A blast from the past


After finally stopping for a moment to look back at our history in this wacky Eco-Sense adventure, we’d thought it would be fun to share the odd old post… here is one from just over 10 years ago.   No pretty pictures back then… we didn’t know how to do that (that stuff is complicated you know!).   Don’t despair this time around we have added pictures.

As I read through this update from many years ago, I smile and then I tear up… Angela Evans, mentioned in this update, a friend, has since passed away – but her favourite sweet peas grace the front of our home, our khaki campbell duck flock are collectively named the sweet peas, and we have Angie duck.    We miss you Angela

November 2007 Update

Filed under: Eco-Sense Updates eco-sense.ca @ 7:58 pm


We left you last month with a cliff hanger. Although the car died we still have the van. Our remaining vehicle has 450,000 kms on it, and is meant strictly as the work thing to tow the trailer up the driveway. It looks like a work thing; it is bruised, battered and filthy just like Gord, and they are both starting to complain. The difference is that Gord is reliable but the van is not. Ann is complaining too because it’s too filthy to transport groceries in.

The vehicle vs. values saga

What do you do when hard work and luck places you where you want to be, but society and cultural pressures tell you to ignore your values and get back in the box?

As many of you are aware we have shared custody of the kids with alternating weeks. What were to happen if we refused to buy a vehicle because of conflict with our values? What if we argued that there were no good alternatives available yet to transport kids? What if we had no bus service? For two years we have tried to change the kids’ school as was agreed to when we moved here. Currently, we have a two and a half hour daily drive to and from school twice per day which accounts for most of our driving. What if we biked to the closest bus route and sent the kids off to school for an hour long bus ride each way? Lots of questions…No answers!

The only answer is… Too bad… you have to uphold your responsibility to transport the kids to school. The courts are not even close to being able to make a decision based on the triple bottom line. Interestingly we have spent the last two years attempting to discuss climate issues, equal family involvement, kids’ school friends, reduction of greenhouse gases, environmental education, kids’ schedules, and commuting costs. We are saddened and left wondering what is worth fighting for. Do we allow our culture to determine that we go out and purchase a greenhouse gas spewing dinosaur? Can we wait for the government to allow electric vehicles? Could we even afford one?

Interestingly the Federal government has told one of the Canadian based electric vehicle makers, that despite them meeting the federal guidelines, they still can’t sell in Canada, as the federal government has plans to review their guidelines. Something is a little stinky here!

The Electrical Code

Our lucky day…we just got a new electrical inspector assigned to our building. He is only into the job two weeks and he gets our house. Our thoughts were “poor bugger”. Our electrician gently peppered him with questions, and he went for his notebook. The inspector spent half of his two hours getting a tour of the systems, an introduction to sustainability, and learning how deficient the electrical code really is when it comes to energy conservation.

The inspector has had to learn a lot really quick. We learned that the electrical code is kind of like the Bible…open to interpretation.

We had expected that our living (circle) room would have to have AC outlets built into the back of the cob all the way around the seating areas. When we asked what he would like to see he said “well it looks like this really is a cozy spot to read. Why would you want to put plug outlets into built in furniture?” That was supposed to be our line! Common sense prevailed.

Things were stalled here while we waited for the feedback from the electrical inspector on all the items that make our home different from the norm. What will he say about the DC outlets, the 24 volt LED lights (that are not CSA approved), the 24 VDC pumps that are not CSA approved, screw in AC Edison base light fixtures to be used for DC bulbs?

Two weeks later. All is ok… just don’t put in regular AC switches for the DC lighting. There is a good reason for this, as AC voltage cycles at 60HZ, meaning there is little to no arc when a switch is flipped, unlike DC. We need to use a switch with a stronger spring to ensure that the connection of the circuit is broken, rather than an arc causing it to fuse and stay connected.

Insurance

We had Ted Hill, the editor from the Goldstream Gazette, here the beginning of the month. It was interesting to watch this fellow show up to do a story that he felt slightly responsible to do, but not too sure about what the story should be. Over a two hour period, we saw Ted’s eyes open wider, and the laughs and amazement increase, with the final point of interest being that our insurance will be based on buildings that exist in the UK that are several hundred years old (older than Canada)!

Pattie Whitehouse, who used to write all our stories for the Goldstream Gazette, was let go when Black Press took over. It’s amazing how hard it is to get news coverage in our own community. We are still waiting for the story in the Gazette to come out.

Toilet Training

It wouldn’t be complete for a month to go by with out talking about the toilet, so here it goes. We put out a call for a good used toilet to temporarily install in our bathroom to comply with code. After receiving offers for six such old toilets it became clear that in order to comply with the building code we had to install a LOW flush toilet. Now don’t get us wrong…this is a great law…but for us, who plan on using a NO flush toilet it just doesn’t make any Eco-Sense.

So instead of this being a problem, we are going to have some fun with this…we can either cry over stuff like this or laugh. So here is the tentative plan for next February.

Neville, a friend here in the Highlands, has a company in Victoria called Heritage Office Furnishing, which will donate a new low flush toilet to the Highlands Heritage Park Society (Pike House). Bob McMinn from this society (and the first mayor of the Highlands) will loan this toilet to us to install and fulfill code requirements.

We are then holding the first ever ‘Celebrity Flush’ event targeted at celebrities, politicians, and anyone who supports what we are doing. The goal is to support sustainability and show opposition to the crazy rules that stand in the way of sustainable development. Participants pay $50 to pee into this new low flush toilet. No, this is not a pissing contest!

Proceeds will be donated to the Highlands Stewardship Foundation to continue their good work with monitoring ground water and educating us in its use. The slightly used low flush toilet will then be installed in its final resting place on the Pike house grounds complete with a story board of how it came to be.

Sustainability is FUN! Thanks to Pattie, Neville, and Bob for their insight, humour, and help. Looking forward to even more community input (pun intended).

And the Heating … AGAIN!

Yet one more time we look at heating. From purely solar, to generator back-up, then wood gasification, then to electrical, on to air-to-water heat pumps, then toying with bio-diesel, then back to more solar, and finally wood gasification. Who said ignorance was bliss!

Here is our brief summary of our rational, and believe me it is brief to summarize nine months of research into a few sentences.

Purely solar would mean 240 evacuated tubes for December and January demand, while only 60 tubes seven months of the year. This translates into an extra $18,000. Yikes!

Generator: A diesel genset has efficiency losses from transferring fuel into both power and excess heat. We did not want to rely heavily on a fuel (biodiesel or diesel) nor be inefficient. Ann can’t stand exhaust fumes either.

