BLOG 12 Farming on Salt Spring Island and VBC Portland

This is BLOG 12 from Chainge the Cycle, which shares stories about organic farming and natural building in North America.

Since April 2014 we are learning hard doing an organic farming internship on Salt Spring Island (which is in Canada, close to Vancouver).
Attached some pictures and text on what we’ve learned whilst farming.

And recently we visited Portland, Oregon for the annual Village Building Convergence, which is all about community building, place making and natural building.

We learned lots, and hope to share some of this with you in pictures and text!

Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada
organic farming internship at Earth Candy Farm

Since April 15th Mykal and I are farming with Ellis an Claire on their ‘Earth Candy Farm’.
This is the 1st year that Earth Candy produces a large quantity of vegetables and flowers, and being part of the workforce gives us the opportunity to see what it takes to set up a large organic production farm from the beginning.

Below a sequence of the ‘lower field’ in cover crop, mowed and tilled by tractor, beds created and some planted, all planted and partly mulched:

April we spend many days preparing the farm’s infrastructure, for example building fences and a gate, setting up a composting and recycling system, and the water infrastructure.

In May we prepared garden beds and planted, planted and planted. The first weeks of June we spend most of our time weeding, mulching and harvesting greens and flowers. July has so far been lots of harvesting! Doing all this we’re learning about farming efficiently, farm management and we are visiting other farms to learn from their practices.

We farm 4 days a week, and on Saturdays we help out in the Earth Candy farm store, which sells local and imported organic produce and dry goods.

Below some pictures of Earth Candy Farm, our home which is a yurt on top of a hill and the gardens.

In between the farm work we are organizing skill shares, and spend time processing and fermenting the surplus of the Earth Candy farm store, for example sauerkraut, kim chi and kasundi (tomato chutney).

I (Nico) started making ‘natural pharm care products’ to sell at the store. My sun protection cream is made with natural ingredients such as cacao butter, coconut, hemp and olive oil, beeswax and zinc oxide. It is ‘skin candy’ and smells like chocolate, like something you want to eat ๐Ÿ™‚ Presently I am experimenting to make natural toothpaste and lip balm, and a friend is making deodorant, soap and mosquito repellent..!

We are staying at Earth Candy farm until the end of the farming season in BC, Canada, which is sometime in October.

skill share on fermentation at
Earth Candy Farm
May Pole celebration at
Duck Creek Farm

Surrounding waters

Village Building Convergence (VBC) Portland,Oregon,USA

a week of community building, place making, natural building, city repair and inspiration

End of May, in between farming, we went to Vancouver and Portland, to meet old and new friends, and contribute to the Village Building Convergence (VBC) by volunteering at art projects and natural building projects, and be inspired by workshops and lectures.

The VBC is a project of ‘City Repair’, an institute that coined the term ‘place making’, which comes down to shaping the landscape you inhabit. An example of place making is building a bench on a street corner, or a painting on the street to show that the corner and street are part of a neighborhood, and a place: inhabited, known and loved by its residents.

Natural building, permaculture and street art are the main disciplines of the VBC.

โ€‹Share-it-square painting

Mark working with slipstraw on
the ‘Moon Cottage’

Mykal, Mark and I helped repair a beautiful cob sauna, built a greenhouse with pre-used windows, paint cross roads and climbed up a tree house.
And we worked on several projects that used a technique named ‘slip straw’. It involves straw with clay slip (clay dissolved in water) added as one would dressing to a salad, and this is packed in a form of wooden posts and plywood. Super easy and quick, and the result is a well insulated, lightweight wall.
It was GREAT learning, meeting people and contributing to many inspiring projects!

More information via:

Future plans?

Mykal and I are planning to travel to Tasmania (in Australia) at the end of the year, to live, farm and built in Lorinna, a small community, where Mykals mom Julia and her partner Dylan live and grow food.

Nico is keen to travel to California for a month before then, and a ‘stop over’ in Hawaii on the way to Australia, to wwoof, visit friends and explore Hawaii.
Let’s see.

We’ll let you know what comes of all these plans ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy summer,
or winter!!!


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