This is the Farmers' Institute newsletter for the winter\ edition - hope everyone has planted their garlic.
Please FOLLOW THE BLUE LINKS TO WEBSITES OR VIDEOS. Below is a handy content list.
We welcome the Seed Sanctuary folks to our newsletter.


▪ Events, Clubs, Updates
▪ A Most Unusual Event.................................................by Tony Threlfall
▪ The Compost Pile....................................................Jokes For Everyone
▪ The Apple Core...........................................................by Conrad Pilon
Events, Clubs, Updates
A Most Unusual Event.................................................by Tony Threlfall
The Compost Pile....................................................Jokes For Everyone
The Apple Core...........................................................by Conrad Pilon
santa pig


As this year comes to an end, we reflect on all the support that our members have given us. Volunteers have helped improved the facilities and have contributed to another successful Fall Fair. We thank you for your generous donations of time and energy.

Our Best Wishes for the Holiday Season and a healthy, happy New Year.
Rick Vipond, Tony Threlfall, Conrad Pilon, Marguerite Lee,
Bruce Marshall, Vic Parks, Michael Hogan, Jerome Wilkinson, Terry Clement


Country Grocer is most generous with their Save A Tape programme. They pay 1% on all grocery tapes that are collected in our box number 57.
We need a volunteer to pick up the tapes once a month, total the sales from the grocery tapes and then take the tapes to the Country Grocer office. They send us a cheque within 2 weeks. This can be done at your convenience and calculated at home.

Your volunteer contribution to our funding is greatly appreciated. If you can help, you can email me ssifi@shaw.ca or phone 250 537 5302
Enjoy your day...Marguerite

New Entertainment Stage

Last February the heavy snowfall proved too much for the outdoor stage. It was decided that a new structure should be built to replace the old stage. Consultations were held with the musicians so that the new structure would be suitable. The Tuesday morning work crew got it ready for the Fall Fair but it was not complete. It now is complete with a metal roof, storage room and adequate electrical service to meet its needs. Shade awnings are stored until needed. We are proud of the work done by our volunteers. Our thanks to Windsor Plywood for their assistance with supplies.








By Dan Jason

The Salt Spring Seed Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that has been working to maintain and enhance our seed heritage since 2002. In the past few years, many similar community seed initiatives have sprouted up across Canada. People are realizing that good food comes from good seed and also that it makes sense to ensure a diversity of both in case of long emergencies.

Our Seed Sanctuary is launching two important projects this year.

“We have built a place to optimally store seeds at The Root, Salt Spring’s soon-to-be built food storage and processing facility at 189 Beddis Rd. The Root is a project by the Salt Spring Island Farm Land Trust Society.’ We already have seeds housed there in our Sanctuary/Library and this coming spring, Seed Sanctuary members will be able to choose varieties to grow out and multiply.Then they will return a proportion to bulk up reserves at the Sanctuary.”

We had a program similar to this at our Ganges Library for a few years, with the result that we already have many experienced seed growers on Salt Spring Island.

The Seed Sanctuary has also launched another initiative that is intended to enlist growers who don’t have access to land. We’re calling this “Allotment Seed Gardens.” They would work just like allotment gardens but a portion of each plot would be dedicated to growing crops to seed and thus adding to our community seed bank.

The Sanctuary has already worked out arrangements for our first allotment seed gardens with the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga on Blackburn Road. We have a rental agreement and have donated money to help fence in some of their beautiful front field. Plots are already good-to-go for this coming spring.

Our Board will interview prospective growers to decide on seeds to grow and to make sure seed saving procedures are understood. The seeds saved from the allotments will be added to those saved by members with their own gardens.

We see our allotment seed gardens and our seed storage facility as important prerequisites to community seed and food security on Salt Spring Island.

We won’t be distributing seeds or arranging plots until January or February but, for the time being, if you are interested in becoming a “seedperson,” you could contact me, Dan Jason, at 250-537-5269 or dan@saltspringseeds.com

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by Anne Macey

The 2017 season at the Salt Spring Abattoir is fast coming to a close. It’s been an eventful year one way and another. We have a great team who work hard to accommodate your booking requests and many of the operational challenges have been successfully overtime. With the help of grant money and donations we have been able to improve equipment and make the necessary repairs but we have learnt the hard way that there are limitations to what your community abattoir can process effectively and efficiently.

