All salads are vegetarian and contain at least 75% local (BC grown) ingredients.
CHUFF is a volunteer initiative of Quadra Cedar Hill Community Association’s Climate Action Group. For more info on the wonderful work that CHUFF does and how you can get involved see: Cedar Hill Urban Food Farmers
As environmental champions review what’s being lost and what may yet be gained from the world-wide Biodiversity Conference in Montreal this past week, some of us are looking back on the year 2022 asking: how are we doing here at home with our community conservation efforts? Can we count any successes this year? The answer is Yes !
2022 was the year Saanich earned Nature Canada designation as a Bird Friendly City, one of just nine such cities certified so far in Canada.
To earn certification, the District of Saanich worked in collaboration with Nature Canada’s partners including Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary to make our municipality a safer and better place for bird populations to thrive.
Why? Because birds play an essential role in maintaining healthy, resilient ecosystemsto say nothing of having as much intrinsic value as any other species on the planet some would claim. There are three billion fewer birds in North America today than 50 years ago. And 4.2 billion more humans. Much of the decline in bird populations is due to human activity. As urban expansion continues, says Nature Canada, we must act quickly to ensure birds and their habitat are protected.
What can we do?
To become a Bird Friendly–certified city a Bird Team was created with Phaedra Otwey Community Education Assistant at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary leading Saanich’s team.
That Saanich has been “certified a Bird Friendly City with Nature Canada – the first one on Vancouver Island – is beyond exciting,” says Phaedra. The process to certification revealed all of the incredible action that this district has and is taking towards the conservation and protection of birds, wildlife, and our incredible ecosystems. It also demonstrated just how many dedicated people and organizations in our community are working hard to continue making Saanich as beneficial and safe to wildlife as it is to us. This has been a truly inspiring initiative to be a part of and I am so thrilled that it will connect so many more people to the wonderful world of birds! This certification is only the beginning of Saanich’s commitment to birds. I’m so excited to see what will come next!”
Eva Riccius, on the BirdTeam in her role as Saanich Senior Manager of Parks says, “This initiative fits directly with our Natural Intelligence program which encourages every resident to have a positive connection with nature locally. We’re excited about raising awareness of birds in Saanich and sharing some actions that residents can take to increase our bird friendliness.”
Dec 17 Participate in Greater Victoria’s Annual Christmas Bird Count, even from your own backyard. ChristmasBirdCount.ca to find a team or for backyard feeder form.
Coming up –
Friends of Cedar Hill Park Bird Count update.
by contributor Sher Morgan
There are over 450 native bee species in B.C., about 200 dwell here on Southern Vancouver Island. We often think of bees when talk turns to pollination, but at QCHCA’s November 12 Mapping Pollinators workshop, led by UVic Community mapping student Matt Evans, we learned birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, wasps, beetles and small mammals are also important pollinators. Moths, Matt says, actually have a greater impact than butterflies but because moths are largely active at night we are less aware of their role.
We need pollinators. 75 – 95% of flowering plants require pollinators to move pollen within the plant or from bloom to bloom, fertilizing to produce seeds and fruit. Some plants are self-pollinating and others, like grasses, evolved so their pollen is carried by wind, or water. Nevertheless from the perspective of humans’ basic food needs pollinators are among our best friends. 1 in 3 bites of the food you eat comes from a plant that requires pollination.
As important as the food we eat is pollinators’ crucial and intrinsic place in healthy ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems clean the air, stabilize soils, provide shelter in severe weather, and support other wildlife. The worry is – pollinator populations are in decline with the most severe cause being habitat loss followed by pesticide use, disease, and changing climate patterns.
Pollinators need us. Pollinator Canada scientists and research partners have been studying pollinators for over three decades. The good news is that conservation techniques do work. If everyone – home owners, local governments, national governments, and private industry make the effort we can change the future for pollinators and secure our own. – Pollinator Canada https://www.pollinator.org/pollinators
Native plants vs non-native. Many of the ornamentals in your garden do attract and provide forage to pollinators yet where an ornamental might attract one specie of bee, native plants commonly attract many pollinators. According to an Audubon article large native trees are ideal larval host plants for butterflies and moths. More than 500 species lay eggs on the various oak trees native to North America. Enter the caterpillar. A nest full of chickadees needs more than 5,000 caterpillars from hatching to the time they leave the nest. By comparison fewer than 10 species of native moths for instance, lay eggs on ginkgo leaves. In our area, native perennials like goldenrod and asters support a lot of caterpillars –feed young birds a well as adult pollinators, thereby doing double duty. Native plants evolved with native pollinators and have intrinsic, interdependent value to ecosystems.
