A NEWSLETTER FROM THE SALT SPRING ISLAND FARMERS' INSTITUTE This is the Farmers' Institute newsletter for August. Seems like its always been hot with



This is the Farmers' Institute newsletter for August. Seems like its always been hot with no rain so let put some rain boots on that pig - just in case.
Please FOLLOW THE BLUE LINKS TO WEBSITES OR VIDEOS. Below is a handy content list.


Tuesday Morning Building & Maintenance .................................Tony Threlfall
Heritage Day Recap............................................................................John Fulker
The Morton B. Stratton Manuscript...............................SSI Agricultural History
Events, Clubs, Updates
Farm Animals Affectionately Remembered..............................................Mario
Got Bats?...............................................................................................Contact Us
Farming With The Flow.............................................................Shannon Cowan
The Compost Pile..................................................................Jokes for Everyone
Famous Recipes...............................................Summer Watermellon QUICK!

best picture

Making A Difference


Theme - Poultry in Motiom

The Institute wishes to invite all of Salt Spring Island to join us in celebrating The 2015 FALL FAIR. September 19th & 20th.
ADULTS - $10/DAY, 2 DAY PASS $12
SENIORS - Show your Care Card for a $1 refund per day
AGES 7 to 17 - $5/DAY, 2DAY $6


Why Did That Chicken Cross The Road?


In keeping with the Fall Fair theme...”POULTRY IN MOTION” we are sponsoring a contest to
determine once and for all...Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road ??.....
To date we have received dozens of entries but we would still like to receive your entry.....simply write out your explanation or solution to this age old question and mail it to:
Farmers' Institute
P.O. Box 661
Salt Spring Island
V8K 2W3
Entries have been submitted by adult men and women, lots of kids, an entire group of Girl Guides, and all of a grade 1 / 2 school class. Below are a couple of entries which may serve as an inspiration for you to enter:
Q. Why did the chicken cross the road ?
A. There was a KFC on this side and it was Fryday !!
Q. Why did the chicken cross the road ?
A. For some fowl reason !!
Some of the entries submitted contain deep philosophical reasoning and some are very funny.
Whatever your thoughts may be on this perplexing question, jot them down and ensure your entry is included when the answers are sent to the judges.


New Museum Addition



by Tony Threlfall

2015 has been a very rewarding year for the B & M work group. Starting in January 2014, after being interrupted by a severe January winter, work began on the construction of the extension to the Bittancourt Museum.....we saw that job culminated by the official opening on June 21. The event was well attended and the new space proved to be an excellent showcase for several new Museum displays.
The event was covered by the Driftwood and hopefully the publicity will encourage people to visit the facility. The crew received a lot of very complimentary comments....a job well done !!
In addition to the above museum construction project, the Heritage Foundation received a grant from
the Salt Spring Foundation to upgrade the entrance to the building, a new picket fence, and an upgrade to the handicapped entrance. All of that work is nicely under way and is being done by the Tuesday B & M crew.
While that construction was under way, we tackled the renovation of the Magee building....the building was rewired and totally refinished in the interior. New ceiling, new paneling, new work benches,shelving, and painting. That job was completed by the end of May and is all ready for Rod Bailey and his volunteer crew to move in. The Magee building will become the principal work shop for the antique equipment restoration crew. Still another job well done !!
Part of the Tuesday morning crew is Rod Bailey and his restoration crew. They have been working on a couple of major restoration projects this past winter and spring. The rebuilding and restoration of the
sawmill and the restoration of the manure spreader. We are happy to report that the sawmill was operating at our recent Heritage day. The plan is to cut the lumber to finish the mill shed. A unique
touch to an outstanding job. The manure spreader project is amazing and the work that these men have done to re-create the wheels will be the subject of another article.
We moved directly from those big jobs to another large project. Restoring, painting and upgrading the caretakers house. This involves the installation of new windows, and a fair amount of restoration work on the exterior of the building. The job is progressing nicely and should be finished about the same time as this newsletter is published.
This is a very concise recap of a lot of important work that this crew of volunteers is contributing to the well being of our "Grounds"
If any of you out there would like to get involved in some aspect of our Tuesday morning activities, just show up ! We're there from 9:00 until noon.


