Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cook 'N Pan Polish Deli

This deli is located at 1725 Cook street between Pandora and North Park. There was a time from the mid 1950s to the early 1980s that our cities had an abundance of European delis. As all of us Europeans have lost our connections to the old world, the delis have died out. I remember as a child going with with my mother to German delis in Vancouver along Fraser Street or Victoria but there are very few of them left any longer.

In the last generation we have seen a new set of delis open, Asian ones, Indian ones, Middle Eastern ones and others. I like these places but I miss the familiar look and smell of the European ones. Cook 'N Pan is a Polish deli of a type I remember.

I come in and can immediately smell the cured meats and see the familiar goods for sale. They have a great selection of deli meats that look like they make them, this is not the sort of stuff you can buy anywhere else. They are the only source of decent locally made perogies I know of in this city. They carry a nice selection of European chocolates, jams and more deli items. They have the chocolates you can hang on your Christmas tree, an important tradition for me.

A lot of non-ethnic delis only seem to want to cater to a very high end clientele. They carry good products, but the prices are so high that I feel guilty eating the food. Cook 'N Pan is not like this, they make everything affordable and reasonable.

You can buy lunch here as well and I have done so a number of times over the years. I always get the same thing, a plate of the perogies.

Cook 'n Pan Polish Deli on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Urban Chicken Facebook Group

This facebook group was started in Kamloops and deals with backyard chickens.

Another good resource is the Backyard Chicken forum

Sunday, November 9, 2008

More Starbucks in the Neighbourhood

Two or so years ago my neighbourhood, the Burnside - Tillicum - Gorge area of Victoria, had one Starbucks. It was a small location at the back entrance of Tillicum Mall.

Over towards Mayfair Mall a drive through Starbucks opened about two years ago. It is on Douglas and we use it a fair amount.

Not too long ago we got our third Starbucks, this time in the Gorge Plaza @ Gorge and Tillicum roads, the location of the original Fairway Market in Victoria. This one is nice and big and comfortable and is constantly busy. I am happy to see this one open because I was looking for coffee place in this area.

Now, as of the other week, we have our FOURTH Starbucks in the neighbourhood. The Safeway at Tillicum Mall remodeled and in the process added a Starbucks into the store.

All I need now is a decent coffee place close to the corner of Harriet and Burnside - another opportunity for Starbucks?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Good Source for Beef

I was recently reminded of Ranchland Natural Beef. This is a beef product raise in the Nicola valley by Dave Chutter on the Chutter ranch.

Dave was the MLA for Yale- Lillooet from 2001 to 2005 - a quiet and reserved back bencher that did not get a lot of notice. Dave is the sort of guy to keep very quiet about his accomplishments and skills. When he ran for MLA in 2001 he did not trumpet the 1999 award he got for how he manages his land and his cattle.

Dave Chutter has been operating the Chutter Ranch as a wonderful example of what is possible when business and conservation meet. He produces a great beef product as well as I have had it in the past.

In Victoria, Slater Meats at 2577 Cadboro Bay Road carry his beef.

Focus on Farmlands - November 27th

The Farmlands Project is holding a one day conference on farmlands in the this region. If I have time, I am going to go out to the conference and see if people are serious or not. The cost is only $20 for the day, a very good deal.

Where our food comes from and how we produce it is something that is very important to me, though as always my views are not in sync with the food security crowd.

I believe people should grow their own food so that they remain connected to what it takes to produce food and so that they remain connected to the environment around them. I fully advocate a lot more back yard veggies gardens and would love to see more schools grow some food so the kids are connected to the food. I also try to process some of my food to remain connected to the idea of the labour and materials that go into a jar of tomato sauce.

When it comes to agriculture on the ground as a business, I believe we need to view it from the business viability aspect. If the economics do not work, it will not succeed.

I may take along one or more of my sons.

The fact that Corky Evans is speaking is one very good reason to go. There are few politicians out there that can speak as well as he can.

The Program for the day:

Our Farmlands, Our Foodlands, Our Future Conference Program


The farmland in our region is critical to our food supply – today and in the future. With an increasing demand for local food and concerns around sustainability and food security in the CRD, how do we ensure our farmlands are producing food for the region, and farming is a viable enterprise?
The conference program is designed to bring a wide range of players in the Capital Region together to hold an important conversation.
The agenda means to bring to the forefront issues, ideas, strategies and tools that are currently, and could potentially, be employed to deal with the challenges and opportunities related to our farmlands and foodlands. But this conference is about more than talking – it is about action. You are invited to “get beyond the talk”
  • Know the issues
  • Hear and contribute ideas – chew on them!
  • Identify who needs to be involved
  • Find out and connect with who can make it happen
  • Build support for and motivate action – let’s get going!

Program Summary

Opening Plenary: Niels Holbek: Farmer; Agrologist; Environmental Farm Program (BC Agriculture Council)

Ideas on the Table:
  • Planning for Food: Tools and Strategies for Local and Regional Governments
  • From Ideas to Action: Farmers and Eaters taking action on Farmland issues
  • Leasing and Land Sharing Agreements: Models for Land Access
  • Carrot and Stick: A Look at Farm Status and Assessment Tools
  • Creative Partnerships: Emerging Models for Farmland Access
  • Focus on Farmland Trusts: The What, Why & How
  • Our Regional Food Basket: Looking Beyond “Farmland”

Each session will be held with a panel of resource people actively involved in the issue with ample time for discussion and identification of some key findings to take forward

Nuggets and Opportunities: We will close the day with a Call to Action. Looking at what we learned, we will highlight opportunities and set some priorities to build momentum around.

Closing: MLA Corky Evans a Call to Action.

Program Overview

8:30 – 9:00 am Registration

9:00 – 10:00 am Welcome

Opening Plenary – Niels Holbek: Farmer; Agrologist; Environmental Farm Program (BC Agriculture Council)

10:15 – 12:15 pm Morning Sessions

  • Planning for Food: Tools and Strategies for Local and Regional Governments
  • Leasing and Land Sharing Agreements: Models for Land Access
  • Our Regional Food Basket: Looking Beyond “Farmland”

12:15 – 1:00 pm Lunch

1:00 – 3:00 pm Afternoon sessions

  • Creative Partnerships: Emerging Models for Farmland Access
  • From Ideas to Action: Farmers and Eaters taking action on Farmland issues
  • Focus on Farmland Trusts: The What, Why & How
  • Carrot and Stick: A Look at Farm Status and Assessment Tools

3:00 – 3:30 Break / Information Tables

3:30 – 5:30 Strategy Session – Findings and Where do we go from here?

Closing Plenary – Corky Evans: MLA – Nelson-Creston

5:30 – 6:30 Wine & Cheese

Monday, November 3, 2008

Somken Bones Cookshack

I met some people at the Smoken Bones Cookshack in Langford last night. I had heard a lot of good things about the place. Kudos from all over in fact. I was going in with high expectations - they were not met.

The food was not bad, but it was not something I would cross a city for. I had some higher expectations of the food, I was going in for some high quality BBQ but alas it was only average.

When I go out for BBQ, I want something better than I can do at home. Fairway Market often has some screaming deals on large pieces of meat such as pork shoulder. When they are on special I buy two or three and freeze them. In watching Good Eats I learned a bit about how to cook a cheap piece of meat and make it amazing. I can not BBQ my pork because I do it in my oven, but over a 24 hour period I can get that low and slow BBQ heat. I also put on a nice rub. By the end of the process I have meat that falls off of the bone, the collagen has transformed into gelatine and the outside has a wonderful crisp bark. There was no smoke, but the result is a wonderful cousin to pulled pork BBQ. I aim for a sauce that is not to sweet and has a nice spice bite to it.

