time to be heard!

survey-banner

HEY PERMIES, HOMESTEADERS, CONSUMERS, FARMERS, PRODUCERS + ADVOCATES, It’s time to be heard!

At Farm Food Fork we are conducting a number of very valuable surveys around the topic of region food production, and we would really love to hear from you! Please take a few minutes to contribute to this important project. We are designing new community initiatives and our April festival and forum event around the feedback we get from these surveys. Please use this link to participate, best of all you will receive a discount code for $5 off admission to FARMFOODFORK in April! Tickets go on sale March 1st.

Locavore feast SATURDAY!

100-mile-poster-winter-2014This is one of my favorite community events of the year! A giant pot-luck celebration of locally grown goodness! We are blessed with a huge community of great gardeners, and preservers and this mid winter reminder of all that we grow is too good to be true!  Plus the Slocan 6 minutes, is always great. Don’t miss this event.

2014 Slocan Internship Opportunity

ravine creek farm

Ravine Creek Farm is looking for an intern for the 2014 growing
season. We are a small, family-run, mixed vegetable farm located in
the South East interior, 40 mins from Nelson, BC. We sell our produce
at the Nelson Farmer’s Market and through our CSA program. Ideally we
would like to work with someone (*possibly* a couple) who has been
through a new farmer program of some kind and is seriously pursuing a
life of commercial farming for themselves.

We would like have the position filled as soon as possible, the
position starts April 2014, the accommodations can be available a
little sooner. We anticipate about 4 days/week labor. We have a 100
year old, one-room, off-grid cabin to offer, food, and some kind of
stipend.
.
The Slocan Valley is a very progressive and affirming community, as
young farmers ourselves we have been overwhelmed by the support and
enthusiasm we have been shown by our neighbors.

Check out our web page at ravinecreek.wordpress.com
Email or call to get more details about us, our farm and the position.

growing good memories

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This blog has certainly gone through an evolution from progress reports on our families transition to rural life, to being an outlet for the community projects and events I am so passionate about creating and promoting. Today I sit in a warm insulated space (for the first time in years) and look out on to our little mountain side farm and take in all of the blood sweat and tears that have got us where we are today…

Our Kootenay adventure started with a lovely piece of land and a gross moldy trailer. We started with gardens and chickens, built woodhenge, and a new road, two yurts, then a lovely outdoor shower house. We added hugelbeds and food forest systems, amazing onsite fertility programs, then came the rabbits and the bees. A cob rocket oven and a cob bench with outdoor kitchen space in the garden even a new green house. Perennial food abounds and now we are surrounded with community fresh water and love.

We couldn’t have done all that we have without the help, and love and support of our families and friends…. and our Interns. ‘Oh our interns…

Two years ago I took the advise of my friend and permaculture teacher Rob, he suggested I forgo the WWOOf’ers I was thinking about adding into the fold and look for folks who share our permaculture ethics and could really embrace and explore the techniques we are playing with here. So in 2011 I offered Permaculture Internships for the 2012 season, and for the past 21 months we have had continuous interns living with us.

Today is the first day Since Feb of 2012 that we are without interns, namely without Jordan. Jordan came here back in April of 2012 bright eyes and eager to live in the mountains and build on the solid permaculture education foundation he had. His 6 week commitment soon passed and we all decided that the energies we had as a team were worth holding on to.  All of our interns came and went for the season and Jordan was integral to their orientation and settling in.  Actually he was integral to just about everything around here, our fertility program was ramped up 10 fold as soon as we teamed up on the pitch forks! Jordan has a great ability to retain just about everything he reads (I am more of a skimmer) so having him drop facts and stats on a whim was always amazing. Jojo made all the crazy permie dreams totally doable, especially when he introduced us to his white board system of tasks and goals.  Every time I dreamed up another event or community project or planting guild idea, Jordan was there to back me up, or take on the challenge  himself and ace it. Not only is he a kind and amazing person we were thrilled to have here, he had also become my personal spell check / proof reader… you all can probably see by now how important that role is to me, as I’m a copy editors worst nightmare!  At the end of the harvest last year we took on a big project, out biggest ever and he was eager to stay through the winter and we were thrilled to have him, he was after all part of our little family by then. Together we starting creating our internship program for the coming season and soon realized, although we were overwhelmed with amazing applications and emails, we were going to build on the family we had made with Jordan. We invited his CSA team from years early to join ours and took on the lofty task of housing 3 full time – 3 season interns.