One workshop participant asked Matt, how stringent are you about native plants’ value for pollinators? I grow food. The response? Hedgerows are an excellent addition to gardens providing nesting and forage for birds and insects that may actually help in consuming some of the pests you don’t want. If you grow flowers, interplant native bulbs beneath your perennials. When you have to replace a perennial, choose a native pollinator. Native plants also commonly need less water, and are often deer proof. – see: Gardening with Nature https://hat.bc.ca/gardeningwithnature
Garry Oak ecosystems, a landscape beloved by Islanders, are one of the most endangered ecosystems in Canada – less than 5% of the original habitat remains. Why does this matter? Because it’s not only about the trees! Garry Oak are the most biodiverse native ecosystem in Canada with many species occurring nowhere else in the country. Eight hundred insect and mite species are directly associated with Garry oak trees, 104 species of birds, 7 amphibians, 7 reptiles and 33 mammal species. But because so much habitat has been lost or degraded, approximately 100 species of plants, mammals, reptiles, birds, butterflies and other insects are officially listed as “at risk”. Several species have already been eliminated in B. C. including the island large marble butterfly (Euchloe ausonides insulanus), and the Georgia Depression population of the western bluebird (Sialia mexicana).
What can you do? Much of the surviving Garry oak habitat exists as small patches in private yards, gardens and rural lots, along with public lands. If you have oaks where you live, let oak leaves remain around the base of Garry Oak trees and elsewhere. The Propertius Duskywing butterfly, a species at risk, over-winters in the leaf litter. – Garry Oak Gardener’s Handbook. Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team. 2011.
What are our neighbours doing? Invasives like blackberry and ivy tend to overwhelm native plants. Workshop student leader Matt Evans is one of many community heroes active in habitat restoration – pulling invasives and planting native plants. Within Quadra Cedar Hill, Friends of Cedar Hill Park is one of several volunteer groups doing the same. In 2021 FCHP neighbourhood volunteers invested 1600 hours in removing invasives along the Cedar Hill Park golf course chip trail benefiting the biodiversity, natural areas, wetlands, creeks, – and the pollinators who feed or live there – for future generations.
Participants learned a lot about pollinators at the November 12 workshop: why we need pollinators, what they need, and the benefits of creating and protecting places for pollinators to thrive. Urban threats to these precious pollinators are loss of habitat / urban development, pesticides, and GHGs/climate change. We can each help where we live by providing birds, bees, bats and all the other pollinators with:
Food and water. Plant or protect pollen and nectar producing plants that bloom sequentially throughout the entire growing season, especially native plants.
Shelter. Create nesting habitat for pollinators like bare soil, dried plants stalks and piles of woody materials. Which may mean resisting our propensity for pristine gardens!
Pesticide-free. Make your property pesticide-free, avoiding even pesticide-treated plants.
In her welcome to participants of the Mapping Pollinators workshop, QCHCA president Susan Haddon referenced SENĆOŦEN Language and Cultural revivalist Tiffany Joseph saying: Removing invasives, building pollinator corridors, returning habitat to its natural state can also be an act of decolonization.
Join us. UVic Community Mapping students (Geography 380) and QCHCA’s climate action group are partnering in a citizen science initiative to map pollinator habitat in our neighbourhoods. The Plan step 1 – to map existing pollinator habitat. The Plan step 2 – to engage residents in creating pollinator pathways for at-risk bees, birds, butterflies, bats, and insects in our region as the habitat they need to survive is encroached upon, and lost. (QCHCA News: What’s that Buzz? Mapping Pollinators in our neighbourhoods)
What is a pollinator corridor?