Making Butter

Heritage Day

by John Fulker

We enjoyed fantastic weather for Heritage Day . We have no exact numbers for the attendance, it was slightly down from last year but still enough to say that the day was a success. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and there were smiling faces everywhere. The music, with Billie Wood and Wesley Hardisty was much appreciated. To commemorate the planting of a chestnut tree beside the blacksmiths shop Arthur Black gave a reading of Longfellow's poem "The Village Blacksmith" Making butter with an antique butter churn was very popular with kids and bread, baked in the summer kitchen by Heather Campbell went well with the butter. Hamburger sales at the barbecue pit did well with the addition of Penny's Ice Cream and pies by the Women's Institute. The museum with it's new addition was very well attended and received many compliments. For next year we need better signage and the Salt Spring Farmers Heritage Foundation, who operate the Heritage Day, needs two more directors, to ease the work load.






Enjoying The Day

The Morton B. Stratton Manuscript

by Conrad Pilon
In celebration and recognition of the 120th Anniversary of the founding of the Salt Spring Island Farmers’ Institute, the Salt Spring Farmers’ Heritage Foundation Heritage is proposing to publish the Manuscript written by Morton B. Stratton (August 1991), A HISTORY OF AN ISLAND CALLED SALT SPRING, AGRICLUTURE: Farms, Farmers and Farming.

The Stratton manuscript is a comprehensive and detailed account of the history of agriculture and the people of Salt Spring Island from the Settlement and struggle for Survival 1859-1885 …to the Post-War decline of farming as the mainstay of the island economy. The writer was a history professor at a Denison University in Ohio and moved to Salt Spring in retirement. Morton's son, John Stratton, has agreed to allow the Farmers' Heritage Foundation to publish the Manuscript which has among its many benefits a significant educational component for our schools.

The Board of Directors of the Salt Spring Farmers’ Heritage Foundation is made up of members and directors of the Salt Spring Island Farmers’ Institute. The Heritage Foundation (formally the I.F.I.) was established in 2003 as a registered charity under the Income Tax Act and is a society in good standing in BC. It continues to receive support and funding from many sources (including the Salt Spring Foundation, the CRD, the Farmers’ Institute, and countless private donations) for numerous education, exhibits and construction/renovation projects at the Bittancourt House Museum.



The Farmland Trust still has ACREAGE AVAILABLE FOR LONG TERM RENTAL at Burgoyne Valley Community Farm 2232 Fulford-Ganges Road.
We are accepting responses to our Request For Proposals (RFP).
Proposals for up to 10 acres are reviewed as received until the land is completely rented. There is still space available
For more information and to submit proposals:
Salt Spring Island Farmland Trust Society
107 Castle Cross Rd,
Salt Spring Island, BC V8K 2G1
email: ssifarmlandtrust@shaw.ca
250 537 5302

Please review the documents for:
1) Request for Proposals (RFP)
2) Memorandum or Agreement
3) Policies
4) Soil Analysis Report

at Burgoyne Valley Community Farm
Although all our plots have all been rented, you can get on our waiting list.
(20’ x 50’) are available for rental of $40 per year.
For info see www.ssifarmlandtrust.org
Review: Shaw Family Gardens Handbook
for rules and application form.
Email: ssifarmlandtrust@shaw.ca
or 250-537-5302

Clubs & Updates of Interest


on vacation


Ruckle Farm Day


by Sara Ratner
Ruckle Farm Day, Sunday, May 3rd was as expected, a delightful day in the community with the added benefit of being sunny, breezy and not raining. Weavers and Spinners had a great location close to the entrance directly across from the band. Cheryl, Margaret T, Mary, Karen, Pat, Susan A, Emily and I were there to enjoy the day. Picture #1
On July 13th, through the library summer camp program, Weavers and Spinners taught sixteen, 8-12 year olds the essential steps for spinning with a stick. The first hour was a presentation of Show and Tell with the second hour, a hands-on lesson in the fundamentals of spinning. Thank you to Ida Marie for her Show and Tell and to our teachers, Susan, Margaret, Cheryl, Rosemary, Karen, Sandra and Gillian. A special thanks to Brenda Nicolson for coming over from Victoria to teach us how to teach. Picture

Heritage Day was a quiet event this year giving the gathered guild members a chance to visit with each other while we fielded the occasional question from the public. Thanks to Sandra, Cheryl, Mary, Victoria and Lorrie.