It was still snowy when Dave arrived from Victoria, and he was keen to chop wood, haul trees, wild craft and hone some carpentry skills. Jordan and Dave were living in the “Murt” together and built a really great loft space. Dave brought us music, and a good dose of laughter. Dr Kombuchy start brewing kombucha for all of us and caring for all the little critters and wee seedlings. We started our (2nd attempt) and breeding rabbits; we had a buck and 3 does and Dave took on that process entirely; from salvaging scraps of everything to assemble their new bunny palace, through the the daily care. Dave was a vegetarian when he arrived, however he was moving toward eating meat from small, local, organic and loving producers which was totally inline with the way we eat… he was in for a big surprise however when our little piggie, Bacon (raised by our friend) was ready for market shortly after Dave’s arrival. Poor guy sat nearby and watched me use every grueling nasty bit of that pig in preparation for Pig-in-a-day. Wow that was a tough 3 days for everyone; Dyl and Jojo did the killing and the skinning and scraping, and face peeling, and I boiled the heads and prepared the organs then created a workshop for 20+ folks to come and learn from our friend Ben the Butcher how to break that beast down.

By the time Isis arrived in the spring there were still remnants of pig… I think she found a hoof buried in the food forest on her first day in the soil! And of course she enjoyed the smoked bacon we were serving. Isis came along to the farm right around the time that Jordan brought home Balou, son of Odin (our golden guard dog) and soon the 3 of them; jordan Isis and Balou were all sleeping outside in the wood shed and Dave had the yurt to himself. Isis was a magic addition to our growing team. Her days were often spent tending to the garden, weeding and planting, and most importantly observing! She is a stellar observer.  Isis and I decided before her arrival that this was the time to finally take on bee keeping.. something we both so wanted to do, so together with the help of some serious queen bee guardians; Elise and Christina, we had the confidence to welcome and care for our new holistically managed bee colony. What a joy. Isis also came to be my number 1 dishwasher (feeding 6 meant for lots of dishes), and wild crafting and harvesting goto. I soon came to know that tone in her voice “…and the cucumbers” this meant I had many a basketful she was hoping to bring in and have me process in short order “the squash, the tomatoes, the grapes, the cabbage (the blue ribbon cabbage that is)…” the list goes on and on. We had our most productive and abundant year ever and this I blame heavily on Isis and her garden fairy magic.

As harvest wound down and the wood supply stacked up it was time for Dave to move on, back to the coast again with a soul-craft stop over. Dave is working with “Farmer Mike” (who I look forward to meeting someday) doing urban farming in Victoria. Maybe Dave’s most important legacy he left in the Kootenays was our daughters new interest and skills in music namely the ukulele and the songs they rocked together at open mike! Dave we raise a cup of turmeric tea to you, and wish you nothing but the best. love + gratitude to you.

Isis and Jordan are back home in the rambling foothills of Alberta now ready for a new page in their adventure together. With a heated home (novel idea) and lots of land to craft and observe, manage and care for. Our community’s loss is Black Diamond’s gain. Those two will do great things together. Jordan, Isis we love you both so much, and can’t wait to see how your future evolves. We wouldn’t be here without everything you have done to help us achieve our dreams. Thank You!

Fermenting 101

fermenting-101

This will be the most comprehensive fermentation workshop offered  this fall.
Demonstrating several methods of fermentation, Colleen will show how to create simple ferments that are not only easy to create but also delicious and family friendly. Emphasis will be on lacto-fermentation techniques using both dairy and non-dairy methods.

This dynamic workshop will cover a variety of ferments including tibicos, sodas, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut, plus traditional condiments such as salsas, jams, and mustards. Find out tips on which types of vessels work best for fermenting as well as learn foolproof ways to preserve your harvest to make it more digestible and the nutrients more bio-available.

Every participant will take home samples to enjoy and inspire you to incorporate the health benefits of fermenting into your daily routines.

“The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.”

Your instructor is Colleen Emery, Master Herbalist and owner of Emery Herbals and
The Apothecary in the heart of Winlaw. Colleen is a passionate proponent of traditional foods and preparation techniques as well as foundational family wellness.