Air to water heat pump: We found an amazing heat pump made in Germany by Dimplex with a CoP (coefficient of performance) of 3.9; this means for every 1 Kw of energy fed into the system 3.9 Kw of heat are extracted. We almost went this route but would need to add more PV panels as its rated capacity was for 1.9 Kw.

Biodiesel direct hot water system from ITR. ITR did the testing, and their smaller Hurricane II was a good fit, but their larger Oasis was CSA certified. We again second guessed ourselves as to relying on fuel availability. Ann still didn’t want to breathe any exhaust.

Grid fed electric element. NOT!

Wood gasification. We finally purchased the wood gasification boiler. We had a choice of Greenwood, HS Tarm, Eko, and Wood Gun. Each gasification burner has different requirements depending on your setup. We decided on Alternate Heating Systems’ Wood Gun.

Wood Gun

The Wood Gun has been made for 27 years, same design, simple, repairable, doesn’t require a large water tank to operate efficiently. It basically heats wood allowing the gases to be released and be burned in a secondary chamber reaching between 1800-2000 degrees F. The boiler is immersed in 60 gallons of water, where in which it transfers heat through a coil to our 120 gallon hot water tank. These units are pretty much smokeless scoring big points with Ann.

We “learn” then we “do”

We are often asked how we learned what we are doing. What is it that makes us different? Not much! We just learn, and then we do. We’re not scared of failure which frees us up to be creative. We are also not as attached to a particular outcome and will work with and accept how things evolve. Life is not about the best decision or perfection.

Accomplishments for the month!

Ben and Ann have completed most of the exterior brown coat plastering. Tough work with cold hands.

Gord and Ben also finished putting in the hydronic heating tubes upstairs and the earthen floor on top.

Angela Evans (who did some tours here this past summer) came by to spend the day drawing some beautiful creatures on our exterior cob walls. We hope to incorporate these into some relief work on our home.

BC Hydro, after a tour of course, hooked up and connected the grid intertie. We are number 16 in the province.

Our plumber and electrician (Byron and Mike) have worked hard to give us temporary heat running though the floors. There is lots of moisture to push out to dry everything and start to warm up the place.

We cleaned up a bit, (Ann let her hair out of the ever present ponytail), and swept the house in preparation for the Knowledge Network. They will be back one more time in January to do the final shoot. Almost an entire day for a few minutes of footage.

Creativity Strikes

We have experimented with packing crates, plywood, old 24’s and some of our own wood. This rearrangement of old and new wood from forests past and present has created a kitchen and a composting toilet. Not in the same room of course. The kitchen has counters that are made of many types of wood including; gorgeous black walnut (old packing pallet); a lowered bread making counter of old growth Doug Fir ripped from 24’s from an old school with some spalded Arbutus from last years early snow storm; some old trestle from Bear (Bare) Mountain for the raised bar above the sink, and some of our own Fir from the land arranged in an alternating pattern of grain. All was finished with a combination of Tung oil and Osmo hardwax oil. A gorgeous and unique work of art! We love to tell people that our kitchen is made out of old packing pallets… they nod their heads and smile… with no clue to the beauty created.

We had hoped to be into the house for Christmas, but have accepted yet another winter in the trailers. This has been tough on all of us but we joke and hope for the weather to be less stormy than last year.

Cheers,
Ann and Gord

A Little Edgy, Very Marginal


A little Edgy and very Marginal.  This may be how Ann describes Gord at the best of times, but hopefully after reading this update, a bit more light is shed on the importance of being marginal.

DSC02860But first this advertisement from our sponsor (haha)…We have lots of perennial plants for sale here at Eco-Sense…everything from sweet potatoes to Goumi’s, figs, edible hosta’s, currants, grapes, NUTS, pears, plums, apples, apricots, sea berries, asparagus, edible day lily, saskatoons, and kiwi’s…just to name a few.  We even have some perennial vegetables and cover crops.

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Daffodils – 3 weeks late

Next Open farm day:

Saturday April 8, 2017 from 10am-2pm

Eco-Sense homestead is open to walk around and/or buy perennial plants

See cob buildings, chickens/ducks, food forest, perennial and annual gardens

The Eco-Hut (example of a tiny home)

Raised garden beds including Galvalume and Concrete Curvy beds

Your questions answered!

Now back to the blog post:  Ann and I straddle an interesting intersection between the mainstream and the “other” stream, call it what you may.  For those of us straddling multiple realities, it’s “crazy making” and it’s tough to balance co-existing in both.  Anyone else have this same experience?  However, there is an energy that is derived from navigating these worlds simultaneously.  This energy inspires Ann’s seemingly endless rants (of which I bear the brunt of over morning coffee – yes we still drink coffee), as she observes the details of the parallel realities, accepts the feedback, and then neglects to self-regulate her responses.  (See last weeks post on Regulatory Feedback).

Edges of the economic system

Living a 3-Thirds lifestyle means we split our time;  volunteer 1/3rd, work for income 1/3rd, and follow our passions 1/3rd.  What this means is that we really don’t have the lifestyle to be a good employee and we definately do not maximize the financial earning potential of our education…or save $$$ for retirement.  We don’t fly, rarely eat out, don’t have a cell phone and we don’t embrace/support the growth economy (non-plant growth economy that is).  This places us at the edge of meeting our basic needs, but marginalizes us from those folks who have lots.  Yet the benefits of being on this edge allows us to maximize diversity and thrive.  This time allows us to think and process information and to be a bit more in control of our lives.  We are not slaves to the system.  Some of this is luck, some of this is our privilege, and some of this is hard work.  We have become really hard working generalists that can adapt, swoop and weave, and navigate a rapidly changing world and much of it we do on our own terms.

Edges of lifestyle choices

Do I dare say we don’t use soap anymore?  (For years now, really)  And dare Gord say that he brushes his teeth less?  Gross!  (If you don’t eat sugar or much starch, the mouth bacteria is VERY different).  This is an example where most folks would recoil in disgust without any knowledge of the science and benefits of having a natural ecosystem biome doing those tasks for us, and much better than the chemicals most of us slather our bodies in.  If you’re not completely grossed out…keep reading.  (Note we brush our teeth daily, but only about once per week with a natural toothpaste).

Soap kills and washes off both bad and good bacteria and nourishing oils.  When we wash and scrub our bodies with harsh soaps, we remove the bacteria that make our own lanolin, thus our skin dries out and voila we have more exczema, dermatitis, and slower wound healing.   Just like any ecosystem, the more biodiversity there is, the healthier it is… and next to Gord’s (non-stinky) armpits, nothing smells better, except perhaps some nicely aged compost.  The best way to “re-wild” ones body is to gradually wean yourself off of the soaps and other products and your skin will adjust to a NON-STINKY biome.  We found that in the beginning we still needed a bit of odour control and used coconut oil in the pits.  It’s still important to shower with warm water to gently exfoliate and clean the skin.  (2-3 times per week).  We consider ourselves clean and tidy people…but we are FREE of most of the chemical products.  (Ann still uses shampoo and conditioner).