We now know that our second hand equipment cannot handle hogs over 250lbs so if your plan is to have larger hogs processed please make your bookings elsewhere. And please do not grow those turkeys to 30lbs – we need our poultry crew to survive the day without getting a bad back. Ducks with pin feathers drive us all crazy and negatively impact the bottom line so next year any ducks with problematic pin feathers will get sent home alive or skinless.

More chickens were processed this season than in 2016 thanks to Bre, Kari, Mariah, Kayla and Jane and other occasional helpers. Also many thanks to Sequoia who comes in to help with the lambs, and Colin who helps with the beef – yes we are starting to take bookings for beef but only if under 30 months of age and not too big. There are no more openings for beef or pork this year but still room for more lambs on Wednesday December 13 and for chickens on Thursday Dec 14.

The abattoir will be closed for January and February. We will take bookings from Feb 28 but please be advised dates may be shuffled if there are not enough animals to open up on a particular day. The demand for locally raised and processed meat is increasing all the time. Make it a New Year’s resolution in 2018 to book in your livestock well in advance so that you, and your customers, are not disappointed.

Season’s greetings from the Salt Spring Abattoir directors and staff

ab dinner


Best Lamb Ever!!!!

plan to farm


by Elizabeth White

On November 18th Fulford Hall was packed for the fifth Abattoir Birthday Bash, the Agricultural Alliance’s big annual Abattoir fundraising dinner. This is an occasion for islanders to come out and celebrate local food, support our community abattoir, thank its hard-working staff, and… talk! With brief pauses to roast Anne Macey for her endless work on behalf of the abattoir, to bid on auction items and to enthusiastically cheer Rock Salt chef Matt Rissling and all the volunteers, the conversation was non-stop from the time the doors opened until the last tables and chairs were put away. The food was absolutely delicious, with a choice of lamb, turkey and vegetarian entrees, followed by pie from Jana’s bakeshop. Much gratitude to all who helped make this event such a success by contributing your time, skills, food, auction items, and cash. It is often said that no-one is indispensible, but in this case the event would not have happened without the behind the scenes work of Myna Lee Johnstone, chef Matt Rissling, and of course the indefatigable Anne Macey, thank you all. We are still tallying the proceeds, but after all the bills are paid we expect to have raised close to $7,000 to help keep the abattoir facilities shipshape for another year.

Another big event for the Agricultural Alliance was the visit on November 3rd by Lana Popham, the new provincial Minister of Agriculture and Food. The main purpose of the visit was to announce the $100,000 Rural Dividend funding for The Root, but the Minister also held a one hour round-table meeting at the Farmers’ Institute with a dozen representatives of the agricultural community. In preparation for the round-table, the Agricultural Alliance had compiled a list of concerns with its member organizations. The concerns largely focused on infrastructure: various difficulties facing the Abattoir, farm housing, opportunities presented by The Root, and the lack of farm grants for basic necessities such as deer fencing and rainwater harvesting.

Several of us had already met Lana Popham in her former role as Agriculture Critic, so her understanding of the issues facing small growers was not unexpected. But it was a whole new experience to hear ideas that food and agriculture advocates have been recommending for years presented by the Minister as official provincial policy. The Minister’s mandate letter includes the following priorities:
 Revitalize the Agriculture Land Reserve and the Agricultural Land Commission.
 Establish Grow B.C. to help young farmers access land, and support fruit and nut growers and processors to expand local food production.
 Initiate Feed B.C. to increase the use of B.C.-grown and processed foods in hospitals, schools, and other government facilities.
 Bring back an enhanced Buy B.C. marketing program to help local producers market their products, and work with local producers to expand market access in the rest of Canada and abroad.
 Work with growers, processors, colleges and universities, as well as the Minister of Advanced Education and the Minister of State for Trade, to develop a B.C. Food Innovation Centre to innovate in the processing, packaging and marketing of B.C. food products, linking local food producers with new technology, and expanding exports and access to world markets.
With respect to our abattoir, Lana Popham said that many small abattoirs across the province were facing similar problems and that several had closed. She offered no immediate solutions but is clearly concerned. On farm housing, the Minister stated that housing for farmers on farmland was a solution, not a problem. She was enthusiastic about The Root, its potential to be a pilot project, and the importance of value-added food products for local economies. And she listened closely as one experienced farmer described in detail the challenges involved with finding funds for deer fencing for her market garden. “It should not be that hard.” In all it was a remarkable and very hopeful meeting.

