Filling our vessels


Water

Who would have thought that anyone in Victoria would be wishing for the rain in February?  Well, we are, and are happy to announce it’s arrived 4 months late, and it’s filling our vessels!   Not Ann’s or Gord’s bladder type vessels, but our pond, infiltration pits, swales and soils.  Unfortunately, with the rain finally arriving, our well water is now contaminated yet again which has become a yearly event following the seasonal rains…this year, it was just a few months later.  Water has become very symbolic this past year (2013); it’s been a year that’s caused a lot of reflection after witnessing Californian’s lose their ability to see their reflections in their lakes and reservoirs due to a continuation of their 3rd year of drought, and the rest of the continent reflects on what is in store for their food supply as a result.  We have become aware of how quickly things can change due to government policies allowing fracking and toxic dump sites to occur atop of watersheds and watching industrial accidents spill copious poisons into the life blood waterways.   If this doesn’t define stupid, I don’t know what does.  Consequently it has been a winter of thinking of water, where it flows, how it filters, where it stores and how blatantly it’s destroyed with absence of thought.   How are we preparing here at Eco-Sense and what are we learning… hold on… we are about to tell.Rainwater Collection

Coming out of our MUD Cave

Like treading water, Ann and I had taken a hiatus for a year to reflected on a lot learned over the past 7 years  – with the past two, feeling like we were stuck in the mud.  This basically provided a year off from speaking engagements, tours, and teaching, and instead allowed us to turn our energies and efforts towards the land.  I’m sure we hear laughing from those who know us (as solar energizer - free range organic bunnies) and wonder what taking time off looks like.    We have had some bumpy potholes, as family’s do, feeling like we were drowning in the small details, and losing site sometimes of the bigger picture. This was compounded over the past 2 1/2 years, with the maturing realization that rather than focusing on avoiding (mitigating) abrupt climate change, we have already passed the climatic tipping points.  Mitigation no longer seems like an option, adaptation must now be our focus, with connected local economies focusing of basic needs like food and water.  Food systems for a changing unpredictable climate with tougher plants and eco-systems should’ve been planted 5 years ago.  We’ve all got lots of work to do.

350 ppm atmospheric concentration of CO2 is long gone...

350 ppm atmospheric concentration of CO2 is long gone…

This awareness redefines our priorities and has spawned urgency to get our compost together with our resilient and redundant food and water systems.  This past year we started on the creation of perennial food systems, and now we are again ready to begin teaching classes, sharing our successes and failures, and selling plants that we have incorporated for our drastically changing climate.   We are coming back out of our cave.

Tour group learning about grey water

Tour group learning about grey water

The Compost is Hitting the Fan

The global climate is changing rapidly… powered by the decrease in temperature differential between sub-tropical air and the arctic air powering an unprecedented shift in the jet stream.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nzwJg4Ebzo  From historic floods in the UK, to the droughts in California, to the heat waves in Australia and the arctic, the melting permafrost, the methane release, and the freezing temperatures throughout central north America, one can easily see that civilization and ecosystems are in decline…rapid decline.  We can’t change this, and instead of being crippled by despair and the inaction of our global society, we can just get on with living and helping people to help themselves.  This is a time of immense opportunity and change.  Time to adapt as best we can and put some roots in the soil.

Putting roots in the soil with some friends

Putting roots in the soil with some friends

Identifying Opportunities and Facing vulnerabilities 

Pond(ering) this reality, and understanding what the implications are for us, we expect to have longer drier summers and this winter in particular a lack of rain.  We cannot think of any one strategy in isolation.  Our food relies on water, water is impacted by the changing climate (politically and environmentally), energy  is required to move water, and then we must store it and look after it.  Aside from the standard rainwater cisterns, earthworks are used in a variety of ways to help control water resources – we are always amazed at the earthworks demonstrated on some of the mo(i)st amazing projects around the world… but unlike many of those projects, our opportunities are different as we live on a hill of fractured bedrock, with limited soils, and summers of drought lasting three or more months.  One thing for sure, we know that our home, on top of the hill, will never flood.

DSC01040

Water: slow it down, spread it out, soak it in. New blueberry and tea patch. This area accepts the water run off from the upper driveway.

