Why Face Masks are Essential as We Go Back to Work
New Research Shows How COVID-19 is Transmitted and How Masks Can Stop the Spread

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
May 12, 2020

As farms, food vendors, and other businesses begin to reopen, three new scientific studies show why face masks are an important way to bring the COVID-19 coronavirus under control.

woman in a face mask
COVID-19 has spread so widely because infected people often don’t show symptoms during the first 4–5 days, but still shed virus by breathing, talking or coughing to anyone nearby.
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Basic Foods You Can Make at Home
Homemade Recipes for Dressings, Sauce, Baked Beans, Soup, Pastry, Crackers, and Bread

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
May 3, 2020

Homemade salad dressings, bread and baked beans. Basic Foods You Can Make at Home.

We’ve put together nine of our favourite basic staple food recipes—from condiments and sauce, to bean pots, soup, bread, crackers, and pastry.

If being in lockdown is doing anything, it’s teaching us to cook at home. We now have time to try new recipes and experiment with foods we never thought of making. Case in point—pantry staple foods. Have you ever thought about making your own salad dressing, mayonnaise, crackers, or baked beans?
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Grow a Climate Change Resilient Garden
Gardening Techniques to Curb and Adapt to Global Warming

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
March 11, 2020

As a gardener, you have many ways to build climate change resilience. Using ecological and regenerative gardening techniques, you can help your garden withstand unexpected weather extremes and bounce back from hardship. You can even help slow climate change by reducing garden carbon emissions.

Garlic plants grow in a climate change garden.

Regenerative gardening works with nature to build the health of the soil and the local ecosystem. This includes reducing carbon inputs, learning to store carbon in the soil, building habitat, and incorporating plant diversity—all of which can make a difference to global warming.
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Seasonal Local Food You Can Eat All Winter
How to Eat Seasonally from November to March

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
January 27, 2020

A Guide to Local Foods in Season — November to March

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 in season and 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.

Eating local food in season is a way you can reduce the carbon footprint of your diet and help curb climate change.

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.
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.

Read more:
Chart to Local Winter Foods in South Coast BC

Potato, Leek and Ham Soup

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
January 2, 2020

Potato, Leek and Ham soup is a warming comfort food for a cold day. This hearty seasonal soup is full of flavour and easy to make.

potato and leek soup heats in a pot.  Ham can be added if desired.

If you’re looking to eat more seasonal winter foods, potatoes and leeks are the perfect cold-weather ingredients. Potatoes store well and are easily available in winter. Cold-hardy leeks grow throughout the cooler months, and provide a unique flavour twist on ordinary onions.
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Best Ways to Cook Potatoes
A Spud Lovers Guide to Potato Varieties

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
November 22, 2019

Ever wondered what is the best way to cook different kinds of potatoes? Russets, fingerlings, white potatoes, red potatoes, yellow potatoes, and blue potatoes. Here’s a guide to potato varieties and how to use them best.

Slideshow: A Guide to Potatoes—How to Cook Each Variety

Potatoes may be the most economical vegetable you can grow or buy. High in complex carbohydrates, a source of protein and fibre, this long-time comfort food is cholesterol free and has almost no fat of its own.
<b>Red Potatoes – Chieftain, Red Pontiac, Red La Soda -</b>

Red potatoes have smooth reddish skin and white flesh, and are generally round and waxy, with a firm texture. They have less starch than russets or whites. Good in soups, potato salads, boiled, steamed, sauteed, roasted, and scalloped/au gratin.
<b>Yellow Potatoes – Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn, German Butterball -</b>

Yellow potatoes have golden flesh and skin, with a buttery flavour. These versatile potatoes are good boiled, mashed, steamed, baked, roasted or French fried. Not as well-suited for shredded dishes, such as gratins.
<b>Blue Potatoes – All Blue, Russian Blue - </b>

Sought after for their unique colour, blue potatoes have a deep purple flesh and skin. With low moisture and high starch (solids) content, blues are often boiled, steamed, baked, mashed or roasted.
<b>White Potatoes – White Rose, Cascade - </b>

White potatoes have white flesh and a smooth light skin. Whites have less starch than russets. They are good in soups, boiled, steamed, mashed, roasted, fried, au gratin, scalloped and in potato salads.
<b>Fingerling Potatoes – Russian Banana, French Fingerlings - </b>