There is a reason why this works and why the same science has been pushing for natural births, for the very purpose of populating the new born baby with an ecosystem.  Russian phage therapy (using beneficial bacteria to fight infection), has succesfully accomplishing this task by enhancing the biodiversity in the wound.  The issue of antibiotic resistant bacteria is a non-issue with this approach whereas in North America or Europe excessive antibiotic use has caused a huge issue.

Edges…everywhere.  This is where abundance happens.  There is simultaneously more sharing AND more competition, more movement of nutrients and ideas, more activity, more species, and in human culture, more fun.  Forest edges, intertidal zones, wetland edges, cropland edges, social edges, and ideas edges.  Life can be tough in these edges and they often require species/individuals adapted to rapidly changing conditions, harsher environments, and species that are often generalists.  This also applies to those of us living in ways that straddle different ideologies.  We have to be able to swim and thrive  in many different waters and when required, retreat to safety.

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Edges of the gardens

Gardens are no different.  If you grow a mono-crop, your plants are more prone to pests and disease, especially as there is no community in the soil to share and swap nutrients… as they all compete for the same things.  Our gardens are wild and crazy, and healthy… and the edges even more so.  At this time of the year, Ann scavenges new starts of broccoli, kale, parsnip, chard, tomatillo, tomatoe, parsley, leek, and the list goes on.  These edges produce many of the new plants, rather than us having to sow seeds ourselves… a big time saver and guess what… these plants are superior to seeds we have started.  The reason, well that is another nerdy talk on epigenetics.

Edges of the forest:  I often think to how hominids evolved, they were on the edges of the forests and savannah.  They had opportunity in both, and stood up to the challenge.  (Hehehe).  The edges of forests offer more diversity, more pressures from competition, more opportunities, more varied climates and sunlight.  More varieties of bugs and birds exist, more varieties of soil types and soil life exists.

The Land here at Eco-Sense:  We straddle this concept in that we live on a previously impacted rocky knoll of land; land that has slopes on all sides (North, East, West, and South) giving rise to many different niches and microclimates.  This land has been burned in the past from forest fire and has road scars cut in from prior logging.   There are plenty of margins, and we are learning how to use and manage them AND to leave them alone to regenerate, and slowly experiment with increasing biodiversity.  One lesson that has stuck out for us is that book learning doesn’t come close to the learning from living on the land, observing the life, the soils, the wind, the water and letting the land teach us what we are willing to learn.

Seasonal Diets: Our internal gut micro-biome also thrives from diversity…and especially from a seasonal local diet.  Eating many different foods feeds many different species of bacteria resulting in more diversity.  However, if we just eat the same foods year round, eventually a small number of gut bacteria species will dominate and take over. This is why it’s critical to eat seasonal foods to keep our gut micro-biome on the edge.  Taking this one step further we can also see how eating bacteria and food from our home region also sets us up to have a more locally adapted micro-biome.  The study of gut micro-biomes is telling us that one of the primary drivers of overall health, disease resistance, neurological disorders, and immune function is the diversity of gut bacteria.

As above, So below, and even more so in between.  Our bodies ARE in between.

Food systems:  Ann’s list of 7 major contributors to poor gut health:

  1. The herbicide glyphosate (Roundup), found on most food (used on GMO crops AND as a pre-harvest desiccant).  Glyphosate is antibacterial.  http://sustainablepulse.com/2016/10/12/pesticide-experts-release-shocking-review-of-global-glyphosate-damage/#.WOf4OBiZORv
  2. Diets high in refined carbs (processed white flour, sugar, processed foods) feeds a mono culture that outcompetes good bacteria.
  3. Diets low in fibre.  Good bacteria need to eat fibre.
  4. High use of antibiotics (internally and externally).  Kills bacteria
  5. Low exposure to soil microbes (too sterile).  Eat some “clean” soil, play in the soil.
  6. Non seasonal diet.  variety of food changing through the year.
  7. AND non-vaginal births.  Nothing like a trip out the birth canal to coat the new baby in some healthy bacteria.

We could go on…and on…and on…but we better quit.

Ann and Gord

 

 

Regulatory Feedback


With a blog title like “Regulatory Feedback” one could expect an update on our council policy work or perhaps the current state of science on self reinforcing feedback loops in the climate system…or perhaps even personal relationships and patience.   Maybe it will be some of all of this woven into a muddy mess where our public feedback would be “what the heck are they trying to say anyways?”  But before this, a quick notice about the nursery.

Sales of Perennial Edible Plants:  Saturday April 1, from 10am-2pm.  Special featured plants this week are:  Full list here with prices

Ann and I are sometimes at odds with each other when it comes to decisions…aren’t all couples?  Even at the council table it is not usual for us to vote differently.  One of the hardest things in a relationship is to self regulate and listen to feedback.  Our culture has generally trained us to push back and resist feedback while becoming emotional and effectively shutting down our capacity to hear.

(Ann) It seems that collectively, much of humanity has lots the ability to receive feedback from each other, from other cultures, and most importantly from nature.  Feedback is absolutely everywhere… IF we pay attention and IF we are willing to hear it, see it.  Our culture is by and large oblivious to feedback, but if we do hear it, our egos are almost always in the way.

(Gord) Anyways, always start positive… right?   Ann gives great feedback.  Last week in our post I indicated Ann was very observant?   Wow – two positives.   (Ann) In our shared desire to install “Eco-Sense” systems that integrate food, water, energy, lifestyle to create more biodiversity, more carbon sequestration, more resilience, and more abundance, we inevitably have an impact upon the land.  (Gord) In this process, my desire is usually to “get ‘er done”… plant more, plant now.  This results in rapid changes.  (Ann)  I’m more like storm water management with Gord being the storm water…Slow it Down, Spread it out, Sink it in.

(Gord) Tears and arguments have resulted from long discussions around expanding the gardens or gaining more sun from tree thinning.  Let’s just say that we are stronger because of hearing each other and finding common ground (I hope Ann does not edit this).    Ann has been the one to stand up for those without voices.  (Ann’s edit – they actually have voices, they just speak another language – I hope Gord doesn’t edit that out).  Non-human living beings created and shaped this land long before we arrived.  Ann has been the one to hear the feedback and self regulate our activities, and slow the process down so that we can all adapt to the changes.

(Ann) The benefits of this are many.  The first, being, that this gives us a chance to observe nature’s feedback.  Another, is that slower change allows the ecosystem to adapt more incrementally.  Also, we have both learned more about ourselves, each other, and how to hear nature.  If we are designing with nature as our architect (as we say on all our tours), then we better listen to what our architect has to say.  A final benefit is that we have learned to be patient… what are we in such a hurry for anyways?

