Tag Archives: nursery

Risky Business

Before the update… which we think is particularly pertinent at this time during the hurricanes, fires, floods, droughts, Trump and other horrible world events, we risk losing you, the reader, by saying…

HEY!    Nursery is open Saturday Sept. 30 from 10am – 2pm
60 of our Grafted apple trees are now in inventory and ready to go.  


Radical Homesteading!  Tomatoes ready to dry.  In late September I start in the oven and then move to the solar dryer.

Grafted in April 2017, the growth and health has been extraordinary. Over 5 feet of new growth.

Life itself is risky business let alone being married to Ann.   For Gord, learning the art of risk assessment and adaption planning has been critical to his survival on many occasions.   As with all strong marriages, outside of adaptation strategies, mitigation skills rank up there with food, shelter and beer.   This week offered us the opportunity to see others share their experience, knowledge and research on all the above at the Livable Cities Forum: Advancing Low carbon Resilience.  So you can just  imagine the comfort we felt being immersed in a conference full of engineers, insurance professionals, chief resiliency officers, city managers, planners, and policy analysts from three levels of government discussing… how to get along in the face of risks posed by climate change.

Later in the week Gord changed gears from risk avoidance to risk taking, in the form of speaking engagements.  One presentation topic was spawned from the conference from the unavoidable question that arises as folks mingle, “So, what do you do for a living?”.  Gord hears that and fear shoots through his veins.  What do you say?  How much time do they have?  How can I be concise and coherent?  Gord usually defaults to the inappropriate… “I live in a mud house and I shit in a bucket.”

The risk here is that your either really quickly alienate yourself, or really quickly have another person that wants a private tour.    For the Oak Bay Probus Club, Gord had to be a little more formal and tidy in answering that question… taking 50 minutes to explain that really he is somewhat unemployable because he doesn’t have a trade certification,  a MA or PhD, isn’t a registered professional, and is an elected official in the smallest community in the CRD.   Needless to say the group was wonderful and supportive, with lots of questions on topics of EROEI (energy return on energy invested), Solar PV and their ecological footprint in their manufacturing, economics, structural engineering of the Eco-Sense home, if Ann can be cloned, and if we sleep.   Upon reflection, Gord wonder’s why they didn’t ask about cloning him?

The other presentation to the Mill Bay Garden Club… well lets just say Gord was inappropriate when someone in the audience asked “How do you protect your nuts?”  From risky to risqué.

Risk really is one of those items that most of us want to avoid.  After all feeling secure is so much easier.  We attended the Liveable Cities Forum in Victoria, a conference where we were only two of three elected officials in attendance amongst a whole host of people that take fire, flood, climate change and resiliency really seriously.  Many of these folks have to because they have had to respond to disasters in their own cities (Calgary, Montreal, Toronto).  We came away feeling more energized than we ever have, and summarized our workshops and corresponding take away points in 3211 words… each.  Yup … we both wrote up our reports and when we had each completed them we each were at 3211 words.  Talk about a marriage made in heaven.

Links to our summaries:

Ann’s Summary of LCF2017
Gord’s Summary of LCF2017


Yummy lunch including “Escape Pods” – Fermented garlic scapes and radish pods – YUMMY.  And Yes, Gord eats faster than Ann

You don’t want to read a novel you say… no problem, here is an extremely quick synopsis.

We’re screwed.  Or in the words of Barbara Kingsolver in her recent interview on CBC‘s The Current, “Because climate change is really, really terrible, let’s face it. This is not going to end well.”  But, there is a hell of a lot we need to do.  Seriously, if you are interested in this topic and what can and IS being done, and you want to at least find some positive news on topics of the circular economy, communication strategies (which we fail on…apparently we don’t dumb it down enough), counting emissions, food, water, fire, insurance, legal issues, risk assessment, mitigation strategies, grants available to municipalities to adapt, natural assets, ecological solutions, local climate data and what we can expect here by 2050, etc, etc, etc.

Here’s a couple snippets:

The cost of inaction of preparing for a disaster is 1:10.  Do it now it costs 10x less than responding later.  If you react now, you have time to apply a sustainability and resiliency lens to your decision; react after then you don’t take the time to think things through and your decisions leave you at the mercy of future compounded risk.    At Eco-Sense our food, water, and redundant systems will hopefully be time and monies well spent.

