Sept 2019

“…Peter’s story: His decision more than a decade ago to reject mainstream society was more powerful than even he had realized. Each day that he spends out on Denman Island, he’s confronting everything Trump stands for: a system that privileges money over morals, the national interest over the global one, and political partisanship over his generation’s survival. Peter hasn’t yet been successful in resisting that system’s inertia, but by dedicating his life to questioning its logic, he’s shown that it doesn’t have to be inevitable. He’s shown that our current way of life is based not on inviolable laws but on our collective values.”

Are we Screwed Geoff Dembiki. 2017

I don’t necessarily feel quite so rosy and self-important as this… but it gives me a chuckle….

May 16 2019 –

6′ tall Tree Tubes are available. Great option for those without fences or those dealing with integrated livestock systems. They act as protector and greenhouse up to and above browse height.

Email me for pricing!  

May 1 2019 – I tend to forget about the website blog. All the attention goes onto the ol’ FaceBook. So if you want an active feed check us out there. sorry…

(For the nerds) Here is a list of some of the exciting creatures we created this spring by cleft-grafting. They will be available for purchase this summer/ fall.
Thanks to the scion contributors: Frank -L R, Summerland varietals, Linnaea farm, Bluejay lake farm, the cumberland alleys and that random guy on ebay……

-Plums: Yakima, Elephant Heart, Satsuma, Santa Rosa, Green Gauge, Italian Prune, Mirabelle, Sugar Plum, Toka (the bubblegum plum)
-Che! grafted female – These might be the first plants available in Canada. Look ’em up!
-Asian Pears: Seuri, Hosui, Nijiseki, Chojuro, Kosui, and a couple Tokomos
-Stone Fruit: Brents Peach (cortez island Brent), Flavor Supreme and a few Blazing Star
-Apple: Honeycrisp, Ambrosia, Hidden Rose pink flesh, Rosa red flesh, FireCracker red fleshed crab, Liberty, GoldRush and Enterprise
-Shipova on Aronia rootstock
-Fruiting Quince and Bartlett Pear on Quince C
-Sweet Cherry: Henry’s (Bluejay lake Henry), Cumberland Alley Cherry, Rainer Cherry and Jubileum Cherry
-Izu and Chocolate persimmon (on D. lotus)


Oh gosh its hard to make time to communicate. Here are some videos (it’ll be a long upload process) of my recent cameo from the ongoing Permaculture Design Course that is currently running at Linnaea Farm on Cortez. <>. I did 2 presentations: The first on Propagation (2 parts) and the second on How to Make Fruit Trees Thrive (2 parts).

These videos are unedited, don’t include the slide-images -and sometimes filmed sideways!- so they are most useful to let run as audio.

Dec 31 2017

With this post i’m going to be starting a regular communication to you all. TreeEater Farm and Denman Island are both quiet and somewhat isolated places. I’m interested in making more of an effort to reach out and to hear back from you, as a fellow members of the “fruit tree” community. I would like to request that you all send me pictures of your trees and gardens? After i sell a load of trees i generally loose all contact with them!

This year in the nursery was a continuation of the general trend that has been building for the past 8 years: more production and more sales. Congratulations, I have a growing business. However, I spent most of the day yesterday crunching up the numbers….and while i’m glad we are growing it has come with some costs: expenses also have been growing in a fairly rigid linear relationship. I’m still not really making any money…its poverty-line nursery-income that is subsidised by other work. Isn’t this often the case with small farms? I’m going to need to make a few changes: a marginal increase to plant prices and adding some weight to the shipping and delivery charges. Don’t worry i won’t be “UPSing” anybody.One of the big american wholesale suppliers is going out of business this year after 74 years. They have been the major supplier of both Asian persimmons and Persian mulberries to the entire Canadian retail market. So don’t expect to have much access to these plants in the future. The owner had some interesting reflections on the development: he identified drought, restrictive government water policies, migrant labour issues and the loss of small nursery accounts (such as myself) over the years due to competition from the big box stores. Sometimes these otherwise abstract big “issues” can hit closer to home.

The good news is that In the face of all these uncertainties i still believe in growing and distributing edible trees. Fruit and nut trees continue to offer some viable solutions to the problems that ail us! And i will continue to be the guy who wants to stock the greatest diversity of the most interesting and successful plants. Its a strange business, with long lag-times and low profit but i’m going to keep doing it!