(Gord) I have learned to appreciate the wild and wooly edges that are as unkept as my beard and workshop, and see the benefits.  The piles of broom from two years earlier have housed mice (which feed owls) and now house bumble bee colonies (that are the early pollinators).  The snowberries and ocean spray that I struggle to have affection for are alive with bees and other pollinators drawing denser populations to the gardens all the while feeding the swallows and other song birds.  History is also tied to place due to the spiritual and medicinal importance the snow berries are for our First Nations.

We need to steward and participate in this land.  We can’t do that if we simply impose ourselves upon it in an abusive relationship.  We need to hear the feedback in order to fall in love with this land.  The same goes for the entire planet.

Nature is giving us a lot of feedback…who’s listening?
Here’s a very short and beautiful video.  

Gord and Ann

 

Observations and Connection


Busy, busy, busy…but a good kind of busy.  The kind of busy where the days are just not long enough and we are having so much fun.  The first two weeks of our spring sales of perennial edible plants have been busy and fun with such interesting people coming by to visit and purchase plants.  We are open again this Saturday from 10am – 2pm.  Updated plant list here.  (Note, we have sold out of Almonds…but may have more in a week if order arrives).

So who wrote what anyways?  We often get asked who wrote what in our updates and more often than not people assume incorrectly.  We find this quite funny.  So for this update, we will start each paragraph with the author.

Here’s a typical spring day here at Eco-Sense (Sunday March 21st) with an excerpt from a Facebook post:  Our day started at 3:30…we were awake, so we got up and had coffee.  (Note: getting up at 3:30 is NOT normal)
Ann:  Started my day with 2 hours of bookkeeping, cleaned the chicken coop (had to change clothes after…had a bad chicken shit experience), left wellbarrow of chicken shit on pathway up (too heavy for me to push…feared an even worse chicken shit experience), filled up duck food, reminded Gord to take bag of food to chickens, asked Gord to retrieve wheel barrow of shit for me (he wouldn’t hug me at this time and commented on the smears on my clothing), retrieved two duck eggs out of the pond (yes they are laying on the edge of the pond and the eggs roll in), did laundry and hung on line in the sun, made 2.5 doz pickled eggs (Yes, I washed my hands), made breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and washed corresponding dishes – Gord’s band-aids saved him from dishes…see below for why he had so many band-aids), went to neighbours to get goat milk, talked on phone for a while regarding council stuff, watered newly transplanted lettuce under hoop covers, dug out some worm castings from garden wash stand (video of wash stand and worms here), made up a potting mix, and started LOTS of seeds in the newly rat proofed greenhouse.

Typical Local Lunches:

Gord:  Spent the day potting up rootstocks and grafting.  Potted 80 up last night and another 80 up this afternoon. Grafted close to fifty… little slow this morning as the fingers were cold and toes frozen… rootstock was frozen too. Peaches, almonds, apricots, pears. Tomorrow plums and then on to the easy ones… apples are by far the quickest.

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Pots ready for rootstocks and then grafting.  This location is where our new simple hoop greenhouse will go.

Gord’s grafting knife is VERY sharp…hence the band-aids.  Spent the evening reading council packages.

Ann:  Today (Thursday) was also an amazing day.  We learned that our old farm truck that died last week is repairable…barely.  Only $2,000.  It died earlier in the week while we were on the Malahat highway…and we don’t own a cell phone.  Ack!    However, a wonderful older gentleman stopped to help us, (Gord: yes older than Ann), as we were waving our hands (but I’m still young enough to stop traffic on the highway).  Woohoo…he had a cell phone…but he didn’t know how to use it.  So here’s us trying to figure it out…neither of us has used a cell phone in the last 10 years.  Gord fared better to me.  I was completely useless without my glasses.  If I was left to my own devices I probably would have walked home…I’m guessing a 10 hour hike.

So, after learning our truck was repairable, Gord continued with grafting, and I finished off and submitted our income taxes.  This afternoon was the highlight of our week…we planted more perennial edible plants.  Here’s our list and the locations we planted them in.  We spent the prior evening making our list and walking around discussing pros and cons of different locations for each plant.  An amazing amount of thought goes into the placement of each plant:

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This is where Boo is buried.  Boo’s headstone.

Willow Bay: next to Boo’s headstone

Silverberry: next to grey water surge tank where cottonwood used to be

2 stone pines: 1 in chicken run just inside the door where the dwarf cherry died, and 1 behind Eco-Hut just outside deer fence

Melrose apple: tbd.  Possibly on Chestnut road or by maple above blueberry and tea bed

Persimmon:  In Arbutus Food forest near female sea berry

Frost Peach:  just downhill of Apricot

Pineapple Guava: Beside lower fuzzy kiwi’s near concrete water cistern

Medlar:  just downhill of the paw paw and west of Quince in Arbutus Food Forest

Goumi: across the path from Ar Ri Rang Asian Pear.

Louquat: in special tea blueberry bed in front of Eco-Hut by pond.

Chilean Guava: by bay tree where Fennel will be removed…way too many fennel.

Evergreen Huckleberry:  between a rock and a hard place (could be anywhere).  Actually between the big rocks by clothes line and cob oven.

Ann:  Creating a new language:  It’s interesting how over the 11 years we’ve lived on this amazing rocky knoll, how we have created a language of locations that includes all kinds of landmarks.  We use both natural and human created features but also historical landmarks that represent different memories attached to a specific location.

Ann:  Sense of place – home:  We have also learned that we are feeling more and more connected to this land the longer we nurture this land, protect this land, eat from this land, and play on this land.  A huge piece of this connection is to observe the very small details.  Where the wild flowers are, what birds do what where and when, how this land responds to us and what we do here, how the water flows, where the snow melts first, where the wind blows and where it’s protected, where it’s warmer, where the cold air settles, what insects eat what, what happens when we trim trees or even remove a tree to let more light in, what memories happened where and with who, and so on.  It’s only from unplugging, participating, and taking time to think can one truly feel connected to place. What a gift it is to feel like home…to know one’s home…to belong to the land.  One can’t help but to imagine how indigenous cultures feel about the land when they have lived so many generations connected to place.

Gord:  One of those things I think we take for granted here at Eco-Sense is our observation.  Observation of the state of the world and how people navigate it; observation of the land we live on and of the way food “happens”, of the soils, trees, birds, bugs, wildflowers.  It is observation that powers all our decisions.