Fail safe.  We can never catch up to climate change in both the science nor how we apply that science to our infrastructure, so when designing, expect it to fail, and design for it to fail safe.

Speak to the risk, don’t avoid sharing the bad news.  As a community, especially one as small as ours, we face severe risks in the form of devastating fire, earthquake and rain events that will wash out driveways and roads.  We obviously have no way to truly control for these, but we know they exist; by avoiding speaking to them we are in essence sending a false sense of security to our residents.  Even if you can’t mitigate a risk, by speaking to it you are performing a public duty of informing, and thus allowing people to make their own informed choices.

After a disaster, (e.g. Slave lake), the social impacts are enormous, as people are separated from their social groups,  can’t pay mortgages, health care professionals move out of town, rates of alcoholism and family violence increase.  You need to plan your recovery before the catastrophe strikes because recovery starts at the same time as response.

That’s it for now.

Gord and Ann


Saturday May 10th: Edible Perennial Plants at Eco-Sense featuring The Autumn Olive

Our 3rd open house of the season on Saturday from 10am-2pm:
3295 Compton Road, Highlands, BC

Last Saturday we had another successful farm gate open house at Eco-Sense. Enthusiasm for perennial plants and local living is growing…almost faster than our food forest. People come to Eco-Sense to buy perennial food plants, eggs and seeds but ALSO to talk, walk, and learn.

We love that we are not just a nursery. We are a place to share stories, learn, connect, and feel inspired to put some permanent roots in the soil.

Also on Saturday is this very special workshop hosted by our good friends at Hatchet & Seed:  An awesome opportunity to learn about specific perennial plants.

Also on Saturday is this very special workshop hosted by our good friends at Hatchet & Seed: An awesome opportunity to learn about specific perennial plants.

People are coming and bringing their friends and family to stroll through our various gardens, peek at the cob house, the Eco-Hut, chicken coops, root cellar, and to socialize, hang out with chickens and ducklings, and to get ideas and share ideas.

For further details click here:  OPEN FARM DETAILS:

What fun! Thanks everyone!

Autumn Olive – Elaeagnus umbellata

Why Autumn Olive?

If you have never read about permaculture then you would never know why we consider this to be one of, if not the most, important plant we grow. This plant has many uses as a food source as well as a support plant for the fruit and nut trees and ground covers which means that we include many of these small trees.1326053669-eleagnus1_web

First off, lets just say the autumn olive is not a olive at all, but a fruit that looks like an olive, except yellow, orange and red. The fruits are delicious!   But not getting all anthropogenic and thinking about our taste buds (and health) this shrub is a nitrogen fixer for the soil.   Classified as a pioneering species, its role is to collect nitrogen from the air, suck it down to the roots where mycorhizzae (fungi) develop a transport system that takes that nitrogen and then feeds it to surrounding plants.   This means we do not need to bring in fertilizers to feed the other plants! We ultimately wish to have one plant for each of our various fruit and nut trees (this means upwards of 50).


This deciduous shrub grows 12 ft tall, hardy to -30C, and handles dappled shade to full sun.   We grow ours in the understory of our arbutus grove and in two areas that get full sun. We have found those in the dappled shade have grown quicker.


The berries!   Delicious and high in lycopenes, an intermediary in the creation of carotenoids, which integrate into the lymphatic system and both aid in reduced cancer (especially prostate) as well as increasing the resistance to skin damage by UV radiation .autumn olive berry closeup

Other uses

Nitrogen fixation for use by the other plants surrounding the autumn olive is one of the most important for us.   The flowers are a key insectiary attractant.  It was introduced to North America 100 years ago as a soil stabilizer for heavily impacted and damaged landscapes, and as it is a pioneering plant, it performed this job very well… some may say too well, but we can’t blame a plant for our own human invasiveness and land impacts – here we keep it in check by eating it… and the deer do too, (too bad scotch broom is not edible). It is also a key source for mulch during the growing season as its prunings are chopped and dropped and become mulch, as with the leaf drop in fall.

We have Garnet and Ruby cultivars, and by the end of next week will have Amber too!