Summer Camp Teachers


Summer Camp




The abattoir is open for business. Visit our website for bookings.



by Loretta Rithaler
Hello Farmer’s Institute Friends,
Our 4H members “sprung” into action for the spring events…. Ruckle Farm day (first weekend of May)m where the members displayed a viarety of animals which met with much success, as always. The members have an opportunity to share their knowledge of project animals and provide information to those children and families who may be interested in joining our group, acquiring their own project (or pet) animal and help the prospective farmers gain an insight as to the responsibilities that go along with the care of an animal. The concession was a favourite, with families contributing their yummy baked goods for sale to raise funds for travel for the members during fair season. Our friends Art, Bud and Nikki displayed the “Old Tyme Tools” and we are most grateful for their continued support with the supply of fencing, feed, tables, tents, etc and their hard work.

The group finished off the end of May with attendance at the South Malahat District Judging Field Day in Saanich. This event was attended by all eight of our members. They judged classes of halters, beef, sheep, photography, just to name a few and our most senior member also achieved in a class of oral judging.

June took the members once again to Saanich to join a project meeting of the Saanich Lamb Club, following an invitation by their Project Leader, Rosalie Beaudoin (a former alumnus and Club President). What an exciting day for the kids, to “do by doing”…. It was fantastic and the comradery that develops between group is amazing. The host club (and Rosalie) have offered their continued support which we gratefully accept, thanks to details and logistics worked out by Project leaders Ramona and Morgain.

The sheep project has had two more project meetings, the first of which at the end of June was “bathing” sheep in preparation for show at the Rithaler family farm. Here the members learned just how much work it takes to give a sheep a “coiffure”…. More than they imagined, but no better way to learn than to get your hands dirty, (and clean again) and that they did!

The most recent project meeting was held at the Welsh family home where the members spent some time getting lambs into haltars, parading them for show and learning how to control them for future showmanship practices and fairs. They also learned how to “flip” the lambs in preparation for shearing. This skill takes a lot of strength control and patience. The members are coming along very well – good work kids! We stood in awe as Anna managed to get stubborn “Rommy” under control and turned over in preparation for shearing. Whew!

One of our members, Joely, has been very busy this summer as a volunteer, attending regularly at the Birds of Prey centre in Duncan. Joely is a real bird-lover and she has been sharing her experiences with the group – what a great opportunity to learn and share – well done Joely!

Nathan has become our first entrepreneur this year, raising Coturnix quail and finding a specialized market to sell the eggs. Way to go Nathan!

Preparations and planning now begins for upcoming fairs. The Sheep project will be attending the Pender Fair in late August and the Salt Spring Island fair in September. In between we will visit the Coombs Fair and the Photography project will be participating in the Cowichan Exhibition. These visits will provide the members with opportunities to see all things 4H, including the chance to see a live 4H Beef auction at the CowEx in early September.

Looking forward to a continued year of 4H success and the continued support of the Farmer’s Institute. We’ll see you at the Fair!

4hcommunity club lamb project

Lamb Project

4Hdistrict judging on field day

Judging On Field Day



Farm Animals Affectionately Remembered

Mario 1 Sept 1999 – 28 July 2015

Ruckle Farm grieves the loss of Mario, beloved friend & family member who loved his work on the farm and at the Fall Fair where he demonstrated his amazing abilities for 14 years. Mario displayed extraordinary ability & speed, always giving 110% in his sheep herding work and gained his own Fan Club. He remained playful into his old age: “the youngest old dog you would ever see!” The keenest dog, Mario would have turned 16 years on Sept 1. Mario’s son Benardo carries on his tradition at Ruckle Farm and at the Fall Fair.

Townsend s  big eared bat Craig Stihler photo public domain

Photo - Craig Stihler

Got Bats?

Contact Us

The role of insect-eating bats in preventing crop damage in North America is valued at some $3.7 billion annually. Salt Spring Island is home to at least eight species of bats, and their health is monitored by the Community Bat Program. A single bat can consume several thousand insects in a night, an amount equivalent to its own body weight.

If you have bats roosting on your property, such as in a barn, outbuilding, tree, bat house, or if you know other locations of bat roosts, please contact the Salt Spring Island Conservancy (250-538-0318) to enable collection of a DNA sample from bat droppings to help us monitor bat populations on the island. Also, an electronic bat detector can be left on your property overnight if desired. Several Salt Spring bat species are considered rare or threatened, such as Little Brown Myotis and Keen’s Long-eared Myotis.

The Community Bat Program is a province-wide initiative to monitor bat populations, encourage stewardship, and enhance habitat. The program is funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and supported by the BC Conservation Foundation.