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In June the Salt Spring Island Farmland Trust was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Salt Spring Island Foundation to help build the new facility. The FLT is very grateful to the Foundation and the Shaw family bequest for this generous and important donation.

In August we celebrated our first annual Burgoyne Valley Community Farm potluck. It was well attended by gardeners of the allotment garden at the farm.

Our Fall began with two fundraisers involving the exuberant and charming Graham Kerr “Galloping Gourmet”. Graham was a guest at The Salt Spring Form at ArtSpring, a great talk mixed with life’s anecdotes and the importance of locally based food and working together to achieve that goal.

The second was a sold out dinner hosted by Graham at the SS Sailing Club with wine pairings and a delicious meal. A truly a great evening. And thanks to all the volunteers who made the dinner possible and a special thanks to the Sailing Club for sharing their dining room for this event.


Grahm Kerr Chatting it Up


A Delicious Meal

This was followed the next week with a well attended Open House by an enthusiastic crowd at the future home of The Root at 189 Beddis Rd. Dan Jason described the collaboration of the Farmland Trust and the Seed Sanctuary Society on a new Seed Vault now in operation and spoke of the importance of a stronger seed saving program for the community. Erinanne Harper explained the permaculture plan. Donald Gunn, architectural designer of the new facility, described the plan’s design and construction features.

We then received a $100,000 provincial grant from The Rural Dividend Program for construction, food processing equipment and food preparation skills training at The Root.

In November, Lana Popham, the Minister of Agriculture and Adam Olsen our MLA paid our island a visit to congratulate us on the award of $100,000 grant from the province’s Rural Dividend Program. They toured the Farm Land Trust’s Burgoyne Valley Community Farm and future location of The Root. The day was finished off with a ‘round table “ discussion on farming issues. Thank you Lana Popham and Adam Olsen.

All these events and happenings were fueled by that underground resource called volunteers. Thank you all for your efforts this year in assisting us with our goals.

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Getting ready for The Open House


At the site of The Root

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At The Root with Lana Popham

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What does a poultry club do at meetings, you may wonder? Here is Jean Brouard’s summary of the November meeting, which was about preventing predator problems..
On a dark, dreary and wet November night, a meeting of the select few discussed predators.
In no particular order we discussed mammalian and avian predators and what to do about them.
Raccoons, Mink, Otters, Rats, Dogs
Other mammals: We are fortunate on Salt Spring that bears and cougars are infrequent visitors. Bears can tear the hen house apart and cougars can consume domestic fowl if so inclined. These are rather infrequent hazards in modern times on Salt Spring.
Eagles, Ravens, Accipiter hawks, Buteos, Owls

Other avian threats. In general it was agreed that the best defense against night time visitors is a robust and lockable hen house. Raccoons, mink and rats can climb – and the last two can squeeze through surprisingly small holes. Hardware (half inch) cloth seems to be a preferred barrier – regular chicken wire is not robust and can easily be torn by a determined raccoon. Dogs may be an effective deterrent depending on the

Roosters are an excellent day-time defense against all predators. They call the alarm. They have a graduated alarm system against, unspecified aerial threats, imminent threats and ongoing attacks. They also have a mustelid specific alarm response (standing on tip toe, facing the mink and repeated alarm vocalization). Their alarms are also audible from indoors if you are home, so you can go out and chase away the predator. If the rooster is brave it will also attack the predator. Our roosters have been observed to challenge and attack ravens, Cooper’s hawks, mink, and raccoons.

