Category Archives: Eco-Sense Updates

BIG NEWS: The Cauldron


A Message from Gord

The Eco-Sense cauldron is always bubbling, and you never really know what is brewing until you dive in. Well we just dove in. Know what we found? I’ll describe it. It smelled like smoke from Oregon and California, it looked like ravaged landscapes from old-growth logging in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew, looked and sounded like a massive pit mine in the Highlands, and it felt like burning acid on community spirit. The final litmus test proved positive with a stain on democracy. Stirring that cauldron was a leader we are supposed to trust, easily mistaken for Hades, it looked like Horgan. 

Eight days ago I chose to stand as the BC Greens Candidate for Langford-Juan de Fuca in the Provincial Election. Yes, John Horgan, the premier of BC is my competition for a seat in the BC Legislature. 

Why did I choose to run?

It started three years ago with a phone call, “Gord, don’t hang up. Just hear me out. It’s Andrew.” I turned down that request from Andrew Weaver as my focus was on community issues that were paramount at that time. I was also in my first term as a councillor in the Highlands and still had much to learn. This time I did not get a call from Andrew — the call came from a few former NDP supporters asking me to run for the Greens. 

Gord hard at work on the pandemic campaign

Our region has resource extraction operations at opposite ends of the riding that were forced on both citizens and the forest ecosystems against their will. Sound familiar? One is extracting old growth trees from pristine and now extremely rare ecosystems. The other is logging intact forest and wetlands, blasting, and extracting rock atop an aquifer that serves as the entire community’s drinking water source, and as a bonus, is adjacent to one of the province’s most toxic contaminated sites. What could go wrong? These examples demonstrate a lack of representation from our MLA, and show a disregard for people, nature, communities, and democracy. 

Democracy does not look like government issuing an approval for a mine the same day it declared a pandemic state of emergency effectively quashing the council or citizens ability to meet, organize and respond. It does not look like a snap and unnecessary election triggered by a government that wants to avoid running on an unpopular spring budget next fall. It does not look like a government turning its back on collaboration and cooperation. Shame.

We are in a climate crisis, a health crisis, a toxic drug supply crisis, an inequality crisis, an economic crisis, a housing crisis, an ecological crisis, and more. It shows on the faces of people. All these crises are connected, and we must elect people who grasp how connected everything is, and then completely overhaul our approach. Tweaking policy is not going to do it. We have archaic legislation that doesn’t consider current environmental science, basic human rights, or climate change, not to mention Indigenous rights. This government clearly needs a physics lesson, forestry lesson, fisheries lesson, and a water lesson. And while we are at it, a lesson in democracy. 

Ann and I have been a living example, testing the theories of living a regenerative lifestyle, operating a resilient business, and have a track record like few others in Canada demonstrating what can be done. It is time for us to take on a new leadership role.

It’s not surprising that I am running as a Green candidate. My personal platform will have three main themes (each with lots of pieces not described here):

  1. Strengthen Community Resilience . . . COVID is just a warm-up to what’s coming and has shown how vulnerable we all are.
  2. Building Climate Resilience within our economy and infrastructure while simultaneously solving other “problems.” Go deep . . . no Band-Aids. Everything is connected.
  3. Rebuild and protect democracy and trust where EVERYONE feels represented, including Indigenous peoples.

Campaign Lunch: Greek salad from the garden, home made feta, apple blackberry crumble.

Eco-Sense Blog: We will not be posting again on our personal blog for the duration of this campaign. Voting day is Oct 24. In the meantime, you can follow the adventures on Gord’s Facebook campaign page:  https://www.facebook.com/GordBairdLJDF/ There will be photos, stories, videos, and news as Gord Baird challenges John Horgan for the MLA seat in Langford-Juan de Fuca. The BC Green Party Candidate page has information on Gord’s campaign as well. https://www.bcgreens.ca/gord_baird

Eco-Sense business: Our nursery, consulting, rain-water design, presentations, everything . . . ON HOLD until after the election (20 days). 

Riding  E-Bikes into Langford to set up bank account and file election paper work

Highlands Council: Gord does not have to take a leave of absence during the short campaign . . . but may miss a meeting or two. 

Can Gord win this riding and become the next MLA in Langford-Juan de Fuca?
Initially we thought this riding would be hard to win, but after one week into this campaign, we have changed our opinion on this election. Gord could very well win this seat and leave John Horgan without a seat in the legislature.

Why did we change our mind?

1. Massive amount of positive feedback from a very wide range of citizens in our riding.
2. Donations coming in fast (this is essential)
3. We have assembled an amazing team of professional and experienced people to help run this campaign. 