Fingerlings have a distinctive elongated shape with light yellow flesh and smooth skin. Flavourful, waxy and firm textured, these unique potatoes are delicious roasted with herbs. Fingerlings are also good steamed, boiled, baked or in salads.
<b>Russet Potatoes – Russet Burbank, Century Russet, Russet Norkotah -</b>

Perhaps the best known of all potatoes, russets are large with brown, netted skin and white flesh. High in starch, russets are the quintessential baking potato. They are also good mashed, roasted or French fried.
Potatoes may be the most economical vegetable you can grow or buy. High in complex carbohydrates, a source of protein and fibre, this long-time comfort food is cholesterol free and has almost no fat of its own.

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School Gardens: Preparing Kids for Climate Change
Teaching Skills for a Sustainable Future

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
October 23, 2019
Teenaged climate activist, Greta Thunberg, holds a sign: school strike for climate. School Gardens: Preparing Kids for Climate Change.

Greta Thunberg, outside the Swedish parliament. Her sign reads, “school strike for climate”.

School gardens now have a new role: help prepare young people for climate change. As the global climate warms, the world faces an urgent need for increased food security, sustainability, and environmental stewardship. By instilling kids with skills that support ecological balance, school gardens can be an effective program for meeting the challenge.

It’s clear that climate change is an issue of grave concern to children. In September 2019, millions of young people gathered worldwide to demand action to prevent further global warming. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager who began her one-person “school strike for the climate” outside the Swedish parliament in 2018, the protest has grown into an international School Strike for the climate movement of millions. Children want to do something about climate change. When young people work together to grow food and learn sustainable practices, they become part of the climate change solution.
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Extend the Growing Season
Season Extension Techniques for Winter Gardening

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
October 1, 2019

By warming the soil and protecting plants from the rain and cold, gardeners can gain weeks or months of additional growing time at both ends of the season.

Season extension does not need to be costly—especially when you use scrap and natural materials already at hand. Mulches, raised beds, wind protectors, and surroundings designed to capture the sun’s heat are just a few of the low-cost and no-cost ways available to resourceful gardeners. (Article continues below slideshow.)

Slideshow: 10 Ways to Extend the Growing Season

Leaf mulch warms a row of parsnip plants in winter. Dark-coloured mulches such as leaves, wood chips, or black plastic will warm the soil more than light-coloured materials.
Mulch, such as straw or dried grass clippings, can warm the soil during cold seasons and help retain soil moisture during hotter months. When mulching around plants, take care to leave air space around the stems.
Burlap coffee sacks, (available free from coffee roasters) make good mulch material or pathway liners. In addition to warming the soil, they also help to suppress weeds.
Water-filled containers, such as 2-liter plastic milk jugs, can help warm seedlings. During the day the sun heats the water in the jugs. This continues to provide warmth and wind protection for the plant after the sun goes down.
Cold frames will stand up to wind, rain and snow to provide warmth and protection for plants throughout the winter. Old windows are excellent choices for cold frame tops. Scrap wood, hay bales, large stones, or bricks make good materials for the frame.
Hoop-style covered supports that span across a garden bed can protect seedlings or established plants. Thick-gauged wire, fiberglass garden rods or bent pvc pipe can form the supports.  Plastic tarps (3 mil or higher), bed sheets, or Reemay (a polyester fabric that allows in light) are common coverings.
Wind protection can make a huge difference, especially in early spring. Planting near existing walls or fences offers protection against cold wind. You can also build temporary wind breaks with plastic or other materials.
Traditional cloches are bell-shaped glass covers placed over individual plants to protect them. Translucent plastic 4-liter milk jugs with the bottoms cut out will serve the purpose. By removing the cap, air can circulate in the cloche, while still providing warmth. A tall stick through the opening helps to anchor the cloche.
Raised garden beds, whether built in neat cedar boxes or by simply mounding up soil, will capture the warmth of the sun and give plants an advantage. The cool air sinks down to the surrounding pathways. Adding stones or gravel to the surrounds is another way to capture heat.
Plants situated against a sunny south-facing wall or fence often bear fruit larger and longer than in less protected areas. With extra warmth and wind protection, these locations are especially good for heat-loving plants like tomatoes and peppers.
Leaf mulch warms a row of parsnip plants in winter. Dark-coloured mulches such as leaves, wood chips, or black plastic will warm the soil more than light-coloured materials.