Taking out a blackberry patch - installing swales and hugelkultur beds preparing for perennial plantings

Taking out a blackberry patch – installing swales and hugelkultur beds preparing for perennial plantings

But when the rains do come, we have to plan for water abundance (extreme rain events).  We need to drastically slow it down, spread it out and sink it in, or we’ll lose this resource as runoff taking our soils with it like a thief.  We need to keep it in the soil, soak it in, and recharge our ground water.

Gord’s irrigation system moistens Ann’s gardens.  Perennials

Married

Married

Don’t jump to conclusions… we’re married.  What we are trying to elude to is finally the installation of an irrigation system and perennial food system.  We are transitioning our food systems to more perennial plants for six main reasons:

  • They require less/no irrigation once established
  • They hold the soils together in extreme rain events
  • They don’t need to be replanted every year in changing weather patterns
  • They produce abundant more reliable food crops with LESS work…eventually
  • They build more soil and do not require outside fertilizer inputs when appropriate design is used.
  • They are not subject to failure due to late or cold springs (like annuals)

So on the water theme, we installed an irrigation system hooked up to the rain water catchment from the house, with a redundant top up support from the deep well.  This freed up our time to get a little more dirty, so much time in fact that we created a food forest (or three).DSC00696

A food forest is a human designed forest of ecosystem enhancing plants that follows the basic design principals of forest ecology to provide for our human needs and that of many other species.

The first phase is planted amongst a grove of Arbutus (which had been previously gardened).  We’ve planted tea, seabuck thorn, josta, black currant, gooseberry, hardy kiwi, fuzzy kiwi, European olive, autumn olive, Arbutus unedo, grapes, chestnut, mulberry, Capulin cherry, amaranth, Sezchaun pepper, goji, blueberries and more.  What does this mean?   More water please.

PONDering the dilemma

Hidden away at the top of our driveway there is a man made pond that was here before we moved in, long since overgrown with willow and cedar, and due to its unkept status was as useful as a leaky gumboot.   As any woman could attest to, the pond was a failure in it ability to hold its liquor of life for the very reason that it was man-made.  So to remedy this, Gord de-forested it over two months, and then looked to Ann’s womanly skill at retaining water.   The size is about 100,000 gallons (400,000 liters).    The pond process did require the use of a machine for 2 days, which dug and sorted the existing soils and clay, and re-laid them with the worst layers on the bottom, progressively better layers atop, capped by a top layer of blue clay.  Over the summer we sprinkled 30 sacks of bentonite clay into the cracks and then waited, and waited, and waited and…. while waiting we used all the chipped materials from the clearing to mulch all the bare landscape surrounding the pond and planted copious nitrogen fixing plants to enhance the soils for this year’s plantings.

resurfacing the old pond

resurfacing the old pond

In deciding to go this route with the pond sealing we researched out a variety of systems, inclusive of gley (building an anaerobic bio-film layer using straw and manure layers capped under clay soil), EPDM liner, Polyurea spray liner, concrete, animals (pigs) to puddle the existing soils, geese/ducks… the list is endless.  Finances, materials, time frames, and ecological concerns, lead us to choose the clay for re-sealing the pond.  Fingers crossed!

DSC01116A pond in and of itself has great ecological diversity, but the fun part, is to imagine and expand how many uses it has, and integrate resilience and redundancy into integrated systems.  So… we connected the house rainwater cisterns to feed into the pond as needed; we can pull from the pond to water the upper gardens and house as required;  we have enhanced fire suppression both as a source to draw from and to maintain a more moist less flammable vegetative barrier;  we installed a suction feed out of the pond to the lower gardens and future site of a small dwelling.

