What We Need Is Here

by Wendell Berry

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

(within each of us, and then, between us. a Parker Palmer addition)


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Stay Calm and Swale On…


keep_calm_swale_onWaterWise Landscaping for Food-Growing
May 28, 9am-noon
@InishOge Farm

Limited spaces reserved with payment

Our summers are long & hot & dry, and restrictions on water use are becoming the norm. Come see/explore/learn about a “new” old landscaping technique we’re trying at the farm to help grow food in these conditions: swales & berms.

swale_cross_sectionLearn about:
what a swale is & how it can water your garden;
how to plant the berm: microclimates & guilding;
how to apply swale & berms to a variety of garden sizes & conditions.


This is a participatory down & dirty workshop, so come prepared for some upclose & personal interaction with the berm (the growing space offered by the mound of soil that came out of the swale). Dress appropriately in work clothes, sturdy closed-toe footwear, and gloves.  All tools will be provided, as well as a light refreshment.

An after-workshop food-for-thought discussion will follow from 12-1pm for all those wanting to stay on, so bring a lunch.

Space is limited, spots reserved upon payment in advance,

RSVP @LittleSideRoad@outlook.com


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Gonna make this garden grow…

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The Family Farm

This is what the kids and I did today:
let the chickens out, filled their feed troughs, broke the ice in their water dishes
covered the greens with remay
fixed a deer fence
collected firewood & split kindling
harvested usnia and tree lungwort from the fallen Willow warrior tree
made gods’ eyes for the winter fair
played lego
read a book
made tea
went on a beach walk
washed & cartooned eggs
watched Dogs with Jobs videos
stewed chili and baked bread for dinner
…while Steve was away for the weekend on a Solar Engineering course

Canadian farmer Daniel Schneider voices his concern about the end of family farming. Death by a thousand legislations. He says we need to preserve the family farm if we want to make sure food is produced ethically in the future.

If we want to make sure that ethics and morals and values stay inside farming, we need to make sure that families stay inside farming.
– Daniel Schneider

Take a listen to Does Canada Need Family Farms? on CBC The 180.

And give this a read: Grapes of Wrath, Travails of a Produce Farmer in Wine Country

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The Dying Time

This cold quiet November weekend. Persephone descends. Lifeforce retreats into the roots. Foliage lays browns on a bleak landscape. Seeds settle into rest, under the soil.

Winter sets in the dying time. A dying that is integral to life. That is a future fertility. Into which the next season will birth and grow.

We are at an edge. Of a great turning. Knowing. Watching. Seeing. Observing. Listening. To the breathing. For the stirring. Waiting. For what comes next.

Until then:

Dear darkening ground,
you’ve endured so patiently the walls we’ve built,
perhaps you’ll give the cities one more hour

and grant the churches and cloisters two.
And those that labor—let their work
grip them another five hours, or seven,

before you become forest again, and water, and widening wilderness
in that hour of inconceivable terror
when you take back your name
from all things.

Just give me a little more time!

I want to love the things
as no one has thought to love them,
until they’re worthy of you and real.

Rilke, Book of Hours, I 61



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The Tractor

I (Steve) have a real love/hate relationship with my tractor. For the last month it has sat forlorn in the field getting rained on, blown on and covered in leaves.


You see that’s where it died. (Turns out the starter seized and jammed the engine.)


The tractor is an old 1960 Massey-Ferguson 35 built in a different time, by different people, and most importantly when vehicles were built to be fixed. So today, after getting one of those different people (very few of them left) to rebuild the starter, my tractor flashed to life like a youngster. I am grateful to a time when stuff wasn’t disposable, when craftsmen built it to last, and when repairability was an important consideration. May we soon return to that!

Now it’s onto the ruddy lawn mower.