Some technical news from the nursery. The outdoor in-ground summer grafting beds have been a great success. I’ve been able to triple or quadruple the size of my maiden trees in this new area. Likewise the stooling beds have come into production and i’m now able to produce almost all of the rootstock that i need (which is awesome as well because the rootstock industry is also coughing and gasping). Propagation by cuttings is also going better than ever with some cultural changes: the in-ground cutting beds are producing 4′ plus plants in a season and i’m having my first successes with summer softwood, notably illinois everbearing mulberry. Thanks to craig williams for helping set-up that system.

Other tree-specific news: The sweet almond project is well underway. I’m working to get large quantities of these trees available now, after a few years of testing on our farm. I planted about 150 rootstock this winter so stay tuned.  The malus fusca project is also going well. I’m not able to keep up with demand and have put-out about 100 rootstock to try to get the numbers up in the near future.  The next horizon for me is offering some really neat plum varieties that otherwise aren’t available in western canada. They should be ready for sale in 2019.

What you might notice this year, beyond the higher diversity of much bigger plants, is the almost total lack of citrus. There have been production issues in that department….which i don’t honestly really mind: citrus is always on the edge in Canada. So take a look at the citrus i do have in stock, the only citrus with real apoca-survivability: citrus trifoliata.

We are looking for an early spring apprentice for 2018. Term from february to april. Part time work in exchange for room/board and stipend. I have a lot i can teach about making and managing trees and i could use an extra set of hands during the busy season.  A more detailed post on this will follow. A big thanks to Lisa Small and John and Anna for being on the farm in 2017. And Magdalene and Bob and Pris. I could not have done it all without yous.

In closing, thanks for reading and for supporting the nursery and for making the future better by planting trees.

A video by Exploring Alternatives on youtube about us.

April 2016

Its not the beginning of a cryogenic sleeping chamber. It will be a fully automated and climate controlled plant propagator. Variables include including thermostatically controlled bottom heat, air temperature and humidity sensors, air venting, soil moisture and leaf wetness sensor, automated fogging and option for shade/sun percentage and day length. I’ve got all the mechanicals ready and Craig Williams is building the computer controller from scratch on a raspberry Pi board. Apparently it will be possible to monitor and control it all from my phone! Ya robot army!


December 2015

nishimura wase

nishimura wase

Upper left going clockwise: saijo, fuyu, nikita's gift, meader and nishimura

Upper left going clockwise: saijo, fuyu, nikita’s gift, meader and nishimura

Actually eating  our own persimmons marks the end of an era here for me. Its been around eight years since i imported and planted the first trees. At the time i didn’t know anybody else in the area who was growing them or even if they would survive and produce. The books seemed to say they would but it was leap of faith. This year we ate 6 different kinds that all came online simultaneously:  meader, nikita’s gift, fuyu, saijo, nishimura and chocolate. 

There are two different lines of genetics with persimmon family: asian and american. The asian’s are generally smaller trees with larger and sweeter fruit. The american’s are larger trees with smaller more astringent fruit that is faster to ripen than the asians. There are also hybrids such as nikita’s gift. It is the result of russian breeder’s crossing the asians with the americans. It is a small tree with medium sized fruit that is super early ripening like the american meader but without the astringency. It doesn’t have the complex brandy flavour notes or the early early ripening of the meader however….
Ripening is and will be the achilles heel of persimmon cultivation in our climate on the coast. They all need a long season and lots of heat. They don’t leaf out until after most domestic fruit has finished flowering and they don’t flower until the apples are already set. Correspondingly,  a good amount of fruit did not finish on our trees and we had to pick the bulk of it before the first hard frost.  All this fruit went into baskets on the kitchen table and slowly ripened up over time. We ate a few persimmons every day over a period of several weeks. Even now, in mid-december, we’re stil eating the last fuyus and nishimuras. I also discovered the benefits of persimmon massaging this year by accidentally leaving an unripe nishimura in my hand bag for two weeks. The softening process does wonders in producing sugars. The only fruits that didn’t ripen properly were the “chocolate” persimmons that got frozen on the tree. That was the end of them. They were gross.
The “chocolate” is a “late-ripening” (read almost useless) variety that was planted primarily as a pollinator for the nishimura. Apparently the later is astringent when un-pollinated and non-astringent when pollinated. There are no such similar dynamics with typical north american fruit. There are also few north-american people who can handle astringent persimmons. I enjoy a bit of it. Its like thorns with roses but more like having your mouth full of really fine sawdust that persistently coats your guns and teeth and tongue while you’re trying to eat a piece of fruit.
The edge for me now with persimmons is figuring out propagation. Like apples the wood doesn’t readily root. Rootstock can be grown from seed and cultivars are grafted. After some experimenting and many failures over the last couple of years i am having some success with summer t-budding during bark slip onto d. lotus grown out from seed.