To register please email vpg@rbrand.ca or call 250-226-7402

Cheese Please + Thank You

David ranks among the best instructors of all time! The feedback from our Homesteading 101 Natural Cheese making Class has been overwhelming… EVERYONE has been praising Davids workshop! Kelly Brown sent along some lovely photos from the day and I wanted to share a few of the great emails I received praising the guerrilla cheese maker. David Thanks so much for traveling inland so far to bring us not 1 but 2 amazing workshops, and for taking the time to share your experiences with the Valley Permaculture Guild at our monthly meeting (first Monday of each month @ Vallican Whole 6:30)

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“Cheese class was frickin’ phenomenal!!!!! I’m so ramping it up and inspired – can’t wait to get at er.” – Renata

“Great workshop! David was awesome, that was perfect. Thanks to you and Isis, Bryce, Kelly for your work to get it together. Cranking out the cheeses now…” -Andrew

” We had an amazing time at the cheese workshop – David is an incredible educator as well as cheese maker! ” – Liz

“Irme and I really enjoyed the Cheesemaking class with David, and are enthused to try out what we learned  on Sunday :-)” – Claire

“I have a lifetime of taking some wonderful courses, even travelling overseas for some of my training.  The Cheesemaking course with David was on my list of the top three courses that I have ever taken thus far.  The range of information received, the vast amount of cheeses that were covered and the taste testing  – Nosteemo!!  All was perfectly done!” – Judy

COMING SOON: HOMESTEADING 101

homesteading 101 workshop series

We are so excited to announce an upcoming series of HOMESTEADING 101 WORKSHOPS; These will start in August and continue through the winter. We are assembling a number of experts both from our own community and from afar to come and teach some serious homesteading skill building. The concept is to offer affordable education in rural homesteading skills.

Canning, cheese making, charcuterie, sourdough, fermenting, game butchery, on farm humane slaughter, poultry & rabbit processing just to name a few! If your an expect and would like to coordinate a workshop in this series please contact VPG (email below).

We will be kicking this off at at the end of August with a premium Artisan Cheese Workshop followed by a hot water bath canning class in September. Both of these will take place before PICKLE PALOOZA 2013, planning for that is underway too and tentatively happening late September.

If you are interested in: vending : volunteering ; or demoing at PICKLE PALOOZA please drop us a line directly at vpg (at) rbrand.ca

STAY POSTED for more details about this new skill building series!

june at a glance

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Seems like things have been so busy it’s hard to find time to snap a few pictures and write a quick update… but here goes.

The sun has finally come back to us after a week and a half of gloomy grey rainy days, unfortunately it has come back with vengeance and we are bracing for near 40C temperatures YIKES. Good news is the spring has seemed pretty dry and hot, so it feels like the mosquitoes are at bay this year and the garden is in a full flush of green.

The green house which was a new addition this spring is a nightshade jungle with monstrous tomato plants, dozens and dozens of hot peppers and bushels of basil. We are all grazing sun warmed strawberries which is a far cry from the 3 berries we had last year. The raspberry canes are flush with not yet ripe berries (another berry first for us!), and the Saskatoon tree is near exploding with almost ready to bake berries, maybe two million of them, same with the cherry trees. We have a old little plum tree that has come into it’s own this year… I think one of the new varieties of plums we planted has actually become a pollinator for it and it is now drenched in fruit for the first time ever… how exciting is that?

As for the cob oven… with all the rain we haven’t gotten far yet, but we did build a cob-wood base to improve the mushroom like esthetic it had, and now I adore that shape. We have had 1 test fire of the rocket and it was awesome. Tonight we are going to try to bake in it, and hopefully that is the start of many future pizza parties! The bench is waiting on it’s cedar seating addition still along with the kitchen counter top and sink install… Poor Dylan’s to-do list grows everyday. I will report back on how the baking goes tonight!

The other cool addition to the outdoor living area was a major upgrade to the already fabulous shower house… we are officially off the juice for our heat, and have been heating our showers with only compost pile heated coil and it’s brilliant! We have worked out a few kinks out and are happy to host 5 minutes smoking hot –  mostly warm showers all with a big old mound of nitrogen and carbon! Compost is magic on all fronts!

