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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Making Crusty Artisan Baguettes
Shaping and Baking Baguettes from Crumb to Crust

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
January 28, 2018

In this video, Mitchell Morse, professional baker and owner of The Fickle Fig Farm Market & Bistro on Vancouver Island, takes you through the process of making crusty, artisan baguettes.

“I’m always going for a crispy, crusty bread,” Mitchell says, “which is achieved through natural sugar in the bread . . . and by steam.” He likes to make bread that is “more European,” with a crisp, flavourful crust and a mellow, buttery-tasting interior.
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Mushrooms May Slow Down Aging
Studies Show Anti-Aging and Anti-inflammatory Potential in Mushrooms

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
December 21, 2017

Porcini mushrooms may slow aging.

Mushrooms, the topping we love to eat on pizzas, contain antioxidants that may help counter aging. In a 2017 study from Pennsylvania State University published in Food Chemistry, scientists found that mushrooms contain high levels of two important antioxidants with anti-aging properties: ergothioneine and glutathione.
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Neonicotinoid Pesticides in Honey
A Worldwide Survey

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
November 23, 2017

A new study in the journal Science found neonicotinoid pesticides in 75 percent of honey samples from around the world. The honey samples contained neonicotinoids (neonics) at levels known harm to bees and other insect pollinators. Although numerous studies have documented the harmful effects of these pesticides on pollinators in specific locations, until now, scientists lacked a worldwide view.

A beekeeper inspects a beehive - Neonicotinoid Pesticides in Honey - A Worldwide Survey

In this study, scientists at the University of Neuchâtel, in collaboration with the Botanical Garden of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, produced a world map of neonicotinoid contamination. To gather data for this worldwide picture, they matched the wide foraging characteristics of honey bees with the planetary reach of the citizen science movement.
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Inside a Shipping Container Farm
Year-Round Indoor Farming at Bright Greens Canada

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
October 26, 2017

High-tech shipping container farms like Bright Greens Canada can produce fresh vegetables and herbs year-round using indoor vertical growing. (Article continues below video.)

Video: Year-Round Growing inside a Shipping Container Farm



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Salad Greens You Can Grow in Winter
A Guide to Planting and Harvesting Winter Salad Greens

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
October 7, 2017

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. (Article and planting guide continue below slideshow.)

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.
Lettuce thrives well into winter in a cold frame or hoop house. Choose cold-hardy varieties such as Romaine or Cos, Buttercrunch or Bibb, and loose leaf lettuces.  Harvest as baby greens for crisp, mild salads. Grows slowly in low winter light.
Mâche (Corn Salad,  Lamb’s Lettuce) germinates best when overnight temperatures are below 10ºC / 50ºF. Low-growing, with a small rosette of delicate leaves, mâche has a mild, refreshing flavour. Cut the entire plant and serve intact. Easily bruised.
Claytonia (Miner’s Lettuce, Winter Purslane) is a cold-hardy West Coast native. Its succulent leaves and stems make it a top choice for salads. Cut the stems, leaving at least 5 cm (2 inches), and the leaves will grow back.
Arugula (Rocket) grows quickly with frost protection in the low light of winter. This tender green has a distinctive sharp flavour, which is milder during cold weather. Use arugula to add bite to fresh salads, or as a pizza topping.
Radicchio, such as the Treviso variety (above), thrives in cool weather and tolerates light frost. The bitter leaves of this chicory become mellower in cold temperatures. Radicchio's pungent taste goes well with balsamic vinegar.
Endive (above), frisée, and escarole grow easily during cooler months. Frisée has distinctive narrow, finely pointed leaves. Escarole has broad, rounded leaves. These chicories taste mildly bitter and add accent to salad.
Red Mustard greens, with their striking green and red leaves, grow well in winter. Frost deepens the flavour and colour. Tender when young, the peppery taste of this cold-hardy brassica sharpens as it matures. Eat fresh in salads, or stir fry.
Baby Bok Choi and Tatsoi are small-size relatives of broccoli, collards, and kale, which also grow in winter. These frost tolerant cabbage-like vegetables have thick crunchy ribs and tasty leaves. Bok choi grows upright; tatsoi forms a rosette.
Mizuna, an Asian green with distinctive jagged leaves and a pungent flavour, grows quickly in cool weather. Mizuna has a peppery taste that adds spice to stir-fries and soups. The small pointed leaves of mizuna bring texture to fresh salads.
Baby Beet Greens, the leaves of immature beet roots, like cool temperatures and tolerate light frost. Clip only a couple of leaves from each plant to allow the root to continue to grow. These tender, slightly bitter greens add vibrant colour to salads.
 
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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.


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