A COVID operation


It started with a call.

Daughter:  “Hi Dad. I’m guessing you and Ann are doing well?”

Gord:  “Yup.”

Daughter:  “Yah, you guys have been preparing for something like this forever.”

Gord:  “Yup.  Economic collapse, earthquake, fire, drought, food shortages, pandemic too.  It was inevitable.”  (But we live this way regardless – we love our life)

Rhubarb for sale in the nursery

SPRING IS HERE!  Almost nothing has changed here on the homestead except being busier.  What a happy time watching this land come back to life especially when we are so aware of the gift of it these days.  Ann the introvert is still introverted, so social distancing it pretty natural and Gord still has not been able to get closer than 2 metres despite shaving his beard and showering.  We have had an uptick in the inquiries from people we don’t know asking about a place to stay, park an RV, or work onsite… and that they just needed to get out of the city – perhaps Gord will quit showering again.

Even though we no longer have regular nursery hours, business has picked up, and water system design work is still ongoing.  It seems that food, gardening, and water are increasingly important to people.  Council duties have changed with a focus on maintaining basic services, less meetings, and mostly online.  Thank goodness we are still moving forward with plans for planning our climate leadership plan.  Otherwise known as planning to plan the plan with real action coming…some day…maybe…and just maybe the plan will go viral.

The Garden and Orchards

We have upped our game to increase production.  This year Ann is fretting more to make sure we don’t have losses of plant-starts.  All the seeded plant starts have been moved to the lower greenhouse that is rodent proof…mice LOVE to dig up freshly planted seeds in the upper greenhouse – certainly a potential protein source.   While Gord is fretting over the orchards and for the first time ever has applied organic fish bone meal, blood meal, and lime to the fruit trees.  The orchards are our security and this year a healthy crop is more important than ever.  We hope to share extra food.

The Nursery (PLANT LIST HERE)

The Nursery is only open for PRIVATE APPOINTMENTS to enable social distancing.  One customer at a time.  We can put your order together and you can arrange pick up from our staging area at the gate.  We had one person comment that it was better than Amazon!   You can also book an appointment to browse…but only 2 people from one family at a time.  Payment is by email transfer or cheque…no cash sales.  We do have many items that are not on our plant list, so feel free to ask us (Ann)  if we have what you are looking for.  ann@eco-sense.ca

The omen for the nursery was set 8 months ago when we couldn’t purchase our stock orders from the nursery in Oregon due to a lack of migrant labour workers.  The BC Fruit Testers’ rootstock availability was impacted by too much demand and crop failures limiting this years supply.  Then came COVID.  Then Byland’s Nursery, one of the largest in the province is under quarantine as migrant workers have tested positive for the virus.  Ironic that the biggest impact to food systems is not a plant virus but a human one. In light of this, sales in our nursery have been swift.

Globe artichokes for sale in the nursery

BUT THERE IS A BIGGER PROBLEM FOLKS.  Mexico and Brazil are relying on trinkets, prayers and male-ego to control the spread of COVID19, (not that much difference from the USA), and migrant workers (classified as an essential service), will be in short supply or not working at all due to massive virus outbreaks in their home country.  Article in the news on this:

Local food production needs a kick in the ass to fill this void.  Increasing local food supply will mean local people working in the fields  performing critical jobs.   Depending on cheap migrant labour to produce our cheap food – don’t count on it.  Farm workers are essential services and it is time we start treating them as important careers whether migrant or locals.  Times are changing.    Farm labour is hard work and we must pay workers a living wage.  Undoubtedly food is about to become much more expensive really quick.  Food imports from the US could also be limited as there are supply and distribution issues to contend with, and it is pretty clear that our fickle neighbour to the south can greatly impact those at the end of the supply chain…especially those on islands.

Trellis to create a wall of Logan berries or thornless blackberries

The province saw this coming and deemed nurseries and community gardens as essential services…along with mines, damns, and pipelines (but that’s another rant).  Despite many folks finally getting a forced opportunity to work in their yards, the question hangs heavy – who is going to plant/harvest our food?  The answer is, all of US.

Loving a Heartnut Walnut – babied for 5 years and ready for a home

What can we do?

  • Buy local and support your local farmer and pay the real cost of food
  • Learn how to cook with whole food (real food…not processed stuff)
  • Grow a garden, (annuals and perennials), in your backyard, front yard, patio, deck, community garden plot.
  • If you are healthy and need a job, consider farm work.
  • advocate for living wages with benefits for all farm workers.
  • Share food and donate cash to feed others
  • Promote regenerative agriculture

Olive tree growing with N2 fixing false indigo. Both in stock.

And then the other weird stuff

Ann came across a lizard with a forked tail.  Too cool not to share,

The US

Not the US down south, that’s a sh*t show at the moment.  The Ann and Gord “us”.

We are doing really well.  We have been busy.

We had plans to move the nursery more towards a focus on the nut tree systems, fruit tree grafting, and all the plants we can propagate ourselves. Well, this week, hundreds of rootstocks have been grafted, (and not budgeted for in our nursery plan), are pears, apples, crab apples, plums, and almonds.  With so much demand and a lack of supply, we made the last minute decision to graft, graft, graft.   Now we have to mulch, mulch, mulch and then water, water, water.  These new grafts will be available next fall…and many are MULTI grafts.

The Community

It is clear that the community is coming together but not too together of course.  In our hood we have had chats at a distance, cider at a distance, veggie sharing at a distance, plant sharing, chick sharing, seed… you guessed it.  Social connecting despite the physical distancing.

LINK: Interesting fun link to an essay about the opportunity that the virus has given to humanity…based on the movie, “When Harry met Sally”.  Worth reading: https://thepracticalutopian.ca/2020/04/07/when-climate-met-covid/

A NEW MILESTONE (Gord’s design work)

This week a year and a half design project (and learning opportunity) for a community water system for a 9 home strata was approved by VIHA.  Gord looked after the hydrology assessment, risk analysis and mitigation, equipment designs, chemical protocols, emergency plan, well-head protection plan, and construction drawings.  A big relief to have it all approved.

This has been a steep and challenging learning curve and it feels very rewarding to have been able to learn and perform all aspects without outside help.

Schematics of 4 stage water treatment system

That’s it for now,

Happy spring gardening everyone, and stay healthy.

Gord and Ann

2 responses to “A COVID operation

  1. Fantastic work! Love following your posts and being inspired in my own farming/stewardship. Really resonating with happy life no matter what’s going on outside the farm. Glad you and your family, as well as the community are healthy and happy.
    Cheers!

  2. Jan & Nelson Meadows

    Thanks Ann and Gord

    Your writings always provide such a lift for us…your awareness of what this all means and the probably direction it is taking humanity. And all your ideas as to how we can all cope and help!!! Wonderful!!!

    We are basically fine just rather overwhelmed with what needs to be done this month and planned Wwoofers not able to make it here due to Covid. On the up note we are communicating with a family of 5 in regard to a lease to own…which will take time, but provides a positive diversion at this time. It will certainly be another learning curve for us!!!

    Re Covid: we are seeing it more in terms of a plan-demic (but real all the same) all the time. But a stats list a friend sent a week ago puts the figures in a more realistic frame work. I’ll forward it separately in case you haven’t seen it. 😊💞🌈🐝🌱☕ JandN

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