In my first marriage I always joke that I was pre-trained… that I was broken of my habit of leaving cupboard doors open. I was completely oblivious to this for years.  Well I can say that Ann has trained me to pay much more attention to the details than just the cupboard doors.    For a person that has been refered to as a yard sale, I have developed the skills to look after and maintain my tools much better.  I still break tools… often, but when not in use I have greatly improved my tool stewardship.  I have learned the skill (or perhaps the habit) to be able to stop and look at myself, my actions, and dare say my mess and actually become more responsible in my old age.

The benefits… less disposable stuff, less lost stuff, longer lifespan.  This means less money spent on $60 trowels, $70 pruners, $100 wet stones, and the list goes on.  It also means I have a pre-sharpened hand plane when it is needed.

Then there is Ann, whom I sometimes say is too observant.  Ann has an uncanny eye for detail, both a gift and a curse.  Undoubtedly her observations of the giant blue camas nestled between the wild plum and the raspberry trellis post, chocolate lillies below the seabuckthorn near the ocean spray, and by the oak near the chestnuts, various orchids like the Alaskan rein orchids behind the little den, where the white fawn lily patches are, or the old overgrown road below the chicken coop, or where the Calypso orchids are… she has saved their lives from the footsteps of many and the shovel of Gord.
Ann: This is why we have an Eco-Sense policy to stay on the trails during wild flower season (mid february – end of June).  So, please if you are visiting Eco-Sense, please stay on the trails.

Gord: Our attachment to place has come with observation, and becoming familiar with the inhales and exhales of the seasons over the years, where the dormant plants are unseen landmarks we reference the land by.

DSC02433Parker (my son, now 19) also shares a keen eye of observation for the natural world.  Several years back during the time when he was spending one week up here and another down in Victoria, he had just arrived home for the week.  We were sitting by the cob oven.  He was studying the scurrying life on the ground and the cob benches.  After 5 minutes, he asked if I had gotten rid of the stair tread in the garden that had the ants nest (20 feet away)?  I asked how he knew… he said that there was different ant activity.  This is a gift.

When we are not observant we also lack the ability to see the art of nature, the natural patterns, the beauty… and hence we are more likely to remove the natural artwork that we see no value in, and create something in its place.  Derek Jenson spoke to this wonderfully in a recent Peak Moment Video, noting that we only see human made items as works of art, yet dismiss the creations which the natural world combines so delicately – the very same things we recreate through painting, drawing, sculpture and photography.  Very ironic.

So now that spring has finally arrived we get to observe the inhalation of spring, the sounds of the frogs, the arrival of 26+ species of birds and their different dances and sounds, the native bumble bees that will soon become friends to pet in their groggy morning stupor, and the surprises from last season that have reseeded and make “salad happen” in the most unsuspecting places.     From Ann and I, please take the time to observe the wild and detailed art around you… complexity and diversity that boggles the mind.

Thanks for reading.  If anyone is interested in workshops or in our special tour (almost full), check out our link here.

Gord and Ann

Off and Running


Finally, spring is here and plants are showing signs of life.  It’s definitely been a long hard winter and the warmer temperatures and rain are most welcome.  (POND IS FULL for the FIRST TIME EVER!!!!)  It is becoming abundantly clear to those of us living close to the land that there is no longer predicable weather for growing food, which further supports our choice of moving more towards perennial gardening (see below for workshops on perennial foods).  Food is getting more difficult to grow, plan for, predict, harvest, protect, and the costs of food are certainly going UP.  What a joy to rarely ever go to the grocery store.

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This is what a happy Gord looks like when he finds his favourite mug (had for 14 years) sitting in the grape arbour…It was lost for over a week.

We have been busy with tours, council work, consulting, and the gardens (and the usual general “poop” disturbing and distributing).  We have been busy innovating with our raised garden beds to increase our productivity and resiliency.   Our co-housing neighbours Tayler and Solara have been busy with their interns working on some challenging areas to bring them into higher production for perennial gardens for beauty and function.  Our lower garden has had a major face lift as has our walnut tree guild.

Hatchet & Seed Edible Landscapes:  Tayler and Solara are very talented and offer broad-ranging landscape design and installation services.  They partner with home-owners, businesses, municipalities, planners, farmers, community groups & developers to connect food, place and people in inspiring ways!  It’s easy to see why we all chose to work and live here together on this amazing land.

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Life with two – 2 year olds…always a blur.

Next opportunity to come and check it all out and see what’s new at Eco-Sense is on Saturday March 18th from 10am-2pm when the nursery will be open.   New this year we are also selling 1 and 2 lb bags of cover crop peas for food, mulch, and N2 fixing.  Check out the plant list to see what we have in stock.  We have lots of new plants in stock just in time for the Spring season…Including larger fruit and nut trees.  The first sweet potatoes slips will also be available…but still way too early to plant.

Tours and Workshops:  Link here for all the details:  https://eco-sense.ca/our-services/courses/.

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Typical Eco-Sense lunch:  Fermented cabbage, scarlet runner beans, pickled egg, apple, and cheddar cheese.  All home made and local!

Resources:

Now if we could only stop the ducks from laying eggs IN THE POND, we would be happy.

Ann and Gord

 

Is it SPRING yet?


Well, it’s March 9.  Ann’s 50th birthday and it’s trying to snow…again.  We’ve had snow off and on all week and needless to say it is becoming frustrating on so many levels.  Ann has always had daffodils on her birthday, and in the last decade or so daffodils have been blooming much earlier.  But not this year…not a single daffodil is anywhere to be seen.  No peas.  No plums in bloom.  No rhubarb.  No spring greens…not even radishes.  Even the sweet potatoes slips are clinging to life in the earth sheltered greenhouse.  Thank goodness we put so much dried and fermented food away last year.

The nursery is almost ready for our first “spring/winter” open house for sales of perennial edible plants.  Plant list Here (All prices INCLUDE GST)

  • SATURDAY March 11th from 10am-2pm
  • If you are coming to buy plants please drive up to the top of the hill.

It is so odd to start the nursery season when virtually all the plants are still dormant.  Thank goodness for the Cornelian cherries, Black currants, and the fuki.

Lower Garden is getting a make over:  We have been landscaping the lower garden area and have plans for a small pond against the cliff and a simple hoop house greenhouse.  We are propagating more plants rather than bringing them in and need MORE space.  The lower garden has been levelled out and a parking area made on the east side right before the driveway starts going up the hill.  Just yesterday Tayler and Solara along with their three interns also gave the area a great start to a permaculture makeover.  Wow, does it ever look great down there.  (Please note that plants in the lower garden area are NOT FOR SALE).