Raccoons: Raccoons most commonly take birds at night. But when hungry will chase and catch birds during the day-time. The preferred control method is a live trap. Jean demonstrated a modern raccoon trap which is quite easy to set – the addition of a board on the foot-pedal makes it more sensitive (and can be set off by a mink or rat) – if you don’t know what is taking your hens this might be a good idea.
Bait: a dead chicken or chicken parts, for raccoons: marshmallows and eggs – a broken egg or a freebie marshmallow at the mouth of the cage can tempt them in. Cat food, shrimp bait, something fishy can all work against raccoons. Some baits work for raccoons, mink and rats: e.g. tinned cat food.
If you are going to trap raccoons, you should be prepared to deal with them. Drowning is relatively straightforward. You can throw the trap into a pond – or use a barrel.

Mink: Mink can be particularly destructive. They can decimate the whole flock. The best bait for a mink in a dead chicken killed by that mink. Mink can be caught in a raccoon trap but be sure that there is no more than a half-inch gap in the trapdoor or it will squeeze its way out.

Otters: Otters will take ducks and geese – and occasionally chickens.

Rats: Rats are attracted to spilled feed, bedding (provides cover) and eggs. They will also eat chicks. Warfarin and other anti-coagulant poisons should only be set in properly designed traps and there is a danger of poisoning household pets and other carnivores… Setting of bait stations might attract rodents. Snap traps work well – for bait some use cheese, and others raisins and peanut butter. Robust and secure hen house design will at least keep rats away from the eggs. If you keep chickens you will attract rodents (mice and rats) so you will have to develop some kind of system to manage them. Cats and small dogs may do the trick.

Dogs: Some dogs chase and eat chickens. Fencing will usually keep them out. Keeping them on a leash helps.

Eagles: Eagles are an occasional problem. Having good cover (e.g. a hedge) is important – otherwise a net above the chicken run or prayer flags (depending on your religious beliefs). Scarecrows may also work (also against ravens). Roosters will alarm so that the hens can run for cover. The risk is rather location specific – some areas close to eagle nesting trees and with good eagle perches can be more susceptible. Eagles may be chased off with a broom by your wife if you have a good one.

Ravens: Ravens are highly intelligent. They are occasional egg thieves and will also attack hens. Roosters will alarm so that hens can run for cover. Brave roosters will also challenge ravens – I select for bravery in my candidate flock roosters – well nowadays I let the hens do the selection and observe their choice. Some use scarecrows. The professional advice from wildlife biologists is “Don’t feed ravens”. Nesting crows can be encouraged nearby – these will chase away ravens and hawks during nesting season – not so much at other times of the year.

Accipiter hawks: These are specialized predators of birds and a common hazard to poultry keepers. They are stealth attackers and prefer a clean swoop to their prey. So birds inside the house or in a fenced and covered run are less prone to attack. Accipiters come in three sizes: small, medium and large.
Small (5 Oz): Sharp-shinned hawks. These usually prefer smaller birds but this will go after chicks, bantams and occasionally against larger hens.
Medium (1 lb): Coopers Hawks. These are common chicken predators on Salt Spring. Both Coopers and Sharp-shinned hawks exhibit strong sexual dimorphism- with larger females and smaller males. It is sometimes hard to distinguish between a small male Coopers and a large female Sharp-shinned, but if it is tearing at the neck of your favourite hen, it does not much matter. In my experience guard roosters are an effective deterrent, but keeping an ear out for them (and for alarms) is a good idea.
Large (2 lb): Northern Goshawks. By far the largest Accipiter. Very rare – consider yourself lucky to see one if it does attack your chickens.

Buteos: Red-tailed hawks and Swainson hawks can attack chickens but they prefer mammals (mice, rats, voles, squirrels and rabbits). They are less agile than accipiters and are less likely to be a problem.

Owls: Owls (Great horned Owls and Barred-owls) will take and kill chickens if they have access to them at night. An enclosed house will exclude them, but they occasionally find their way into barns if there is a suitable gap –watch for decapitated birds.

Other avian threats: Falcons can take chickens but many of them prefer to hunt on the wing and go for flying birds like pigeons. Unless you have high flying hens you will not be bothered by them. If your hens are attacked by a Peregrine falcon consider yourself extremely lucky – they are very rare.



by Margaret Thomson

Free spinning lessons at the High School this Fall have been as successful as last year’s were. In 2 hours people who have never handled a drop spindle or heard the word roving have succeeded in making remarkably consistent yarn from the wool of several different breeds of sheep, prepared in a variety of ways. Some have come back again and several have bought their own spinning wheels.

