how these climate impacts will change people’s thoughts and behaviours has raised the debate that surely people will change versus no way in hell.   Gord is a stick in the mud saying that humans are too ignorant to change belief systems in general.  As it turns out recent research on the views and values in the US show the same conclusion.  Listen to the recent CBC Quirks and Quarks episode on No Amount of Hurricane Destruction Can Change Views.


  • LOCAL FOOD:  It’s absolutely critical that our region focus on growing the majority of our food locally. We need to do this while transitioning completely off of fossil fuels and simultaneously building more carbon in the soil.  Permaculture and polyculture on farms and backyards need to become the dominant form of food production…NOT agriculture.  No more entire fields tilled for planting with a single crop.  There will be new crops planted that are adapted to our changing climate and lots more perennial crops as they are more resilient to unpredictable weather extremes.
  • WATER: There will be obvious implications for how we use our regions water…especially with the regions growing population.  Water priorities will become very evident and just a wild guess that water for growing food will rise to the top of the list and watering golf courses will be at the bottom.  Fighting over who gets to use water for what will happen here and everywhere…it already is.
  • JOBS: The good news is that there will be a lot more jobs in all aspects of food production.  I’ll also guess that we won’t be growing profitable niche crops for export.  GDP will be a useless measurement and replaced with something more meaningful like HPI (Happy Planet Index) or GPI (Genuine progress Indicator), or maybe here in the Highlands HAPI (Highlands Actual Progress Indicator).  Check out these fall workshops on creating a greater Victoria area that lives within the carrying capacity of One-Planet…instead of five planets. One planet
  • HEALTH:  Our bodies will be much healthier due to better food (especially fibre) and more exercise.  No more crappy processed food full of toxins, simple carbohydrates, bad fats, and sugar.
  • COMMUNITY: All of these changes will lead to more people growing food in their backyards, buying from year round local markets, and growing food in community gardens.  All leading to stronger communities and more social interaction.IMG_20170912_120106

PREPPING:  Just to be clear these are the changes needed… whether they occur or not comes down to leadership at the individual level, as it is pretty much a guarantee it won’t happen at a political level… as too much structural change within governments (local, provincial, federal, and global) is required and the reality is the funding and will are not there.  The entire political structure is simply not set up to make the changes required in the time frames needed.  Funding goes towards the items that are acute like the emergency relief required during and after the disasters.  Governments are reactionary…and most are corrupted with unregulated capitalism.  At an individual level,  “prepping”, a term and a movement that we have worked hard to avoid,  is ironically where we have to go.  We simply must prepare ourselves individually, AND on the home family front, AND in our neighbourhoods, AND in our communities, AND in our regions.  These are the individual actions to look after yourself and build strong resilient neighbours around you.  So YES, we must all become preppers and prepare for the world we are going to get and use our individual and collective creativity to prepare…AND YES, we can have fun doing this.IMG_20170828_104809_001

Perennial plant plan: So in light of all this, and since we have our first open farm day for the Eco-Sense Perennial Edible plant Nursery on SAT. Sept 23rd, we thought we would put together a perennial plant food security plan.  Our selection criteria for this list are plant hardiness, polination, productivity, full season harvests, ease of processing, nutrition, and beauty.

IMG_20170828_104609Here’s the list:  

2 Apples:

  • “keeper” apples  store well, good fresh eating, drying in chips or leather, canning apple sauce, apple cider.
  • We use 3/4 size rootstock – not the thirsty and weak dwarf rootstock.  Most of our trees are grafted right here at Eco-Sense.
  • Ready mid to late September

2 Plums

  • fresh eating, drying, saucing, wine
  • either two Asian plums, or old school with Stanley/Italian Prune/Green Gage
  • Ready mid to late August

2 Pears

  • fresh eating, drying spears or leather, saucing, canning the sauce
  • Bartlett is the universal pollinator  for both the Asian Pears and European
  • Ready early to mid September just before late season keeper apples

Hardy Kiwi (male and female)

  • fresh eating, keeps well
  • ready in October when all the other harvests are complete
  • Need large trellis or fence etc.  Works extremely well to shade your house from the hot western sun…it’s only going to get hotter.

Desert King Fig

  • fresh eating, drying in fruit leather or quarters, canning fig sauce, freeze whole for winter smoothies.  No peeling, no pitting, no seeds, no problems.
  • Ready mid August

Ever-bearing Mulberry

  • eating everytime you walk by for over a month
  • Smoothies, drying in leathers, freeze for winter smoothies, etc
  • Start eating as early as mid July and continue to Mid August
  • Don’t plant above your car.

1 or 2 Logan Berry

  • early eating for 3 weeks or more
  • Ready early July
  • Need trellis:  Growing logans and thornless blackberry on the same trellis saves real estate as they compliment each others harvest times

1 or 2 Thornless blackberry

  • BIG berries.  eating, eating, eating for over a month.  Wine.  Freeze for winter smoothies (if you don’t eat them all)
  • These ripen as the Logan berries are finishing
  • Ripen early August
  • No more bleeding on Himalayan blackberries and these taste EVEN BETTER…Really!

