FLATTEN the CURVE and Perennial Veggies

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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  or gord at

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.

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. 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:


Nuts and Links

Walnuts are beautiful trees.

LOCAL FOOD:  As the climate crisis heats up, local food is becoming more and more urgent.  We must support local food in every way we can.

  • Buy local and support local farmers
  • Grow more food in your yard or on your farm.
  • Get involved with community gardens
  • Host local food potlucks
  • Talk about farmers markets, your garden, community gardens, seasonal recipes, food preservation, etc with everyone. Become an annoying but lovable local foodie.
  • Plant perennial food (nuts, fruits, berries) and encourage your community and local farms to do the same.

Bumper crop of hazelnuts

Fresh harvest of winter veggies even in Jan.

Here at Eco-Sense we are gearing up for the Spring Season.  We have invested in lots more nuts this year including chestnuts and walnuts and Gord is busy grafting almonds, layering hazelnuts, and other surprises.  Here’s our current list of nuts.  Please contact gord@eco-sense for nut enquiries and private appointments.

Spicy fermented mixed veggies…OMG!

The nursery will be opening sometime in March, so sign up here on our blog or find us on facebook to keep unto date.

Fascinating, inspiring, and entertaining links for these dark rainy days:

  • Greta Thunberg’s latest speech at Davos for the World Economic Forum.  Worth watching.
  • Just. Have. A. Think. (JHAT)  Well done videos explaining a wide variety of topics.  These two short videos on Regenerative Agriculture are excellent. Climate mitigation, Biology, Food. Here’s part 1.  
  • This next podcast was amazing. If you like thinking deeply about everything simultaneously, this is for you. From local to global, this conversation weaves ecology, finance, energy, climate, collapse, time lines, sociology, anthropology, psychology, technology, resilience, inequality, ethics, and yes, even beer into a very logical take on where humanity is, possible future scenarios, and what to do about it.
  • As a follow up to our last blog post on carbon budgets, here is our short powerpoint presentation for Highlands council.
  • Beautiful podcast from Emergence Magazine.  All about soil, and life, and civilization, glyphosate, and climate, and pretty much everything. Half essay, half poetry. Wow, just wow.  Dwelling on Earth.
  • Another fantastic podcast from Emergence Magazine. This one on culture…specifically the overlap between fermentation and culture. Beautiful story telling weaving in a personal story of a Copenhagen restaurant (apparently the worlds BEST), on seasonal local food, foraging, survival, wilderness, food security, the climate crisis, the future of food, and back to fermentation. Wow. Fermenting Culture
  • Even the World Economic Forum is getting the climate crisis. Top 5 risks are all about climate:
    1. Extreme weather events with major damage to property, infrastructure and loss of human life.
    2. Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation by governments and businesses.
    3. Human-made environmental damage and disasters, including environmental crime, such as oil spills and radioactive contamination.
    4. Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse with irreversible consequences for the environment, resulting in severely depleted resources for humankind as well as industries.
    5. Major natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and geomagnetic storms.
  • ONE BILLION DEAD ANIMALS IN AUSTRALIA…  For those suffering from climate grief as I am,  here’s a helpful article. Love is the Answer

Take care,

Ann and Gord (and Nina)

The Last Decade

Gord loves his local winter veggies.

The Last Decade…sounds gloomy doesn’t it?  Well hindsight is 2020…isn’t it.  Just look at Australia (oops that is 2019 and that is short sighted, perhaps with a stigmatism like Gord).  But tonight, it’s New Year’s Eve and time to party like there’s no tomorrow.  Then, come morning of Jan 1, 2020, it’s time for clear vision.   For this reason, Gord and I have written this blog post to share a different way of looking at the climate crisis that is useful from a personal and a community perspective.  We all must step up to the plate and take action.  Personally, we have continued to make changes in our own life.  Our motivation is three fold:

Home made candles from tallow…scrounged as food waste from a local butcher.

  1. Action prepares us for the future that’s coming.  It’s unavoidable, so we are embracing change with lifestyle choices that support Low Carbon Resilience (LCR).  For us this means even more local food, a shift to electric bikes as primary transportation, and renewed energy for building community resilience.  Action is fun, healthy, and meaningful, and we’ll be less impacted with rapid climate shocks (food, water, energy) as we have already voluntarily transitioned.  Being proactive is ALWAYS better then reacting in a crisis.
  2. Walking our own talk motivates us and gives us credibility as we advocate for more political and personal action.
  3. Personal action helps us to fight off doom and gloom.  There is endless news of death, destruction, and suffering of all life; grief is an ongoing process that we must learn to accept…it’s not going to suddenly stop with everything turning out alright.  It’s not alright and it won’t be – get over it!  We have very little time left (and maybe none), to avoid catastrophic climate and ecological tipping points.