Sheep’s wool is easy to come by on Salt Spring: qiviut (from musk oxen) and cashmere (the soft undercoat from goats) less so. Very few spinners have the opportunity to try these very expensive and exotic fibres, and without specific instruction on how to spin them they might waste valuable product. Not any more. On November 30th Mary Padden and Cheryl Huseby taught the secrets of spinning these very short fibres. More plans are in the works for other less well known fibres, such as angora (from rabbits) and mohair (from angora goats).

Weaving classes for beginners will be held in April at the High School, with looms ready to weave and the chance to take home a unique hand woven sample at the end of the evening. Further more advanced weaving instruction is being planned to follow the beginner classes.

The Weavers and Spinners Guild has about 60 members, with enormously varied interests and skills, which they share at meetings and workshops. Check the calendar on the website saltspringweaversandspinners.com for upcoming events open to the public.


by Wendi Gilson

We’ve been making candles and thanking bees for giving us both sweetness and light on these dark days Wax is so important to bees that without it there would be no colony. Everything happens on the wax combs that the bees make from their own bodies .it takes 8 pounds of honey to make one pound of wax –a huge investment for the bees .In the honey bee colony the wax combs are the skeleton, the nervous system , the digestive system , the womb and the communication network .
Its been a pleasure to meet so many people lately who ask not “ What can we get from the bees ?”but “What can we do for the bees?”, mimicking the bees own behavior of giving their essential services freely to benefit life on earth.
We’ve been planning bee gardens .All beekeeping is local and every beekeeper needs to be a botanist .
It takes 1-2 acres of low growing bee pasture to support one colony of honey bees.When someone plants a pot of lavender or a couple calendula plants and says “There, I fed the bees…”, well, its nice , and every little bit does count but it’s a mere pitstop on the way to and from more serious foraging –a pitstop that could be life saving .

Some good herbs for Hive Health are :
Fennel, anise , anise hyssop and oregano .

Pasture plants for bees include:
White clover, buckwheat and phacelia . White clover and Buckwheat both contain oxaylic acid . It used to be said that white clover was not just simply nice for the bees but essential .
Hedgerows :
Form a natural fence and windbreak
Lindens, filberts,nootka rose, willow, salmon berry , thimble berry, blackberry , ocean spray , blueberries .
Hedges can flower in succession providing a lot of food for bees.
Trees :
Keep in mind the forest based beginnings of bees.
Five or Six large trees can provide a decent amount of food for bees.Linden, Cherry , Maple
As well as the tree resin that bees use in their colonies to seal drafts and for anti fungal and anti bacterial protection.
If you are not ready to design and plant an extensive and amazing bee garden – heres what you can do –
Make sure bees have a water source
Plant – winter heather –so that when bees fly out on a warmish winter day they can find nectar in the heather.
Plant anything in the mint family to see the bees through the summer.
Plant sunflowers for autumn nectar and pollen supply .
Let dandelions grow and keep a little clover seed in your pocket to toss out along roadways .

You can find out more about our work with honey bees on Black Horse Apiary fb page


Bees Wax!


Emily Dickinson - Poem

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Where is the 4H meeting mom?


by Loretta Rithaler

The Club’s members participated in a number of fairs this year. We began with the Coombs Fair on the August 12th weekend… all sheep project members participated, as well as 2 rabbit project members. This was Zia’s first experience at a fair… we are pretty sure she had some fun! All members achieved success and came home with their first ribbons of the season. Back at camp, we also celebrated our Junior Leader’s 21st birthday, with a beautiful cake….. and a LOT of rain! Only we would enjoy all this to a background of a “rock party” playing in the background… there was a festival going on right next door to our camp!

On August 19th, our Sheep project, together with leaders Ramona, Morgain and Junior Leader Anna, went on a day trip to the PNE to watch the sheep competitions. It was a very long day, but very enjoyable as we watched our friends succeed in the big show … followed by some yummy fair food and a few rides before racing off to catch the ferry home.

