Monthly Archives: February 2013

Gettin’ Certified (permaculture-style)


So, Chris M. and I have some very exciting news…starting next week, we’ll be taking a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course! We’ve both taken a couple of Introduction to Permaculture classes, but so far, Chris K. is the only farm member who is certified in permaculture design (he has his PDC as well as his Permaculture Advanced Teacher Training certification). 

Chris M. and I have each been interested in permaculture for awhile and have done our own individual research about it (him way more than me), but ever since taking our Intro courses, we’ve been curious about furthering our education on the topic. There are a lot of great sounding PDC programs in the Vancouver area and in the Pacific Northwest, but we recently made the decision to get certified through Gaiacraft (based in Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast).

We have a few reasons for choosing to get our PDC through Gaiacraft: 1) it’s very affordable which, for both of us at the moment, is a neccessary consideration, 2) it stretches over a 14 month period with classes taking place once a month (also helpful since it would be tough for either of us to take a two-week period off all at once, and 3) we are really drawn to Gaiacraft instructor Delvin’s teaching style. We recently attended a free one-day Intro to Permaculture class taught by Delvin and loved it. It was that experience that convinced us to sign up for his upcoming PDC course. 

So, in addition to voicing our excitement about this on the blog, I also wanted to promote it in case anyone else is curious about doing this right now. Chris and I have signed up for the class that meets on Tuesdays and will be driving out to the variety of class locations so if anyone else from Maple Ridge or the surrounding area are interested in signing up too, you’ll have car-pool buddies. As far as I know, there is still some room in Delvin’s classes. Email him for more info at or directly through his website.

Intentional Goal Setting


Photo: Chris M. holds up his completed visual dream board. 

I met with a university student yesterday as part of an alumni-student mentorship program. Some of the things the student is hoping to get out of our meetings is advice and recommendations that will help her prepare for life after university. It was our first meeting so the conversation jumped around a bit – we talked about life and school, discovered shared opinions on pipelines and Idle No More, agreed on the awesomeness of Salt Spring Island, and discussed the power behind the act of being intentional about making goals. 

This same topic came up at last week’s CEED Centre Wednesday drop-in coffee session. The community members in attendance talked about goal-setting, list-making, understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, and being okay with saying no sometimes rather than over-committing yourself and feeling guilty when you don’t get everything done that you wanted to get done.

Intentionally thinking about and writing down goals is something I commit to regularly. I strongly believe that there’s a direct connection between this act and actually accomplishing our goals. I know for certain that I get more accomplished by doing this. I also know that doing this gives me a better perspective on the priorities in my life and helps inform my decisions before I take on new responsibilities. 

Life’s a balancing act for sure, but there are things we can do that make it easier, smoother, and more enjoyable.

To take this to a realistic, hands-on level, the group of us here on the farm spent a January evening writing down our dreams and goals for the next few years. Candles were lit, wine was drunk, and our living room floor and coffee table were strewn with magazines, scissors and glue as we pieced together visual dream boards. This was an intentional act – something that we hope will install in each of us a firmer resolve to work towards our goals. It was a fun and inspiring exercise and I encourage everyone to do it.

Meanwhile, in addition to our macro-level goals, I’ve been intentional about a related personal new years resolution which is to make a daily to-do list and, I’ve gotta say, January was MIGHTY productive because of these lists. This stuff really works. 

So, on that note, time to wrap this up and get on with the very farm-y items on my to-do list today: complete third cold frame, plant broad bean seeds in pots, clean out chicken coop, move poopy hay  to area where I’m building an extension to a garden bed and need a compostable layer of material, and, before anything else, eat oatmeal currently waiting on stove and make coffee. Okay, okay – and watch highlights from last night’s episode of The Bachelor (because even farm girls can’t help themselves sometimes ;).

This Time Last Year (Reflections from a new Market Gardener)


Photo: Chris M., Julie, Melanie and Chris K. mark the beginning of February by sorting through seed packs and seed catalogues in preparation for spring planting. 

I recently wrote a short piece for the Haney Farmers Market newsletter, so I thought I’d repost it here for everyone to read. Email the market managers to be added to their newsletter mailing list to recieve regular info about upcoming market dates, events, and other local food news.


This Time Last Year (Reflections from a new Market Gardener)

As we prepare for our second year of market garden sales at the Haney Farmers Market, it’s pretty clear how much we’ve learned in 12 months. This time last year, we were filling out farmers market application forms for the first time, and anticipating with a mix of excitement and nervousness how we would display our labour-of-love produce in our very own market booth. We were jumping into the business with very little experience, but we knew that we wanted to share our garden surplus with others and that we wanted to take the first step towards making a living doing what we love. 

Despite feeling totally inexperienced most of the time, our confidence in ourselves and our produce grew each week last year as shoppers-turned-friends returned to our booth regularly to buy our veggies and share with us self-saved seeds, jars of homemade pickled beans, and stories from their own garden beds. Other market vendors welcomed us by sending us home with gifted tubs of salsa, honey, and nuts. Farm vendors invited us into their homes and onto their land to share farming tips and garden-fresh meals with us. We realized that we were being welcomed into a very special community and for that, we were incredibly touched.

And now, as the calendar strikes February, we’re a little more organized and a little more knowledgeable. Seeds are already sprouting, new seeds are being ordered, cold frames are built, and garden beds are slumbering under layers of compost and mulch. Unlike last year, we plan on being market ready before July rolls around, and on growing more than just barely enough to fill a produce stand with. 

Entering year two, we can’t wait to see everyone when the market re-opens this spring, but until then, happy February! It won’t be long before the rain stops, the days get even longer, and downtown Maple Ridge becomes, once again, a smorgasbord of local, fresh food.