Monday, 29 September 2014

Permaculture at the Eco-Village

[Editors note: This blog post was meant to be put on the blog back in June. Apologies for the overdue posting! Marcel]

Today's Summer Solstice, marking the start of Summer, a time of long days, growth, warmth (we hope) and rich abundance.  And life is abundant in Stewart Creek Food Forest, a 1/3 acre permaculture adventure within Yarrow Ecovillage Community Farm.

Mama Muscovy duck, 'Florence' is sitting a nest of 7 eggs with a due date of today or tomorrow!


Wow! Another nest of 7 eggs!  Discovered this week in the wilds of the duck yard, hidden by 'Speckles'.  She is just beginning to sit on the nest, so that clutch should hatch in 33-35 days.

Meanwhile, the rest of the ducks, 'Jedi Knight' (bossy #1 drake) and 'Ewok' (put in his place #2 drake) and 'Yin Yang' aka 'Jester' hang about, swim in the pond, forage for grass seed heads, snails and slugs and their favourite forbidden fruit--strawberries!  Do you know the figure of speech--'get your ducks in a row'?  When you come to visit the Stewart Creek Food Forest--you'll see that phrase in action--the ducks do line up and waddle in a row!

Integrating muscovy ducks into the Stewart Creek Food Forest is an example of one of the permaculture principles of stacking functions; one plant or animal having multiple roles.  The ducks work with me as I plant or weed--eating insects, worms, and slugs, then turn these into duck fertilizer and eggs--some for me to eat and share; some to hatch out.  Their companionship and activities (except when they are sneaking strawberries!) enhance the whole ecosystem.

I'm Meg Jordan, co-creator of the Food Forest (co-creating with the Land, the plants, the animals, and all the marvellous people who volunteer from time to time).  I'm passionate about permaculture and anticipate setting up tours and educational workshops by the late Fall.   If you are interested in learning more, please contact me at: mgjrdn@gmail.com.  Do you know that the Fraser Valley has a permaculture group of other passionate 'permies' and interested folk?  Look for the Valley Permaculture Guild on facebook and their website: www.thevpg.ca <http://www.thevpg.ca>

What's growing besides ducks, you may ask?  Many, many plants--from Alder trees, fixing nitrogen and providing shade and habitat to 11 heritage Apple trees with their accompanying guilds of comfrey, daffodils, yarrow, clover and a variety of alliums.  Perennial vegetables 'Tree Spinach' (best eaten cooked, not raw) and Mountain Orache Spinach; Jerusalem Artichokes; Nodding Onions; Jerusalem Walking Onions; Welsh Onions.  Culinary and medicinal herbs.  Fruit bushes and vining pole beans and ground covers.  And many, many more perennials and annuals.  And a long wish list of more plants to add over time.

 


Then there are the abundant invasives: buttercup, himalayan blackberries and reed canary grass--they are definitely growing.  And a permaculture approach to these 'take-over' plants is to wonder how 'the problem can be the solution'?  With each of them, as I work to keep them from taking over, I ponder what they may have to teach me.  With the blackberries, I recognized their tenacity--having multiple ways to ensure their own survival.  I observe and marvel at how they fling 25 foot 'arms' that root every place they touch; set seed; and have hydra like root systems--that is one determined plant.  Yet, when I despair of ever eradicating these wonders,  I realize that I don't have a blackberry problem, I have a pig shortage!  So, obtaining pigs to turn blackberries into bacon is on my list!  The reed canary grass is great bio-mass, duck fodder; and when dry--it becomes duck bedding too.  But it sets seed so quickly and there is so very much of it!! It keeps me occupied with creative ways to reduce and reuse it!

Time to conclude this introductory post -- and time to get outside and gather salad ingredients.  At this point in the season, a Stewart Creek Food Forest salad could include a diverse collection of 20 or more yummy plants.  There's perennial arugula, chickweed, salad burnett, second growth kale, heritage red lettuce, tat soi, mizuna, mustard greens, calendula, borage and nasturtium flowers, June-bearing strawberries, dill, parsley, a variety of mints, welsh onions, chives, mountain orache spinach, garlic scapes and raspberries.  Time to feast!