October 2015

Peter’s Intro to Solar Water Pumping

Written by Peter Janes at the request of the Solar Power Group. Photo by Peter Janes.

The main challenge with solar powered systems is that they are relatively expensive to set-up.

Like a lot of other things that are worth doing the initial investment can be a challenge.

We’re running solar direct water pumps on our farm. This means that the PV panel is connected

(almost) directly to the pump motor. When it’s really sunny the pumps move a lot of water.

When its cloudy they move less and at night they won’t run at all no matter what you need to

water. The solar direct water set-up works great for watering fruit trees on drip irrigation. Their

water demands are directly linked to sun intensity and evapotranspiration levels. It also works

great for pumping to a secondary storage. Ideally this is a reservoir placed high in the landscape

that can provide pressurized water at any hour via gravity with no additional pumping. The solar

direct system does not work well with annual vegetable irrigation. This is better done during

early morning and late at night as too much water is lost to evaporation during mid-day. In

addition vegetable irrigation tends to be a stop/start endeavor that requires the pump to switch on

and off even with a pressure tank.

Our system runs on 24V DC, twice the voltage of a typical automobile. The motors on the pumps

are also engineered for 24V DC. They are not  commonly available. Systems can be set-up for

any other DC voltage, including 12 VDC but continuous-duty motors in DC aren’t commonly

available in this voltage either.

It is possible to mediate between the panel and motor with a few different options. One is a

battery. This allows you to pump at night but requires the addition of a relatively cheap charge

controller.  The other potential mediator is called a Linear Current Booster (LCB). I’ve run

pumps with and without them and consider them totally essential for low-light conditions. They

are interesting little black boxes that can convert voltage into amperage and get the pump turning

when it otherwise would be sitting stalled without enough powered to get turning.

There are numerous pumps on the market these days with a wide range of (generally high)

prices. I’m mostly familiar with what are called horizontal piston pumps. They are a (near totally)

obsolete technology that was very widespread before the advent of the modern jet-pump.

However, when combined with Solar technology they have the interesting advantage of almost

no start-up resistance. Meaning  they will start turning slowly with very little available power

(sun) when a jet pump would be totally stalled in the same conditions. i.e. how it is every

morning in the summer before the sun is high overhead. The other great thing about the piston

pump is that it is infinitely rebuild-able. My current Number Two pump is an amalgamation of

three different scrap piston pumps that I rescued from dump piles. My number one pump was a

brand new Solar Force piston pump, which the company put together using a pompco body and a

leeson motor (and the addition of a very healthy mark-up). Both have required very little

maintenance and will outlive me with correct care. If you are interested in putting together your

own system there is some artistry in matching PV power, LCB capability and motor ability and

pump gear ration to achieve correct performance.

Other pump of note are the cheap diaphragms pumps make by shurflow ($100-200),  the solar

gear pumps called a “slow pump”, and some really interesting deepwell pumps that can run on

any input voltage: BC Hydro or solar. They are very expensive but totally adaptable to any

If your water supply is close to your power supply and you have BC hydro it’s probably not

worth getting into solar pumping. However, if your water supply is more than a few hundred feet

from your power supply (BC hydro or otherwise) then solar pumping starts to look good based

on ditching and wire cost alone. Additionally, once the system is set-up nobody sends you a

utility bill for having it turned on!

Remineralization, Effective microorganisms, and Tall Pots.

April 2015.

All of the plants being sold from the farm are now up to speed with highly mineralized and fertilized soil mix that has been inoculated with aerobic effective microorganisms (EM). Its kind of expensive but fairly easy to do. The results seem to be somewhat difficult to measure. But, when it comes to trees, time will tell! So far this year the chestnut seedlings seem to be off to a roaring start with a growth rate and leaf size that i haven’t seen before.

The other new practice in the nursery this year is the use of “stuewe and sons” tree pots for all the tap-rooted species. These pots are 10-12″ tall compared to the usual 6-8″ tall pots. My observations thus far is that the extra root space translates to happier and taller trees when those trees are tap-rooted: mostly nut trees but also other species grown from seed such as c. trifoliata and paw paw.

2015 will be our first season offering Fresh Tree Seed!

When i first started out i bought a lot of different tree seeds and most had dismal germination rates because they were dried out and dead. Now that we have loads of fresh fruit and seed I’ve seen first-hand what a difference fresh seed makes to germination rates – approaching 100% germination within only a few months. Sometimes, they actually sprout the  fall that they are sown.
The “clonal-minded” may turn their noses up at sexual reproduction in fruiting plants -dismissing seedling variability in fruit quality and phenotype. But! Remember, evolution happens and cloned cultivars aren’t keeping up with it! Diversity and selection from diversity are the key to long-term species success -and fruit quality variability is highly overstated.
Everyone has been told the thing about “don’t ever bother planting an apple seed because you won’t get a decent fruit…” usually followed by some statistic about “only 1 in 1000 or 1 in 10,000 apple seedlings have decent fruit”.  Well, the first apple seedling i let grow to maturity (un-pruned no less) is now about 8 years old. It bore fruit last year and guess what? it was really good. Early and looking like a Transparent, but smaller, with a red blush and with more zesty interesting flavor. So, did i just happen to luck out and roll 1 in 1000? I doubt it.
I’m predicting surplus quantities of Autumn Olive, Caragana, Cornelian Cherry, Goumi, Prunus (various), Rosa Rugosa, Seabuckthorn, and Sweet Chestnut. Prices to be determined, but surely reasonable. And shipped right off the plant!
Spring 2015. Peter Janes
“How long does it take for that to produce?” is the most common question i’m asked at sales events. The questions is usually applied to the block 2 year old walnut seedlings in the 1 gallon pots.
My now routine response, which still takes considerable patience to communicate with a positive attitude is: “If you treat it well, irrigate in the summer, fertilize regularly and cultivate to keep the grass away, around 8 years. If you don’t do those things, than longer.”
What i’d usually actually like to say is some combination of “short-sighted bastard”, “multi-generation project” and “who cares? plant it anyways.” This, of course, would be both rude and poor salesmanship.
But, the fact remains: the last store i inquired in as-to the price of a 44 lb bag of organic pig feed responded with the sum of $27. (The non-organic was $11.80 and chock-a-block full of glyco-phosphate herbicide residue). Is not a $30 bag of feed enough reason to plant walnuts? oak? hazelnuts? chestnuts? or any other food bearing perennial?  Could not have any reasonably intelligent human being with a dependency on food and on animals that eat food have predicted that the price of grain would increase over time?
The old adage is “that the best time to plant a fruit tree was 20 years ago and that the next best time is now.” That, of course, requires a bit of forethought and potentially a father, uncle, friend or farmer who already did it for you: 20 years before you thought it might be a good idea yourself.
So, i encourage you, good human, to be that person and plant the nuts trees now.
We are looking for one 2015 Farm Apprentice.
Posted via the Soil Apprenticeship Program
Main Farm Production: 1) Vegetables, Fruits and value added products for weekly CSA boxes. 2) Nursery plants: Fruit trees, nut trees, berry bushes and fruiting vines 3) Development of gardens, orchards, pastures, building. We are still very much growing and evolving the farm. This year we are exited about continuing our soil (re)mineralization process, growing lots of food for the island, continuing to evolve our orchard spaces along restoration agriculture lines, continuing to build on the on-farm community, growing lots of new tree-crop species in the nursery and maybe even finishing our house!
We’ve been at creating this farm since 2004: Clearing land, planting food forests, milling lumber, building dwellings, infrastructure, and gardens. Our orchard includes over 160 varieties of fruits and nuts. We are located on Denman Island, farming about 6 of  40 acres, privately tucked in between beautiful forested parks, by marshes and a lake.
Apprentices here will learn a (very wide) variety of skills and be participate in a diverse number of hands-on projects. We are primarily looking for somebody excited about gardening! Learning and doing all the various and varied tasks that go into producing and preparing our CSA food boxes. We will also need help in our permaculture nursery, the orchard, with the animals, with our farm-based catering, and lots of other DIY homestead projects. Some applicant experience is a plus, but the main thing we’re looking for is a willingness to jump in and do-it-all with a smile.
Apprentices live in a self-contained vintage trailer (power, internet, basic cooking) and have access to the main farmhouse, where most meals will be communally cooked and shared. We have meals with other farm community regularly, with lots of folks coming through to help out on the farm and visit, so it is a busy social place.

Mark Shepard’s recommended planting density from Restoration Agriculture, 2013

Peter Janes. Jan 2015

1 Acre (at New Forest Farms) contains:

-34 apple

-86 chestnut [!!!]

-120 grape

-208 hazelnut [!!!]

-416 raspberry

-520 currant


These trees are distributed in 9 rows of trees with a 23′ wide aley  (or row crop or forage) between each row of trees

-5 (0f 9) rows are of chestnut, planted 12′ apart in each row, with currants planting beneath on 2′ centers and a grape planted against each chestnut stem

4 (of 9) rows are Apple and Hazelnut. Apples are planted 24′ apart and hazels are planted as an understory every 4′. Raspberries planted to the south on 2′ centers and a grape on each apple.

Peter’s notes for the night:

This is amazing plant density that nobody around here that i know (myself included) has had the bravery to pull off. I love it. We’re going to redensify most of my original plantings based on mark’s inspirations.

I’m validated by his emphasis on seedling diversity and glad i’ve been doing the same thing on our farm. Not very many people want to chance it with seedlings, but i think the risk is highly overstated. IF only 1 in 10,000 apple seedlings are going to produce any decent fruit, then how come, please tell, did the first apple seedling i planted that came to fruition last year happen to produce a really nice apple? It looked like a rose blush transparent (and just as early) but with better flavor and crunch!

Other thoughts…don’t bother with that many red currants because the red currant maggots are in the area and they ruin 99% of the fruit -at least for now.  Plant blacks, josta’s or goosies instead…..

Care and Cultivation of Newly Purchased Plants

November 2014.

The main factors that kill young trees are 1) summer drought 2) grass competition 3) mechanical damage 4) winter water-logging.

So, make sure you water your new trees for their first few summer seasons (whether in pot or in the ground). Keep any weed competition, especially grass, away from the surrounding soil. Protect the trees from meadow voles, deers, weed-wackers and dogs. Don’t plant any trees in areas that hold standing water after heavy rains (with the exception of m. fusca or blueberries.) Some plants, like sweet chestnuts and kiwi vines, are totally intolerant of wet soils.

The main factors that help plants to thrive are 1) adequate applied research on the part of the human purchaser 2) maintaining an optimum growth curve by providing for anticipated needs (the opposite of stunting) 3) watering lots in the summer: 4-6 Gallons a day, everyday! 4) weed control via clear cultivation or heavy mulching (the latter only if you don’t have voles) 5) appropriate pruning 6) Light weight and well-aerated soil. (especially for pawpaws) 7) Lots of appropriate fertilizer: whether dug into the hole, applied as a mulch, foliar sprayed or applied by ranging poultry. Get a soil test done and apply the knowledge. I can’t recommend soil tests enough ( 8) Appropriate micro-climate selections: Some trees need milder winter lows, some need more summer heat. Some, like figs, like both conditions. Some tree like full sun and some, like the ribes, like part shade. 9) Adequate pollination: This may mean buying multiples of a tree, buying a different cultivar than the first tree or planting one or more males. 10) Pay attention to eventual long-term size and shape and make sure there is adequate room for the tree.

We sell quality plants that we feel confident in. It is the responsibility of the buyer to do their own research and learn how to best care for their new plants. There is no explicit or implicit warranty on plants and we welcome you into the wild and unpredictable world of perennial food-plant cultivation.

I highly recommend both permanent labeling and mapping of your food trees.

Good growing,

Peter Janes and the TreeEater team

Do you live with Hazelnut Trees?

Peter B. Janes. Oct 2014
If you interact with Hazelnuts I’d like to introduce you to the Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB). Its a fungus that sickens and kills hazels. This is unfortunate because hazelnuts were one of our toughest food producing trees. EFB is currently colonizing our immediate area and has reportedly infected the hazel orchard on mission hill, just south of Art Knapp. Its only a matter of time before it gets onto Denman, if it isn’t already, by wind or by imported nursery plants. It is impossible to limit the distribution of fungal spores. So, all we can do is get educated, keep an eye out for it and try to limit its establishment.
Some details: Certain varieties of hazels are more susceptible than others. Generally the common commercial cultivars, such as Barcelona, Ennis and DuChilly, are highly susceptible. Other varieties are less susceptible and there are some newly created cultivars that are reportedly totally resistant. But wait! I humbly suggest that you don’t go importing these new varieties onto Denman because logic dictates that they were bred and produced in areas with high concentration of EFB and that importing them will also import the disease.
My personal strategy for the past number of years has been to propagate hazelnut trees by seed, instead of cloning. A seedling is a genetic unique individual and a group of them possess genetic diversity A (hazelnut) population of individuals will be much more resistant to catastrophic infection than a hazel nut population of commercial clones. We need to be clear that a hazelnut orchard with 1000 Barcelona tree and 200 DuChilly trees is only two individuals, genetically speaking, no matter the bulk of wood.  This type of orchard is a really happy medium for a fungal infection. We have a leg-up here because we don’t have orchards like this.
But in the end the infection will end up here. So we need to be able to recognize it and remove infected wood and trees. The internet says we can also spray either toxic fungicides or copper solutions (which are certified for organic production). The infection looks like little black spots, in lines, on the old wood of the tree. These “stroma” bear spores which then go onto affect young growing tissue in the spring, causing weakness, cankers and die back. So, we look for the stroma and cankers and die-back. There is a lag between initial infection and expression of the disease. Check a picture on the internet. As far as i know hazel’s suffer from no other diseases to be confused by in the diagnosis process.
Happy Horticulturing.

Where do our Minerals Come From?

Peter B. Janes

April 18 2014

I’ve long read that food from the grocery store is increasingly mineral deficient and that

nutrition levels have been declining steadily since the 1950s. It makes sense as most farm

land is being continually cropped and the majority of the fertility added back is coming in the

form of N-P-K petroleum fertilizer. Of course plants need a lot of than nitrogen, phosphorous

and potassium to grow properly and so does the human body.

We’ve been reading a book called the Intelligent Gardener by Steve Solomon. He’s a (I would

say) reformed hippy gardener from the 70s back-to the land movement. His thing these days

is remineralization and he frowns on his traditional (and most of our local and current) garden

amending technique of just adding a lot of manure and compost. According to him this route

simply exacerbates regional excesses and does nothing to rectify regional deficiencies.

My main fertilizing technique has mostly been manure, seaweed, hay and whatever else is

cheap and local. I’ve never done a soil test because i thought they were expensive. And why

bother? However, last year i was talking with a couple who came to visit the nursery and they

told me about Steve Solomon and about a place called Logan Labs. “$25 per test” they said,

and “our production more than doubled after the prescribed amending.”

So, we did some tests this winter and low and behold, just like Steve said, massive calcium

deficiency, ultra low ph, potassium excess, but really good cation exchange and organic

matter levels (from all the manure and sheet mulching for a decade). Apparently certain

regions have fairly predictable test patterns.

We needed to add nitrogen, phosphorous and trace minerals. We needed agricultural lime

more than all the other amendments combined. Its important here to stress that agriculture

lime is not dolomite lime, no matter what the worker at the farm and feed store tries to tell you.

Dolomite lime has a lot of magnesium and coastal soils tend to have too much magnesium

compared to calcium. Is the lack of calcium in our farm soils the reason why some of us have

soft teeth? Steve Solomon says that at the height of his back-to-the-land career all of his teeth

were falling out! Our soil is also short on zinc and copper. These elements play extremely

complicated roles in the human body. Calcium and magnesium have a sensitive dance. As do

calcium and vitamin D (which also in short supply around here).

Will the new plan produce healthier food and healthier people? Time will tell. I have read that

most of the bottled vitamin and mineral supplements that so many people take are extremely

(chemically) unavailable to the human body compared to vitamins and minerals that have

been processed by plants and animals that we can consume.

We brought home about 2000 pounds of amendments (about 10 different products valued

at about $800) for just over a quarter acre of cultivated vegetable garden. That may sound

like a lot but the bags are really heavy and they only occupied less than half of my truck bed.

I realized while we were spreading it all that it could be the smartest thing we’ve ever done

for our own health and security. Some people stockpile canned foods and batteries and

guns. But what’s more disaster prepared than having soil that fully supports life? Of course

i recognize the ecological cost of the mineral mining and long distance trucking required to

mineralize our land. But whats the alternative? Going along with Stephen Harper’s plan to get

us all working in the oil industry and buying all of our food from China? Maybe the region’s

soil deficiencies are why the First Nations long ago oriented their subsistence towards the


This Months Recipe: Fried Denman Seaweed

Don’t worry too much about the radiation. Being mineral deficient will kill you sooner than

the strontium 90 will. Furthermore, Strontium 90 actually mimics calcium so if you’re low in

calcium your body will uptake extra Sr 90 to try fill the calcium void. Many other dangerous

nuclear isotopes act as mineral-mimics in this way.


-Go down to a rocky beach (on the Hornby side) at low tide and collect the thin gossamer

dark red seaweed that’s growing in clumps on the boulders. We call it Purple Laver. Green

Laver and “Sea Lettuce” are pretty good too. Don’t worry about 100% identification because

no seaweed is poisonous. If the tides been out for awhile the seaweed will be dried in sheets

onto the rocks almost like sushi nori.

-Don’t take too much from any one spot and make sure to harvest the fronds with a pair of

scissors. Leave the plant’s hold-fasts intact on the rock and it will regrow.

-Take the seaweed home, rinse it, remove any shelled-beasts and dry it completely.

-Store it away in an airtight jar and/or break up about 2 fist-fulls into small pieces.

-Put several tablespoons of olive oil (or coconut oil) and a few pinches of salt in a big cast


-Get the oil really hot (but not burning) and throw in seaweed. Toss and stir it quickly for just a

few minutes until it crisps up.

-Serve hot. Even little boys seem to like it.

Check out these stunning photos of our farm taken by Belinda White

Visions of Paradise

Photos taken by Emily and Leah and Peter from a July workparty

We’ve got an opening for an agricultural apprentice.  Starting March 1st and open-ended, pending a 2 week trial period. Tasks ranging from nursery work (plant propagation and stock management) to garden expansion and production (getting the CSA started for the season) to general animal and farm tasks. 25 hours/week. We have a nice little trailer for the apprentice (with heat, power, and internet) and access to the amenities (meals and bathing) of the main farm house. There is a possibility of a stipend from FMC pending application and their acceptance.

Send us a CV and references if you’re interested! Peter and the Farm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“There is an inescapable cruelty in our life. We have to live at the expense of other creatures. It doesn’t make any difference how vegetarian we are. We’re still displacing other creatures. But, the rule in using other creatures -and i mean plants and animals- is to use them with the minimum of violence.”

                                                                                                    Wendell Berry. 2013.

Hornet Architecture

Hornet Architecture

Invisible Inputs

Peter B. Janes

December 2013

Lets talk about the thing that nobody in the local food movement really wants to talk about. The elephant in the room, or the barn as it may be. They’re usually brown or white, but sometimes they have some fancy colors on them. They’re pretty square, but not very tough. Don’t get them wet! They’re heavy -usually, say about exactly 40 pounds. We are totally addicted to them. Have you guessed it yet?

Feed. Animal feed. The grain that we buy from the feed-stores to maintain, grow, finish and breed almost all our of domestic livestock and pets and …ourselves…

Am I serious? Whats the problem with feed and grain? To be brief: corporate control, genetic engineering, petroleum fertilizer, toxic pesticides and herbicides, giant machines replacing human jobs, the global commodities market, long distance shipping, total lack of local control, erosion of nutrient and mineral content, massive soil erosion and aquifer depletion…..

Here’s a more focused example to bring it all home: I was recently talking to a grain grower and miller who currently resides and works in Port Alberni. He used to grow commercial grain on the prairies. He was explaining to me that growers’ want all the wheat to finish at exactly the same time (its called hardening off) so that a single run of the combine will harvest the maximum amount of finished grain that is free of its husk. In the past this was a bit a of a crap-shoot to get the timing right. Now, its standard operating procedure to spray a “desiccant” on the crop a couple of weeks before harvest so all the plants finish their grain at exactly the same time. The desiccant is Round-up. So I said “So, you mean all the grain we’re eating was sprayed with Round-up right before it was harvested?” He said “Yes”.

Since then i’ve been trying to buy organic feed. But, to be honest, its just too expensive for us. Even before this point my position was to avoid extruded feed and feed that contains corn or soy. I purchase the whole grain “high protein” scratch. It has lentils for protein. But its still dirty stuff to which the above “dessicants” are still applied -just like all our human food grain

My best solution to all of this is to plant lots of lots of fruit and nut trees: the whole permaculture idea. I’ve planted hundreds and sold thousands. On the surface, a diet of fruit and nuts might seem like a commitment to a pseudo-paleo plant-based vegan diet. It could be and I think there are a lot of good arguments for taking this route -Fukashima and heart disease being only two.