YAM Magazine:  New article on our home is just out this week in Victoria’s YAM magazine. read online here:  https://issuu.com/page-one/docs/yma17/46

Highlands Community Garden:  The community organized a group to spearhead  the development of a community garden, a garden much different than the one’s you’ll find in the rest of the region.  Why is it different… well they are applying permaculture principles without really knowing it, because it just makes logical sense.  It is also mingled in and amongst some of Highlands finest rocks… so working with an undulating landscape and varying soils depths means biodiversity.  A huge thanks to the team.

Just a quick update to let everyone know, yes, we are open this Saturday (March 11th).   Feel free to come walk in the soggy food forest, in the soggy garden, and look at the wonders of what the Canadian Border Services can do to a perfectly healthy plant order as we nurse $1000 of plants to life.    And come see water in the pond!  Plant list Here

PS.  Bring gumboots!  Bathing suit not required.   Just your birthday suit… right Ann?

 

 

Welcome to spring…sort of.


Well, it’s now March 2nd and we are usually into full spring here at Eco-Sense with native bulbs poking up and daffodils almost open, and usually the first round of plum tree grafting completed.  However, this winter has been unusually harsh, cold, and snowy.  Today, as we write this, we are in a snowy winter wonderland…again.

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Making the best of a snow day (early Feb)

Three Events at Eco-Sense:

Saturday March 11th from 10am – 2pm.  FIRST plant sales of the spring season.  Due to the weather, we will be delaying our first open house for sales of perennial edible plants until the second Saturday of March (March 11th).  Following this date, we will be open every Saturday this spring from 10am – 2pm.

Thursday March 30th from 1-4 pm:  $55 – Grafting workshop at Eco-Sense.  Gord will lead the instruction to graft 2 of your own apple trees of choice to take home (choose from a variety of scion wood).  Tour of food forest and perennial food systems included.  Bring your own THIN BLADED SHARP knife… no longer than 5 cm… everything else is supplied… hopefully no band-aids required.  Only 12 spots.  Suitable for kids 12+ and adults.  Registration via Eventbrite

Sunday May 28th from 1-5 pm:  $40 for a very special PUBLIC TOUR.  We are hosting the first public tour in many years to launch our partnership with Tayler and Solara of Hatchet and Seed.  If you don’t know Tayler and Solara be sure to visit their website.  They specialize in transforming under utilized landscapes (farms and yards) to abundant and beautiful site appropriate food systems.  This special Eco-Sense tour will last about 3 hours and then we will have a social and snack time inside the cob home.  Space is very limited and already half sold out.  Full details and booking is via Eventbrite link here.

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Photo by Solara

AND…Maybe…Just Maybe, Gord will do a workshop on grey water systems.  We have two systems to install for first rate hands on learning.  Tentative date: Thursday, April 27th from 10am-3pm.  Bring lunch.  $60.  Only 8 spots.   Registration via Eventbrite:

AND…Maybe…Just Maybe, Gord will do a short workshop on Humanure composting toilets.  Learn the 3 P’s of composting toilets:  Pee, Poo, and Policy.  Sat, July 22 from 10am-noon.  10 spots.  $30  Tour of our bathroom here at Eco-Sense in the main house, the very slick Eco-Hut system, the outside bathroom setups, and watch an actual bucket dump.  Good opportunity to confront your fears…and leave fecalphobia behind (oooh could have fun with that).  Registration via Eventbrite:

In other news:

dsc02802Despite the harsh and unpredictable weather this winter, it has been an abundant, tasty, and nutritious winter of food.  Ann put away lots of dried foods (fruits and veggies), and fermented foods.  We have lots of fresh apples, garlic, leeks, parsnips  and carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash.  Here’s a photo of one of our pre-packaged soups…pre assembly.  Venison bone broth, fava beans, carrots, garlic, sweet potatoes, bayleaves, parsnips, squash water, dried tomatoes, dried mushrooms, dried kale, and dried zucchini.  It was an AWESOME soup.  Also on the counter in this photo are ginger beer on the go, kefir, sourdough spelt starter, fermenting Jerusalem artichokes, and the cheese curds and whey.

AND…Maybe…Just Maybe, Ann will write a radical homesteading cook book… one without any recipes.

AND…Maybe…Just Maybe, Ann will do  fermented foods workshop.  AND… just Maybe…

Ann has been making lots of cheese too.  Brie, waxed cheddar, washed rind natural cheeses, and feta.

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Our back deck has also become much more useful with a small roof extension and installation of an outside kitchen.  This is where Gord, Tayler and Ann processed Beaker.  Yes, all five of us (Tayler, Solara, 2 year old Flora, Gord and I) ate our much loved rooster.

dsc02806Here’s the story:  After 1 year of living well together and sharing hens peacefully, our two roosters went at it. The young one being the stronger, and our lovely gentle cuddly Beaker getting quite messed up (bloody head and missing an eye). In the morning we had to make a choice. If we let them back together Beaker would surely lose his life in a bloody battle. Beaker also had longer spurs which were damaging his favourite 3 hens. We also suspect Beaker was not very fertile as last year we had a zero hatch rate. So…to make a long story short, guess who we are eating for dinner? We looked after beaker well for 2.5 years and now he is looking after all of us. He was not frightened to die and went quickly without a struggle. RIP Beaker.  (Our freezer has become an interesting place with interesting labels on glass containers…”Beaker Soup” and “Beaker with Pesto”).

dsc02812We gave our Earth Sheltered Greenhouse a work over as the mice and rats were having a field day in there.  Spent the afternoon cleaning out the mouse/rat infested greenhouse while Gord spent the afternoon digging up two sides of the earth sheltered insulated greenhouse to bury metal lath to stop the persistent rodents. Apparently the rodents like to chew through the recycled dock foam insulation buried in the earth to gain access to summer tomatoes, peppers and newly planted seeds. What a mess. Then it started to rain. Found numerous mummified things…ack.  So happy to have the greenhouse all cleaned up and rodent free…for now.

And a pond update.  We are retaining a lot of fluids… at the moment, every 1 inch (2.5 cm for you young folks under 46), is 4000 gallons (that’s a lot of litres for the young folks).  The overflow corrugated culvert was leaking preventing the pond from filling up the last foot of height.  All it took was a large elbow, small elbow, 2 of Gord’s elbows, 4 inner tube tires, water potable sealant, hose clamps, large and small rubber couplers, a heckling duck named Dug playing with Gord’s tools, frozen fingers and THREE persistant configurations of the above list of items.  Fingers crossed that this does the job.

Lots of Council initiatives going on right now, but we’ll save that for our next update.

Ann and Gord

 

 

 

We’ve Failed – Now What?


