Happy Birthday Agricultural Land Reserve
Next Steps for the ALR: Achieving Food Security for BC

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
April 18, 2017

The Agricultural Land Reserve gave British Columbia the potential for food security with two objectives: preserve farmland and encourage farming. Today, the second half of that goal remains unfulfilled. However, a study of the economics of small-scale farming points the way….

Agricultural Land Reserve view of farm fields and mountains bordering on city houses in the Blenkinsop Valley in Saanich, BC.

Agricultural Land Reserve farms in the Blenkinsop Valley, near Victoria, border on urban city lots.

The Birth of the Agricultural Land Reserve

Forty-four years ago, on April 18, 1973, the BC Land Commission Act came into effect, with a mandate to form the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) in British Columbia. Established by the newly-elected New Democratic Party government, and considered the most progressive legislation of its kind in North America, the Act created a provincial agriculture zone to protect BC’s limited cultivable lands from non-farming uses.
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What Exactly is Bone Broth?
Stocks, Broths and Super-Nutritious Bone Broth

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
March 28, 2017

Something unusual happened to stocks along the way as a base for soups, sauces, and stews. They evolved into a highly-prized health food and healthy-eating trend called bone broth.

What is the difference between stocks and broths? (Article continues below video.)

Video: How to Make Bone Broth (or Stock from Bones)



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Local Food You Can Eat All Winter
A Guide to Local Foods — November to March

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
February 27, 2017

It’s called the shoulder season — the cold months after the fall harvest and before the new planting season in spring. When you don’t see much growing outside, you may be wondering: What kind of local food is available in winter?

During the cold season, fresh local farm crops consist mainly of hardy greens and root vegetables. Add in local food that has been stored, dried, frozen, processed, or is grown indoors, and there is a surprising range of available local food in winter. (Local food guide continues below slideshow.)

Slideshow: 10 Ways to Eat Local all Winter in South Coast BC

Local winter vegetables are staples for winter slaws, braising, soups and stews. These hardy greens and root vegetables include arugula, beets, bok choy, chicory, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (above), carrots, kale, mache, mustard greens, parsnips, rutabagas and turnips.
Dried vegetables and fruits — especially dried beans and lentils — are basics for hearty soups and snacks. Dried foods from south coast BC (above) include: red lentils, white beans, kidney beans, dried cranberries, sun-dried tomatoes and Orca beans. Look for local dried beans, grains, fruits and vegetables from farmers and farm markets.
Sprouts may be the freshest food you can eat in winter (especially if you grow them in your own kitchen). Full of nutrients and enzymes, sprouts are available from many kinds of seeds, such as alfalfa, broccoli, mung beans (above), garbanzo beans. You can buy finished sprouts, or find seeds for sprouting in many grocery stores. A great boost to winter salads.
Microgreens, like sprouts, are tiny greens grown only until they open their first true leaves. These fresh greens bring an intense flavour and colour to salads and sandwiches. Microgreens grow from seeds such as arugula, broccoli, beets, cabbage chard, kale, basil, cilantro, radish, and mustard. Grow them indoors or look for microgreen farmers in your area.
Fresh winter herbs and leeks provide aromatic seasonings for cold weather cooking. Leeks, rosemary, thyme, parsley, winter savoury, chervil, sage, and bay leaves are available fresh during the cold winter months. Potted basil, a warm weather herb, will thrive all winter in a sunny window. Look for fresh and potted herbs in the produce section of grocery stores.
Frozen fruits and vegetables retain good taste and texture especially when preserved at peak season. Buy up or pick berries and other fresh produce in the summer to pack away for winter smoothies and cereal toppers. In winter, look for local frozen produce at farm markets, or direct from orchards and berry farmers who freeze extra fruit after the harvest.
Local preserves and canned goods come in many delicious and unusual combinations. Look for farmer preserved jams, jellies, pickled vegetables, chutneys, sauces, fruits, syrups, vinegars, honey and fermented foods. Locally preserved foods are available at farmers markets and food stores (or from your own pantry, if you like to can your own).
Mushrooms, foraged or locally grown indoors, are available year-round. Local edible varieties include: chanterelles, crimini (brown button), lobster mushrooms, morels, oyster mushrooms, portabellas, porcini, shiitake and white (button) mushrooms. Mushrooms add flavour to everything from pastas to meats, and stand out as a vegetarian main course.
Stored produce provides a stable supply of fruit and vegetables during the cold season. Kept in cool storage, many crops will last through the winter. Locally grown stored foods include apples, beets, garlic, onions, shallots, potatoes, rutabagas, winter squash, and turnips. In addition, local grains and nuts (hazelnuts and walnuts) are available throughout the winter.
Local meat, dairy and eggs are available throughout the winter. This includes poultry, beef, bison, pork, lamb and dairy products of all kinds. Pacific winter seafood and fish includes clams, cod, crab, flounder, mussels, oysters, scallops, and shrimp. Fresh wild-caught salmon is limited to summer season, but is available canned in winter.
 
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Local winter vegetables are staples for winter slaws, braising, soups and stews. These hardy greens and root vegetables include arugula, beets, bok choy, chicory, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (above), carrots, kale, mache, mustard greens, parsnips, rutabagas and turnips.


