Happy Lughnasadh

Today is Lughnasadh or Lammas – a celebration of the early harvest.

A few weeks ago I wrote about how much food to plant to feed your family for a year. This is how it’s starting to pile up.

Here’s a look at one bed, and what I harvested today: one savoy cabbage, green and yellow bush beans, the last of the shelling peas, a bowl of basil leaves, purple top globe turnips, yellow, white and green patty pans, two cucumbers, yellow and green zucchini. And some went to the good folks who provide me with growing space.

Wishing everyone a bountiful early harvest. Ava

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How Much to Plant to Provide a Year’s Worth of Food

I recently came across an article from RealFarmacy.com that listed what crops to plant and how much of each one would need  to feed their family for a whole year. As I have 3 gardens in neighbourhood back yards, I wondered how close I was to feeding myself, so I did a quick count and am amazed at how close I’ve come.

I don’t have all the same crops they do and have some they don’t and I will also have winter crops. So, just for fun, here’s their list/Ava’s. Continue reading

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Plant Sale 2017

Join us on Saturday, May 6th, from 2:00 – 6:00pm for the Vic West Food Security Collective’s Annual Plant Sale. Get your organic tomatoes, squash, basil, cucumbers and many other veggie starts. Come early for the best choice.

We’re part of Vic West Fest 2017, which runs from 2:00 until 9:00pm.  There’ll be live music, great food, art projects for kids, ice cream, displays, games, and beer for the grown-ups (ID required).

Note: new start time for this annual event is 2:00pm.

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Miners Discovered a Tasty Superfood

Miner's lettuce

Miner’s lettuce grows in cool, moist places in early spring along the west coast.

Imagine, a nutritious, yummy green that you don’t need to water or care for, that reseeds itself and is native to this area. It shows up in profusion this time of year when we are desperate for something to add to our salad bowls that hasn’t traveled a thousand miles to get here. It’s non-invasive, easy to pull when it’s done, and makes great mulch or compost. And chickens who are lucky enough to have it around produce eggs with a deep orange yolk.

It’s miner’s lettuce, also know as winter purslane, or Claytonia perfoliata. It tastes like lettuce only earthier, and has a slightly thicker leaf, more like spinach. Some call it a superfood: vitamin C, omega fatty acids and chlorophyll assist with detoxification and blood purification, but I like it because it’s green, available and tastes fresh when most other things don’t this time of year.

Miner’s lettuce got its name from the miners of the California gold rush who used it to prevent scurvy. It grows in profusion in moist, shady spots along the west coast right down into California. It doesn’t last long unless the spring is cool and moist, so grab some while you can if you see some!

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You won’t recognize the new Oceanic Market

Oceanic Market Before 2017

Oceanic Market, as we know it now.

If you’ve visited the Market Garden in the last couple of summers you’ll have seen the glorious rows of exuberant greens, the edible jungle that is the growing plot, and the greenhouse packed with neat rows of heritage tomatoes. And then there’s that airy shed stocked with racks of seeds for things both common and obscure. It was easy to miss, though, tucked away on Bella Street, in spite of the beautiful sign.

Tucked away no more, the Market Garden man has taken over the lease to the Oceanic Market on Catherine Street.

The face of the Oceanic is about to change, newly designed and introducing new dry products like flour, nuts, and edible seeds, produce and local planting seeds. You’ll be able to walk through the Oceanic to the Market Garden in the back. Plans for a community gathering hub are in the works, as is a demonstration kitchen for canning and take-away foods.

“You won’t recognize it,” says Ryan.

summer at Market Garden

Summer in the Market Garden

Ryan, who runs the market, is quietly bursting with enthusiasm for his new venture, which he’ll be sharing with long-time Oceanic employee, Ian. While his eye is on organic, local products, in practice he includes farmers who grow organically but aren’t certified. Fair trade products, like avocados from Mexico, will also stock the shelves.

But not everything will change. The Oceanic will continue to sell products the community has relied on for decades, such as cigarettes and lotto tickets. How does that fit with the program? you may ask, but it makes sense given Ryan’s sensitivity to the needs of the community. He wants to build on the success of the former owner, not destroy it, and he values the current customers.

summer bounty

More summer bounty

Food security to Ryan includes selling local Vic Westers’ produce and finding a system that’s fair to sellers, customers and him as a buyer, and is also keen to hear our ideas for products. He is open to offering vegetable waste to local chicken owners, and has agreed to sell a home-made line of soaps for a local.

Excessive waste from packaging is a gremlin Ryan is wrestling with, so we may see some colourful incentives to be spare with our bags. Selling products with returnable containers, like Avalon Dairies milk, is one solution.

As more of us appreciate what food security really means, having an (mostly) organic market in the ‘hood is great news. We can support it by letting Ryan know what we would like to see, then actually buying it if he brings it in. Don’t forget to bring your bags!

Louise Wood

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Those Weeds of the Email World

dandelionsRecently a number of the Vic West Food Security blog members received a bogus email, no subject line, encouraging them to click on a link. It was semi-convincing, from an email address that looked something like the food security email might look.
But it was spam, those invasive weeds of the tech world.
The Victoria West Food Security Collective does not send out mass emails showing everyone’s address. We use Mailchimp for newsletters, and those signed up on the blog receive new posts via email. We also send notices with actual information in them, about events, gardening tips, photos of luscious vegetables and nice composted soil. We won’t simply invite you to click a link.
With any of your incoming email, if it doesn’t look quite right, don’t open it!

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Wassail 2017

Banfield Park Community Orchard Wassail

Saturday January 14th 2:30pm

wassail-poster2017-bigWassail – Waes Hael – “be of good health” – Olde English tradition of wassailing, dating back to the 1500s, is a ceremony to wake fruit trees from their winter slumber and scare away evil spirits, ensuring a good harvest. 

A family outdoor celebration. Bring a lantern to light the orchard. 
 2:30pm – Crowning the Wassail King and Queen
3 pm – Morris Dancers 
3:30pm Wassail Ceremony – bring a mug for mulled cider
4pm – Feast – Soup and bread will be served.
Hosted by the Vic West Food Security Collective, a project of the Victoria West Community Association.


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Winter Solstice 2016 Potluck Dinner

winter-solstice-2016 potluck dinner at Victoria West Community Centre

Please come and join us for our winter community potluck dinner. Bring your appetite and a dish to share, bring children, friends and neighbours!


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Autumn Harvest Potluck

autumn-harvestEveryone is invited:

Vic West Community Potluck Dinner

Saturday, October 15th at 6:00pm

Victoria West Community Centre

521 Craigflower Road



Please bring a dish of food to share. Our theme is “Harvest” so something from your garden would be great. No garden? No worries. Any food item is appreciated.

Hosted by the Vic West Food Security Collective, a Vision Project of the Victoria West Community Association.
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Community Gathering in Vic West Park

Gathering posterOn Saturday afternoon from 1-3pm, the Vic West Food Security Collective is hosting a community information gathering on the site of the recently proposed Community Garden in Vic West Park.  The City of Victoria is redeveloping the park and has designated an area of the park for a large community garden. Everyone is welcome to attend. We will be sharing the City’s plan for the site as well as a design by UVic’s Permaculture Design students.  The Permaculture students developed a plan for the site which is intended as a model only.  As part of their coursework, the plan includes information about the physical site such as prevailing winds, soil conditions, water flows and drainage. Their proposed plan includes (but is not limited to) allotment garden plots, a food forest, gathering spaces, quiet alcoves, composting systems, tool sheds, and outdoor cooking facilities.  The students have graciously allowed the Food Security Collective to share their findings and their design and we, in turn, are offering it to the public as an example of how the space might be used. We will share both sample site plans at the information gathering on Saturday. Hope to see you there.

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