In simple terms, it’s the remaining carbon emissions allowed to be released to the atmosphere – the budgeted carbon we have left to emit.  Our remaining global carbon budget only gives us 8 years at current emissions to avoid 1.5 deg C.  There’s a lot embedded in that statement, so Gord created a series of a few images to explain what a carbon budget is, how it’s calculated, and what it means for our home, our community, and for all of us as individuals.

Home made jewelry. My wedding ring.

Focusing on carbon budgets is far less confusing than discussing abstract ideas like 45% reduction in GHGs by 2030 and zero carbon by 2050.  A carbon budget is like a bank account…once it’s gone, it’s gone, and if you go into carbon debt, who exactly is going to finance that debt?  Your neighbour? Your children?  Poor people?  Think of the atmosphere as the central bank and Mother Nature as the  earth’s top economist.  I get a sneaky feeling that’s she’s going to charge big interest (requiring enormous carbon sequestration), and show zero compassion when we go into her garden of eden to renegotiate our debt.  Creating a larger carbon budget (like quantitative easing), is simply not possible as you cannot print more room in the atmosphere.  Welcome to physics!

Graphic Novel Format of Our Carbon Budget  (complete with stick figures)

If we do what the science says we must, we have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5 deg C rise in global average temperatures. This is thought be our final chance of avoiding catastrophic climate tipping points. However, for reference the coral reefs are pretty much toast even at 1.5 C.

The IPCC SR1.5 gives us a global carbon budget of 420 Gt as of Jan 1, 2018. Given that humanity emits 42 Gt/year, we have, as of Jan 1, 2020, 336 Gt of global carbon remaining. Divide this by the global population and we have 43.1 tons of carbon person. THIS IS LIKE OUR INDIVIDUAL BANK ACCOUNT.

We have worked out the carbon budget for our small community, the District of Highlands (DOH). This carbon budget is for all the people that live here including all of our municipal services.  The total remaining carbon budget for the entire DOH is 95,895 tCO2 as of Jan 1, 2020. What does this mean and how shall we use our budget? More on this later.

People in our community have a large carbon footprint. We emit about 8 tCO2 per person every year whereas the average global citizen only emits 5 tCO2. The Highlands community emits 17,800 tCO2 each year.

If we take Highlands remaining carbon budget divided by what we collectively emit, we will have used up our entire budget in only 5.38 years. LET. THAT. SINK. IN.

Gord and I have prepared a short presentation for our community as a snapshot of current reality. As a council we have declared a climate emergency, but we have yet to define what this means.  In early January, Highlands council will be meeting to discuss our strategic plan and how we move forward.

As you can imagine, we have ideas, but for now let’s focus on the climate budget and what that means.

Here’s how carbon budgets look in other municipalities in our region:

Climate leadership Caucus with municipal elected officials at UBCM

The Hard Questions for Local Governments and Individuals to Consider:

  • Are we going to live within our carbon budget?
  • How will we use our budget and what are our plans to get to zero carbon?  For reference, to reach targets of 45% reduction by 2030, we must reduce by 7% per year.
  • If we don’t have a plan to live within our carbon budget, are we willing to pay others for the use of their unused carbon budget?
  • If not, does this mean that we are taking the budget of others without compensation or permission? (The EQUITY question).
  • If so, who’s budget are we willing to take without compensation? Our kids and grandkids? People of different cultures and colours? Poor people with a very small footprint? Indigenous peoples around the world?
  • Are we willing to pay loss and damage to all the others being hit first by climate impacts?   Help those being hit first by climate impacts?
  • What do we want to save (i.e. health care, education, food)?  What will we relinquish?  Something to think about as we work out our personal and community budgets.

Some low carbon food photos.

100% local meal: chicken (old hen that mink killed), oven fries, homemade ketchup, steamed greens.

Mostly local lunch: Apple crisp (oats not local), boiled egg, pear, fermented pickle, tomatoes, peppers, persimmon. YUMMY

Roasted mini sweet potatoes, steamed greens, meat loaf with local pork and lots of veggies in the loaf. 1 pound of meat makes 6 servings

Squash, greens with half local beef sausage per serving, steamed Apios americana (ground nut). A perennial veggie very high in protein and exceptional flavour.