Next up was the Pender Fair. Five members of the Sheep Club visited to put on a sheep display and practice some showmanship with our friend Barb, a former 4H leader. It was lots of fun. In the meantime, William went off to Cobble Hill to see the 4H clubs from Saanich and the Cowichan Valley put on their sheep and cattle shows. Always fun to watch and to see our 4H friends.

On the September long weekend,our Sheep Project members participated in the Saanich Fair for the first time in several years. It was a great experience and our members did very well… Our members acquired new skills and of course greatly enjoyed themselves, earning lots of ribbons in a whole new adventure.

The fair season came to an end with our own club’s Achievement Days - the Salt Spring Island Fall fair. We were very happy to have lots of members from Parksville-Qualicum and the Cowichan Clubs to help us put on a show! Sheep club members (and visiting non-sheep members) even had the opportunity to participate in our experimental sheep rodeo, where they were able to try some hands-on learning, by taking sheep they had never handled into a ring to demonstrate their skills at showmanship. It was an excellent show and the audience was amazed at the level of skill demonstrated by our members. It was lots of fun, facilitated by our visiting judges Terry and Sherry.

The last big task of the year was record books – all that paperwork that helps us remember and recall all the work done throughout our project year, including our successes, achievements and memories. We displayed them on the tables at our banquet, much to the enjoyment of our guests. In mid-November, we had our Annual General meeting, where our new Club executive was elected.

This year, as always, our members accomplished great things, learned all kinds of new skills, worked hard, challenged themselves and had a ton of fun.

Our Club year finished with a celebration of our members’ achievement at our annual Club and Awards Recognition banquet. This year, instead of an evening dinner, we had a daytime luncheon, as we had a large number of Cloverbud members and families with conflicting schedules and thought it would be a nice change… and a “vintage 80s” theme. It met with fabulous attendance and delicious food, as always, as well as some fun with costumes. Ramona and helpers Nikki, Mary Lou and others, organized and presented the food, which was enjoyed by guests including sponsors, Grandmas, District Representatives, and community partners such as the South Salt Spring Island Women’s Institute, Royal Canadian Legion, to name just a few.

All of our members were acknowledged with trophies, medals, certificates and applause for their accomplishments over the course of the year, with presentations by sponsors and District to acknowledge specific achievements during events like Judging Field Day, Public Speaking and leader service. In addition, several members were recognized for achievement in our SSI Fall Fair, with presentations made by sponsors Chris and Marilyn Schmah of Foxglove Farm & Garden Supply (to the Cloverbuds for their winning Scarecrow entry), by South Salt Spring Women’s Institute to the Cloverbuds for Achievement Day, to Sheep project members for their winning sheep entries and another member for achievement in Junior Horticulture, presented by David Astill on behalf of the SSI Farmer’s Institute and by District Representatives Roxanna Thompson and Mary Casselman for achievement at District Public Speaking and Judging Field Day.

We would like to express our sincere thanks to all of our sponsors, parents, leaders, community partners, alumni and others who made this amazing year possible. We look forward to another year full of excitement ahead in 2018!

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4H Banquet

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4H Banquet

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4H Banquet

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4H Banquet




The museum had a very good year this year with attendance throughout the year well up. In particular we had more visits by school groups from all levels including a home schooling group. The collection of old typewriters has always been popular with the kids, particularly because they are allowed to touch the machines and try typing on them. I am hoping to get new ribbons for one machine so that I can have it in good working condition.
The collection of old tractors is increasing with several people donating tractors from the forties and fifties. Our group of Tuesday volunteers have done a great job of restoring most of the machines and getting them running. I don;t know what we would do without this group of dedicated people.
Our emphasis in the coming year will be to provide more information about the history of farming on Salt Spring. This will be done with large printed information panels, describing the progress of farming from the days of the first settlers up to the present time. These will be accompanied by photo panels relating to the period described in the information panel.
Next year we will be looking for another person to take on the job of museum attendant for several weeks throughout the year from April to October. Charlotte Chartier has shared the position with Maddy Cooper Smith for the past two years but Charlotte has had to leave the island and we will need a new person to take over from her. This is a part time, paid position for four to five hours a day, three to five hours a day, depending on the time of year. Anyone that is interested in taking up this position can contact John Fulker at 250-537-4895 or preferably by e-mail at mailto:jandifulker@gmail.com