Last night what we got was not as good as what I make at home. Sheila had the pulled pork po' boy and felt the meat was over powered by the sweet sauce and did not have that lip smacking mouth feel or the crunch of the bark. She was also unimpressed with the bun itself.

I had the beef brisket and I hate to say it, the meat was the junior partner to the sauce. It was tender but lost. It was also sliced and not pulled apart which I expected. The sides I had were the BBQ beans - forgettable - and the dirty rice cake which was very good.

The restaurant was full and people were waiting to get in, so clearly my opinion of the food does not mesh with the public opinion of the food. Ultimately I can not help but wonder if the BBQ there is muted to appeal to a larger audience. Running a restaurant in Victoria is an exercise in Pollyanna optimism, so few of them succeed. Success comes from getting people in through your door and promoting yourself. Smoken Bones manages to do that.

I have to give a lot of credit to chef Ken Hueston for working with local producers and trying to source his ingredients locally. He is a member of the Island Chefs' Collaborative.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sooke News Mirror

Agriculture in focus at farm forum

How does smoked tuna loin stacked on pickled beets sound? How about wild mushrooms on squash cakes or roast leg of pork braised in mead?

These are just a few of the mouth-watering entrees being prepared for those who take part in the Farm Forum Feast on October 25.

The Farm Forum is all about community and the need to develop an agricultural plan for the region.

“It is three events in one day,” says event organizer Robert Thompson. “The feast is a major component.”

Chefs who have worked or grown up in the area are returning to be a part of the home-grown feast.

Sooke and area is well-known for its scenery and wild places, but it is also a place where people grow, sell and harvest the bounty of the land and the sea. Scattered throughout the area are small farms where farmers strive to provide fresh, local produce to those who appreciate the homegrown qualities. People want to know where their food comes from, especially with all the concerns about sustainability and food security.

“The country market has doubled and there’s actual lineups,” says Mary Alice Johnson of ALM Organic Farm and Full Circle Seeds. “And Ragley Farm is just hopping.”

There are concerns about the loss of old farms and farm land and how the threatened land can survive amidst development growth.

“There are young people who want to farm. In the area there are 70 small producers of food — many of them are families,” said Johnson. “It is surprising that most of the food producers in the Sooke area are not in the Agricultural Land Reserve.”

Along with the increased awareness and support for local growers comes a movement. The Sooke Region Food CHI has grown from a few concerned people to over 100 involved in the movement in some way. The Juan de Fuca Economic Development Commission and the District of Sooke came forward to see how they could help promote the agricultural aspect of the region.

“It’s a neat partnership of all three groups,” says Phoebe Dunbar. “It’s economic development really.”

These three groups are presenting the Farm Forum Feast at Edward Milne Community School. What is exciting about the event is not only the harvest feast but also the family aspect of the day. Organizers have planned interactive displays, talks and presentations on food issues and fun things for kids, like zucchini races, and scarecrow and pumpkin art. Kids can squeeze their own apple juice, win prizes and tap their toes to country music.

The community is in focus at the Farm Forum and Harvest Feast. Attendees can browse through displays set up by a number of organizations and individuals. Michael Jansen-Reynaud will have a wild mushroom display, composters, ocean harvesters, alpaca spinners, pumpkin carvers and all manner of gardeners and cooks will be on hand to share their information. The Sooke region Museum will have historical displays of farming as it used to be.

The serious side of the day is the Farm Forum. A facilitated discussion on building a sustainable future for agriculture and food security in the community is at the top of the agenda. Three communities from the area have been invited to discuss their experiences and progress of their separate agricultural area plans; these include Salt Spring Island, Comox Valley and the Cowichan Valley.

Representatives from other communities that have agricultural advisory committees will also be in attendance, as well representation from the First Nations communities in the region.

“You don’t have to be a farmer or a supplier to attend,” said Thompson. “Just come, have fun and learn.”

The three-stage festival begins at 9 a.m. with the Farm Forum and continues throughout the day until 4 p.m. (lunch is provided to forum participants). The festival begins at 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. These two events are free. Between 4:30 and 5:30 there is a free concert in the theatre.

The Harvest Feast is a sit-down dinner taking place in the school’s common area at 6 p.m. Tickets are available in advance at Peoples Drug Mart, Shoppers Drug Mart and EMCS. The organizers have arranged a “family” tickets price for two adults and two kids under 12-years-of-age.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The bounty of tomatoes

A week ago I bought 175 pounds of roma tomatoes from the Glanford Greenhouses for $75. I am sharing them 50/50 with my in laws.

On the day that I got them we processed about 2/3s of the tomatoes into raw pulp - I have this great food mill that very quickly grinds the tomatoes through. The pulp comes out one side and the skins and seeds go out the other. Pure tomato juice/pulp. 60 pounds yielded 5 gallons of pulp for me.

Today I processed that raw juice into a sauce, I reduced it by about half over the day and then made a sauce out of it with onions, celery, carrots and some salt. Very basic. I have 11 litres of tomato sauce from this. It is a very concentrated and sweet sauce.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Willies Bakery on Lower Johnson

I recently had lunch at Willies Bakery on lower Johnson and I was disappointed with the food. The restaurant was busy and shortly after we sat down there was a line up for people to get in.

I had a pulled pork sandwich for about $10. The whole menu seemed a bit pricey, but for good food this is not an issue. The problem was that my pulled pork sandwich was not very good. The pork had not been roasted long enough to release all of the wonderful transformation of collagen to gelatin. The pork was also covered in a cloyingly sweet BBQ sauce. The size of small bun with the meat on my large plate seemed to make it look a bit more like a slider than a sandwich. I do not like coleslaw so asked not to get it, the server did not offer to replace it with anything.

My two table guests were also disappointed with what they got for the cost they paid. Neither one was as good as they had hoped for.

I know Willies has a long reputation for being a good restaurant, but based on this last experience I had it will be a long time before I go back. There are a lot of other restaurants in Victoria I can go to for similar fare.

Willies Bakery Cafe on Urbanspoon

How My Garden Grew

Things are basically done in the garden this year and I had some good successes and some stunning failures.

The chickens have been great - I am still getting one egg a day per bird, this means 3 1/2 dozen a week at the moment which has a retail value of $12 a week. My costs are about $15 a month. My friend the vet and organizer of the Chicken Tour each May here in Victoria says my hens might keep laying all winter. I do need to work on sheltering the coop over the winter to keep the rain out.

Esquimalt is close to passing their new chicken bylaw, there will be a public hearing on the issue on November 3rd at 7 pm at the council chambers. There seems to be some restrictions on where you can have your coop, mainly that it should not be visible from the street or by the neighbours. Given where my coop is and how many people walk less than 6 feet from the chickens, they really are not very noticeable.

My pumpkins plants produced a meager three pumpkins. A lot of them rotted on the vine right after setting.

The peppers produced almost nothing - I got a single walnut sized pepper from all of the plants.

My zucchinis produced, but not in the sort of volumes I expected, we got enough, but not a lot. I harvested only about 15 pounds over the season.

The peas were a failure, I think the seed was a bad batch. Next year I am going to buy the seed in bulk from Borden Mercantile.

The Scarlet Runner beans did well, but I planted them late in the season. Also, the seed from the package was not as good as the bulk seed from Borden Mercantile. Next year much earlier in the ground and a lot more. I did harvest about 10 pounds.

The tomatoes did not badly, I got a lot of the cherries and a few of the larger ones. I know I planted them late. I was afraid I would blight here as I did on Balfour Street, but there seems to be no blight here. I managed about 15 pounds of cherry tomatoes and 15 pounds of the regular ones.

Basil did well, but I need to plant a lot more to make it possible to have a harvest to make pesto or freeze.

Spinach was hit and miss, I got some, but often it would go to seed very quickly and I never planted enough to really cook with it.