The pond also provides:

  • Micro climate for the other food forest areas being installed  this spring (another 1/2 acre),
  • A home to a host of plants that are edible for us (Sagittaria latifolia) ,
  • Food for us/chickens/ducks (Azolla, duckweed and eventually fish),
  • Supply of green manure for summer mulch and compost fodder,
  • Future home to a modified aquaculture systems, tied to the new greenhouse (salvaged solarium), heated via thermophilic compost next winter,
  • Continued support to the ground water recharge as the earthwork slowly seals over the next two years,
  • Protection from storm surges washing out roads and other infrastructure,
  • A beautiful reflection of the fullmoon  into the new (all used materials) Eco-Hut perched beside it, acting as the new office for our farm/nursery/resiliency/get-your-shit-together-connect-the-dots business.
Eco-Hut (under construction)

Eco-Hut (under construction)

Slippery slope

So the slippery slopes of the clay pond lends itself to providing a fine excuse for taking a year away from our sustainability advocacy role.   What it also means is a host of projects including a new building (the Eco-Hut or as Ann calls it, the “Woman Cave”), solar PV systems installed, cob being made, plants being researched, ground covers planted (and already harvested).  Even Ann with her stoic rationale manner has slipped into the murky waters and has been busily searching for perennial vegetables to fill the gaps, been creative once again with trowel in hand, and flapping her arms and saying  “Quack, quack. ”

Gone Quackers?

Quack, QUACK?  Yup, Ann has (quacky) khaki Campbell ducks on order, for adding to the grass eating, wing flapping, egg laying antics around this crazy place.  Duck coop built and installed, symbolically in the rain… the wonderful rain that has made us mucky, wet, cold, and happy.

New Duck Coop near the pond

New Duck Coop near the pond

Come April we’ll be busy with:

200 more plants to plant (see list of what we are growing at the end of update)

Food Forest Plants

Food Forest Plants

Getting ready for the first farm gate sales open house on April 26th.  See http://ecosenseliving.wordpress.com/edible-plants-for-2013/

Our first course this year with a 2-day immersion of “Permaculture Systems In Action”.  We have partnered up with Tayler and Solara from Hatchet & Seed.  http://www.eventbrite.ca/e/permaculture-systems-in-action-tickets-8912073251

From feeling drained to feeling, well, pumped, with vessels filling every day, we are ready for the storm and expecting to be swamped.   So for those in despair, don’t cry us a river, grab a paddle and build something that floats (a life boat perhaps) and paddle against the currant to a place that has less life stuff and more lifestyle.Ann and Gord

Cheers,

Gord and Ann

Links we found interesting or useful recently (just a few of what we have read or viewed):

http://arctic-news.blogspot.ca/2014/02/massive-methane-concentrations-over-the-laptev-sea.html

http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2014/02/18/279189378/trees-on-the-move-as-temperature-zones-shift-3-8-feet-a-day?utm_content=socialflow&utm_campaign=nprfacebook&utm_source=npr&utm_medium=facebook

Local Communities Dismantling Corporate Rule, part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Prylnj4NQ8

http://www.straight.com/news/588366/gwynne-dyer-its-abrupt-climate-change-stupid

A localvores Potluck: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NO_MBaWDOmw

Clive Hamilton,”Requiem for a Species”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mccKiZ9AfE

A must read with lots of very useful links: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-02-10/come-on-home-ecological-agriculture-and-sixteen-wonderful-farms-that-point-the-way

Salmon documentary:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTbxOFcvC4U

Crash on Demand, by David Holmgren.  http://holmgren.com.au/crash-demand-discussion/

http://mahb.stanford.edu/blog/collapse-whats-happening-to-our-chances/

http://www.nationaljournal.com/video/the-one-video-to-shut-down-all-of-the-climate-change-deniers-20140130