Work on the new moveable building for display materials is progressing. Up to now work has only been carried out on Tuesdays by one or two people, but now that the subfloor is going in we will increase the number of people working and try to get the room completed by early in the Spring.
We need to spread the word that we have a good community museum at the Farmers Institute. I have always been surprised by the number of visitors who live on island but admit that they did not know that we have a

Grant from BC Museums/ Canada 150

The Salt Spring Farmers' Heritage Foundation has received funding from BC Musuems/Canada 150 to build an addition to the Bittancourt House Museum for interactive displays, photos, history boards, maps, family trees, and videos to expand and enhance our current exhibits on the history of farming and settler life on Salt Spring Island. The area could also be used for exposition of 'traveling' exhibits from other Museums/Archives in BC or periodically dedicated to local family history or school projects. The room will be designed to hold a class and teachers or up to 25 visitors at one time. Displays would be located around the perimeter with seating space in the center. Access and egress would be through the main body of the Bittancourt House community museum so that our attendant(s) could assist and monitor the movement of people.


Thank You Lana Popham!


By Tony Threlfall

A most unusual event happened to the Salt Spring Agicultural community on Friday Nov. 3, 2017. We enjoyed a surprise visit from the new Minister of Agriculture....Lana Popham. This was not the first visit by an Agriculture Minister, but certainly the first in a good number of years.. Ms. Popham explained that she discovered that she had a day off and decided to jump in her car and pay us a visit. She very kindly gave us a day or two's warning which gave us an opportunity to do a little preparation. Special thanks to Elizabeth White for orchestrating this event on such short notice.

The day was scheduled to start with an early tour of the abattoir. Unfortunately, Ms. Popham missed the 9:00 AM ferry but explained that she had twice previously toured the abattoir. I'm sure the rest of her entourage enjoyed the tour ! The minister did arrive on the 11:00 AM ferry and toured the Burgoyne Valley Community Farm. From there they had a guided and information laden tour of the site of the “ROOT”.....the proposed food hub.
Ms. Popham requested that an agricultural “round table” be organized for 3:15 on the Friday afternoon She specifically requested that the Farmers' Institute be represented. Director Conrad Pilon and myself attended as the FI delegation. There were only 13 people included in the round table discussions. Representatives from the Agricultural Alliance, The Farmland Trust, The Abattoir Society, The Bee Keepers and two unattached farmers. Katsky Venter from the Alliance kicked off the discussion by enumerating a long list of the problems and concerns of our farming community. Most of those issues were primarily regulatory or financial. Ms Popham had definitely done her homework in preparation for the meeting and was totally prepared in her responses and answers to direct questions. Obviously her time spent in opposition as Agriculture critic served her well. George Ehring, representing the Farmland Trust, made an excellent presentation and pointed out to Ms. Popham that this was an outstanding opportunity for her and the new Government to make some radical changes in their approach to governing. He pointed out how she could help other ministers reduce their ministry budgets by using more local products. Brian Brett made an impassioned plea for more support for the abattoir. Ms. Popham pointed out that she had toured several other community abattoirs and that they are all suffering from the same problems. She also was quick to point out that her Ministry has one of the smaller budgets. The Institute's chief concern, on this day, was the continued integrity of the ALC and the ALR. It was a relief to hear that Richard Bullock, former Chairman of the ALC, has been retained by the new government as an advisor. Farmer Daria Zovi made a plea for more help in establishing a new farm. She pointed out that she has purchased a fairly good sized property, but has to work two outside jobs just to make purchase payments and survive and can't afford to fence the property to make production possible. The provincial fencing program is no longer in effect. Daria made a case for re-instatement of the program.

Next stop, a tour of Salt Spring Island Ales. Unfortunately, the members of the “round table” weren't invited.

All in all, a very interesting and informative hour spent with the Agriculture Minister. I think everyone at the meeting was hopeful that Lana Popham will have several more unexpected days off and will drop in for more informal visits !