Some useful CO2 numbers for reference: (estimates for perspective)

  • CO2 to manufacture a new 2015 EV (not hybrid):  8.8 tons. (regular gas car is 5.6 tons)
  • Build a new 2500 ft2 house on Vancouver Island:  77 tons
  • Build the McKenzie interchange/overpass:  millions of tons (we have no idea really…just seems like an insane amount for the purpose of having more cars).  May have made more sense to buy everyone an eBike.
  • 1 return air flight from Victoria to Toronto:  1.1 tons
  • 1 new laptop computer:  0.35 tons
  • CO2 to manufacture an eBike:  2 tons
  • Average food carbon footprint (processed, packaged, not-local, meat from industrial agriculture):  2.3 tons/person/year

The Humorous Side

Our stay-cation this year – local hiking trips.  Gord looks way too serious…smile dammit!

The funniest thing about this is… wait for it… sorry…there isn’t anything.   Get the joke?  No, neither do we.  Our humour and patience is pretty much used up.  All of us have to individually manage our financial budget, and ALL local governments must manage financial budgets.  We all get this, and we have to make trade offs as to what we spend on and what we save up for.  Carbon budgets are no different.   Local governments are increasingly working towards defining their carbon budget, calculating yearly expenditures, and making carbon budget decisions.  We all know that this carbon budget will only get smaller (no revenues), and we must look at time frames for when this budget will be exhausted (the pun intended…but not very funny).

If you’re going to get pickled, make sure it’s fermented.

Many say that individual change doesn’t work, however, system change at the UN COP25 is a compete failure to date.  Which of course brings it back to the people.  We must change and we must make our governments change.  We need both.  Many good friends, our families, and community climate leaders, who are very aware of the climate crisis, continue to fly, buy, build new, and eat through their carbon budgets.  Not funny…but we still love them though find it increasinglyhard to be around them.  Maybe after this post they won’t love us…even less funny.  However, many of our friends are walking their talk…and we are very grateful for your personal efforts and inspiration.  Thank you.

Emerging Myths:  (there are many, but here’s three)

  1. EV’s will save us if we get every Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle swapped out with an EV.  Humorous and delusional.  Just look at the carbon budget.  15-20 years ago it would have been a great step, but there is not enough carbon budget remaining to perform this transition.  We’ve squandered that opportunity.  And unless electricity was fully zero carbon to manufacture the EV with recycled materials, the embodied footprint of an EV compared to and ICE vehicle is not that different.  The embodied carbon footprint of anything we buy is the UP FRONT carbon footprint.  The operational carbon footprint of an EV is obviously much better than ICE vehicle, but timing of the CO2 emissions is VERY important in such short time frames.  Solution:  Electric public transport, EV taxi’s, shared EV’s, eBikes, personal small EV’s factored into the individuals carbon budget.
  2. Building passive homes will save us.  Once again same argument.  Passive homes are great for long term energy efficiency, but the carbon footprint up front is enormous.  Solution:  Passive homes built with materials that sequester carbon.  See
  3. Just switch to green energy and decarbonize our economy.  Hilarious, that some actually think this is the holy grail to “Fix” the climate and ecological crisis.  Just look to the hybrid cruise ships being built…wow, they can run for short periods of time completely on electricity.  Ack.  Hello?  Physics?  Critical thinking?  Don’t get us started on the electric plane.

Actions – the fun side

There is so much that we must do, including creating a green energy grid, decarbonizing our economy, more EV’s, building carbon sequestering buildings, eating low carbon diets, local food, regenerative agriculture, increasing energy efficiency of existing buildings, stop clear cut logging, circular economy, etc, etc, but primarily we must buy less stuff, live and eat locally, and share material goods.  However the two BIG ELEPHANTS in the room are that none of this can happen unless we change our economic system away from economic growth and the whole debt and interest thing, and to do that we need a new political system with more community participation.  And for icing on this year end cake, we simply must re-wild half the Earth…our biological long term survival depends upon this (and by the way, the climate models demand this).  We must create an ecological economy based on equity, well-being, re-wilding, and public participation.  Ooooh, I like the sounds of that.

“Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” ~ Václav Havel

Winter lemon blossoms

We have much work to do in this decade. I think of it like we have 10 years to treat a potentially fatal diagnosis. We know what the treatment is, we just have to do it and then “hope” for the best outcome. If we are unsuccessful in this decade, the work does not stop, we just move into palliative care for people and all creatures. Life doesn’t end in ten years.

Below is just a few great links for inspiration and reality checks.

Happy New Years everyone,

Ann and Gord

Re-wilding:  This video is an awesome demonstration of nature re-wilding.

Sequestering Soil Carbon: This podcast is great.

Failure of COP 25 Climate talks:  Here’s a video summary.

Greta Thunberg’s speech at COP 25:

For books, check out the End of ICE by Dahr Jamail.



Life & Death & Everything in Between

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It’s been a long time since our last post, but today being a beautiful sunny day, the first morning of frost, Gord’s oldest “kid” turning 22, and also our 15th anniversary of falling in love, it seemed a good time … Continue reading