A Pollinator Corridor is a pesticide-free corridor or pathway of native plants that provides nutrition and habitat for pollinators and helps them to disperse into new habitats in response to urban development and climate change. Corridors can be created by linking natural areas, parks and boulevards planted with pollinator-friendly plants, backyard gardens, and transmission lines blooming with native wildflowers. Creating pollinator pathways requires coordination and planning, but the benefits are plentiful.
– Canadian Wildlife Federation
To learn more or participate in QCHCA Climate Action group’s Pollinator Corridor initiative email email@example.com Subject: Pollinators
by contributor Sher Morgan
There was a friendly buzz of anticipation on a sunny Saturday morning earlier this month as neighbours gathered at Cedar Hill Rec Centre for QCHCA’s first-ever Pollinator Mapping workshop.
UVic Community Mapping students (Geography 380) and QCHCA’s climate action group are partnering in a citizen science initiative to map pollinator habitat in QCHCA neighbourhoods. The Plan step 1 – to map existing pollinator habitat. The Plan step 2 – to engage residents in creating pollinator habitat for at-risk bees, birds, butterflies, bats, and insects in our region as the habitat they need to survive is encroached upon, and lost – largely to development.
What’s Community Mapping? Sometimes called asset mapping it involves residents in identifying the assets of their neighbourhood, looking for opportunities, and creating a picture of what it is like to live here. Community mapping encourages people to become advocates for transforming or protecting the spaces in which we live.
According to Maleea Acker who teaches UVic’s Geography 380 Community Mapping “the class is engaged in a number of community partnerships using New Open Green Maps, a perfect platform to co-create interactive and community-engaged projects that are carried on by community partners …(like QCHCA). The Community Mapping class focuses on community-engaged learning, meaning students work with one of several partners each semester, matching their mapping skills and theory with the community’s expertise on place. Projects usually stretch over several cohorts of students, allowing a community group to engage with a variety of learners and allowing students to bring various perspectives to the project.” – 2021 https://www.greenmap.org/blog/community-mapping-update-victoria-bc
At the November 12th workshop led by UVic Community mapping student Matt Evans, participants learned a lot about pollinators: why we need them, what they need, and the benefits of creating and protecting places for pollinators to thrive. (see QCHCA News: Why Pollinators?) Workshop participants were then invited to start mapping.Participants found their street on the large format maps spread out on tables, and described the plantings and green spaces in their own yards, identifying specific native and pollinator-friendly plants with the help of workshop leaders.
By early December our UVic student partners Matt and Steve Martin will transfer that information onto an interactive, digital map showing the pollinator-friendly habitats that workshop participants identified– parks, gardens, boulevards, natural areas, Garry Oak meadows. The resulting map will reveal where the gaps exist – areas that need pollinator-supportive plantings to create pollinator corridors, for bees, birds and insects to feast upon, rest, lay their eggs, dwell in, and thrive.
Just imagine pollinator planted corridors stretching from Cedar Hill Park to Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary. Imagine how that might alter our neighbourhood landscape? Your morning walk? Might there be more birdsong? More butterflies?
That digital map will be accessible – to residents, neighbouring mapping groups, the District of Saanich, etc. And, the map will be open source and interactive so people can keep adding pollinator-rich sites – in spring as the camas, fawn lily and nodding onion appear, and throughout the seasons – using their iphones!
How effective can this QCHCA initiative be? It will only get richer as more people participate. Matt Evans says Quadra Cedar Hil Community Association is following in the footsteps (or, flight path?) of a model that any community group would do well to emulate. Gorge Tillicum Community Assoc’s Natural Areas Working Group is one year in on creating its own pollinator corridor in partnership with UVic’s Maleea Acker, Ken Josephson and their Geo 380 students. One of the leads on the GTCA pollinator group Laurie Jones attended QCHCA’s workshop bringing photos of her group’s recent native pollinator planting at Wascana Street and Burnside Road.
Burnside-Wascana boulevard garden includes 20 different plants indigenous to southern Vancouver Island that will help support the area’s native pollinators. Starting in March/April and going through to October/November, there will be a succession of colourful blossoms and pollinators here – Laurie Jones.