If you have information about bat roosting sites, please contact the Salt Spring Island Conservancy at: info@saltspringconservancy.ca or 250-538-0318.


Farming With The Flow….Managing The Wet Stuff In Times of Climate Change

By Shannon Cowan, SSI Watershed Protection Authority Coordinator
It is February. Follow for a moment in your mind’s eye, the path of a creek as it tumbles over the roots and rocks and swirls into the eddies on its way to the ocean. No two water molecules navigate their journey in exactly the same way. Yet, they share so much in common: tumbling in steep sections, oozing in low grade areas, gliding over rocks, frothing from intensity of flow and/or presence of foamy organic fatty acids (natural by-products of bits of soil or leaf that enter the waterway). Mostly, we notice the water molecules redirecting themselves to take the path of least resistance. When conditions allow, water will propel forward according to volume and drop, carving away soil and vegetation in its wake. Also when conditions allow, water will slow, sink and spread….gently guided by its surroundings, it tends to trickle, to soak into the roots and the aquifers below instead of rushing headlong to the lake, and eventually to the ocean.

The drought of 2014-2015 gives farmers, and all islanders and visitors, reason to look for efficiencies (a.k.a. how much water is actually needed to support the agricultural needs, and the population in general?). The drought forces us to improve the process of water collection, storage and management on the farm, including matching quality to purpose, or to go without. Farm water planning and water awareness is nothing new for farmers! We all know we need to carefully manage our rainwater-fed landbase if we are ever to strengthen our local food economy, while taking care to preserve and protect the native ecosystems of which all land use types are an intrinsic part.

Add to the dry year the fact that the province has approved a new Water Sustainability Act, whose regulations will be designed and released in the coming months at the end of 2015, and you have the perfect timing for some local learning about new and age-old wisdom and techniques for water conservation, and management on the farm.

It just so happens that water quality has also been under the lens of the Salt Spring Island Watershed Protection Authority. This collaborative roundtable of local government agencies and water district representatives spent the last 8 months in a multi-stakeholder planning process: together, those in the technical working group examined water quality data, and those in the public working group examined and co-discovered social data like environmental and economic community values, about St. Mary Lake watershed. Assessments and interpretations of the data were presented to the steering group, who designed a robust and actionable integrated watershed management plan (www.ssiwatersheds.ca). In June 2015, during development of that plan, the SSI Watershed Protection Authority approached the Agricultural Alliance with a proposal to assist in outreach to the agricultural community. Why? To collaborate and assist in farmer preparedness for drought and demand management, climate change and safe-guarding downstream/downhill precious surface water sources on SSI.

This winter, SSI Agricultural Alliance member groups agreed to collaborate with SSIWPA to host workshops about Group Environmental Farm Planning (ARDCorp). Many local farms are already Environmental Farm Plan-certified. Yet, the ability to join together as a group of 5 or more producers, to assess and address farming impacts on the environment in a watershed, including farm water management and irrigation resources, remains untapped here. The goal is for farmers who live in the same watershed to assess their shared water needs and issues, as well as their nutrient management issues.

To take the first workshop, you need not have farm tax status or ALR status, although these may prove important along the way to qualify. The benefits? Cost-sharing by the province, and efforts become prioritized for the landscape unit represented by the group. Many farmers express that they are motivated by working with others and what they’ve wanted to address themselves becomes feasible and possible. Examples of improvements related to farm water management include: improved stream or ditch crossings for vehicles, better water wise manure land application techniques, riparian restoration/fencing.

For more information about Group Environmental Farm Planning click here:
www.bcefp.ca or www.ardcorp.ca

Water security and wisdom present and future is inextricably tied to thriving communities and food resources on Salt Spring Island, as in other parts of the world.
Farmers or not, we are all water and land stewards. For now, remember to catch, slow, sink and spread all those raindrops to their best potential on your land! Re-purpose greywater where it is possible and safe to do so, and please be on the lookout for the upcoming winter farm water workshops about Group Environmental Farm Planning, and more! More information about SSIWPA and water stewardship at: www.ssiwatersheds.ca.



joke chicken 2


Summer Watermellon - QUICK!

Tomato, Watermelon, and Feta Skewers with Mint and Lime
No time for skewers? Gently toss the ingredients in a salad bowl, or dice the tomato, watermelon, and cheese into small cubes to serve as a fresh relish for grilled meats.
Recipe: Tomato, Watermelon, and Feta Skewers with Mint and Lime

AUGUST, 2015