Ms. Popham requested that we all have a group picture taken under a Farmers' Institute sign. We chose the sign across from the Bittancourt House Museum which also says “Thanks for Coming” Very appropriate for this day.



Farmer Brown decided his injuries from the accident were serious enough to take the trucking company (responsible for the accident) to court. In court, the trucking company's fancy lawyer was questioning Farmer Brown. "Didn't you say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine'?" asked the lawyer.

Farmer Brown responded, "Well I'll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule Bessie into the..."

"I didn't ask for any details," the lawyer interrupted, "just answer the question. Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine'!"

Farmer Brown said, "Well I had just gotten Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road..."

The lawyer interrupted again and said, "Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question."

By this time the Judge was fairly interested in Farmer Brown's answer and said to the lawyer, "I'd like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule Bessie."

Brown thanked the Judge and proceeded, "Well as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side."

He continued, "I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting real bad and didn't want to move. However, I could hear ole Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans."

"Shortly after the accident a highway patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he went over to her. After he looked at her, he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the patrolman came across the road with his gun in his hand and looked at me."

Finally, farmer Brown came to the end of the story. "The patrolman looked at me and said, 'Your mule was in such bad shape I had to shoot her. How are YOU feeling'?"

Farmer Brown paused then answered............ “I’m feeling fine.”

green house


All or part of the old greenhouse is available for the taking. Glass is suitable for cold frames or greenhouse. If interested, contact Bruce Marshall 250 537 2988


The Apple Core

Are Beliefs Stronger than Taste?

by Conrad Pilon

Comparing organic, local and conventional foods can be a sobering topic, with as many opinions (some science based, some not so much) as there are varieties of apples. There are, in fact, approximately between 2,500 to 5,000 apple varieties. But there again, opinions differ on those numbers. While the debate on the health benefits of organic versus local versus conventional foods rolls on and on, one key factor, taste, has been a constant and tangible reason why most consumers purchase organic and local foods.

This is why a field experiment published in the research notes of the 2017 November/December Issue of Small Farm Canada and referenced in Food Quality and Preference , Volume 61, caught my attention. It reported on “how beliefs affect taste” and this is what the findings concluded.

Different consumers have different beliefs about the taste of organic, local and conventional types of foods. “...The goal here was to examine if those beliefs are enough for people to change their taste rating of a product simply by having an organic or local label. To determine this, field taste experiments were conducted in three locations (a university campus, a public park, and a natural foods store) to create a diverse subject pool. Participants rated the taste of five apple slices: two from the same organic apple and two from the same local apple (each with one labeled and one not), and an unlabeled conventional apple. Ratings differed significantly between the locations. Accompanying surveys gathered participants’ attitudes and beliefs about organic and local foods used in an exploratory factor analysis. ...models showed the factor representing taste to significantly increase the taste rating for both the labeled organic and local slices over their unlabeled counterparts. Groups with strong beliefs in organic and local foods also rated the taste of the respective labeled versions significantly higher. Results suggest beliefs about how organic and local foods taste can play a stronger role in taste perceptions than actual taste for certain segments of consumers.”

So, to summarize, consumers who believed that organic food tastes better generally gave the slices of apples labeled as organic higher ratings than the slices from the same apple labeled as non-organic. Flavour or fiction!

How many Apples does it take to Power a Lamp?

This little gem, as reported on-line at Discover Magazine, is geared to those inquisitive orchardists looking for inspiration for another sustainable way to fully use that bumper crop of apples while cutting down on the ever increasing BC hydro bill. Use apples to power an LED light. Brilliant. Literally. The do-it-yourself science project requires wiring together 300 apples 'still on the tree' to power a lamp, “...put a zinc-coated galvanized nail into each apple and a bare copper wire into the other end to create a current through the electrolytes (charged particles) in the fruit. Electrons flowed from the zinc electrode (where the zinc reacts with the acid in the apple) through the light and into the copper electrode, which transferred electrons back into the fruit. Every ten apples provides about 5 volts, powering an LED for several hours.” Yes, you can try this at home!

apple tasting

Dec. 2017

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