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.
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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Pumpkin Apple Bread

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
September 21, 2017


This recipe for Pumpkin Apple Bread pairs two fall favourites, pumpkins and apples, in a deliciously spiced bread. Moist and full of flavour, this sweet bread works well with canned or fresh pumpkin and almost any kind of apple. To capture the taste of the season, try using a fresh pie pumpkin (sugar pumpkin)—just bake, scrape out the pumpkin’s flesh, and puree it in a food processor.

Pumpkin Apple Bread
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Home on the Bison Ranch
Helping to Keep Bison Genetics Strong

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
August 14, 2017

Ethical farming is helping to preserve bison on Vancouver Island.

Bison grazing on pasture amid stands of trees.

Today, it’s hard to envision the millions of bison that once thundered across the North American prairies. Continuous herds, hundreds of miles long, roamed the plains in a great migration from northern Mexico to Canada. These imposing animals grazed on native grasses, left droppings to enrich the soil, and disturbed the ground with their hooves, helping create a rich ecosystem that allowed prairie plants and animals to thrive.
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Canada’s Bees Will Have Their Day in Court
Lawsuit Says Failure to Enforce Regulations on Neonicotinoids Harms Bees

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
August 1, 2017

Canada’s bees have won a small victory: the right to have their day in court. In July, the Federal Court in Ottawa allowed a lawsuit to go forward against Canada’s Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) for failure to enforce Pest Control Products Act requirements.

A bee on clover flower. In Canada, bees will have their day in court to decide if failure to enforce regulations on neonicotinoids harms bees.

The pesticides in question are the neonicotinoids, clothianidin and thiamethoxam—chemicals widely believed to cause deadly harm to bee populations. The lawsuit, brought by four environmental organizations, asserts that the PMRA approved the use of neonicotinoids without fulfilling the Pest Control Products Act requirement that no pesticide significantly harm the environment.
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Tomato Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes
Make the Basics: Tomato Sauce from Scratch

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
July 2, 2017


This homemade tomato sauce has a sweet freshness you’ll never find by using canned tomatoes. Simmer fresh tomatoes into sauce when they are at their peak of ripeness. Choose a single kind of tomatoes or mix together many sizes and colours of heirloom tomatoes. Each combination has its own unique and delicious flavour.

This chunky tomato sauce goes well with pasta, meat, grilled vegetables, and is good on homemade pizza. You can double or triple the recipe to make extra sauce to freeze. Even after freezing, this sauce is like a bite of summer. So worth it!

Tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes.
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Who Are the 21st Century Farmers?
British Columbia’s Agricultural Future

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
June 10, 2017
Who Are the 21st Century Farmers? Candace Thompson of Eagle Paws Organics in Sooke is one of a growing number of women farmers in BC.

Candace Thompson of Eagle Paws Organics in Sooke is one of a growing number of women farmers in BC.

A new report from Statistics Canada provides a snapshot of farmers and farming in Canada. In a year that has seen baby boom generation farmers retire at a rapid rate, it comes as no surprise that the average age of farmers in Canada is 55-years-old. Nationwide in 2016, older farmers, 55 to over 75 years old, comprised the largest share of farm operators.

In British Columbia, where the local food movement is growing, Statistics Canada’s latest profile of BC agriculture provides a window into trends that are shaping 21st century farming.

Most notable, perhaps, is that of all the provinces in Canada, BC has the largest proportion of small farms—nearly 42 percent. Almost half of BC’s small farms sell directly to the public.

Also of interest is the increasing number of women farmers. BC has the highest proportion (37.5%) of female farmers in Canada, and is changing the face of what we think of when we picture North American farmers.
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