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How to Save Tomato Seeds
Slideshow: Saving Your Favourite Tomatoes for Next Season

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
August 26, 2019

If you enjoy eating tomatoes ripe from your garden, consider saving the seed of some of this season’s harvest for next year. Saving tomato seeds is easy. The basic rule is to choose heirloom and open-pollinated tomatoes for seed saving rather than hybrids, because cross-mated hybrid tomatoes will not produce true copies.

In nature, fruits such as tomatoes ferment before detaching their seeds from the pulp. If you want to save tomato seeds, you need to “wet process” the seeds in much the same way nature does. (Article continues below slideshow.)

Slideshow: Step-by-Step How to Save Your Own Tomato Seeds


Choose a ripe, healthy, open-pollinated tomato for seed saving. This is a Stupice tomato.
Cut the tomato and scoop the seeds, gel and juice into a cup.
Add 1/2 cup of filtered water and let the tomato gel set for 3 days to ferment.
As it ferments, the mixture becomes cloudy and the seeds come loose from the jelly.
After 3 days, pour off any mould and floating seeds and capture the rest with a strainer.
Rinse the seeds under running water.
The tomato seeds should be as free from the gel as possible.
Dump the seeds onto a paper towel and spread them out.
When the seeds are completely dry, save them in a sealed container for planting.
Choose a ripe, healthy, open-pollinated tomato for seed saving. This is a Stupice tomato.

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Plants That Attract Beneficial Insects
Slideshow: Flowers and Herbs that Draw Pollinators to the Garden

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
August 1, 2019

Beneficial insects can be a gardener’s best resource for protecting crops against destructive pests. Beneficials include pollinators, predators and parasites. By attracting a large enough population of helpful bugs to counteract plant damaging insects, you can keep your garden healthy using nature’s method of pest control. Planting flowers and herbs that build habitat for beneficial insects also helps make your garden resilient to climate change.

White, pink or crimson Cosmos are advantageous flowers for the garden. Cosmos attracts pollinating insects as well as hover flies, parasitic wasps, lacewings and lady bugs.
Hyssop is one of the best plants for attracting pollinators like butterflies, bees and hover flies. Strong-scented hyssop repels white cabbage butterflies by masking the smell of brassicas nearby with its aroma. Related members of the Labiatae family, including mint, lemon balm, cat nip, pennyroyal are excellent attractors of tachinid flies, hover flies and parasitic wasps.
Dill and members of the Apiaceae family such as fennel, parsley, coriander, lovage, angelica and flowering carrots are powerful attractors of beneficial lady bugs, parasitic wasps, hover flies, tachinid flies, lacewings—all useful for controlling garden pests.
Yarrow is a good perennial for natural pest protection. The tiny yarrow flowers attract bees, aphid-eating lady bugs, hover flies and parasitic wasps.
Calendula (pot marigold) and other marigolds draw pollinating bees and butterflies to the garden. They also attract protective hover flies, lady bugs, and parasitic wasps. The older varieties of marigolds have stronger aromas. Calendula and French marigolds can repel nematodes.
Bee balm, bergamot, and other members of the <em>Monarda</em> genus attract pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies and hover flies, as well as hummingbirds.
Nasturtium, with its showy orange and yellow flowers, is an old garden standby known for its protective qualities. This bright flower attracts pollinators as well as pest-fighters.
Before you pull your weeds, consider— dandelions and other flowering weeds draw beneficial insects to the garden early in the spring before other flowers have a chance to bloom. Dandelions also provide early pollen to bees.
White, pink or crimson Cosmos are advantageous flowers for the garden. Cosmos attracts pollinating insects as well as hover flies, parasitic wasps, lacewings and lady bugs.

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Protecting Mother Nature at the Ballot Box
How Ordinary People Rewrote the Laws to Protect Nature

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
July 7, 2019

Earlier this year, a group of people showed how quickly ordinary citizens could rewrite laws to protect nature and transition to sustainable farming. It took just four months.

Bavaria’s Campaign to Save the Bees

A bumblebee pollinates a flower - Protecting Mother Nature at the Ballot Box
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