Lettuce is still coming. I did well early in the season and expect to harvest from a few more weeks. I estimate I got about 30 small heads over the season and will harvest another 10 to 15. The chickens got about 20 heads. I will keep some under cloches for the winter and see how they do.

Cucumbers - the plants produced a moderate amount, but not really as well as I had expected them to. I harvested only about 10 pounds worth.

The wheat is still not quite ripe, I am harvesting seed heads as I go out to the garden, I am not going to do this next year as this really was only meant as a one off experiment. I hope to have enough wheat to make a loaf of bread or two.

Herbs - no end to parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and oregano. I need to plant more chives and dill. Garlic will be planted for next year.

Figs - we have lots on the tree, but I need to figure out what to do with them. I could have picked about 200 pounds but only ended up using maybe 30 pounds.

The small blackberry I have needs to grow in size.

For next year I plan the following:

  • Garlic - forty to fifty of them and I need to get them in the ground soon
  • Scarlet runner beans - ideally forty to fifty plants
  • Peas - ideally 30 plants
  • Tomatoes - more than last year
  • Zucchini and other squash - I am going plant these along Maddock street on the grass strip that is there.
  • Cucumbers - ten plants is the plan and I will add more compost to the ground.
  • Lettuce, spinach and basil - I need to expand the patch by a factor of three or four.
  • Berries - I want to plant a lot of strawberries, but I need a bed to do that in. I am looking at a few locations for this in the yard. I would also like to get some raspberries in though I am leary given my past track record on cane management.
  • Fruit trees - I would like to plant half a dozen apple frees, a few plums and a few apricots. I would do this in the front and replace some of the shrubs and things there.
In general it is clear to me now that there needs to be a lot more work done on the soil in the yard. There needs to be a lot more compost added, more sand and top soil as well. The soil is a long term project and does daunt me with the what I will have to do.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Esquimalt Rules on Chickens to Change Soon

There is a report in the Victoria News that Esquimalt is about to change the regulations and allow up to four chickens per residential property.

I am glad to see this is moving along and hopefully everything will be in place for next spring so that people can get into backyard chickens.

My birds are doing well - about six eggs a day at the moment.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

B.C. wineries told not to ship wines across provincial lines

There are stupid rules in this country dating from times long before most of us were born. I can not believe that this is an issue and that anyone is being allowed to spend time on this!


Gordon Hamilton , Canwest News Service

Published: Tuesday, September 09, 2008

VANCOUVER - Authorities have clamped down on out-of province sales by British Columbia wineries to private customers, closing the door to a growing market niche for the province's popular wines.

The get-tough policy comes from the Manitoba and Ontario liquor control boards in response to wineries shipping directly to customers in those provinces.

Manitoba contacted the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, prompting it to warn wineries that they must obey the 1928 Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act.

Out-of-province sales to most provinces are illegal under the federal prohibition-era law. But sporadic enforcement and growing cross-country interest in wines from this province has tempted many wineries to ignore the antiquated law to satisfy customer demand.

It's the small, limited production wines that will be most impacted by the crackdown. Unless customers can drive to the winery, buying by phone or off the website is the only way to obtain the wine, said Scott Fraser, chairman of the B.C. Wine Institute. Because customers pay for shipping, it often costs them extra to get the highest-demand wines.

"Very often, it's our best products that are going out that way but in terms of total production or sales, it's a very small amount."

Fraser, who is with the Andrew Peller wine group, said one of the wineries in the company portfolio, Red Rooster, received a warning from Manitoba.

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario sent the second warning to Mission Hill Family Estate Winery.

Both wineries have stopped the private sales and Mission Hill has added a note to its website alerting customers to the restrictions.

But winemakers are unhappy that they are being denied access to the private-sales market. They can ship wine to customers in New York, but not in Ontario, said Mission Hill winery president Dan Zepponi.

The wine institute's board of directors is to raise the out-of-province ban at its board meeting later this week and the Canadian Vintners Association has mounted a lobby against the ban.

"It's a bit of a hot potato right now," said Shaun Everest, chair of the wine institute's marketing committee. "Our wines are growing in popularity and in demand. Making it less available for our customers is a step backwards.

"We would like people to be able to enjoy our wines right across the country," Everest said.

Other wineries are ending their out-of-province sales in response to the crackdown, he said.

"It's a winery-by-winery decision. I can't speak for everybody on how they plan to do it."

Everest, who is also chief financial officer at Tinhorn Creek, said a small percentage of sales are to out-of-province private customers. He said 15 to 20 per cent of the winery's sales are to out-of-province liquor control boards.

B.C. wine has grown to a $150-million-a-year business, but most of it is consumed within the province. By comparison, sales to the country's largest wine retailer, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, amounted to $8.8 million last year.

LCBO spokesman Chris Layton said the board is obligated to ensure the law is obeyed.

"Whatever you think of a particular law, so be it. But as a government agency, we are required to remind our suppliers of the need to obey the law."

B.C. wine expert John Schreiner said the ban on interprovincial exports was originally to appease temperance movements. But today, he said, it's all about money.

Depending on the province, markups in provincial liquor stores can range from 50 per cent to 120 per cent, he said. Although the volume being shipped directly to private customers is small, Schreiner said liquor boards are getting nervous because of the growth both of the B.C. industry and of direct sales through websites.

"Liquor boards are getting a bit antsy because if the volume becomes substantial, they wouldn't be collecting their markups."

Under the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act, violators are subject to fines from $200 to $1,000 for the first two offences. After that, its imprisonment for six months to a year.

The act was passed after most provinces abandoned prohibition in the 1920s. Provincial liquor control boards, which were established to control liquor sales, enforce the act.

A Blended Scotch that I Like!?!

Last night I went out to get some beer and I also wanted to look at some scotch. One of the private liquor stores in the neighbourhood has a very good selection of wine and scotch, which is surprising as it is in a strip mall in a less affluent neighbourhood and makes no pretensions to being anything fancier.

I was looking at what was available, I could not find Lagavulin or regular Laphroig. I was looking at a wall of scotch and did not know how I would choose. The last bottle of scotch I bought was an insipid nothing, it was bland and mild. I was really worried I might make the same mistake until I saw a bottle with the name The Peat Monster. The peat is right there in the name. so I bought it even though it is a blend.

Blends can be very nice to drink but ultimately they are all rather 'safe', the grain whisky evens them out. The Peat Monster is a blend and the colour is very light - this worried me imensely. I was also worried that this was part of that trend in wines where the names are provacative and trying to kick the stuffing out of pretension. I felt I was taking a huge risk with the only thing reducing my fear being the fact that I was buying their last bottle.

I had a glass last night and it was heavenly - the Monster delivers and does so big time. The seaside iodine smell hits you the moment you bring it close to your nose. The deep peaty flavour fills your mouth. The drink goes down smoothly and clean, no rough kicking you in the gut. The Peat Monster is making me want to try the major sources in the blend - Ardmore and Caol Ila. Should I be able to get another bottle, I know what I am going to give my brother Nik for Christmas.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Church and State Releases for 2008

2008 Releases!

We have done our last release of the 2008 wines. Of special note, is the release of our 2005 Quintessential. This is an "honest" blend of the five Bordeaux varietals. We use the word honest in the sense there are very few Meritage or Bordeaux blends comprising the five classic Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petite Verdot. This wine has already received a Double Gold - Best in Class honour in California and has been described by Anthony Gismondi as follows:

"Quintessential is a mix of all five Bordeaux varieties in this case assembled by wine maker Bill Dyer. We had our first brief glimpse in May and will reserve final judgement until we have tried it again. It has all the Dyer hallmarks. Ripe round and elegant with fine acidity and freshness. Liquorice and black fruit with a touch of smoke and oak carry the current palate. Looks to have fine potential in the years to come. A fine start."

