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

Gallery

FLATTEN the CURVE and Perennial Veggies

This gallery contains 4 photos.


First off, these two topics have NOTHING to do with each other. COVID-19 – “FLATTEN THE CURVE” Basically, this means to slow down the outbreak and delay the number of cases so that the health care system is not overwhelmed … Continue reading

Nursery Hours, Challenges, and Carbon Budgets


The Good News: the nursery schedule is sorted out for the spring season… sort of.

Details: We will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-2pm starting this weekend and then the following weekends…EXCEPT we are closed on Saturday March 21st and Sunday April 26th.
Private Appointments:  Feel free to make private appointments for purchasing plants.  emails: ann at eco-sense.ca  or gord at eco-sense.ca

Small autumn olive plants. Nitrogen fixing AND berry producing. YUMMY

Inventory List with Prices (all prices include GST):  Please check this list or send us an email to ask if we have the plants you are looking for.  Every week we will be adding new plants to inventory. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1j-GtX_ufCTWu8muXbCjqAYfc-cIP7WKl/view

The Bad News:  Our inventory list is smaller than normal due to supply issues. It’s getting harder to source plants, seeds, and cuttings.  There are a number of reasons for this including increasing demand (scarcity), crop failures, and shortages of cheap labour.

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It has been a wild year in the propagation business.  It started when we placed our order  from our supplier in Oregon 2 months early and then learned in September 70% could not be filled – not enough staff, and less each year.  Then Gord, who volunteers for the BC Fruit Testers Association (he’s the president of the BCFTA) found out the stautus of the 6000 rootstock order placed a year in advance – and there were dramatic shortages in the industry.  A few weeks ago in discussions with a local agricultural supplier in the region, we found that their seed orders (the same orders they place year after year) could not be filled as the supplier had sold out to a big box store.  To add to this, just this week in discussion with one of the largest nursery wholesalers in the US, they explained that their seed order for their propagation was non-existant because of crop failures the previous year.

Oca tubers now available. In a few weeks we will have little OCA plants for sale.

Added to this news was the changes at CFIA that have pretty much shut down the import of scionwood for grafting out of the specialty suppliers who have been able to supply certified wood for years.   So, all that almond rootstock we had on order has been cancelled because there is no box to tick despite the supplier of choice who works with the University of Kentucky to inspect, fumigate and provide the Phytosanitary certificates required.  I must say that though CFIA plays an important role, their newest processes are killing specialty propagators.

The Good News:  We are focussing on more of what we can start from seed, propagate from cuttings, or graft.  But with root stock in poor supply even this is difficult.

A few Ozette potatoes for sale

Gord’s work with the wild growing Myrobalan plum-cross rootstock is doing well,  and we really appreciate our hard working co-workers (the birds) for starting so many rootstocks.   But the question is now, how can we get them to plant more?   Perhaps last years visits by the local bear will sprout new surprises.

The Heartnut Walnuts are very large

Ann doing her impression of a tree-hugger – kissing our Heartnut Walnut trees

Some inventory Highlights:  NUT TREES (walnuts, chestnuts, yellowhorn, hazelnuts), perennial vegetables, tubers (oca, ozette, ground nut), large red current bushes, 1 very large lemon tree, 1 large olive tree, FRUIT TREES (apple, plum, pear, fig, etc), BERRIES.

Living Fences can be grown that fix nitrogen, attract pollinators, build soil carbon, and are beautiful.  We have the fast growing beautiful Black locust and honey locust for this purpose.

Carbon Budgets:  We recently gave a presentation to our community on Carbon Budgets…What it means and What we can do.  Here is the link to a PDF of the slides…sorry the animation doesn’t work in this format. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Btphdg7GrIt_gIczZKcI53Kz_u7Z-rbl/view Notes on this presentation:   1. DOH refers to the District of Highlands.  2. the pie charts for individual GHGs are not complete as they only have a few sources and omit items like home energy use or stuff like clothing…which of course is all part of our live presentation.  (comments like naked and freezing in the dark).

Ann chairing the council meeting in Highlands historic schoolhouse.

Ann was acting Mayor and chaired a council meeting a few days ago.  Kind of fun after I got over the initial fear.  Gord said I did well, but he’s probably bias.  Part of my role was to give the First Nations Territorial Acknowledgment. Gord and I wrote it together.

“I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional territories of the SENĆOŦEN, Malchosen, Lkwungen, and T’Sou-ke speaking peoples.

For 1000’s of years, First Nation Peoples have WORKED TOGETHER to steward the lands for the WELL-BEING of all LIFE and SPIRIT. Settlers have lived here for less than 200 years.

May we have the WISDOM to learn from them, and hold GRATITUDE and AWE for this place we call Highlands – “the land of the deer”.

Language is a reflection of our culture. I would challenge everyone here to refer to the plants, animals, rocks, water, and soil, as the LAND rather than the PROPERTY. This would be a good first step.”

And finally, a few links: