Workshops and Classes, Family, Council, and more

Wasn’t that a late spring? Summer finally came however our gardens are easily a month behind – we are still awaiting that first tomato – its August! Fruit and nut set was poor except for the myrobalan plums (little yellow ones) and the abundant hazelnuts. The early grafting work for the nursery which is usually at a success rate of 90% was about 15%. Too cool too long. Our large delivery of hazelnuts will arrive in the nursery in time for the fall season starting in September.

But summer did finally heat up this past week to 36 °C in the shade plus high humidity. It’s been downright tropical these days especially when Ann is having a hot flash. However, it’s been a far easier heat wave than last year when we hit 43°C and fruit boiled on the bushes and our Suntan apples only sported festering sunburns. Thankfully Ann’s mom was in town and stayed with us for an extended visit rather than returning home to bake in her Coquitlam home.

We also enjoyed a long awaited weekend with family from out of town and were able to scatter my dad’s ashes and celebrate my brother’s birthday. We met my newest great niece at almost 2 years old. We had a fantastic weekend. If you want to see our smiling faces check out this Vlog that my niece Katrina made. She does a very professional weekly Vlog. 12 minutes of family, cats, goats, dog, chickens, little Elise, and Ann wearing her dad’s handmade leather Lederhosen.

Gord has been invited back to speak at the Master Gardeners Association biennial convention (Jan 2023) on the topic of the necessity for garden biodiversity in a changing climate. We have learned this first hand in our various garden systems that produce 100% of our fruit, veggies, dairy, eggs, chicken, and rabbits. Even in difficult years there is still abundance…just different menus.

Classy! My dad would be proud!

ECO-SENSE COURSES: There have been many emails over the past few years asking when our next workshops will be…so, after the long wait, we are making plans.

Four years ago we began ramping up the courses in the MUD ROOM and then COVID struck. Over the last two years we have not taught a class other than the odd grafting workshop. This is about to change.

Javan Bernakevitch, of All Points Design, has been pleasantly and persistently persuading Gord to develop a series of three online workshop series starting with an 8 session class on compost toilets, followed by a 4 session class on grey water, and a 4 session class on rainwater from October 2022 into June 2023.

Compost toilets are beginning to make their way into regulations and standards in North America and being used everywhere from award winning commercial buildings to remote cabins. One of the common requests we receive by email is “What type of toilet is best suited for my usage?” This is followed closely by “How do I get the approval to install one?” and our favourite, “Why does our building office say compost toilets are not permitted?”. In British Columbia, compost toilets are indeed legal!

The course objectives include developing a comprehensive understanding of the application of composting toilets within the multiple contexts of health and safety, regulations, appropriate toilet systems for varying applications and how to navigate goals associated with these systems within the constraints that exist in our culture.

By the end of the course you’ll have a solid foundation and confidence to choose and build your own system, work with a designer to create a system, better understand the critical aspects from a health and safety perspective, and understand regulatory systems if you are a policy maker, engineer, or local inspector. You will avoid potential pitfalls, learn tricks and tips in system design and maintenance, and even roll your eyes at some potty humour delivered in Gord style.

Waterless toilets can be very dry…but Gord and Javan guarantee

that the content will be juicy and this will be a course that will stick with you!

All students will require a copy of the book “Essential Composting Toilets: From Waste-stream to Mainstream”.  Copies can be purchased from us by mail (we will sign your copy), or purchased online through our book website at

Please let us know if you are interested at this link “INTERESTED List”

Discount price for adding your name to this list

Javan’s website with all the course details:

Municipal Elections – Will YOU run in the municipal election? Will we?

This is another question that is being asked of both of us these days as we move closer to the fall municipal elections. We have hemmed and hawed. Gord is hard to read, but he did just buy three new (recycled cotton) dress shirts. This last four years at the council table has been very unrewarding. It has been difficult to push forward on the topics of climate leadership, water stewardship, fiscal responsibility, and community engagement. It’s like pulling teeth to create policy to increase local resilience, support community well being, and protect our much loved Highlands. We are often on the losing end of important votes to the point where the joke has become that if we want to move something forward, we need to promote the opposite, and it may actually get done. We do think Highlands needs a change at the council table. The idea that the status quo is the best way forward no longer cuts it in today’s rapidly changing world.

Public Cob Bathroom

Now that we have learned methods to deal with Covid, and restrictions have lifted, the iconic local cob washroom is back in service. We had a neighbour reach out and offer to help cleaning which is great! The other day while repairing 2 years worth of penises carved into the clay, a 40+ year Highlands’ resident was by for an early morning walk. In her years as a resident she considers this decade old building a Highlands’ icon. This made us smile as we clay slipped, plastered, and sponged over the penises. Little bathroom is as good as new.

Can you see Ann’s red pony Tail? Hard at work 6:30 Am Sunday morning. This may be more value community work than running for council again…plastering over graffiti penises on the cob bathroom.

Take care everyone, and thanks for letting us know if you are interested in our Composting Toilet online workshop.

Ann and Gord

5 responses to “Workshops and Classes, Family, Council, and more

  1. Thanks for the chuckle!! You just need one more progressive person to run with you both on council. Can that be achieved? Here in WE-CAN we are supporting and promoting climate champions to get elected, with supports here and here Keep up the great work, you two! – Guy

  2. Always inspiring and insightful!

  3. This is a great newsletter! And so glad that more people will have a chance to learn about the beauty of Compost Toilets!

    Wondering if a hazelnut would be appropriate for our property, along the greywater field Gord? We would slowly like to be introducing more food around the house.

    In gratitude, Linda Linda and Tom Hunter 250.888.5868

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