We were also "very very" pleased to have been informed that Church & State Winery has been short-listed for National and International Winery of the year by the London England International Wine & Spirit Competition. There were only 2 Gold medals awarded to red wines from Canada and we are proud to say Church & State Wines won both; a Gold Medal for the 2006 Church & State Syrah, which we have not released and a Double Gold- Best in Class for the 2006 Coyote Bowl Syrah. The judges described this Syrah as follows:

"Dense and dark wine. Aromas leaped out of the glass in waves of blueberries, vanilla and mint with a sprinkle of white pepper. Well integrated toasty oak, supple tannins, backed with vibrant acidity. The palate was concentrated with flavours of cherries, blueberries, cinnamon and cream mingled with aniseed. A lingering essence of jasmine finished off this an elegant and beautiful example." Judges at the International Wine & Spirit Competition. 90.8pts

Both the 2006 C&S Syrah and the 2005 Quintessential are available direct through the winery and online. We do not expect these wines to last long.

Feel free to call or stop by the winery if there is anything we can do. Cheers!

Church & State Wines

Monday, September 1, 2008

Eggs for August

While they might lay another two eggs today, I thought I would post what they had managed to lay this month - 14 dozen eggs. At a market value of $3.50 per dozen, this is a $42 value. Input costs this month were $15 - feed and seashell supplement.

In total since May we are around 30 dozen eggs. Break even will come at about 85 dozen eggs which will be sometime next spring.

At the Saanich Fall Fair, where I was volunteering yesterday for part of the day, my son Ben saw all sorts of different chickens being shown. He now wants to show our chickens, but we need to figure out what breed they are. He is also intereted in getting some other interesting varieties of chickens to add to the flock.

In the next few weeks I am going to do a big of coop reconstruction, I am not happy with some of what I have and I know I need to have more shelter from the wet and rain for the winter.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Muffin Girl - 28 Burnside Road West

This is a small coffeeshop that opened not quite two years ago in my neighbourhood. The orginal owner wanted a place where locals could get some coffee, a sandwich and some baked goods. Problem is that the location could not be retrofitted to allow for the bathroom facilities. Yvette focused only doing her catering.

They made very good muffins, we used them as cakes for our wedding last year.

Recently I noticed that they were open for the public to come in - I though this was great! Finally a local coffee place.

Because it had been not open to the public for so long, I kept forgetting to go in and check it out.

Today we went in and bought some coffee. The first thing that I noticed that the quality of the food I could see was no longer as good as I had expected. Then I noticed the very nature of the direction of the business had changed.

We bought our coffees and were told Yvette had sold the business three months earlier. She had a second child and this is hard to do and run a catering business.

The coffee was awful - it is the worst sort of burnt robusta coffee I could imagine. Worse than the 7-11 next door. I do not expect to go back unless the business changes hands again.

The website, over which we were communicated with Yvette last year, is no longer operating.

Maple Leaf and Bad Meat

I having meaning to post something on this for the last week. It seems to me that it is an issue because the company is so big and supplies so many people across the country. They are big enough that the media will report it.

I have heard people calling for a move to smaller companies. All this will do is hide the story. Small scale producers are just as able to screw up and their mistakes are less likely to be caught by anyone.

The amazing thing people should focus on is how safe our food system is. A single event like this is major news. A few generations ago the food system killed a lot more people and there was a lot less follow up on deaths than there are now.

I think Maple Leaf should be applauded for how well they have handled the situation.

Will I buy their products in future? Not likely, there is very little they produce that I am interested in buying, though if their was something they made that I did want, I would feel very safe in buying it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cafe Mexico

Last night we were both to shattered and tired to try and cook, so we decided to go out and eat. We considered where we could go that would suit our mood and be ok for Max to be there as well. We talked about several restaurants - Mo:le was too expensive and we would not have enjoyed the food, Mint has a menu that seems to be all over the place and I was not into the risk, Eugene's is great but we go there a lot, we were not going to consider any Chinese or Indian so this left us with only a few choices.

Cafe Mexico is a places I have been going to since about 1986. I have had some really good meals there and some acceptable ones, I have never had a bad meal here and last night was no different.

The other week we had some of the most horrific nachos at Spinaker's, the ones last night were everything that godo nachos should be. The chips were freshly made from tortillas, thin and crispy with a lot of flavour. The cheese was well mixed through out and not overwhelming. And finally they did not cheap out on sour cream and guacamole.

I had the prawns diablo - something I have always enjoyed about Cafe Mexico is the selection of seafood on the menu. Mexico has a very long coastline and seafood is core to much of the cusine. Most Mexican restaurants offer very little seafood. The prawns diablo is a dish of prawns in a moderately hot sauce made with a lot of bell peppers instead of tomatoes. The rice accompanying the meal was perfectly done.

The service was good, the restaurant was moderately full which is good for a Monday night in Victoria. I had to laugh to think that many of the servers had not been born when I first ate at the Cafe Mexico.

There is one incident that happened at Cafe Mexico back in the 80s when I ate there that has always impressed me. I was eating there with about six other friends and we were drinking a nice valpolicella but had their last bottle. We wanted another one. The waiter went to a neighbouring restaurant and bought a bottle so that we could drink it. We were not charged anything extra for this, though admittedly they bought more than 20 years of my loyalty to the restaurant.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cucumber death.....

Something is hitting my cucumber plants, they are not thriving. Leaves are shriveling up, fruit is dieing, I have no idea what is happening.

I am beginning to harvest some cherry tomatoes.

Zucchini is going OK, but not the overwhelming numbers I had hoped for. I wonder if this is a pollination thing?

The pepper plants are pathetic and pointless

The scarlet runner beans I planted very late are doing ok, but only starting to set any beans.

The wheat is 18 inches tall and
very green
The pumpkins are growing everywhere - though only about 8 to 10 fruit have set.

So, this year I have harvested:

  • 400 grams of basil
  • 1500 grams of parsley
  • 200 grams of chives
  • thyme, rosemary, dill and sage of about 50 to 100 grams each
  • 8 cucumbers
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 12 zucchini
  • 10 heads of lettuce
  • 15 radishes
  • 500 grams of spinach
  • 450 eggs - the chickens are laying close to one egg each a day right now
  • 3 kilos of figs
So what is that all worth - I estimate it is about $180 to $200 worth of produce, the biggest part being the eggs. Without the eggs, it would abotu $60 to $90 worth of food. I expect to have it give me another $200 to $300 worth of produce.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Fairway at Quadra and Hillside

I had a chance to go shopping at this store and I was impressed at the products available for sale. The selection of seafood was very good. The meat department has a varied selection that includes a lot of things not normally eaten by suburban North Americans. There were also quails eggs, 24 for under four dollars.

The store is not as huge as many grocery stores are, but the selection is very good.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Where to buy good ingredients in this city

I am somewhat depressed about how difficult it is to find good ingredients for cooking in Victoria. Slater's meats in Oak Bay is one of the best places, as is the arabic deli on Pandora across from the CBC.

As to more exotic fruits and vegetables, forget it in this city. The citrus selection is very narrow, Meyer lemons are even hard to come by. Kosher salt is not easily found.

For selection in the mainstream stores, Fairway and Thrifties are about equal in selection, though Fairway does have a much better Asian selection. Why people still go to the Safeways here in town I have no idea because they offer a very limited selection and high prices.

I would like to see something Lesley Stowe fine foods, though in an ideal world I would like to see something like the food floors at Harrod's or Selfridges.

On a positive note, I am getting about six eggs a day, several cucumbers and zucchini every day, harvested lots basil and paresly and my figs are just beginning to be ready to eat.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


There are days when events happen that depress you. I have loved Spinnakers since I first went there in 1986. I loved it in the 80s when I was at UVic because it offered the best beer in town. I have loved it since because it has a nice atmosphere, good beer and good food. Tonight it really disappointed me.