The environmental movement, despite Herculean efforts has failed and continues to fail.  The evidence for failure is:

  • Populations of vertebrate animals—such as mammals, birds, and fish—have declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012. More details at this link  2016 Living Planet Report
  • We are on the business as usual scenario for climate change…this means we are headed for the IPCC scenario of a rise in global average temperature of up to 4.5 deg C by 2100.  This is not survivable on many levels and may even be overly optimistic as it does not take into account many of the self reinforcing feedbacks we are starting see in the melting arctic.   Read more here:
  • Every mothers breast milk is contaminated with toxic chemicals from industrial civilization.
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Honey bee pollinating our lemons

Why are we failing?
First off
, we define environmentalists as a separate class of people, separate from the average person,  which emboldens the myth that the environment is separate from “us” the human species.  These so called environmentalists fight to preserve habitat, protect species, and reduce harm from being inflicted upon our human habitat, our fellow species and our planet.  One would have to be insane to not see that our human habitat is the same shared habitat as for the rest of the species on earth.  Most people in the “environmental movement” get this basic concept of inter-connection…    It’s called ecology – the earth is a complex living system of relationships; relationships that work together to provide the necessities of life.  So every time you hear about “environmentalists” doing this or standing up for that, simply change the word to “the people”.  This makes a very powerful statement about WE and not THEY.

The danger in the continuation of environmentalists as being “they” or “them” is that “they” become targets.  When you have people speaking out against Site C, “they” are moms, dads, farmers, First Nations, community members, students, scientists, economists, etc. More appropriately, “they”, should be called “the people”.   The term environmentalist is actually a denigration and distraction to the issue at hand.

5040623-binSecondly, our human civilization, culture and global economic system are profoundly broken.  Even those of us wanting to live in a way to drastically reduce harm can only go so far…we are trapped.  As an example, here at Eco-Sense we literally live in a MUD house and shit in a bucket.  Our award winning home has been called the “world’s greenest modern house” as it achieved petal recognition with the Living Building Challenge.  The home features living roofs, rain water harvesting, solar PV, solar thermal, earthen floors, earthen counters, recycled wood, recycled features, LED lighting, very high energy performance for the full lifecycle of the building, and a low carbon footprint, etc.  However, the biggest thing that makes our home green is our lifestyle.  Our lifestyle directly challenges the paradigm that cradles the economic system. Our lifestyle is not good for the economy.

11216225_10153277514545309_413888765205766848_oOur Positives

  • We use 90% less energy and water in the home than the average person in BC. We have less STUFF to plug in and and use energy carefully. (Conservation First)
  • We grow and process the majority of our food here on site (or source locally) year round.  We eat local ecologically raised meat and wild meat.  (Local Food)
  • We choose to earn less money.   Earning less money means that we buy less stuff.  The whole Less Life STUFF…More Life STYLE saying is one we came up with over a decade ago. (We don’t maximize our earning potential – we have better things to do with our life)
  • Over this last decade, we have created sufficient diversified employment for ourselves that fits with our values.  (Perennial food systems plant nursery, education, tours, consulting, presentations, rain water harvesting, writing, municipal politics, and more.)  (No specialization… we specialize at being generalists…more fun)
  • We don’t fly (Local Living)
  • When my parents moved out we paid back their investment not through a bank or credit union, but through an arrangement with friends.  This large chunk of cash coming from friends did not create more debt in the system and therefor did not help to fuel the growth economy.  Our friends were able to then remove their funds that were invested in planet destroying activities and invest in us and our regenerative design initiatives.  (Local Finance)
  • We consider natural capital, social capital, human capital, financial capital, and manufactured capital in all our decision making.  We make sure to factor in all forms of currency.  Life is complex and beautiful.
  • We have homemade wooden wedding rings (no gold or blood diamonds) as a symbol to each other and to the earth.
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350 ppm atmospheric concentration of CO2 is long gone…We are well over 400ppm now and not going back.

BUT sadly, even given everything that we do here, we still consume more than the planet can support.  If everyone lived like us we would still need more than 2 or 3 earths.  We acknowledge that there is only so much individuals can do…the system needs to change.  In order to get to the next stage of living in a fully regenerative way, we need community…we all need to be in this together.  It’s delusional to try and go it alone.  Prepping is not going to cut it.

Our Negatives:

  • We still have a car (used smart car), and a farm truck (filthy and old).  (CO2 and mining).  In 2016 we drove less than in all our prior years at Eco-Sense.
  • We still buy a few new items like clothes, tools, and some garden items.  We have fleece (micro plastic clothing) and plastic rain gear.  Can’t buy used due to all the toxic fragrances people use.
  • Buy coffee (organic and fair trade).  (CO2, habitat losses)
  • We each have a laptop computer  (no green fully recyclable computers available)
  • We purchased a pond liner (after trying for 5 years to seal the pond with clay).
  • We buy pumps, tools, metal products, etc for the farm. (CO2 and mining)
  • We use some concrete (BIG CO2 footprint)
  • People drive here to buy plants (lots of CO2 and mining)
  • We buy some mined products like aluminum, copper, coltan, etc which are in our electronics, solar panels, wiring, solar panel frames, orchard ladders, etc.  (mining is toxic and destroys habitat)
  • We produce some plastic garbage. (Toxics, and CO2)
  • We buy some misc household stuff…but really try and look after it so it lasts a long time.
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Gord contemplating his carbon footprint after building raised concrete garden beds

And the third reason why the environmental movement has failed is that many “environmentalists”, oops, I mean “people” standing up (safely from their desks) to work on environmental and human rights issues are not actually doing much to reduce their own impact.  Many of the activist people out there are not walking their talk.  They are flying the “flag”… and flying (the single biggest impact item we can do as individuals), and consuming, and spending,  and wasting precious resources and carbon budgets all while preaching what we need to do.  By not taking reasonable steps to curb ones personal contribution as much as possible many have compromised their moral authority.

Imagine a parent teaching their children to do as I say, not as I do – modelling action is immensely more useful.  Action is the BIGGEST tool we have to effect cultural change.  Walk your talk as best you can and begin starving the beast.  By not standing up to the broken culture, to the consumption economy, many activists give power to the system as they are part of the system.

Now What?  First and foremost, we need to start acting like we really want to see the changes we are working so hard for.  

  1. Stop fuelling the system we desire to change by reducing our personal consumption.  Live simpler lives.  Walk our talk as best we can.  When we are unable to walk our talk, we acknowledge this gap between our values and our actions and carry on.  We don’t beat ourself up.  Talking about our consumption/over consumption will go along ways to help change the story.  Change the story : Change the system
  2. Work to change the system…pick something that you’re passionate about and go for it:  economic systems, political systems, community building, health and wellbeing,  equality, oil tankers, pipelines, dams, LNG, water, farming methods, old growth forests, invasive species, polar bears, carbon taxes, electric cars, transit, greener buildings, endangered species, butterflies, bees, small homes (tiny too), energy efficiency, local food, fragrance free personal care products, GMO’s, glyphosate and pesticides, oceans, the arctic, palm oil, rain forests, etc. 
  3. Create a better system:  The fun part – permaculture principles can be applied to everything from food, to shelter, to community, to governance.  
  4. Stop calling people that care “environmentalists”…call them people.  
  5. Give up on hope or attachment to outcome.  If you pay attention to the full science, complexity and magnitude of our global predicament it will seem hopeless.  Grieve it,  cry, get over it, and then get busy.  Find others to grieve and get busy with.

