How We Can Regrow Sustainable Agriculture in BC
Investing in British Columbia’s Food Security

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
October 22, 2018

British Columbia is facing an agricultural crisis. Sixty percent of farmers in BC are over age 55, and the new young generation of farmers cannot take over.

At the same time as baby boom era farmers are retiring, speculation has driven the price of farmland higher than the ability of new farmers to buy it. Unless we find a way to make most of the farmland in the Agricultural Land Reserve affordable, and to grow enough food on it, we can expect to permanently rely on imports to feed ourselves. Two recent projects suggest a way forward for BC.

Farmland in BC. How We Can Regrow Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in BC.
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10 Tips for Year-Round Vegetable Gardens
Best Techniques for a Sustainable Four-Season Garden

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
September 25, 2018

Gardeners often ask how they can grow and harvest vegetables all year long. Here are our top ten tips for a sustainable, organic year-round garden:

Plant a winter garden. Tips for a sustainable year-round garden.


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Zucchini Pancakes

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
August 19, 2018

RECIPE

These savoury zucchini pancakes will not last long! Flavoured with sweet onions, hot out of the pan, they make a delicious side dish for meat or pasta, or a light vegetarian meal. Zucchini pancakes freeze well and are a great way to preserve an overabundance of summer squash.

zuchinni pancakes recipe from BC Farms & Food

Zuchinni pancakes are delicious hot off the griddle, topped with parmesan cheese.


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Deer Resistant Plants That Attract Pollinators
Pollinator-Attracting Herbs, Vegetables and Flowers that Deer Avoid

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
July 31, 2018

Bee-friendly plants that repel deer? It sounds like a gardener’s dream. As it turns out, quite a large number of flowers, herbs, and even vegetables are deer resistant pollinator plants.

Gardeners and farmers who struggle against deer damage know how difficult it is to grow flowers, fruits, and vegetables with these voracious browsers about. At the same time, growers depend on bees, flower flies, butterflies and hummingbirds to pollinate farm and garden crops. If you select carefully, you can have both together: plants that attract pollinators and are also unpalatable to deer. (Article and plant list continue below slideshow.)

Prickly plants like globe thistle, globe artichoke (above), and cardoon resist deer and are tremendous attractors of bees, when in flower. Deer also usually avoid plants with thick, leathery or spiky textures.
Plants with fuzzy leaves and hairy stems such as cucumbers, squash, borage (above), and phacelia typically turn away deer. The tiny flowers of borage and phacelia are amazing attractors of bees.
Deer avoid strong-scented herbs and aromatic flowers. The strong fragrance of marigolds (above), lavender, rosemary, sage, thyme, chamomile and other herbs can interfere with a deer’s sense of smell (which it relies on to detect danger).
Mint family plants (Lamiaceae) are reliable deer deterrents. These include bee balm, catnip, anise hyssop (above), lavender, lemon balm, peppermint, spearmint, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, salvia, thyme, and savoury.
While deer may nibble on new spring onion shoots or chives, flowers from leeks, onions and native alliums such as Nodding onion are generally deer-resistant. Leeks (above) and other allium flowers are beautiful, powerful attractors of bees.
Deer avoid bitter-tasting plants like snowdrops, yarrow (above), foxgloves, bleeding heart and poppies (including California and Oriental poppies). Fawns learn while young to avoid these plants, which contain alkaloids.
Wildflowers, such as deer-resistant woolly sunflower (above), yarrow, and phacelia, co-evolved with pollinators for centuries. Native plants have co-relationships with specific bees and pollinators that protect diversity.
Blue, violet, white, and yellow flowers, such as salvia, lupine (above), alyssum, and zinnias are attractive to bees. Bees cannot see the colour red. They look for shallow or tubular plants with a landing platform.
Tiny clusters of flowers attract a variety of beneficial insects such as bees, butterflies, flower flies, ladybugs and parasitoid wasps, which pollinate and also prey on garden pests. Parsley, dill (above), and fennel are a prodigious draw for these beneficials.
Bright (especially violet or red) flowers, such as purple coneflower, delphinium, and cosmos (above) with wide landing pad areas attract butterflies. Hollyhocks and lupine host butterfly larvae and help support butterflies into adulthood.
Scarlet, red and orange tubular flowers such as columbine (above), comfrey and foxgloves attract hummingbirds. A hummingbird can access nectar from deep within the flower using its long narrow bill and tongue.
Yellow and white flowers, like calendula (above) are good attractors of flower flies (also known as hover flies or syrphid flies). Flower flies are valuable pollinators. Although they often look similar to wasps or bees (a mimicry they’ve developed to ward off predators), they do not sting.
 