Sheila, Scott and I went there for dinner because I really could not think of anything to make. I have enjoyed eating there and so we all looked forward to our meal.

The meal was sub par. It was a disappointment that kept hoping would recover. Sheila and I had the nachos to start - for $17 and Spinnakers calling itself a Gastropub, I expected something beyond the ordinary. I expected perfectly executed nachos with a twist. Instead we got nachos that were thrown together. The cheese was not properly melted and in large clumps. They were in the bottom 20% of nachos I have had and not something a chef at a gastropub should have allowed out of the door.

My beer was good, a proper Hefeweizen.

My meal was a thin crust smoked salmon pizza with goat's cheese. It was awful. The pizza had no balance, the cheese was heavy and rich as was the salmon. The pizza was crying out for an acidic edge, a good vinaigrette. I sprinkled malt vinegar on it and this helped, a bit, but not enough to make it edible. The smoked salmon should have been a thin sliced lox style and not lumps. The cheese should have been an haloumi and not a cherve style one.

Sheila had a falafel burger. It was not well executed. Falafel should be crisp on the outside and have some grainy texture on the inside. Her burger was not nearly crisp enough on the outside and the inside was more like a paste than what it should be.

Our server was nice enough, but did not pay attention to us as the diners. He did not notice that I had not eaten most of my pizza. He did not ask us how the food was with enough time to answer. I could understand that slightly if they were very busy, but it was not that busy.

This experience is going to push me away from trying their food in future and only go there for the beer.

Spinnaker's on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Food Security Town Hall Meeting hosted by MP Denise Savoie

I am not a believer in the politics and ideology behind the food security movement, but I may still go to this meeting if I have time and I am not at the PNE with the kids.

--- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, August 11, 2008 10:08 AM
Subject: Invitation to Food Security Town Hall Meeting

Where does our food come from? It’s an important question for consumers. The rising cost of oil has driven up prices of basics like wheat, rice, and cooking oils to levels that can no longer be ignored. How to reduce our dependence on food supplies that travel an average of 4,500 kilometres to Victoria is something we all need to address.

Please join us on Wednesday, August 20, 2008, as we look for solutions to questions about food supplies. Your voice is needed at a town hall meeting that will bring together food activists, urban and rural farmers, agricultural experts, commercial food vendors and distributors. Hear from a local Metchosin farmer who has started growing wheat to supply local bakeries hit hard by rising grain prices and a local urban farmer who converts back yards to market gardens. Listen to how Thrifty Foods works to maintain consistent market sources. Other speakers will include a Vancouver Island Health Authority representative, a community garden proponent and a restaurant chef/owner.

Express your concerns. Add to the debate.

Town Hall Meeting

Food for Thought

Wednesday, August 20, 2008, 7 p.m.

Greater Victoria Public Library boardroom

735 Broughton St.

A forum about how to cultivate sustainable local food sources and

how to ensure reliable sources in Canada,

moderated by Alex Atamanenko, MP

BC Southern Interior

Hosted by Denise Savoie

Member of Parliament for Victoria



Admission is free. Bring a friend.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Community Composting

I have been getting a composting service for most of the last year and I am impressed with them.

Community Composting is a business run by Matthew Mepham and Kyle Goulet. It has been operating since Oct 2006 and has about 800 people subscribing to the service.

The service costs $20 a month. For that price they provide you with a large container, 360 litres in size, for your compost. You fill it up, and this takes some effort and I only manage it because I have a lot tree branches and yard waste that need to be removed from this house. They pick it up once a month and leave with a 20 litre bag of compost.

I have my own compost bin in the yard, but I could have filled it a dozen times over with the material I would have deposited in the container from Community Composting. I have saved myself many trips to the transfer station to get rid of yard waste (and avoided making a mess of the car). I live close to a place where I can get rid of yard waste but it is still a pain to do. Having someone come pick it up is great. If you have more than a bin full - and that would mean a lot - you can leave it beside your bin in green garbage bags.

It is great to see this service in operation in the city.

More local farm land disappearing

Goldstream News Gazette

Langford farming’s uncertain future

Nearly every morning Don Steffler packs a cooler with fresh eggs for sale at the top of his driveway off Happy Valley Road. With suburbia encroaching fast, his hen house is almost a quaint throwback to the past.

While Steffler sits on 2.2 acres designated as provincial agricultural land reserve, housing subdivisions are cropping up on next door. After 12 years trying to farm the land and raise livestock, he’s applied to remove the property from the ALR.

It’s a growing refrain from Langford landowners with ALR land — they own acreage that may or may not be farmable while their non-ALR neighbours subdivide, sell and build-out.

With more housing comes more potential to pollute what soil remains, and for increasing clashes between farmers and new residents, Steffler says.

“I’ve tried farming in Langford for years but have run into so much opposition,” he says. “People don’t like the noise or dust or the smell. On one hand they say feed us and on the other they nail you to the wall.”

Langford has about 292 acres of ALR in 83 parcels, the majority in the Happy Valley area. Most are between two and five acres. Their are three commercial farms remaining in the city.

Steffler’s ALR exclusion request, like several others in Langford, is in limbo until the City forms an agricultural advisory committee to review what land is and isn’t farmable.

The provincial agricultural land commission makes the final decision on exclusions, but it takes some of it’s cues from municipal councils. Langford opposed five exclusion applications in 2006.

A 2007 report on Langford ALR land found about 111 acres had little agricultural use, but recommended the remaining 191 acres be retained. Such ALR land has “excellent potential for development for a node of vibrant agricultural activity,” the report said. It also acknowledged some south Langford rural residents had little interest in farming, while farmers weren’t likely to set up shop with acres going for $300,000.

That report initiated a plan for the City to start buying ALR farmland using a $500 development cost charge. These days the Agricultural Land Acquisition fund has about $300,000.

Mayor Stew Young says Langford wants to preserve “real” agricultural land in perpetuity for co-operative gardening and greenspace. Large-scale farming hasn’t been a reality in Langford for a long time, he says.

“Is Langford a farming community? No. Can we create hobby farms? Yes. Will that be able to feed Langford in the case of a catastrophe? Absolutely not,” Young says.

“Langford’s goal is to own as much ALR as possible that is farmable. The community will own that land. If people don’t want to farm it, that’s OK. It’s still a good benefit to own that land.”

Local farmers will sit on Langford’s agricultural review committee, among other community members, to review ALR exclusion applications.

The City’s overall agricultural strategy probably won’t be completed until early next year, said Rob Buchan, Langford’s clerk administrator.

Young says the City is trying to strike a balance between fairness to property owners and preserving what farmland remains without it being corrupted by land development.

“It’s part greenspace and part agricultural strategy,” he says. “Happy Valley is still a semi-rural area. It can be developed but within that we can preserve farmland. People have to do their homework and realize they could be buying near a farm.”

David Stott, food security co-ordinator with the Capital Families Association, said it’s understandable some Langford ALR landowners want out of the ALR system.

“Farmers have always been the ones who in effect are left out of prosperity,” Stott said. “The challenge is individual verses social needs.”

Stott said senior government, the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture for instance, needs to provide incentives for small-scale farming and the retention of ALR land. Aspects of the government’s regulatory regime suits large corporate farms but discourage small agricultural operations, he says.

Stott noted the soil around south Langford isn’t as productive as the “deep loam of Saanich,” but there is still plenty of room for agriculture, if supported by the community.

“The critical question is what will it take to induce people to support the maintenance of land for agricultural purposes?” Stott says. “If all those lands are lost to development we will lose land that could be needed for future food production.”

For landowners such as Steffler, the development of Langford’s agricultural strategy will delay his ALR exclusion application process.

Labour and transportation costs are making local commercial farming less attractive and less viable, Steffler says. Meanwhile, he points to land next door already cleared for 42 lots.