What’s next for the QCHCA pollinator plan? Community Association president, Susan Haddon says “We’ll let everyone know when the digital map is available so people can add their gardens and natural areas to the map. It will be important to keep adding data to gain an over-arching visual sense of what already exists. In the new year we could have guided walks for neighbours to stroll their streets and nearby parks with iphones in hand to identify and actually plot the native and non-native flowers, trees, shrubs and grasses that benefit pollinators. I know many QCH residents have a wealth of knowledge to share. And sharing that knowledge may even influence more residents to include native plants in their gardens. It will be wonderful to get out walking and learning together…knowing we are creating new pollinator habitat and contributing to the balance of healthy ecosystems in increasingly healthy neighbourhoods.
If you are keen to participate in the QCHCA Climate Action group’s
Pollinator Mapping and Corridor initiative email firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject line: Pollinators
Thanks to community conservation luminaries attending QCHCA Pollinator Mapping workshop (L to R) Gorge Tillicum pollinator project’s Laurie Jones, QCHCA president Susan Haddon, SeaChange Marine Conservation Society’s Nikki Wright, RUSH biomimicry expert Ann-Marie Daniels, UVic’s Ken Josephson, UVic student mapping workshop leader Matt Evans, UVic’s Maleea Acker.
QCHCA president Susan Haddon presents workshop participant Trudee Trotter with the day’s door prize – a native kinnikinnick shrub.
Salad Greens You Can Grow in Winter
A Guide to Planting and Harvesting Winter Salad Greens
by BC Farms & Food
Want to eat fresh lettuce and salad greens this winter? Late summer to early fall is the time to plant your winter garden.
Spinach grows well throughout the winter when protected in a cold frame or tunnel. Low winter light slows the growth. Young tender spinach leaves have an earthy flavour that pairs well with fruit in fresh salads.
If you like fresh garden salads, you’ll be glad to know you can grow a full range of salad greens throughout the winter in our moderate southern BC maritime climate. Leafy winter salad vegetables come in a variety of flavours, colours and textures—from peppery to earthy, crunchy to delicate.
Flavours of Cold Weather Salad Greens
Fall and winter salad greens include such hardy plants as spicy arugula, fresh baby spinach leaves and cold-season lettuces. Baby beet greens bring lovely deep red and green colour to salads.
Brassicas and mustards, such as baby kale, bok choi, tatsoi, mizuna and red mustard offer crunchy, sharp and earthy flavours. The slightly bitter leaves of chicories like endive, escarole, frisée, and radicchio add texture and various degrees of bitters to mixed salad greens.
Mild-Flavoured Winter Greens
Most winter salad greens are hardy and have some bite. Are there any mild winter salad greens? Lettuce, of course—romaine, buttercrunch, oakleaf and other loose-leaf varieties, grow well in cool weather.
Mâche (Corn Salad, Lamb’s Lettuce) is refreshing and full of flavour. One of the most cold hardy of all greens, this lesser-known leaf vegetable can survive temperatures as low as -18ºC (0ºF). Mâche grows slowly in small, low rosettes and is ready for harvest when it is about 10 cm or 4 inches across. The leaves are delicate and damage easily in shipment, which is why you’ll rarely find mâche at the supermarket. (Grow this one yourself!)
Another mild, succulent and greatly overlooked salad green is the West Coast native, Claytonia (Miner’s Lettuce, Winter Purslane). Claytonia has sweet, green-tasting leaves and stems, and small edible white blossoms in the spring. Claytonia can grow without protection throughout the winter.
How to Grow Winter Salad Greens
If planting from seed, start most winter salad greens between July and September. Plant established starts as late as September or October. Keep in mind that the cold and low winter light will slow the growth, so plant a lot.
Mulch, cold frames, hoop houses and other season extension techniques can help speed growth and protect your plants from wind and cold. Because the daytime temperatures are warmer inside a cold frame, cultivars have a chance to recover from cold nighttime temperatures.
For a detailed guide on seed planting and harvest times for winter salad greens in southern maritime British Columbia https://bcfarmsandfood.com/salad-greens-you-can-grow-in-winter/
CHUFF thanks BC Farms & Food for this article.
Do you grow your own food, or would you like to start feeding yourself or your family sustainably? Join CHUFF – neighbours helping neighbours grow good food in the Quadra Cedar Hill Community Association neighbourhoods.