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If you were a seed, I’d be a pod…Saving Seed (cont’d)

To be of the Earth is to know…the scattering of your seeds.
John Soo, from Earth Prayers

Some of the seeds we saved this season pretty much saved themselves, with us just standing nearby ready to catch and clean and store – the kale, the arugula, the squash, and the beans. Coincidentally, these foods are some of the hardiest growing, nutrient dense, and best storing foods in our climate . A correlation we will stew on a bit more over this winter. On the other hand, the challenging seeds we encountered have given us pause to think. The oats were a delight to grow and an utter eye opener in in realising exactly what it takes to get oatmeal on the table every morning. The oats were vulnerable right off the bat at planting time to all the little seed eating birds around the place, then at various times in their growing season harvested blatantly by roves of marauding Canada Geese, and now, after having had a satisfying enough harvest of our own, with a group of sickle-wielding friends, the oats sit in our back room, in great big gorgeous spilling piles, awaiting the wrapping-of-our-heads-around the business of threshing and winnowing. A very intense process all around, and adding the new dimensions of specialised machinery to a small farm operation. It’s been tempting to feed the whole lot, as is, to the chickens, a respectable and viable option for sure, transforming carbs into eggs and meat, but it wasn’t what we had set out originally to do (truth be told, part of the harvest was earmarked for a gluten free stout making adventure!).

The tomato seeds we saved six years ago from Klipper’s toms purchased at the farmers market, germinated brilliantly, and grew into strong healthy plants. We will save seed again from this tomato fruit and continue the line, knowing it has further adapted to our south island soil and climate. It has been a rich and fruitful year of learning seed. We studied squash flowers and watched ova blow up like balloons. We competed with earwigs for the peas in their pods. We grew cantaloupe for the very first time and are excited to experiment with planting black locust from seed this fall. We have put principles into practice with varying degrees of success and huge amounts of learning, and all that, in itself, has been very very good.

What we hadn’t expected to learn was the power and importance of saving invisible seeds. The passing on of kernels of knowledge from one generation to the next, the sharing of best practices and pearls of wisdom. It is the spending of time together talking and harvesting over a garbage can full of lentils stocks, where the discussions plant seeds of their own. It is the time honoured practice of passing seeds of wisdom down from generation to generation that will facilitate the long-term storage and propagation of our ability to be resilient. Today, this part of it all has almost been forgotten.

Seed is potential. It is the potential to be a plant, a being, an idea, a revolution. It is the potential to grow into something amazing and beautiful. It is an intent for what could be, and the opportunity of things to come. The future is encapsulated in a tiny little seed that can grown into a huge tree or a decision or a choice or an action that will change the world. It is in this vain, that we honour our seed saving experience, mentors and companions.


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The Pumpkin Patch


A Sooketoberfest celebration of Sooke soil, water, rock & sun in the glorification of the bountiful and voluptuous golden-orange summer sunshine pumpkin goodness. Come one, come all, rain or shine; dress for the weather and farmfield terrain. We got little pumpkins, big pumpkins, huge pumpkins, and funky pumpkins, with loads of gorgeous stems on’em. And our pumpkins are local organic, pastured & happy, and approved by The Society for the Ethical and Humane Treatment of Pumpkins (of which InishOge Organic Farm is a founding, and as yet, only member). Bonus! Browse the Pumpkin Gallery, be inspired by carved creations by well-known and still-to-be-discovered local Sookies, and bid on a favourite in silent auction (proceeds going to the Sooke Food Bank). And wander the Community Market of local farm produce, honey and jams, hot drinks & baked goods, faerie doors, Samhain stars, wooden bowls, and more. All generously sponsored by Vancity in support of our small family farm, and our wider local Sooke economy.

In it’s inaugural announcement, the Society for the Ethical and Humane Treatment of Pumpkins is calling on all Halloween lovers to reconsider the current modern day cultural practice of “hack it-rot it-then toss it away” and instead, to adopt the more joyful practice of “decorate-celebrate-then consume it!” …in honour of the delicious, nutritious & healthful food that a pumpkin is, and for the love of all that is warm golden-orange summer-sunshine-goodness in an often dark and dreary, wet and gray wildcoast Sooke November. Spice up the wintersurf blustery beach-going season that is upon us with a warm curried apple pumpkin soup, pumpkin ginger cookies, and a cinnamon pumpkin wine. So recipes attached with the sale of every incredible edible pumpkin.

Be one with the Pumpkin!

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The Damn Radios Don’t Work


In the birthing world, there is a phenomenon known quite well – that of the birth dream. It occurs across cultures, and is recognised and revered by many, though in our modern day western culture, it is often missed and the ritual around it has been lost. Someone close to the pregnant mother has a dream in which the baby makes itself known, introduces itself, and shares information about it’s person or it’s future life. It is thought that this occurs to aid in the preparations for the baby’s arrival, to make space for the person coming, to begin creating a concrete defined place for it in the community.