So what has inspired our latest rant?  Many things, but primarily the documentary by Leonardo DiCaprio called Before The Flood.  It’s excellent, However Leonardo is one of this earth’s single biggest consumers alive today contributing to climate change and mass extinction. It’s the ultimate in absurd to be an activist and not walk your own talk and this approach will only lead to more failure of the environmental movement.  All activists need to live like they believe in what they are fighting for.   (This is where Ann spews profanities, but Gord edits them out) We are literally toast if we don’t change our way of life – NOW.  It was a stunning moment in the documentary where Leonardo is discussing with Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi, where he basically says that the American way of life is not negotiable.  Seriously watch this documentary and then read the analysis by Rob Hopkins.  Both are here on this link.   http://www.resilience.org/stories/2016-11-02/leonardo-dicaprio-s-before-the-flood-a-review

So there it is…if we don’t change our way of life now, we are literally changing Life on earth to Hell on earth.  In order to change the system, we need to change ourselves and the external system we live within.  We need to change EVERYTHING.

And for those now depressed, we’re sorry.  Please know that there is still abundant joy out there by living simply.  Here’s what we do to help cope:

  1. Spend time with friends
  2. Spend time in nature (gardens, hikes, etc)
  3. Limit our time online or listening to the news.
  4. watch permaculture videos…seriously, they really help
  5. Cook and enjoy local whole foods
  6. Drink home brew/wine

Thanks for Reading,

Ann and Gord

 

The Learning Curve


When you specialize in being a generalist, you set yourself up for a whole lot of learning.

How I describe Ann’s skills:  high level bookeeping; biologist; cheese maker; fermenter; dishwasher; goat teet squeezer; grower, harvester, and cooker of  food; councillor; nursery person; farm manager; Gord manager; assumption checker/elephant observer (also known as an elephant pointer outer or general s**t disturber); critical thinker; chainsaw owner; lifestyle consulting, and soon to be book author.

How do I describe myself… I don’t dare.   I’ll leave that up to Ann if she so wishes.

When asked what I do for a living I really don’t have a clue what to say.  When I do try and respond it always starts with… “I follow my own interests and do whatever I want”.  I often say that I clean the public washroom, collect the compost toilet materials, and distribute the s**t… and I am a councillor where I (like Ann) disturb it a little too.

One thing is certain, I feel uncomfortable stating my skills.  I would rather speak to my interests.  My interests are plants, rain water harvesting, grey water, provincial policy, electronics, sustainable building and designing and building integrated systems (heating/cooling), composting toilets, water filtration,  carpentry/cabinetry, public speaking, teaching, and beer and wine making, digging holes.

Inevitably interests lend to energizing my learning, an appetite not easily satiated.  The most recent two learning opportunities are the step towards earning my EOCP in Small Water Systems, and presenting on the topics of small scale agricultural pond pumping design and grey water re-use and other responsible water alternatives.

Small Water Systems Operation and Management – EOCP certification

SWS Operation and Management is a course that will enhance my abilities to effect change on the topic and issues surrounding water, a passion of mine.  Hopefully in the next several months after exams are over I will have earned the qualifications to install, operate and maintain water systems for populations under 1000 people.    The materials cover a wonderful broad range of skills from how to work a community through the process of creating an aquifer protection permit area, to pumps, wells, filtration and laboratory testing, and setting water rates.    A nice addition to my work surounding Rainwater harvesting, grey water and composting toilets.

Farm Water Management Seminar – free

Thanks to Tayler Krawczyk of Hatchet & Seed for inflicting the second learning opportunity.  A seminar on Small scale farm water management.  Tayler will be presenting two sessions covering his research work on keyline water  management  and the installation of irrigation ponds.   His ask of me… cover the topic on how to choose a pump for the small scale farm pond.  Small scale means in this case 60-70 gpm pumping, much different than the 27gpm rainwater systems.  I am happy to say the learning curve is looking much better than a pump curve.

The seminar is 4 sessions (noted below), is free and open to anyone.  All costs are covered by the BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative and the CRD.

Registration Link

9:00am – 11:00am – Keyline Water Management

Tayler Krawczyk, Hatchet & Seed and Sara Duncan, p.Ag.
About “Keyline Water Management Project”
Introduction to ‘Keyline Geometry’
Using contour maps for farm water planning (CRD WebMap Demo)
Keyline plowing to reduce compaction & manage water
Monitoring results to date – Sara Duncan, p. Ag.
Alternative drainage techniques for bottom-lands
Q & A

11:15am – 12:30pm – Irrigation Pond Design

Tayler Krawczyk, Hatchet & Seed
Review of regulations: water licensing (Water Sustainable Act) & Dam Safety Board regulations; municipal soil movement
Sizing the pond (irrigation, evaporation %, seepage, environmental reserves)
Using topographic maps
Siting (usage & catchment analysis)
Spillways and other design features
What to do with excess fill material?
Construction & earthmoving
Q & A

1:30pm – 2:45pm – Pumping from Your Farm Pond

Gord Baird – Eco-Sense, Highlands Councillor, CRD Water Commission Board Member
Tools for assessing your needs and sizing your pump; Basic components of a pond pump system; Advantages and limitations of solar pumping
Case studies: pump systems for drip and micro-spray; Q & A

3:00pm – 4:30pm – Greywater Re-Use & Other Methods of Conservation for Small-Scale Agriculture

Gord Baird, Eco-Sense, CRD Water Commission Board Member
Regulation; Design considerations; In practice; Q & A

Nursery Update:

Sales are by appointment only through the winter.  Special orders for the spring can be arranged.  Specialty grafting can be pre booked.  We’ll keep some of our postings up on Used Victoria as there are usually good gifts for that season coming up

Take care till next week… when Ann will have her rant on what gone wrong with the Environmental movement and the activists.

Gord   (and Ann if she sneaks in and edits after the fact).

A quick post


YES, we are open this Sunday (Oct 30th) from 10am- 2pm for sales of Perennial Edible plants.  3295 Compton road in the East Highlands.

Here’s our up to date plant list with most of our most popular plants IN STOCK.

Here’s some photos from yesterday.