“My buffer went out the window and I have to wait for another year while Langford gets its strategy together,” he says. “I’m locked into an un-winnable situation.”


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Trying to make it possible to produce food locally

If food is to be produced locally and the ALR is to have any meaning other than free parks for urbanites, local government has to get out of the way of agriculture infrastructure.

This region needs to have at least several abattoirs. Metchosin is clearly the right place to have this on the Westshore. I wonder why the right to farm act does not apply in this case?

This comes from the Goldstream News Gazette

Metchosin slaughterhouse moves forward

After a heated planning and environment committee meeting, Metchosin council passed the motion to prepare a rezoning bylaw for a proposed abattoir.

Abattoir owner Michael Peterson is operating Cole Creek Farm on Winfall Road and will be until 2011 when his lease expires. At which time Peterson hopes to open a new abattoir on Tom Plasterer’s 180-acre farm on Lindholm Road.

Plasterer and John Buchanan, both sheep farmers are project partners in the proposed abattoir.

Some residents and property owners on Lindholm Road are giving the cold shoulder to the possibility of this new neighbour.

Paul and Kelly Gruno, neighbouring residents see the abattoir as a step towards industrialization in Metchosin.

“It’s a windy valley with odours, our property values will be devastated,” Kelly said. “We wanted to grow old on our properties.”

That feeling echoed by several people at the meeting. Some said if the project is given the go-ahead, they would move.

However, other Mechosinites claimed if the rezoning was rejected they would be out of work.

Terry Sterling, a farmer of 22 years, said without a slaughterhouse, fewer people will keep animals in Metchosin. Without animals there won’t be enough manure for farming, he said.

“It’s a tough thing to sit at this table,” Mayor John Ranns said. “The abattoir is good for the community but it will have an impact on some local residents.”

Others spoke in their support for the abattoir and its contribution to the community.

“We shouldn’t be rural in name only,” said Derek Wulff, president of the Association for the Protection of Rural Metchosin. “To be a rural community we have to have these rural amenities.”

After hearing neighbours voice their comments, Buchanan said if the rezoning was passed he would do his best to eliminate the residents’ concerns.

Each day the abattoir is in operation, all waste from sheep, goats, pigs and chickens would be trucked off the property, he said. This is a practice Cole Creek Farm is currently using, though they are only a sheep abattoir at the moment.

Due to mad cow disease (BSE), certain parts of cows would have to be disposed of by private companies and sent to an incinerator in Alberta.

Before getting picked up, cow waste will be stored in a separate chilled room ensuring there would be no smell, Buchanan said. “I don’t want there to be a smell of rotting meat.”

Though the idea of composting the waste was discussed, Buchanan said he is not sure if they would ever use it as an option.“I don’t think if ever we would do it,” he said.

As for the traffic concerns, Buchanan said, “I don’t think traffic is a serious issue, we might increase it (on Lindholm Road) by 25 cars a day.”

The only issue Buchanan is uncertain of is noise. Currently the animals are stored in covered, outdoor pens. At the present site there have been no noise complaints, said Peterson.

If the rezoning is passed and noise does become an issue, Buchanan said he would “side” the pens meaning keep the animals in ventilated enclosed pens so the sound would not travel the same. “We can minimize the effect,” Buchanan said.

The abattoir rezoning bylaw is scheduled for first readings at the Aug. 11 council meeting. A public hearing will be held in late September.

“Without it I don’t see how most of us (farmers) will continue,” Buchanan said. “Someone would like a lake next to their property, but no one wants a slaughterhouse.”


Monday, August 4, 2008

Madrona Farm

I talked about Madrona Farm earlier. Seems the money is not coming in fast enough - take a look at this article from the Saanich News

Madrona farm seeks wealthy benefactor

Madrona farm seeks wealthy benefactor

Roszan Holmen

News staff

A: dunc took lots of different shots for the June 9 article

Note: organizers are trying to pull together details of a fundraising event by Monday morning to include in this update.

Small cheques are trickling in, but the Friends of Madrona Farm Society are on the hunt for a benefactor to help buy the land before its looming deadline.

The goal is to donate the Saanich farm to The Land Conservancy, to preserve it as organic farmland for all time.

David and Nathalie Chambers have leased the 27-acre lot on Blenkinsop Road from David's family since 1999. The family would like to settle the estate but have offered to sell it to the TLC at the reduced price of $1.4 million.

So far, the fundraising society has raised $80,000. One large donation provided $10,000, while a bulk of the total raised came from people contributing their $100 carbon-credit cheques.

"We're at the bottom of the pyramid right now," said Ramona Scott, manager of TLC agricultural programs. To meet its December deadline of $250,000, TLC must secure a few large donations. "We call it the friend-raiser stage," said Scott.

To find out more about the project, visit www.conservancy.bc.ca and click on, "Help save Madrona farm."


Friday, August 1, 2008

Capital Region Food Charter

Regional Food Charter CR-FAIR April 22, 2008

Capital Region Food Charter

Vision: a sustainable and secure local food and agriculture system that provides safe, sufficient, culturally accepted, nutritious food accessible to everyone in the Capital Region through dignified means.

Principles for Food and Health in the Capital Region:
Nutritious Food Is Essential for a Healthy Population
  • No one in the Capital Region should go hungry as safe, nutritious food is a basic right of everyone.
  • Access to healthy foods, coupled with good eating practices, are important factors in determining the overall health of CRD residents.
  • Neighbourhood access to nutritious food increases the likelihood that people will have healthy diets and should therefore be part of community planning.
  • Shifting from emergency food provision to food self-reliance, including nutritional education and skills training programs are important for increasing the health of CRD residents.

Localized Food Systems Contribute to the Social and Economic Health of the Community
  • Fresh food produced close to home is the foundation of our regional food system.
  • Sustainable food production is an integral part of the economy of the Capital Region and surrounding area.
  • Farmland should be used for food production using good stewardship practices, for the social and economic benefit of the region as a whole.
  • Regional food products must be fostered through support for and promotion of farmers markets, farm gate sales, local food outlets, and local products, including within our food service industry and public institutions.
  • Ensuring that local farmers/workers and processors receive a fair price/wage for their products/labour is integral to the sustainability of food production in our region.

A Sustainable Food System Fosters Resilience to Global Warming and Supports Long-term Environmental Health
  • Food must be produced, processed and distributed in a way that is environmentally sustainable.
  • Producing food locally/regionally is an important way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with food transportation/food miles.
  • Local farmland is a precious resource that must be protected to ensure long-term food production capacity in the face of an uncertain climatic future.
  • Local farmland also plays a multifunctional role in terms of protecting watersheds and wildlife, and in providing green space and viewscapes. These values must be recognized and supported.
  • Initiatives that encourage bio-diversity, soil fertility, soil conservation, zero-waste, and minimization of environmentally-persistent, unhealthy chemicals must be supported.

Planning a Local Food System Is Part of Planning for the Future
  • Farmers must be supported and local farmland recognized as essential for our long-term food production capacity.
  • Fresh water and marine eco-systems must be protected, and sustainable harvesting practices encouraged.
  • Communities’ traditional, scientific, and Indigenous knowledge and practices must be respected and protected both in their own right, and because, they contribute to the genetic diversity and seed fertility that are the cornerstones of our ability to feed ourselves.
  • Income, employment, housing, transportation, health and recreation policies must be congruent with attaining greater food security for all CRD residents.
  • A strong commitment to local food will support emergency preparedness and the endurance of our communities in the face of climate change, uncertain global food production, and environmental or economic disruptions.