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Harvesting Sea Salt — The Canadian Way
Vancouver Island Artisan Sea Salt

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
January 20, 2017

Hand-harvested Canadian sea salt pours from the harvester's hands.
In waters off the coast of British Columbia, a small number of culinary-minded farmers are doing what people dwelling near the sea have done for thousands of years—harvesting sea salt.
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Sultans of Salt
Harvesting Sea Salt on Vancouver Island

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
January 20, 2017


Jeff Abel takes us on a tour of Saltwest Naturals Sea Salt Harvestry on Vancouver Island, where he and his partner, Jessica Abel, use steam evaporation to harvest flaked fleur de sel and fine grain sea salt. The tour includes a look into Saltwest’s unique solar greenhouses, which produce sun-dried sea salt—a rarity in Canada’s Pacific maritime climate.
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Rosemary Sea Salt Crackers
Make the Basics: Homemade Flatbread Crackers

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
January 4, 2017

RECIPE

Crisp rosemary sea salt crackers capture the delicious taste of the best artisan bakery flatbreads. With accents of lemon, rosemary and flaky sea salt (seriously addictive!), these homemade crackers will quickly become favourites for every day and special occasions.

Homemade crackers are surprisingly easy to make and cost only a fraction of the price of the crackers you buy at the store. Baking at home, you can use high-quality ingredients, make and freeze batches, and experiment with flavours of your choice. Fresh from the oven, I predict you’ll be eating these before they have a chance to cool.

Fresh homemade rosemary sea salt crackers
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Can Local Agriculture Drive Economic Development?
Surrey Study Shows What is Possible

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
December 6, 2016

fresh vegetables at a farmers marketBritish Columbians often give several reasons why local food is the best choice for everyone: Locally grown food tastes better, has greater nutritional value, protects the environment, strengthens genetic diversity, and develops the local economy. The last point raises an important question. How much can local agriculture do for a local economy?

A comprehensive study released in 2013 by the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems at Kwantlen Polytechnic University delivered a definitive answer—local agriculture can do a lot.
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How Oregano Can Help Fight Global Warming
Culinary Herb Reduces Cow Belches and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
November 29, 2016

oregano, a culinary herb that can help reduce methane emissionsCan a simple herb help fight global warming? The aromatic herb oregano, a staple in most modern kitchens, commonly meets our taste buds mixed with tomato sauce as a topping on pizza. This versatile plant’s virtues, however, extend beyond the kitchen into human and animal medicine. In 400 B.C., the Greek physician Hippocrates used oregano as an antiseptic and an aid to digestion.

Flash forward to today where oregano has emerged as a promising digestive aid for cattle. If you think this is not a major issue, consider the numbers. According to a UN report, livestock worldwide release 80 million metric tonnes of methane into the atmosphere. In the United States each year, 100 million cattle release 5.5 million metric tonnes of methane into the atmosphere — a significant 20 percent of U.S. methane emissions.
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10 Plants that Help Bees through the Winter
Four Season Garden

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
October 29, 2016

You can help bees through the winter by growing plants and flowering trees that bloom during the colder seasons. (Article and plant guide continue below slideshow.)

Cornflower, also called Bachelor’s Button, blooms in late spring and continues until November or longer if weather is mild. This self-seeding annual is a good source of nectar, and attracts bees and other pollinators with its intense blue flowers.
Calendula (Pot Marigold) reliably blooms into November in coastal areas. Cut back spent flowers for continued blooms. In mild years with no hard frost, calendula blooms all winter and provides cheerful early spring flowers for bees.
Borage is a hardy annual herb that flowers in June or July and continues into November. Borage does not survive a hard frost. Bees and other pollinators are attracted by the bright blue star-shaped flowers.
Yarrow's tiny close-packed flower clusters provide nectar for pollinators. Yarrow blooms from spring to November. Cut back the flowers after their first bloom for continued flowering. In mild years with no hard frost, yarrow will bloom in winter.
Rosemary has small blue flowers that attract bees. Rosemary blooms at different times of the year, often in March, April or November. Prune this shrub after flowering, but not back to the bare wood. Flowers appear only on new wood.
Primrose, a hardy perennial likes a cool, well-drained growing area. Long regarded as a herald of spring. In south coast BC, primrose blooms from midwinter to spring, with a reprise in October or November.
Heather brings colour in winter with tiny flowers that attract honey bees and bumblebees. This hardy perennial typically buds in November, however an established heather plant can bloom from September to May.
Oregon Grape <i>(Mahonia aquifolium),</i> a tall evergreen native shrub with prickly, holly-like leaves, is a good early attractor for bees and other pollinators. Sprays of small yellow flowers bloom anytime from November through March.
Crocus, Snowdrop and Hyacinth bulbs provide early nectar and pollen for honey bees. The flowers often open in late January and February, providing some of the earliest blooms of the season.
Early blooming fruit trees such as cherry and apple trees flower in February. With each tree bearing hundreds of flowers, they provide a large concentrated food source for pollinators.
 
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Cornflower, also called Bachelor’s Button, blooms in late spring and continues until November or longer if weather is mild. This self-seeding annual is a good source of nectar, and attracts bees and other pollinators with its intense blue flowers.


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Herb Roasted Cipollini Onions
Caramelized sweet autumn onions

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
October 8, 2016

Topping my list of favourite fall foods are sweet, saucer-shaped cipollini onions. Cipollinis, whose name means “little onions,” come in white and red varieties. Cipollinis’ sweet, mellow flavour and diminutive flattened shape make them an excellent choice for roasting.

herb roasted cipollini onions
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Baking up Gluten-Free Flavour
Taste Innovations at Origin Bakery

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
September 13, 2016

At Origin Bakery, the only dedicated gluten-free bakery in Victoria BC, Marion Scott and Tara Black are transforming the way we taste alternative grains. They’re also doing what comes naturally to pastry chefs, but is so rare in the world of gluten-free: baking up delicious from-scratch breads, cakes and pastries that recreate the taste and texture of traditional baked goods.

Origin Bakery is not like the majority of gluten-free bread and cake bakers. “Almost all of them are using a very set style of ingredients,” said Tara Black, Origin co-founder and pastry chef. “What we do is very different. Every single product here is made with its own specific recipe.”
(Article continues below video.)

Video: Gluten-Free from Scratch at the Origin Bakery



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