Plants at Eco-Sense

Shiny Leaf Yellowhorn, Heartnut, Butternut, Siberian stone pine, Pinyon Pine, Swiss Pine, Italian/American sweet/Chinese chestnuts, Gingko, Catalpa, Honey Locust, Black locust, Siberian pea shrub, European olive, sezchuan pepper tree, fuzzy kiwis (Hayward and S. 12), comfrey, borage, lambs quarters, bay laurel, EFB Resistant hazelnuts (Jefferson, Yamhill, Gamma, Theta, Eta), Chinese Date Plum, Japanese persimmon, American Persimmon, Hardy pecan, Apricot, Japanese plums, Italian plums, Wild plums, tayberry, josta berry, goji (lycium and babarum), goumi, tea (2 types), autumn olive (6 types),  seabuck thorn (6 types), hardy kiwi (2 types), Arctic Kiwi, fig, red/pink/white currants, black currants (Ben series), lingon berry, wintergreen berry, oregon grape, salal berry, trailing wild black berry, Himalayan/thornless black berry, logan berry, black/red/yellow raspberries, yellow/red gooseberries, saskatoon berries, echinacea, Chinese ginseng, siberian ginseng, arbutus unedo, capulin cherry, dwarf sour cherry (Romeo, Juliet, Cupid), Russian Almond, Paw Paw, apple (10 cultivars including our very own unique Boo Surprise), Elder Berry (4 edible cultivars), Russian olive, English (Carpathian) walnut, Black Walnut,  Mulberry, hostas, grapes (6 varieties), pears, daikon, Jerusalem artichoke, sunflower, sweet potatoes, yacon, oca, Japanese yam, schisandra, camas, chocolate lily, squash (various), Melons (various), yerba buena, yarrow, stinging nettle, parsley, ginger, sage, rosemary, oregano, garlic, potatoes, kohlrhabi, carrots, parsnips, beets, broccoli, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale, tomatoes, tomatillos, cucumbers, peas (various), beans (various), pomegranate, fuki, Meyer lemon, Cornelian Cherry, Chinese dogwood, azolla, Sagittaria latifolia, mints, basil, butteryfly bush, Fava, dock, mustard, lettuces, Chinese greens, mustards, willow, walking onions, ground cherry, hops, mushrooms (garden giant, oyster, puffball, shaggy main, prince agaricus, black morel), miners lettuce, cranberry, quinoa, chick peas, blue berries, rosa rugosa, poppy… with the hopeful additions of ramps, perennial leek, welsh onion, good king henry, sweet cicely, giant soloman seal, asparagus… just to name a few.

Permaculture Systems In Action – 2 day Workshop:


FIRST Workshop of the Season!

Giving you the tools to take control of your food, water, and shelter – Eco-Sense and Hatchet & Seed are teaming up to provide a weekend workshop where you will be immersed in the theory and principle of permaculture and tour all the systems in action at two different sites.   Be prepared to complete this workshop with excitement for all the ideas and design principals that can be integrated into your situation.
This two day class is split between two homes and gardens:  The first day is at Wild Edge Garden & Nursery, home of Hatchet & Seed (Tayler and Solara); the next day is at Eco-Sense, where you can see what 7 years can look like starting from scratch.  Topics covered include design principles, soil and plant ecology, rainwater, grey water, key line design, sustainable building and energy, and a whole lot more.     Bring your own lunch.  Max of 20 people.  See link below for more info.

Tayler and Solara from Hatchet & Seed helping to install living roof layers on the new Eco-Hut.

Tayler and Solara from Hatchet & Seed helping to install living roof layers on the new Eco-Hut.

Technical Appendices for Research


Ann and I may be getting older and more grey which may explain the absence of the technical appendices for the technical science report  uploaded a few  years back.   So for those who have wanted to see the list of sensors, the sample data collected, design criteria, system schematics, etc… please accept our apologies for making you wait so long

Technical Appendices  to the technical report  Can be found here:

Technical Appendices ,

http://ecosenseliving.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/technical-appendices.pdf

Eco-Sense Fall 2013 Update


Eco-Sense Fall 2013 Update:

What’s going on?  It’s been so long since our last update that I don’t even know where to begin.  A lot has happened, and IS happening on the Eco-Sense homestead.

Our lives continue to evolve to focus more and more on FOOD.  Whether it be expanding our gardens, mulching, creating micro climates, growing different crops (like sweet potatoes and chick peas), mulching, planting perennial food forests, learning about companion planting and soils, harvesting, milking a neighbours goat, preserving foods, and did I mention…MULCHING.  We have been drying, fermenting, milking, cheese making, canning and even learning about meat…catching, killing, cleaning, cooking and eating.  Chickens continue to a big part of our lives and we are even planning their food garden so that they can harvest their own food…they like this…A LOT.

Chickens self harvesting their OWN food.

Chickens self harvesting their OWN food.

Bumper crop of SWEET POTATOES

Bumper crop of SWEET POTATOES

Perennial Foods:  Our passions are also taking us to new places…Gord has spent so much time researching plants that I swear he’s growing leaves.  The green looks good on him…especially with our global climate changing so rapidly…he’s adapting quickly.  Perennial veggies are much tougher plants as they don’t need perfect conditions to start new growth every year…and damn they are fun to learn about.  Once established, perennial food forests provide much easier access to food.  I simply love wandering through the food forest to gather whatever I can find for dinner…is seems so much more natural than all those straight lines of manicured veggies.

Food Forest Plants

Food Forest Plants

Aligning our passions with our income:  Eco-Sense has entered a new phase to officially become a farm.  Our focus will be spread out on many aspects of food.  This is to keep life interesting, to mirror  life’s reality, to adapt to changing growing conditions, and increase resiliency in unpredictable economic times.  Gord is expanding his perennial plant knowledge exponentially…his brain is well suited to this and I find it very sexy when he rattles off Latin names.  We will be selling specialty perennial plants here at Eco-Sense, as well as plant group packages.  This means selling groups of plants that grow well together (guilds).  Also available will be extra items like eggs, teas, herbs, seeds, and produce from the garden.  We plan on having a weekly open house where people can come and wander through the food forest, talk to us about plants, specific cultivars, guilds, chickens, veggies, nuts, water systems, energy, food preservation, cheese making, mud, ponds, climate resilience, rant about politics, etc.  We may even talk about our Eco-Sense home or the Eco-Hut.  Stay tuned for the grand opening of our Farm Resilience Business in the Spring of 2014.

This is where milk comes from.  My friend and Neighbours goats.

This is where milk comes from. My friend and Neighbours goats.

What’s an Eco-Hut?  The sustainably built Eco-Hut, located by the refurbished old pond, is the new office for our farm resilience business.  This off-grid solar-powered natural building is about 130 sqft plus a sleeping nook.  It is totally self-contained and we may even move in there when the kids are grown.  We like to think of it as our retirement home.  Anyone interested in the small home movement will certainly love this space.

Eco-hut: Under Construction

Eco-hut: Under Construction

Fully off-grid self contained mini home

Fully off-grid self contained mini home

Peak Moment TV:  Our friends Robin and Janaia from Peak Moment came for a ten day visit this fall and parked their home on wheels here with us at Eco-Sense.  We had a grand time sharing our lives, stories, and food with these two amazing women.  They travelled around the Victoria area filming conversations with inspiring people.  Janaia also painted a watercolour of our greenhouse/cob oven.  We LOVE IT.  Here it is:  http://peakmoment.tv/journal/early-autumn-chronicles-from-the-salish-sea-coast/  If you are not familiar with Peak Moment TV,  you may wish to check out their journal (http://peakmoment.tv/category/journal/) and on line conversations http://peakmoment.tv/category/videos/. Peak Moment is made possible by donations and sharing, so if you like what you see you may wish to donate to Peak Moment TV.  Here is a Peak Moment video tour of the Eco-Sense Home:  http://peakmoment.tv/videos/an-eco-sense-house-natural-building-natural-living/

Janaia's painting "Earth Hands" gifted to us.

Janaia’s painting “Earth Hands” gifted to us.

Island Gals:   Ann continues to write for Island Gals Magazine here on Vancouver Island.  My articles are the story of our Eco-Sense Journey, our home, our lifestyle, and lots of rants.  Most of my articles are available on our website in the Island Gals section.  The magazine is a great collection of Island Women writing about their lives and challenges…it’s so very real.   Website for Island Gals:  http://www.islandgals.ca  I would like to thank my good friend Pattie Whitehouse who has edited all my articles from the beginning.  Pattie is a brilliant editor and writer who wrote the first ever published article on Eco-Sense.   These days, Pattie applies her talent as a personal historian.  If you would like to save your memories and stories so that they don’t get lost, you may wish to hire her expert services.  http://www.pattiewhitehouse.ca

Tours:  We have dramatically cut back on tours due primarily to scented laundry products, which the majority of people are using…quite sad really, as fragrances are known to interfere with the natural hormone functioning of the body and may also contribute to cancers.  Here a link to a quick and engaging read regarding the top hormone disrupters to watch out for.  http://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors.   We are not so obsessive as to think small doses are going to kill us…we just don’t like how people smell with all those chemicals on them and feel uncomfortable inviting the chemicals into our healthy home.  So, if you are not offended by our offence at smelly people, and would still like to book a private UNSCENTED tour, just send us an email.  Rates start at $150 for a 2 hour tour.  For a free virtual tour check out this Peak Moment tour of our Eco-Sense home.  http://peakmoment.tv/videos/an-eco-sense-house-natural-building-natural-living/