Monday, 26 May 2014

Chubby Roots

Chubby Roots Organics went to its first market last weekend (May 17th). What a blast! We had so much fun meeting new people and it was great to see people buying our veggies. 

Thanks to everyone who has made this possible! We are very fortunate to be farming at Yarrow Ecovillage. 

The Chubby Roots Team (Thu, Bethany, and Vu)




Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Gratitude

Well, we're in our first season farming here at the Yarrow EcoVillage and yesterday afternoon while Ana was transplanting broccoli and I was pounding in posts for our pea trellis, we got to talking about how lucky we are.

We'd just returned from our second successful Saturday at the Abbotsford Farm & Country Market <http://www.abbotsfordfarmandcountrymarket.com/>  and I mentioned how lucky we were to live in a time and place where people appreciate fresh, healthy, sustainably grown vegetables and are willing to venture out in not so ideal weather conditions to purchase them!

This got us thinking about how fortunate we are to have landed here at the EcoVillage, surrounded by a community that is supportive of what we're trying to do. We chatted about how happy our six year-old son Nico is here, and the way he can go and play and entertain himself with his friends building forts and exploring parts of the farm while we toil away in the field and how that type of freedom doesn't always seem possible in our "modern" society.

It got me thinking about the help we received from many people (especially fellow EcoVillager, Peter) while building our greenhouse this past winter.  Some ventured out in below zero conditions with blustering winds to help us put it together - check out our facebook page <https://www.facebook.com/ripplecreekorganicfarm>  for some photo evidence...

We're also incredibly thankful for all the hard work the farm team and individual farms here at the Yarrow EcoVillage have done in past years.  It's already an incredible amount of work to get our farm started this year, and we have access to things like the barn, pumphouse and wash station that didn't exist until very recently.  Not to mention that we have taken over stewardship of land that has been cultivated and improved by previous farmers.

As I look out the window and see the rain coming down, I'm also thankful for the extra few days this will give me before I need to buy the rest of our irrigation equipment!

So in closing, we'd like to say a big THANK YOU to the community, to committed market-goers, and to the universe for putting here at this particular place in this particular moment in time, where it seems at least possible that we can live our dream of small-scale organic farming.

From Chris, Ana and Nico of Ripple Creek Organic Farm



Monday, 21 April 2014

Loving Spring

Spring is here and it’s been one filled with great moments. Just the other day I was munching on some overwintered kale when I spotted a local bee, bright orange in colour with eyes as big as its appetite. We stared at each other for a few moments before we went on our separate ways to enjoy the sunshine and abundance. 



Pic of overwintered Kale. The heads taste like broccoli and are quite delicious.

I am a first year farmer here at the Yarrow Eco-Village and am happy to be part of a diverse crew of people growing vegetables and fruit, raising chickens and sharing life in community. Last year I spent some time working for Nevin and Shauna Gavigan of Ohm Farms learning the vegetable farming ways. I also learned a few beekeeping tips from Andrew Burkinshaw of Blackbird Bees and Honey. 

With that summer of experience, I decided to branch out on my own and start up a farm called “The Farmacy.” It’s based on the principle that food can be our medicine and a true source of healing. 


Asian Greens ready to go out into the field.



Red Russian Kale showing its true colours.


The bees also love the recent weather we have been having. The queens are alive and laying eggs with vigour. A queen bee can lay up to 2,000 eggs per day! She is not one to sit back and enjoy her position of royalty with her feet up. 


A beehive at the Yarrow Eco-Village.

A bee honing in on its target


This is shaping up to be a great year filled with long hours of hands in the dirt watching earthworms dart about and bees collect the nectar. 

A happy Earth day to you all!
     Marcel

Monday, 17 June 2013

CSA & Market Season has Begun!

Wow, it seems like just yesterday it was early spring and we were seeding our first crops in the greenhouse, setting out our first transplants, and direct seeding our first crops in the feilds. And now here we are, the height of the season!