Healthy Food Systems Are Integral to a Resilient Community
  • Food brings people together in the celebration of family, friendship and community. It also strengthens links between diverse cultures and communities.
  • Food security contributes to the physical, mental, cultural, spiritual and emotional well being of our region’s residents.
  • Food self-reliance is strengthened through community-based food programs, such as community gardens, fresh food box programs and collective kitchens.
  • Food security means that our region takes responsibility for growing and processing the food we need and looks to a trade regime that fosters social justice, environmental sustainability, and community development throughout the world.
  • Domestic and local ownership of our food supply is critical for the region’s future.
  • Healthy local food systems involve the active stewardship of all sectors of the community: public, private, and voluntary.

Working towards these principles is the responsibility of individuals, organizations, business and community associations, institutions, authorities, and local and regional governments in BC’s Capital Region.

The Capital Region Food Charter honours Canada’s commitments to global and local food security. This includes the United Nations Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights specifying the right of everyone to adequate food, and Canada’s Action Plan for Food Security. The Action Plan states: “the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger” and “food security exists when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

Therefore, to develop and promote food security in the Capital Region in accordance with the Capital Region
Food Charter, in ways that we are able, we can:
  • 1. Promote and support the right of all residents to healthy food.
  • 2. Advocate for income, employment, housing, and transportation policies that support access to food.
  • 3. Promote eating locally grown food as a way to increase consumption of fresh foods, reduce “food miles” and increase local economic stability.
  • 4. Protect productive farmland in our region and support strategies to make it accessible for farming.
  • 5. Protect our fresh water and marine eco- systems and promote sustainable harvesting
  • practices.
  • 6. Ensure appropriate quality and supply of water for agricultural and home use.
  • 7. Promote convenient access to healthy and affordable foods at the neighborhood level.
  • 8. Work with consumers, municipalities, and institutions to promote healthy food purchasing practices that support local farm and food businesses.
  • 9. Promote partnerships and programs that support rural-urban food links through farmers’ markets, the Box Programs and other rural-urban initiatives.
  • 10. Support incentives to enhance environmental values, and recognize the multifunctionality of farms.
  • 11. Support and encourage urban agriculture through community gardens, backyard and
  • rooftop gardens, and city fruit trees.
  • 12. Support strategies for regional waste disposal and composting systems that recycle nutrients for regional food production.
  • 13. Support training and income-generating programs that promote farming and food
  • security within a community economic development model.
  • 14. Support health and nutrition promotion strategies that encourage and increase the
  • health status and self-reliance of all members of the population.
  • 15. Work proactively to achieve these goals through the Regional Food and Health Action Plan as well as support a regular community food security assessment on the Capital Region’s progress towards food security.
  • 16. Work proactively to achieve and support a Regional Food Council to support planning, policy and ongoing decision making in support of this Regional Food Charter.


email info@communitycouncil.ca
tel: 383-6166
CR-FAIR funding support provided through:
Financial support for this project provided by Vancouver Island Health Authority's "Community Food Action Initiative" through ActNow BC - the government of BC's investment in promoting healthy choices through a partnership-based, community- focused approach to improve nutrition, increase physical activity and reduce tobacco use.

Everyone in the Capital Region has a role in creating a healthy local food system.
These actions will be achieved by the choices of individuals and the actions both alone and through working together with local, regional, provincial, federal and First Nations governments, community-based organizations, community associations, farm organizations, food processing and food service businesses and organizations, Aboriginal peoples, resident groups, business organizations, trade unions, educational and health institutions.


The Vision of this Charter will live and breathe through individual and collaborative support and action.
On behalf of ___________________________ , I/we,___________________________support the vision of the Regional Food Charter.
Signed this _____________day, _______________month______________year.
This proposal for a Capital Region Food Charter was developed through the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CR-FAIR).
For more information, and to be involved in this exciting initiative, contact CR-FAIR at (250) 383-6166
or email info@communitycouncil.ca.
To access the 2008 Capital Region Food and Health Action Plan, both the summary and full document, and for background information the 2004 Baseline Assessment of Food Security in British Columbia’s Capital Region see www.communitycouncil.ca

We offer the following definitions:

  • Food security: In a food secure community, the growing, processing and distribution of healthy, safe food is economically viable, socially just, environmentally friendly and regionally based.
  • Food system: The food system is the path of food from field to plate, including production, distribution, marketing, preparation, consumption and disposal.
  • Food miles: The distance between food’s point of production and consumption, an broader definition includes all of the energy required from seed to plate. This measurement is increasingly recognized in its relationship to climate change.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Some Bad Food

Recently we were on a road trip to the interior. Cash flow is not good for us at the moment so we were not going to eat out a lot, but we ended up eating out three times and it was a mistake twice.

Eastside Mario's
The first time we ate out was when we were coming back into Salmon Arm after a day at on the lake. It was late and we needed to eat. Buying food at the Safeway or Askew's was not going to work, so we decided to try out Eastside Marios, a new chain coming into BC. We are not going to go back.

First off, the waiting times for having our order taken was much too long. We then got the starters - THEY WERE HUGE. It was simply too much food. Sheila's salad was enough for the two of us to share. Daniel shared his salad with Stephen and Ben only ate part of his soup.

We then waited and waited for the main course. When it came, the boys all had very badly done pizzas. Eastside Marios has this idea that a lame square crust is some sort of a 'traditional' pizza form. While I can not prove it, the pizza dough felt and tasted like it was frozen. Sheila had a piece of bone in her sandwich, one that was close to a centimetre long. She told the hostess about this but we were not offered any sort of discount or any real apology, only a comment saying that at least they use real chicken.

The meal took us an hour and half. This is not something that works for us with four kids, one a new born. We are unlikely to ever go back to the chain and will recommend that anyone wanting this sort of an experience go to Boston Pizza.

Denny's in Revelstoke

On our way to Golden, we stopped in Revelstoke to see the dam and then decided to have lunch. It was Stephen's birthday and he got to choose the restaurant. He originally wanted MacDonalds but changed to Dennys when he saw it.

The food was typical for Dennys, but what was a problem was the hour and half it took for the meal. We really can not sit with the boys that long in a restaurant. It was not as if it was that busy.

Dennys Revelstoke on Urbanspoon

Jade Palace Buffet in Salmon Arm
We ate here on Monday night and I am impressed. It was not accident that Okanagan Life has had it the best restaurant list for a number of years.

The selection was good not only in the BC 'classics' one expects at a Chinese 'Smorg', but also in some interesting variations. The seafood was very good and plentiful, though it went fast. I will be going back here regularly when I am in Salmon Arm.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More changes to bylaws for keeping chickens in the Greater Victoria area - this time Oak Bay

Council votes in favour of amending bylaw
Published: July 17, 2008 12:00 PM
Updated: July 17, 2008 1:19 PM

A fowl issue was raised at council Monday night.

After some debate, Oak Bay voted in favour of amending its bylaw regulating the keeping of chickens.

Doug Clarke made a request to council last month for a property line setback reduction that would allow him to keep chickens on his property. Even though his property meets the bylaw's minimum lot requirement, it doesn't fulfill the setback needed around a chicken coop to buffer it from all property lines.

On Monday, council agreed that reducing the setback from 7.6 metres to 6.1 metres would work not only for Clarke but for others in the municipality as well. Municipal staff were directed to prepare a bylaw amendment to go before council on Monday (July 21) for adoption.

"I think that's the direction we should be taking on as many fronts as possible," said Coun. Nils Jensen. "(Removing) barriers for people who are interested in doing everything they can to reduce their carbon footprint, this is just another way."

Coun. Pam Copley commended Clarke on his initiative and liked his idea of educating children about the food source.

"We've just really lost that connection and I think this is a really great opportunity to provide that," she said.

Even though Coun. Frank Carson supported the motion, he felt raising chickens would have a minimal effect on climate change and said suggesting otherwise was fiction.

"I (wanted) to hear what the neighbours had to say and, from what I gather, the letters that came in were overwhelming in support of this. And people that I've talked to ... were open-minded. So I'll support on that basis."