Eco-Sense is participating in Living the New Economy:  (the old economy is broken…if you agree read on…)  http://neweconomy.ca/victoria.html Living the New Economy event on Vancouver Island on Nov 29-Dec 5. There is a full week of amazing events that will rock your world!  Dream about a better and fundamentally different way of living.  Come explore what innovation and collaboration can create in our communities. Find out how to mobilize a New Economy on Vancouver Island – one that is co-operative, ecologically sustainable, socially empowering and rooted in wisdom.  Come and connect with folks who have brilliant ideas, audacious projects and ambitious enterprises, and who are looking for people just like you to be part of their plans.  Explore opportunities to align YOUR values with your livelihood.  Find new mentors, partners, investors and allies.  Something for everyone here.  Website:  http://neweconomy.ca/victoria.html  Tickets on sale now and it’s based on what you can pay and the value you find in the experience…very interesting way of doing business.

Eco-Sense slideshow:  2013 year in review.  We are currently working on a slide show with photos of projects, gardens, food, and chickens for the year.  Stay tuned.

Ann and Gord

Ann and Gord

PEAK MOMENT Episode #230


An Eco-Sense House – Natural Building, Natural Living

Virtual tour and conversation from Sept 2010 – 44 min:  http://peakmoment.tv/videos/an-eco-sense-house-natural-building-natural-living/

PM230_640The Eco-Sense House is alive! From dream (see episode 103) to reality. Its curving cob walls embrace Ann and Gord Baird’s three-generation family. A living roof offers summer cooling and filters winter rains stored for garden water. The composting toilet provides rich soil for the veggie gardens, which supply much of the family’s food. This “net zero energy” house uses the sun for electricity, hot water, and warm floors. Tour this small-footprint house, designed as part of the ecosystem surrounding it. Episode 230.

If you enjoy this video and all the other Peak Moment episodes (like we do), please consider a donation to Peak Moment to support their amazing work. Donations can be made on line at the link above.

Eco-Sense is Still looking for neighbours…and we have new ideas:

http://ecosenseliving.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/813/

Ann and Gord

NEW IDEA:   With the right people, maybe we could buy the house across the street together.   We are interested in the Joel Salatin model of working together on the land with shared values, individual passions, partnerships, teamwork, and everyone making a living in a synergistic way…stacking functions on the land.  If you know what this means and you have a passion for permaculture, have lots of skills, are entrepreneurial and innovative, have a joy of learning, an open mind, overflowing passion/energy, have strong communication and community values, walk the talk, and are a local food omnivore, send us an email (ann@eco-sense.ca) to discuss.  Endless possibilities to make a living doing what you are passionate about.  Our lower garden area could have greenhouses, meeting places, teaching areas, community gardens, food swaps, value added food/medicinals, plant propagation/seed saving, pond, aquaculture, etc, etc.  This opportunity could work with one family/couple owning with us, and one renting…this would be an ideal situation for the younger generation to get their foot in the door.     Who knows how this could evolve.  Anyone have any ideas?

Ann and Gord

Eco-Sense: Looking for Neighbours


Anyone dream of moving to the rural community of the Highlands?

Two homes across the street from our lower garden are for sale.  Both homes have been listed.The first one belongs to friends of ours that are moving to the other side of us.

Ann and Gord

We are looking for community minded folks interested in building a stronger more resiliant neighbourhood.  Are you interested in local food, permaculture, conservation, sharing, and community building? Are you concerned about energy, climate collapse, and a failing economy?  Do you crave a meaningful, joyful, playful life in the face of all the negative?  If so, check out these listings and maybe we could be neighbours.  Let’s build this dream together.

http://www.realtor.ca/propertyDetails.aspx?propertyId=12897554&PidKey=231644164

http://www.realtor.ca/propertyDetails.aspx?propertyId=12806422&PidKey=-138686092

Map of properties for sale

Ann and Gord

Ann’s Island Gals articles now available online


Ann’s IslandGals articles from 2010-2012.  Check out www.IslandGals.ca website for subscription info.