For CHUFF’s next monthly gathering – September 25 HATs Off to the Winter Garden – a long-time grower shows us what she is planning and planting in her winter food garden, and we tour the Garry Oak ecosystem she has stewarded over the years in her backyard. Contact email@example.com for more information.
CITY FOOD GARDENS
by BC Farms & Food
Food gardens are changing the landscape of modern cities. Urban gardeners are reinventing balconies, rooftops, and community spaces as places to grow fresh food.
Community gardens like this one at Oswald Park in Victoria offer a place to grow food in the city.
The edible city gardening movement is transforming front and back yards, curbside medians, school grounds and parking lots into active food growing areas. Spurred by a desire to save money on food and to eat fresh produce, gardeners are digging in wherever they can. Municipalities are carving out spaces for community plots. Schools are planting student gardens to teach young people about the value of growing food and ways to mitigate climate change.
Edible urban landscapes range from community pea patches and city farms to balcony and patio vegetable gardens. The real change is coming in city and suburban neighbourhoods (ed: like our own Quadra Cedar Hill Community Assoc) as homeowners ( like we neighbours who formed CHUFF this Spring – Cedar Hill Urban Food Farmers) make over backyards into productive food gardens, complete with raised beds and hoop houses. Even front yard lawns are giving way to food forests, native plant meadows, and gardens that integrate edible plants like herbs, vegetables, and berries with ornamentals.
City Food Gardens – Finding Ways to Adapt
City gardeners face three unique challenges:
• Small spaces, with little room for growing food
• Transient living situations (how to take your garden with you when you move)
• Lack of land ownership
Beyond planting a seed, urban cultivators need to find practical, adaptable ways to grow food. This means vertical gardening (e.g. growing upwards on a narrow balcony), window-box food gardens, or planting on porches. It means finding tools and containers portable enough to adapt to spaces that lack sun or are exposed to wind. It also means creating a garden that will pack up for a move to a new home if necessary. Popular garden tools for urban gardening include fabric grow bags with handles that fold up at the end of the season, collapsible mini-greenhouses, and self-watering devices for pots.
A History of City Food Gardens
This vegetable garden was planted on an open city median between two sidewalks.
Small-scale agriculture has always been a part of cities, not only to provide food, but also as a way to manage urban pollutants. In sophisticated 19th century Paris, for example, which depended on horse-powered transportation, the city moved the vast amounts of horse manure that accumulated daily to areas just outside the urban envelope, where “French intensive” gardeners used it to grow the city’s vegetables.
Urban vegetable plots also made a major appearance during World War II as “victory gardens,” producing an estimated 57,000 metric tons of fresh fruit and vegetables in Canada and a third of all U.S. produce, and demonstrating the sheer power of urban growing.
Modern Edible Gardening
The new edible gardening movement not only empowers people to grow their own food, but creates unique growing areas to meet specific space needs: vegetable and herb container gardens for patios and balconies; rooftop gardens over restaurants to supply chefs; espaliered fruit trees and trellised vertical vegetable gardens along narrow walkways; or raised beds and greenhouses replacing lawns in urban yards.
City food gardens also provide a solution for how to obtain hard-to-come-by fresh ethnic foods. Gardens can be customized for a particular cuisine, such as an Italian garden with parsley, sweet peppers, Romano beans, heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, and artichokes, or a Chinese garden growing snow peas, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, chayote squash, and bitter melon.
Benefits of City Food Gardens
Edible gardening has much to offer city dwellers, and it’s not just about food. People find that when they have their own garden, it reconnects them to nature, the origins of their food, and moves them closer to the hands-on traditions—picking vine-ripe tomatoes, snapping open fresh pea pods, tasting fresh-picked strawberries— that make eating such a pleasure.
CHUFF thanks BC Farms & Food for this article.
Do you grow your own food, or would you like to start feeding yourself or your family sustainably? Join CHUFF – neighbours helping neighbours grow good food in the Quadra Cedar Hill Community Association neighbourhoods. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
2I grew up eating from a home garden leaving me with fond memories of standing beside the pea vines savouring their sweet taste. Tomatoes were never refrigerated and always juicy. Carrots grew beneath frilly leaves and corn grew on majestic, tree-frog infested, eight-foot-high stalks. In time, my parents assigned me my own garden plot where I planted beans and zinnias. Since then I’ve always wanted to grow my own food. A few years ago we bought our first house, and in the backyard of our urban lot, I have six large raised beds and a small coop for five hens.