Our CSA program began last week, and what a great first box it was! Garlic scapes, bok choy, beets, salad mix, spinach, kohlrabi and chard. It was great seeing our members from last year, and meeting our new members for this year. We (Ohm Organic Farm @ Yarrow Ecovillage) are managing a 50 member CSA program this year. And boy are we excited! (This being our third year doing the program).

We also started our 2nd market a week. We will be attending the Abbotsford Farm & Country Market on Saturdays, and now Wednesdays as well! The market is in its 10th year, and what a great job the market manager and the board of directors have done. We'll be at the Abbotsford markets until late this fall, with a huge diversity of produce available throughout the season.

The farm is going great this year. The weather has been pleasant, and the crops are doing well. Things are definately earlier than last year, with our first pick of new potatoes this week, as well as sugar snap peas! (yay!). Broccoli is right around the courner, as is cauliflower and cabbage.

More updates to come!


Nevin packing the CSA bins for our first pickup of the season, last week.
We had quite the table at market last weekend. The heaping pile of veggies is a mark that summer has begun!
Nevin posing next to our new, hand painted, Market sign.
My mom will be helping us out again at markets this year. Thanks Mom!
Nevin looking out over the fields, admiring our hard work!

We are trying a new method of Salad Mix this year, and after several harvests, we are loving it! Its much easier to weed, harvest and process. And what a beautiful mix it is!


Sunday, 19 May 2013

Grand Opening of the Yarrow Farmstand Market - June 1st!


The grand opening of the Yarrow Farmstand Market will be Saturday, June 1st (Yarrow Days!). Come check out the locally grown produce, eggs, crafts and more at our cute little farmstand located right on Yarrow Central Rd, right across from Inspired Arts & Crafts in Yarrow BC.

Interested in selling at the Yarrow Market? We have space for locals who make, bake, or grow a quality product. Please get in touch with Tamara at tamara.bonnemaison@gmail.com if you would like more information.
 
A big thanks to all those who donated their time and materials to building this beautiful little farstand building. Especially Rudy & Rita Bot! We couldn't have done it without you :)

See you on June 1st!



Big thanks to everyone who helped build this beautiful little farmstand! And an especially big thank you to Rudy & Rita Bot :)

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Growing Green Things Makes My Heart Sing!

The farm is off to a great start this year. We currently have 33 x 150' beds out in the fields that have been seeded (carrots, scallions, beets, spinach, greens, turnips, radishes, kale's, collards, herbs, potatoes, etc), or have transplants in them. And several thousand transplants in the greenhouse that are almost ready to go out (not including the thousands of onion, shallot & leek transplants!).

As well, our Farm Center area has been set up around our new-recycled Barn. The wash station was moved and rebuilt, the cooler unit has been set on its final resting place beside the barn, and the pump and pressure tank have been successfully hooked up to the new well in the south field. Which is going to make things a whole lot easier this year, as last year we were traveling all over the 20 acres of the farm to reach the different stations... now everything is within 20ft of each other. Yay!

We have also begun builing a cute little farmstand at the front of the Ecovillage on Yarrow Central Road. This farm stand will house the produce put there by the farmers who grow veggies at Yarrow Ecovillage Community Farm. Thanks to Tam and Rudy, and all the others involved in organizing this cute little farmstand!

We are also gearing up to host our first ever Barn Dance this Saturday, and its shaping up to be one fantastic event. Maybe we'll see you there :)

The Farm Center is really coming along. Pump house, Wash station, Cooler, and Barn, all within 20ft of each other!

Salad Mix transplants!

Red, Yellow, and Pink Chard transplants almost ready to go out.

The Broccoli will be going out soon, as well as the Kohlrabi. Then the Cauliflowers and the Cabbages :)

Nothing like a carpet of Onion, Shallow and Leek transplants!
Big thanks to all the folks who helped put together the Farmstand at the front of the Ecovillage. We'll be selling veggies out of here to the locals this summer. Thanks Rudy!