  • Island Gals Issue 3-1

    Island Gals Issue 3-1

Latest Video of Eco-Sense


Here is a 5 minute clip of Eco-Sense produced by WestShore TV.  Extremely well done mini tour of the home.  http://www.westshoreunlimited.ca/node/292

Also look for the new article on our home in West Shore Magazine in the 2012 Fall/Winter edition.   link

Summer 2012 Update


Life is chugging along at Eco-Sense.  We continue to put a great deal of time and energy into growing our food with the daily rewards of healthy delicious home prepared meals.  Eating in season comes with it’s challenges but this is vastly outweighed with the pleasures of the first feasts of long anticipated garden delights.

Pizza every two weeks in the cob oven. Yes, those are dandelions. YUMMY!

Gord is focusing on a couple jobs this summer that is taking him away from home during the days.  The bank account is topping up after a lean winter.  The jobs Gord has taken on have been very satisfying for him with a technically challenging carpentry job with circular joined roof structures, a greenhouse/cob root cellar project and all with like minded clients where hugging to say thanks is the norm.  We have also done lots of tours so far this summer, but are taking a bit of a break for August.

Making feta cheese

Our Chickens are healthy, happy, and producing close to an egg a day.  We have been giving away eggs to many people when we have extra, and boy does this feel better than selling them.  Here is a video of our Off-The Grid net ZERO Energy, net ZERO Water, and zero waste chicken coop.  We have been growing some of their own food this year, and the chicken oats, peas, and kale are just about ready for them to go get them.  When Jason McLennon from the Living Building Challenge (LBC) was here for a visit in June, we joked about the chicken coop achieving more petals on the LBC than our home…Jason joked that we should have registered it…we sent everyone home with eggs.

Ann’s new ensuite. I love it! Thanks Gord!

Ann has been enjoying writing articles for IslandGals…a new local magazine.  her last article was on Ecological Economics (the Economics of Happiness), and the next article due out shortly is about Permaculture.  Check out the Island Gals website to see where you can pick up your free copy or even sign up for a subscription.

In addition to writing articles, we spend about an hour a day responding to media enquiries.  Here is a list of the latest bit of Eco-Sense in the media:

  • YES Magazine
  • Your ECO Friend – detailed blog post from a couple touring North America to write a book on Green architecture.
  • West Shore TV – short documentary coming out early this fall (sent them home with eggs after the filming)
  • SotoKoto – Japanesse print magazine with a very long article on the home with lots of pictures  (too far to mail eggs)
  • Photo of our home on CNN international
  • West Shore Magazine – article this fall
  • Eco-Sense Utube channel

Update on the destruction to the neighbouring wetlands:   Last Jan we wrote a blog post about the damage occurring to the ecosystem on the land next to our home.  What’s it worth…Calculating the Carbon footprint of Environmental Destruction.  Well, the plot thickens as the land is further degraded.  But just in summary, Ann has been working with both municipalities (View Royal and District of Highlands) and various community members to try and find out what is really going on there.  It’s absolutely absurd to invest such large sums of financial capital to totally degrade an ecosystem for the sake of running a small unprofitable herd of cows.  The evidence supports the theory that the land is being prepared (flattened and filled with roads and a bridge) for some sort of other non farming development.   Ann has launched a formal complaint with the BC Farm Industry Review board (FIRB).  To read Ann’s latest presentation to View Royal council, check out this link.  20120711 View Royal council Notes  Back in June right after the two Mayors met and just before the stop work order was issued in View Royal, the Neighbour who owns that land showed up here with his brother…I was home alone and they were aggressive and angry with me for causing trouble.  I didn’t send them home with any eggs.
Well water Update:  The good news here is that the third water test of our well this year has come back potable.  The bad news is that this could change again this fall when the rains come.  Here’s some data for the levels of LEAD and NITRATES in our sell water.  And finally here is a short list of what we have been reading and watching lately:

Ann

Article in YES magazine on Eco-Sense


Summer 2012 issue of YES Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/making-it-home/how-to-build-green-on-a-budget