I’ve morphed into an urbanite growing as much of my own food as I can. What I can’t grow I source as close to home as possible, though I still drink coffee and stock my cupboard with spices from the tropics. I’ve started quantifying the economic worth of my harvest – empirical data that feeds my scientific side. I now weigh my produce and calculate its worth based on grocery store prices. However, only a couple of months in, my experiment is already compromised. A new user of the garden has arrived on the scene.
“Mooooore,” my toddler demanded, pointing at the bed of strawberries one summer day. She had already shoved three whole berries into her mouth resulting in a red dribble down her chin. I caution her to take her time, but moments after she puts one into her mouth, she asks for another. After searching through the strawberry leaves, I couldn’t find any more ripe ones. I try to explain that more will be ripe in a few days – a concept she can’t yet comprehend. Spying a white berry with a blush of red, she tries to crawl into the bed, until I distract her with a pea pod.
No peas, strawberries, raspberries or cherry tomatoes have made it to my kitchen scale; instead they go directly into my toddler’s mouth as she wanders the garden, and she has voluntarily tried kale, nasturtiums and cilantro. Sometimes what goes into her mouth is rejected and left on the garden path, making me cringe because none of this food is making it on to my scale. Even though I can’t quantify what she is learning, I’m sure it has more value than any weight in produce. In time, I’ll assign my daughter a plot of her own.
Epilogue: The author harvested 196 kg of food from her backyard garden that year, the equivalent in calories to fully sustain a person for 62 days (at 2000 calories per day).
Jeannette Bedard is a scientist, author, mother, partner, and food grower. She is also a member of the QCHCA Climate Action initiative CHUFF – (Quadra) Cedar Hill Urban Food Farmers. The group meet once a month in a member’s food garden. Join us! To learn about CHUFF, contact qchca.chuff.com
While picking raspberries on the peninsula last week for jam, we learned the Heat Wave was accelerating harvest at local farms at a rate faster than consumers were buying, leaving good food wasted in the fields. We saw cauliflower the size of your head, beautiful nutrient-rich broccoli, salad greens browning in their beds – all needing to be picked now.
If you freeze or preserve food for winter consumption now is the time to get started.
On our way home we stopped in at Silver Rill to see if the corn was ready. Sure enough, we came away with the first of many dozen cobs we’ll buy this summer, some destined for that night’s dinner but most to be processed and put into the freezer for winter meals. At $14 a dozen it seemed costly until I price-checked it against a tin of corn in the grocery store. In this instance fresh, local is comparably priced, almost certainly more nutritious, and carries a much smaller carbon footprint.
According to Saanich’s Climate Plan, if everyone in the world lived the lifestyle of the average Saanich citizen we would require five or six planets right now for us all to survive. When we’re talking carbon footprints, every step counts.
Today I was basil picking in my home garden. Our small greenhouse offered up a 4 litre bucket full of fragrant basil which, within an hour, became packets of pesto, and lemon-basil vinaigrette, also stowed away in the freezer for winter meals.
That we have such a rich variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables available to us, whether from nearby farms or our own backyards, means we can eat locally year round with a little preparation. Jamming red raspberries, preserving basil, corn off the cob is simple to do, takes a little time but no fancy tools, and contributes significantly to reducing my family’s carbon count. And it cements my relationship with our farmers, reduces food waste, and contributes to the local economy.
BC Farms and Food lists dozens of Saanich Peninsula farms where you can buy direct from
the farmer, including these U-pick
Dan’s Farm & Country Market
Michell Bros Farm
Plentiful Plate Farm
Stewart’s Berry Patch
Violet Grove Farms
If you’d like the pesto or lemon-basil vinaigrette recipes, contact CHUFF – (Quadra) Cedar Hill Urban Food Farmers and we’ll post them next issue. email@example.com
Watch for CHUFF’s August activities in QCHCA Events listing.