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Prickly plants like globe thistle, globe artichoke (above), and cardoon resist deer and are tremendous attractors of bees, when in flower. Deer also usually avoid plants with thick, leathery or spiky textures.


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Why Farmland Protection is Not Enough
Report Outlines Ways to Fully Use BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
July 18, 2018

BC can expect to face a future of rising food prices and food shortages unless it protects and fully utilizes its Agricultural Land Reserve farmlands.

A new report from the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems at Kwantlen University, shows why simply reserving land for agriculture without comprehensive programs to expand and develop farming is not effective public policy. The report, Protection is Not Enough, looks at why so much of BC’s preserved farmland is underused, and presents ways to protect and revitalize the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

Hay bales dot the landscape on this view of a BC farm. Why Farmland Protection is Not Enough
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A Movable Urban Farm
Sustainable and Profitable Small-Scale City Farming

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
June 17, 2018

On a vacant gravel building site in the heart of Victoria, Topsoil, a movable urban farm, shows what innovation can do. Looking out at the empty rooftops one day in 2013, Chris Hildreth, founder of Topsoil Innovative Urban Agriculture, had an inspiration. Could a small-scale farm on a city rooftop or unused lot be sustainable and profitable? (Article continues below video.)

Video: A Movable Urban Farm


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5 Classic Salad Dressings
Make the Basics: Homemade Salad Dressing

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
May 28, 2018

RECIPES

Homemade salad dressing greatly surpasses any you can buy in the store. Fresh herbs and lemons, quality oils and full-flavoured vinegars make all the difference. Here are five classics to make at home: Honey Mustard dressing, Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette, Italian dressing with fresh herbs, Ranch dressing, and Sesame Ginger dressing.

A fresh green salad with five classic salad dressings: honey mustard, balsamic vinaigrette, ranch, Italian and sesame ginger.

Five classic salad dressings you can make at home: (left to right) Honey Mustard dressing, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Ranch dressing, Italian dressing, and Sesame Ginger dressing.


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European Union Bans Neonicotinoid Pesticides
A Victory for Bees and Other Pollinators

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
May 13, 2018

A native bee pollinates the flowers of a strawberry plant. European Union Bans Neonicotinoid Pesticides.
Alarmed by a massive decline in bees and other insects that pollinate food crops, the European Union voted on April 28, 2018 for a permanent ban on three bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides. The new regulations ban the outdoor use of the three most widely used neonicotinoids— imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam— in EU member states. Regulations are expected to take effect by the end of 2018.
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Native Plants Bring Valuable Benefits to Farms
Natural Habitat Increases Pollinators, Pest Management, and Soil Fertility

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
April 19, 2018

Kristen & James Miskelly, two young biologists dedicated to native plants and natural habitat restoration, are working on a big problem: the rapid decline of vital plant pollinators. At Haliburton Farm in Victoria, BC, where the Miskellys operate Saanich Native Plants nursery, they demonstrate how habitat and wild plants bring productivity and economic benefits to farms. (Article continues below video.)

Video: Farming with Native Plants to Bring Back Pollinators



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Three Simple Ways to Test Your Soil
Four Season Garden: DIY Soil Tests and Reading the Weeds

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
March 25, 2018

New garlic shoots push their way out of the soil - Three Simple Ways to Test Your SoilWhat do you know about the soil in your garden? Knowing your soil type can help you determine what to plant and how to amend your garden to its best advantage. Three simple do-it-yourself tests can help you find out the texture, composition and pH (acidity or alkalinity) of your soil. By doing a 2-minute hand test, by assessing the texture of your soil in a jar, and by looking at the weeds that grow naturally in your garden, you can learn a lot.

Three Kinds of Soil

All soil comes from components of rock: sand, silt and clay. The kind of dirt you have in your garden depends on the proportion of each of these components.
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Profitable and Ecological Small-Scale Farming
French Permaculture Farm is a Model for 21st Century Agriculture

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
February 28, 2018

Le Bec Hellouin Farm in Normandy is a model of how small-scale biointensive farming can drive economic development and produce greater yields than industrial agriculture. Combining the age-old techniques of Parisian market gardening, biointensive farming, permaculture, and edible forest gardens, La Ferme du Bec Hellouin shows how small farms can be profitable and sustainable on as little as one quarter acre of land.

Aerial view of Le Bec Hellouin Farm, an example of profitable and ecological small-scale farming.

Le Bec Hellouin Farm in Normandy, France, uses biointensive permaculture methods such as ponds, island gardens, terraces, a forest garden, and raised hot beds to increase farm production and profitability.


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