Campaign Office

Feeling very grateful and inspired!

HELP: We need volunteers, donations, requests for lawn signs, testimonials, and help sharing the word…especially if you live or know people in our riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca. (Highlands, Langford, Sooke, Port Renfrew, Jordan River, Otter Point, Shirley). 

Below is a list of how to provide any support you wish to share.

 

Want to volunteer?

Share a testimonial? 

Request a lawn sign if you are in our riding?

Want to Donate (four ways)? 

NOTE – maximum BC campaign or party donation in one calendar year is $1,253.15 per person:

  1. Online with credit card to BC Green Party Candidate site under Donate to Gord Baird. https://www.bcgreens.ca/donate_to_gord_baird
    1. Must pay with credit card, but full amount still comes to Gord Baird Campaign account as a transfer
    2. Tax receipt issued by BC Greens
  2. Cheque made out to “Gord Baird Campaign” and if joint bank account, specify the name of person donating or both.
    1. Ann will look after your tax receipts at the end of the campaign
  3. Cash. $100 limit and still need full name and address.
  4. E-Transfer donation to ann@eco-sense.ca
    1. In the comment line say something like “Donation to Gord Baird”
    2. Email Ann to pass along the security answer AND give full address AND full name of person donating
    3. Ann will look after your tax receipts at the end of the campaign

Take care everyone, vote in the BC Election, and we will see you on the other side of this campaign.

Gord Baird, Green Party Candidate for Langford-Juan de Fuca

What’s left?


What’s left?  Well, it depends if you are talking about the economy, nature, oil, or our perennial plant nursery.  The answer could be the same for all no matter if you are an optimist or pessimist.

So much going on here and in the world it’s hard to keep track, but we are doing very well and enjoying life immensely.

The nursery has been steady all spring with lots of orders being picked up at our gate with never meeting the people.  But many sales still bring people one or two at a time and great conversations ensue with lots of physical distance.  In our circles, the pandemic has brought out the best in people.

Our plant stock is quite depleted which is good and bad.  The good is that we have less to water this summer…the bad is we have to tell people, sorry, sold out.

Walnut getting leaves

We are attempting to keep our inventory up to date, but there will be errors at this point in the season until we do a proper inventory. List here

What’s Left in the Nursery?  Here are some wonderful plants we do have for the last chance of the spring season in this week of cool and ideal planting conditions before summer.  Note that ALL sales are by private appointment or for pick up. email ann@eco-sense.ca for appointments.

NUTS: Lots of Walnuts, Chestnuts, and Yellowhorn in stock.  Heartnut Walnuts ($95) are large and well established. Chestnuts might produce in their first year but likely next.  Our various chestnuts ($75) are specially imported named varieties for their high productivity and large nuts. Our best food security tree.  The trees can be pruned for production and smaller size.  Both Walnuts and Chestnuts need at least two for pollination. Only a few blight resistant hazelnuts left. Send Gord an email for more information.  gord@eco-sense.ca

Lemon:  One really large lemon in stock.  Priced to sell at $150. (We had too many lemon trees at the front of the house and could not use all the fruit).

Pink Currents: If you already have red, black, and white, it’s time for a pink current.  Three in stock.

Large Pineapple Guava: Evergreen with spectacular flowers.  Need 2 to pollinate.  Winter hardy in a warmer spot once established.  Three in stock ($35-65)

Other Berries include sea berries, aronia, gooseberries, josta berry, grapes, goji, Szechuan peppers, and more.  Bare root thornless blackberries, and MORE.  See photos in gallery.

Fruit trees: Lots of various apples, just a few plums and pears left.  Some very nice asian pears including Chojuro and 20th Century.  Four types of figs.  Just a few fuzzy kiwi’s left.

Perennial Veggies and others:  Comfrey, perennial leek, walking onions, nodding onions, skirrett, Ground nut plants, OCA pots (small and large), globe artichoke (2 left), horseradish, 2 sea kale, 2 perennial kale, and more.

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What’s Ann holding? See video below.

Raised garden beds: We continue to love these round, quick to build, inexpensive, raised garden beds that could last a lifetime. (see video).  One for sale.   $50.

Chicken set up on a small urban homestead:  Check out this awesome informative short video with our friends Taylor and Solara at Hatchet and Seed.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0v7xJKKWnQ&t=2s&fbclid=IwAR3nRwI0iLu2qkGiPJKNPa-ussCJG1z0R306yZzRnCWrmGjnPxZviTP4SkY

 

Videos:  We took a few short videos this week.  Here they are:

Weird flat brassica plant:

Chocolate Lily:

 

Gord making very quick and inexpensive portable raised garden bed.

