Teafarm Brews up a New Crop for Canada
Cultivating Tea on Vancouver Island

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
February 25, 2015

Margit Nellemann at Teafarm on Vancouver Island.

Margit Nellemann at the Teafarm on Vancouver Island.

On a sunny slope in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, a rare Camellia is growing; rare for Canada but widely sought worldwide for its stimulant qualities. It is Camellia sinensis, better known as tea.

Far from the tropical and subtropical mountain slopes of China and India where much of the world’s tea is grown, and running contrary to Agriculture Canada’s declaration that “Canada does not have the appropriate climate for growing tea,” the 11-acre Teafarm, in Cowichan, is home to 600 thriving tea plants, adapting nicely to the region’s Pacific maritime climate.
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12 Vegetables You Can Grow in Winter
A Guide to Planting and Harvesting Winter Vegetables

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
January 1, 2015

If winter grocery-store produce has you wishing for something fresh from the garden, consider this: you can grow a surprising number of vegetables throughout the winter in our moderate south coast BC maritime climate. (Article continues below slideshow.)

Winter Salad Greens include arugula, bok choi, chicories, lettuce, mache, mustards and spinach. They grow slowly due to low light. Mulch well, and harvest as baby greens or braising mix.
Broccoli can survive most cool maritime winters but may not tolerate sustained freezing weather. Plant a sprouting broccoli variety for a continuous crop of side shoots throughout the winter.
Brussels sprouts are very hardy, and frost makes them sweeter. If you plant in June, they are ready to eat by November or December.
Certain carrot varieties, such as Danvers, store well in the ground. Sow in July, size them up by October, and pull them fresh in the winter.
Chard is frost-hardy and will make it through most winters. Sow from April to June for fall and winter harvest.
Collards are hardy and survive all winter in a coastal marine climate. The large leaves make good wraps.
Kale is one vegetable you can count on throughout the winter. It is easy to grow and hardy, even in freezing temperatures. The leaves become sweeter after a frost.
Leeks are a great onion substitute that grow fresh in cold weather. Slow to mature, they need to be planted in the spring for the fall and winter harvest.
Curly parsley reliably survives the cold, even on frosty days, and provides a leafy garnish. Hamburg parsley, grown for the root, can be harvested from September to March and cooked like any root vegetable.
Parsnips are similar to carrots. If well mulched, they will store well under the winter soil and provide a delicious root vegetable for roasting.
Scallions are Spanish onions that due to low winter light do not form a bulb during cold weather. Protect with mulch and pull them fresh throughout the winter.
Turnips can be a good early winter root crop. Pick them small for milder flavour. Best grown under a cloche or tunnel.
 
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Winter Salad Greens include arugula, bok choi, chicories, lettuce, mache, mustards and spinach. They grow slowly due to low light. Mulch well, and harvest as baby greens or braising mix.


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Broccoli Grape Salad

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
December 4, 2014

RECIPE

This lovely red and green salad is as attractive as it is delicious. Broccoli, red grapes, sauteed onions and toasted nuts come together in this sweet and tangy side dish. An exceptional addition to any meal.

broccoli salad with red grapes and toasted nuts
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Organic is Better for You!
Study Confirms Benefits of Eating Organic Foods

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
November 2, 2014

fruit platter with raspberries, strawberries, grapes, blueberries and cherriesNo surprise, but good news. A new comprehensive study from Newcastle University in Great Britain confirms that organic food is better for you and the world. Using meta analysis, an advanced statistical technique, the international science team reviewed 343 individual food studies and found that organic crops contain significantly more healthy antioxidants and have dramatically lower pesticide levels than conventionally grown crops.
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In Search of the Local Bean
Reviving Heritage Bean Varieties on Small Farms in British Columbia

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
October 7, 2014

A colorful mix of heritage dry beansThink of this— a bubbling pot of maple baked beans on a cold, rainy day. It’s Canadian comfort food. After all, Canada is one of the world’s leading producers of pulses: dry beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils. A trip to the local supermarket, however, tells another story.

Look for the source of the conventional or organic dry beans you buy packaged, canned or in bulk and you won’t see “product of Canada.” More often than not, the beans and chickpeas you eat come long distances from China, Thailand, India or maybe the U.S.
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23 Heritage Beans
Unique, Colourful, Flavourful Foods

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
October 7, 2014

Heritage bean growers like Rebecca Jehn preserve a wealth of traditions, diversity and flavours not found in today’s mechanized food chain. At her farm at Rebecca’s Garden in Victoria, BC, she grows over 30 unique varieties of beans, chickpeas and lentils.
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Threshing Dried Beans
A Low-Tech Method for Small-Scale Growers

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
October 7, 2014

Small-scale dry bean growers often lack the large equipment needed to quickly thresh their crop. In this video, Rebecca Jehn of Rebecca’s Garden in Victoria, BC, demonstrates a fast, low-tech method she uses to thresh dried beans.
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Tuscan White Beans with Rosemary

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
September 27, 2014

RECIPE

Infused with rosemary and virgin olive oil, these creamy baked beans make a hearty meal or side dish.

Tuscan white beans
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The Deer Resistant Food Garden
A Guide to Vegetables, Fruit and Herbs Deer Don't Like

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
August 7, 2014

deerShort of erecting a tall fence, the best way to minimize deer damage in a vegetable garden is to grow plants deer don’t like to eat. When wild food sources are low, deer will munch on most anything. However, some garden fare is less attractive to these browsers than others.

Deer usually avoid root vegetables (which they have to dig up) and prickly vegetables such as cucumbers and squashes with hairy leaves. Sharply-odoured plants like onions, garlic and fennel are not palatable to deer. Similarly, strongly-scented marigolds and herbs like mint, sage or dill can direct deer away from favoured edibles. Certain plants, such as rhubarb, are toxic to deer.

The following list of deer resistant garden plants is intended as a general guide.
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Parmesan-Stuffed Tomatoes

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
July 6, 2014

RECIPE

Ripe tomatoes bring a sweet, sharp tang to this simple side dish. Broiled with virgin olive oil, white wine and parmesan, stuffed tomatoes go well with grilled meat and fish.

Parmesan-Stuffed Tomatoes
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Open Source Seeds
Keeping Seeds in the Public Domain

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
June 7, 2014

open-source-seed-1-new-425Even as local food movements bloom like flowers across North America, their initiatives for community control over food face a nearly invisible threat from multinational seed patent holders like Monsanto and DuPont—the loss of public domain seed. In response to this threat, a group of concerned scientists, plant breeders and seed growers have launched a new model, the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI), to keep seeds as a common resource for humanity.
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