Mary Alice, a long-time local farmer extraordinaire, had a dream about us buying this farm. It coincided with our decision to put an offer on the land, unbeknownst to her. The morning after we had decided, we called her to let her know (as up until then we were loosely exploring some sort of collective community purchase, but to no real end at the time). It was during that phonecall that she shared she had had a dream.

A birth dream. The birth of our new life, the coming leg of our continuing journey, the next segment of our saga. It was a sign.

In the process of making an offer and buying the land, we made a number of visits to Sooke and began to meet the community. I was quite taken by the number of Mary’s in the community. I had met 4 almost immediately, and three of them were associated with Steve’s! To put this into context, I went to Catholic school my entire schooling life. And in that time, I was one of 3 Mary’s those entire 12 years. I re-iterate: Catholic school.

I know….right?

On our first potential buyers’ visit to the land, for a tour of the property with the selling agent, a series of weird things occurred with keys. The key that had been arranged for us to open the gate to the property did not work. The key to the house did not work either. Then, somewhere on our walk about the land, the keys to our car fell out of my pocket and could not be found again (to this day they remain lost, 5 summers later). We had to stay the night while we waited for our second set of keys to arrive by courier the next day. We stayed at Mary-Alice’s farm and gave that as the delivery address. It was a post office box, the key to which was with a member of the farm who was off farm that day and unavailable til’ that evening, at which point, we could open the mailbox and retrieve our keys.

Keys. Doors and gates, locked and closed. Were we being messaged to stay out, stay away? or were we being kept here to understand that keys are obstacles in themselves, to be removed from the process, so that doors and gates and hearts and souls can be kept open, to be walked through and into?

Still don’t understand the whole key thing, but I trust, that upon death, all will be revealed. (The competitive advantage of a single-lifetime religious worldview vs. that of reincarnations during with a series of lifetimes must endure delayed gratification before all is revealed. I digress.)


With my all-things-are-possible open mind and raised-Catholic with a fabulously superstitious Druidy-rooted Irish grandmother to balance things out, I read the signs.

So now, it’s the radios.

Not a single radio is working around here. Not the one in our VW golf. Not the one in our farm truck. Not the portable windup solar jobbies in the greenhouse and the outdoor kitchen. Not the one on my cellphone. Not the one in our 2 foot thick cob wall house. Most of them are broken, but otherwise the reception seemingly sucks at our place. Everywhere. I can’t tune in a radio station to save my life.


What does this whole radio thing mean? What does it all mean? Would love to know. One long ongoing universe shake-of-the-shoulders thing. All will be revealed. Hopefully before my death. Because I love discovering clues and solving riddles; holding blank paper to a candle and revealing invisible writing; orienting the compass and following a trail; snapping puzzle pieces together, identifying patterns, and watching a picture emerge.

Science has discovered that our skin not only acts as a protective layer to our vital insides, but is a radio of sorts, loaded with receptors that interact with our environment and collect and send information to our brain on a constant basis. Must eliminate background noise and interference to hear better what I receive…

Patterns. Signals. Signs. Keys. Radios. Embedded message everywhere.

The language of the universe.

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Lions and Bears, oh my!

We have a male bear and a mama/cub pair who’ve all been coming through and around for the apples. we’ve electrified chicken pens and the part of the orchard that hasn’t been picked/come ripe yet, and so far, that has been working, fingers crossed. the male bear inspected the electric fence, paced for a while, and then went back into the woods. we’ve hooked up flashing red lights around the place at night time, and play CBC Radio One as well. and so far, it’s been working…but we’re eagerly awaiting the rains and for the salmon to run so that the bears can finally feed. it’s been such a difficult spring/summer for them, and it’s hard to see them penalised for trying to meet their needs, in the same ways that we are all trying to meet ours.

we strive to manage this shifting interface in ways that end in more positive results all around, always eager to learn from what successes in living with bears that others are having. we were inspired by the story of this kid’s invention that him succeed in protecting his cattle AND make peace with the lions that were killing them.

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