Clarke was happy with council's decision and plans to build a small coop to house three or four hens to produce eggs for his family.

"I'm just actually really relieved that one voice can make a difference," he said. "It's just nice that our decision for our family to be here was the right one, that we can live in a city that is forward thinking and can work with us to help our sustainable initiatives."

The keeping of chickens is not common in Oak Bay, with the municipality issuing only one permit over the past four years.

Clarke doesn't see the setback reduction resulting in a growth in the number of chickens in Oak Bay but believes council will receive requests for smaller lot sizes in the future.

Jensen plans to seek a future amendment to the bylaw widening the scope of where chickens can be kept and suggested that the minimum lot size be reduced to 557.4 square metres.


Monday, July 21, 2008

What is coming from the garden

A few pics from the garden from this week. Harvest is getting closer for cucs and zucchini. I am sure we are going to be overloaded shortly.

This is how I am trying to grow the pumpkins.

I thought I would try to grow some wheat, actually it was my kids idea. They were interested in the idea of growing our own wheat and making it into bread. We will see how it goes.

Below are the cucumber plants

Eggs are coming in at about 32 per week. We have unending amounts or sage, rosemary and parsley. Lettuce is waiting for a return after the chicken disaster.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lettuce all gone..... but I have planted Wheat!?!?!

My whole crop of lettuce was wiped out in a matter of a few minutes yesterday afternoon. The chickens got out of their pen and legged it to the veggie garden. The only thing they ate was the lettuce, not the dill, basil, corn, beans, pumpkins or tomatoes.

I had to run out and buy more lettuce seed and started a new patch.

I planted something new in the garden yesterday. I planted some of the wheat I bought a few months ago. I managed to buy about four pounds of island grown wheat berries at Mitchell's a few months ago.

We have a small patch at the back end of the veggie garden, nothing major, but hopefully enough that we can get enough wheat to make some bread. My kids expressed an interest in growing wheat and taking it to bread, this seems to me an interesting experiment to try.

I bought this unground wheat because I was interested to see what one can do with wheat berries. I need to find a way to grind it, the propeller style coffee mill is not really the right thing. I think we need to finally buy a burr grinder for our coffee - this is the tool that I think will allow us to grind the wheat.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Changeover at Chalet Winery

I need to get out to this winery and try it out. We had the Ortega wine we bought at Starling Lane the week - a decent white, though white has never been my thing.

Peninsula News Review
Changeover at Chalet Winery

By Cat George - Peninsula News Review

Published: July 09, 2008 11:00 AM
Updated: July 09, 2008 11:08 AM

Deep Cove location proved irresistible to the new owners

When Jane and Peter Ellman began looking for a small winery they could buy, they looked in a lot of different locations: the Okanagan, Oregon, Washington, the Lower Mainland.

“We were almost ready to buy one in Oliver and then this one came up on the Internet,” said Jane. “We decided to drive over and check it out.”

That was last August, and the sight of the serene, beautiful location was enough to convince the Ellmans. On May 1 of this year, they officially took over ownership of Chalet Estate Winery in North Saanich from Michael Betts and Linda Plimley.

Although it’s their first time with a winery of their own, both the Ellmans bring a wealth of experience in related industries to their new endeavour. Jane worked for the Marriott hotel chain in the United States for 16 years, both as a director of sales and a general manager. She even helped open a number of hotel properties. Peter, a chef by trade, had owned restaurants and then worked in a food and wine brokerage. In 2002, they were both on the road a lot for work. “My parents were ready to retire,” said Jane. “We had one young kid, and one on the way. I traveled with my job and Peter was on the road; [my parents] asked us to run their business in Edmonton, so I could stay home with the baby.”

So they headed to Alberta, where they took over the business for Jane’s parents for six years, working in the oil field/manufacturing business. When Jane’s father passed away in 2006, they decided it was time to move on. “The business was not for us,” she said, although she noted that selling oil rig mats was more lucrative than the winery business. “We told my Mom it was not in our hearts, and that our dream was to one day have a small winery.”

The only fear in the decision to buy in North Saanich was that they wouldn’t be able to make the big reds that they both enjoy so much, but Betts assured them that he did reds that required a warmer growing environment by bringing in grapes from the Okanagan. “It was the best of both worlds, we could still do the reds from the Okanagan and live in this beautiful spot,” Jane said. “This move, for us, was about a whole quality of life. We wanted the kids to grow up with country living.”

As neither Jane nor Peter are expert oenologists (winemakers), they decided to retain Betts as a consultant. Peter said that through his contacts with California wineries, they could have brought in an American winemaker, but felt there was no need to bring someone in when Betts already knew the products and the land.

That’s not to say that everything will be same-old, same-old at Chalet Estate over the next few years, as the Ellmans have brought their own particular vision of what the winery can be. They do intend to continue along a line already popular at Chalet — the combination of art, music, and wine. “We want to focus on art, music, and the corporate market,” said Jane, adding that while you could “never say never,” they didn’t think there would be much focus on the vineyard as a setting for weddings. “We can only do so much.”

The site has already played host to a corporate event since they arrived and Jane said that some changes in licensing — adding a deli license, for example, which would allow them to serve platters of local food — would make those even better. As for the artists, they are looking to bring even more on board. “We’ve put a call out to artists for an artists series of labels,” said Jane, adding that they were considering having an artist-in-residence program.

There are also plans afoot to start a “locals’ night,” when the winery would be open later and host wine pairings and offer local discounts. Some of the projects, however, may be a little down the road. “Everything we do, we want to do really well,” Jane said. “First impressions are so important.”

In the bottles, things will continue as they are for this season, as the Ellmans bought all of the wine inventory, including what was still barrelled, when they bought the winery. The grapes that grow on the property — three acres of Ortega, Pinot Gris, Bacchus, and Marechal Foch, enough for 640 cases — will continue in the line-up. “That’s what grows very well here, and we don’t mean to change that,” said Jane. (Some of the ‘local’ specialties, like Ortega, were a surprise for the Ellmans when they arrived, but they quickly found they enjoyed them.) Outside those products, however, Peter has well-laid plans for the upcoming seasons. He just returned from a trip to the Okanagan, where he was sourcing grapes for reds. “We’re going to trim back,” he said. “Too many labels is too confusing. We’re going to focus on what we do best.”

In the red, that’s going to include bigger reds, like Cabernet Sauvignon. “We’re going to start bringing in the correct grapes to make it,” Peter said, noting that while it can simply be a blend of Cabernet and Merlot, it can also be more complex. To that end, he’s picked up some of the Bordeaux varietals, like Malbec. “You can’t make big dog reds with chihuahuas,” he said with a laugh.

Sparkling wines, as well, aren’t too far off. With these changes, the five year plan has the winery rise in production from 2,500 cases a year to 8,500, and the market grow from mainly local — Vancouver Island and a little Lower Mainland — to nation-wide.

Since they took over in May, Jane said, things have been crazy; they leapt in right away and tastings have been buzzing ever since. The beautiful location has helped the transition; their children can easily walk to nearby Deep Cove school, and Peter and Jane can relax on the vineyard patio and watch the resident eagle family fly about. Between the relaxing and the busy moments, however, Jane has had time to think about what challenges the future will hold.

“The challenge, as for most wineries, is to ensure we continue making good wines, as good as Michael made,” she said. “Hand-crafted, high-quality wine. And continue on with farming organically.” Beyond the wines themselves, she sees the market heating up on all sides. “People now see the Island has potential. For a while, it was only the Okanagan, and now it’s really opened up, and there’s always competition with that. We have something going for us; it’s not just people coming into the shop, they can come sit in the vineyard, have a glass of wine, wander through the vines, and make it a really nice experience for tourists.”

Chalet Estate Winery is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for tasting, Tuesday to Sunday.