Hmm what else is new? The rabbits are growing bigger and our moma has just spent a romantic weekend with Peter Rabbit so hopefully she has come home pregnant. Our silkie chicken is broody and setting on a small clutch, and the other chicks from early spring are getting huge and happy as can be. Our bee’s are AMAZING! they have made 6 or 8 new combs and are bringing in so much pollen, and working so hard in their new home.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish with 6 pares of hands and more time and sense than money!

blueberry luv’n

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Way back in January we ordered 20 blueberries from our local perennial nursery Against the Wind. This week Jordan and Isis planted them with such love and attention that we just had to share this loving process with you all. I can’t help but feel these bushes have the best possible chance at rooting in successfully, and enjoying their life here at Tricycle Acres…

We decided to plant the bushes 4 feet apart on the bias (in a triangle grid) which we do a lot around here, maximizing space. The blueberries were co-planted with a row of strawberries which I am hopeful will produce fruit for us this year as they are hearty and mature so… fingers crossed we will have our own bounty this time round. Here is how these bushes were welcomed to our garden:

First they dug a nice deep hole, at the base of which they placed a fist size rock. Why a rock you say? Well after Jordan spent 2 weeks at the clear sky meditation center planting an intensive cold climate food forest, learning from Richard Walker, he came back with more than one juicy planting tip. The rock for example is more conductive than soil alone and is able to pick up the earths current ever so slightly. Over 25 years trialing this method Richard has found that plants with a rock at the base of the root ball has proven to be more fruitful than those without the bonus conductor!

Next a slurry of peat moss and bone and blood meal was made and poured into the hole with the plant. Then came a layer of premium worm castings (which our very own DIRT BAG: aka Jordan) has begun selling and brewing as his off farm funding venture; more about that soon. The plants then got a layer of garden soil, and a nice serving of our own fungal dominated compost, and then another layer of soil. Then a nice firm pack and a little hand formed crater was deeply watered and top dressed with a thick layer of straw mulch.  Jordan then gave all the plants a boost with his “Better Soil Biology Extract” which consisted of worm castings and two types of our finished composts. The whole patch got a serpentine of soaker hose and a deep rooting growth blessing.

Oh, and we pinched off all the flowers, so that this year the plants energy will go into making roots rather than fruit 😦 I know sad right, but here’s hoping next year will be a blueberry flush… especially with our buzzing honey bees to pollinate them next year… who will be arriving here on Sunday, all 20 000 of them!

guilding + growing + buzzing

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What a great few weeks of progress on the garden front! Our starts have been going strong and have slowly been moving out into the yard and into cold frames. Dave (our new intern from down under) has been tirelessly moving earth, cleaning up pathways and edges, and prepping for our cob kitchen expansion (more on that soon, as we are hosting and offering a cob oven and cob bench workshop in the near future, with the help of our 3 local cob builders!)

Just yesterday we picked up 20 blueberry bushes from our local nursery: Against the Wind and left with a couple dozen asparagus crowns as well, which just happened to be the missing piece of the berry guild I have been designing! The honeyberry guild fills a small patch of ground that I had planted with annuals and 2 honey berries last year, I got no fruit from these  blue velvet, honey berry bushes. When I was  working with Adrienne Buckley (master food forest guru / plant encyclopedia) of Big Sky Permaculture last weekend at the Groundswell Design Practicum, he noted that like blueberries, you needed more than one variety to obtain a fruit harvest. Geez, a fact I won’t soon forget… anyway I came home with 2 additional and different varieties of honey-berries and yesterday we planted out this fun little guild: Here is the design which sits opposite a wire fence from my daughters flower and medicinal herb garden plot so there is actually a whole lot of pollinator attractants and medicine growing here too:

honey berry guild

Right after planting this guild I dashed up to the dojo for a fabulous afternoon of natural bee keeping with Christina of The Queens Bee Project! What a wonderful  way to spend a day, listening and learning from someone so impassioned and moved by the bees. We leaned a lot about top bar hives, and holistic approached to keeping bees, and using organic essential oil hydrosaul to prevent and treat disease. For the past 4 years I have been working on learning about bees and creating bee habitat while working towards becoming a bee guardian…. and now seems an ideal time to take the big step, for so many reasons: We have the plans for a top bar hive which Dyl  has the skill to assemble quickly, and we will revise the design based on Christina’s Kootenay ready design tweaks. 3 of my girlfriends locally are all venturing into the world of bee keeping this spring too, and we have a number of friends who have been doing it for some time to draw on for support. There is a new bee keeping network being creating right now in Castlegar, and our last intern for the season (who we are eagerly awaiting her arrival) is right now studying top bar bee keeping with Elise of ABC in Calgary (whom we adore, as she set me down this path 4 years ago now, when she participated in a local food event I organized back in Calgary). So it looks like we are all set for hosting bee’s here in just a few weeks! Eeeeeeee!

buzzing with excitement!