New Garden tool made from old saw blade:

And finally, a beautiful photo of chard from our garden.  We ate it all in one meal.  YUM.

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

(In)Frequent Flyer Points


Olive tree out front of the house has grown rapidly…partly due to a nitrogen fixing shrub called false indigo planted with it . Evergreen beauty!

Wow, what a week.  Everyone seems to be scrambling and settling in for what looks to be a long haul to get through this COVID-19 pandemic. So much going on right now locally and globally that’s it’s quite a bit to process.  It’s also a deep question to ponder – what will emerge on the other side of this virus.  My fear is that our civilization will simply pick up the pieces and carry on rebuilding the same broken system.  In all honesty, as horrible and gut wrenching as this pandemic is, the economic crisis created represents an incredible opportunity to reinvent everything that is broken in our culture.  We must focus on localizing everything we possibly can including:

Food

Housing

Manufacturing & supply chains

Health &  Education

Entertainment  & Recreation &  Sport

Economy

Hardy kiwis are just getting ready to push out a mass of leaves. Excellent shade on the west side of the house. Fire resistant, keep the house cool, abundant fall fruits, and beautiful!

Here on the home front we are working on projects around the homestead; preparing gardens, grafting, soil building, and finishing up paid work that can be completed with “Social Distancing”.  We are also organizing our new plant stock in the Nursery and reinventing how we will do farm gate sales…again.

Here’s the latest Nursery plans:

All nursery sales will be by appointment only AND we will offer a pick up and local delivery service via our old farm truck.  (Delivery is free with orders over $400), and if Gord get the trailer for the bike built… perhaps by e-bike.  Send an email to either ann@eco-sense.ca or gord@eco-sense.ca to set up your private appointment.  When you arrive at our farm, please park on the street, and we will help you with your order while maintaining 2 meter social distancing.

Fuzzy kiwi trellis (we have self fertile fuzzy kiwis in stock). Cinnamon Vine (Chinese Yam) in the orange tub. Grows heart shaped leaves all over trellis to help provide summer shade. Yummy potato like tubers.

NO CASH sales.  Only cheques and e-transfers from now on.

Red, black, and white currents getting ready for leaves. Early, tasty fruits.

We have LOTS of new plants in stock and lots more not listed on our plant inventory sheets.

LOWER prices:  We have lowered prices on many items to move them fast…we don’t want to water them all summer.  We also have no idea if our nursery will have to close at some point due to further emergency plans.

Here’s the plant list:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1j-GtX_ufCTWu8muXbCjqAYfc-cIP7WKl/view

SPECIAL 10% discount for everyone who has not flown in the last 2 years.  Please mention this NO-FLY discount to us when we are writing up your invoice.

Two (injured) thumbs up…

We continue to take time every day for gratitude for what is good.  Today I am grateful that this crisis has hit us in the spring.  What are you grateful for?

Let’s all get busy growing food and sharing seeds, starts, food, and skills with our community neighbours.  We can only get through this crisis together.

Stay healthy,

Ann and Gord

CHANGES to our Spring Nursery Season


Gord grafting onto our oldest plum tree.

Two important changes impacting our spring nursery season:

  1. To do our part with social distancing to “Flatten the Curve” of the spread of COVID-19, our spring nursery season will be BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.  
  2. No cash payments.  We will only accept payment for trees in the form of personal cheques or e-transfers.

Given the short notice, we will be in our nursery on Sunday March 22nd from 10am -2pm, but please make an appointment if possible so that we only have 1 customer at a time.  Following this Sunday, there will be no more regular weekend nursery hours. We can make other appointments for any time as we rarely are going out.

Spring broccoli shoots

Emails:  ann@eco-sense.ca      or     gord@eco-sense.ca

Updated plant list: CLICK HERE

This is an excellent time of year to start a garden and grow some food. It’s also an excellent project to keep us all busy, healthy, and sane.

Our newest trellis of Logan berries and thornless blackberries

I am busy preparing my annual gardens for more planting and Gord and I are planting more perennial fruit trees, nuts trees, berries, and perennial veggies.  Just yesterday we planted 2 elderberries in our lower garden.  Last week we planted two more walnuts, 2 more chestnuts, and some fast growing honey locust and black locust for shade and beauty.  We are planning to grow food for us and create abundance in our neighbourhood.  Let’s all grow and share food.

Take care everyone,

Ann and Gord

Protecting our dandelion greens from the bunnies