1 or more Almonds

  • Hall’s Hardy is squirrel proof…but don’t expect to get the nut out with nut crackers – YOU WONT.  They’re Hardy!
  • Protein.  Sweet and yummy.
  • good storage
  • can collect without requirement for immediate processing
  • pollinated by Apricot as well as other almonds

2 Apricots

  • eating, drying.  Easy to process.
  • ready mid August
  • need to control for Peach Hole Borer using Tangle Foot for the first 5 years

2 Red currant and/or 2 White currants

  • eating, juice for wine, freeze with stems on and pull out and eat through the winter.
  • Ready late July
  • best to plant together and cover with bird netting

2 (or as many as you can grow) black currants

  • Extremely healthy juice, fresh eating or dried
  • Ready late July
  • Grows in part shade

2-4 grapes

  • Himrod, Vanessa, Sovereign Coronation, and Black Monuka are all seedless table that also make good wine.
  • WINE: NO sugar or yeast required.  Just juice and put in a bottle with air lock.
  • Fresh grapes keep 3 weeks or so in the fridge.
  • Grow on trellis to provide much needed shade to sit or nap…cause it’s getting hot out there.

2-3 Autumn Olive

  • Nitrogen fixing and good berries.

2-3 Goumi

  • Nitrogen fixing and good berries


  • Early, yummy berries

Josta Berry

  • early, big, productive, yummy

6 Hosta

  • Grows in shade.
  • Edible leaves and early shoots.  Awesome in stir fries early spring…goes well with perennial Leek.

6 perennial Leek

  • Early abundant large leek leaves.
  • Enormous bulbs can be harvested and eaten or spread around.

If room in your garden plant nuts for protein and beauty:

3 Hazelnuts -small trees

2 chestnuts

2 Walnuts

Many people may also wish to add annual gardens, perennial vegetables and raised garden beds to their food security plan.

We have lots of other edible plants to check out at the nursery, but the above list is our must have for the basics of a food producing perennial food garden.  Check out full list here.  All prices include the GST.

We are paring down our nursery to focus on the plants we think are rock solid and we have experience with in our zone 7b rocky and drought prone climate.  Our heavy mineral soils do extremely well with addition of a little high bacterially dominated inputs (mulch) to create thriving trees.   If you can’t decide what will fit in your space, how to organize your trees, or wish a professional whole garden plan, there are good folks out there like Tayler and Solara from Hatchet and Seed who can help in that department.  Click on their link and contact info for customized design and installation help.

Ann and Gord

2 responses to “Climate Change and food

  1. Hi Anne and Gord,

    I’m keen to get my food forest planted and it sounds like you’ve got some great plants that would be a really nice fit. Unfortunately, I’m not able to come out on the 23rd, but my father lives in Brentwood Bay, so maybe that’s not too big of a problem (if he’ll help out). Beyond that, would you please tell me about the root stock for your fruit trees? You mention 3/4 root stock in the Apple section of your list, but I have no idea what that means – are you able to estimate the height and width of a fully grown tree for me?

    Thanks, Stuart

    Stuart Evans +1-778-714-1498


    • Hi Stuart,
      We will have three Saturdays in the fall where we are open, and we also set up private appointments for people to purchase orders over $500.

      Apple rootsocks:
      M111 – produces a tree about two-thirds the size of a standard tree. Vigorous scion varieties (like King apple) may grow to three-quarter size or larger. M 111 is a good producing rootstock, is well anchored and tolerant of drought conditions, disease hardy. It is widely adapted to most soil conditions. 15-18 feet tall
      Boo Rootstock – developed here – similar to M111 but extremely drought tolerant. Grafting only done by special order – 2 year wait list.
      M106 – rootstock produces a tree about half to two-thirds the size of a standard tree. It does not sucker and the rootstock is resistant to wooly aphid. EMLA 106 has been planted intensively in the East and West and is an excellent producer. It should be planted on well-drained soil as it is susceptible to crown rot. 12-15 feet tall
      M26 – considered to be smaller than a half size tree. It is about 40 to 45 percent smaller than a standard tree, needs some support in early years, but could be self-supporting in later years. EMLA 26 is very early and heavy bearing. This rootstock is very adaptable for close plantings and double rows. 10 feet tall
      M7 – rootstock will be 50 to 60 percent smaller than a standard tree. Trees on this clone are the most popular of all the rootstock we grow. EMLA 7 does well on most soils. Some support may be needed in early years. EMLA 7 is very winter hardy. It is susceptible to suckering. EMLA 7 is extremely tolerant to fire blight 7-9 feet tall
      Malus Fusca – (Native Crabapple) – designed for soggy and submerged soils, grows same size as M26. This is also grafted by special order and is a 2 year wait.

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