However, this route also lays the foundation for a truly sustainable and incredibly nutritious local live-stock industry. One where the surplus mast goes to the animals. “Mast” describes large amounts of tree crops, surplus fruits and nuts that can be fed to grow and fatten livestock that are otherwise pasture based.

This is an old pattern. In the old days in France and Spain the chestnuts were once stored in the fall for winter feeding – much like we do now with hay. Cows, goats, sheep, pigs and chickens all ate them. Furthermore, human labour can be eschewed entirely in a well-developed agro-forestery system by letting the animals pick-up the mast themselves during the ripening period. The feral hogs on the savanna of Iberia still do to this day. In fact, this is pretty much what the wild deer of Denman are currently doing. They browse what they can for most of their diets (especially human cultivated lawns) and then fatten themselves on wind-fallen apples in the fall. There is no reason why we can’t recreate these systems on here for livestock in a more controlled fashion.

The problem with this whole plan is that its fairly long-term. Really long-term actually. And it takes a lot of work and money to do it right. In the mean-time who’s interested in growing organic grain for sale to local animals and human animal’s? There’s now a successful model to follow from the interior: A grain farmer is growing emmer for direct sale to a “grain CSA” in nelson. They’re even transporting the crop by fleet of sailboat from Creston to Nelson. The grain farmer is commanding a premium price, the consumers are eating premium wheat and there are no middle-men. Emmer is an old and highly nutritious variety of wheat. In this case its for people. Would it be economically feasible to grow (lower quality) feed grain to sell by the tonne to livestock farmers on the Island?

Grain’s grow well here: I’ve grown and harvested many small patches or rye, wheat, oats and barely over the years. And I know that at least two of our livestock farmers grow oats for their own beasts. I’m sure that the devil is probably in the details and that the details are probably economic. But I for one would be willing to pay a good price for local bulk feed in order to avoid the constant trips to town.

Carbohydrates need our collective attention. Whether growers or consumers, vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous. My sense is that any progress on this front will come about from people chatting with each other and figuring out ways to simultaneously meet each others needs. Some of us have land, some have money, some have machines, some of us grow, some of us eat…..

The December Recipe: Eggs and Toast by Raphael

(An everyday meal that betrays its/our total dependency on the 40lb sacks. Add some bacon if you want to take the grain dependency to the next level.

-Heat up small skillet to low and add 1 tablespoon of butter. Add a pinch of salt to the oil.

-Slice bread. Insert in and depress toaster

-Crack two eggs and cook slowly to maintain tenderness. Finish to desired firmness.

-Butter toast, plate eggs and fetch your best jar of mustard. Eat while its hot.

The New Bathtub. 9.5 years later

slug teeth marks

Magdalene and the Maker

August 1 2013

I’m looking for additional old-school PISTON PUMPS that aren’t being loved and used that i can refurbish and put back to work. They, as a technology, became mostly obsolete about 50 years ago…But, they still have a lot going for them and are completely reborn when tied directly to photovoltaic solar panels.  no batteries needed. They are extremely efficient in this application and infinitely rebuildable.

July 2013 is berry season: we’re harvesting lots and lots of goumi berries, red raspberries, ivory white hunza mulberries, purple illinois everbearing mulberries, marrion berries, tay berries and native trailing blackberries. The pie cherries are just about ready. The robins are eating lots of all the berries that aren’t netted so i’ve made the habit […]

July 2013 is berry season: we’re harvesting lots and lots of goumi berries, red raspberries, ivory white hunza mulberries, purple illinois everbearing mulberries, marrion berries, tay berries and native trailing blackberries. The pie cherries are just about ready. The robins are eating lots of all the berries that aren’t netted so i’ve made the habit of eating some of the robins!, (oops am i supposed to admit this in public?).

The marrion berries are so amazingly vigorous, productive, large-fruiting and amazingly florally-fragrant that i’m really going to re-focus propagation effort on them.

We’re starting to include fruit and berries in the weekly box program and over time the proportion of  perennial products will increase.

As of now, July 2013 Magdalene has 2 or 3 spaces available in the weekly box program. call or email if you’re interested


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