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Thank you for your past interest in EcoReality; I notice that you are not currently on our email list.

Once or twice a year, we send out a newsletter to a wider audience. I hope you'll enjoy this issue of our newsletter, and that you'll consider signing up (via the form to the left) to be on our low-volume email list. If you do not, we won't send you another newsletter for another six months or so.

If you never want to get anything like this from us again, let us know and we'll put you on our "do not contact" list.

If you think you have received this inappropriately, or if you have any other comments or concerns to share with us, simply reply to this message.

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Thanks again for your interest; I hope we can stay in touch! — Jan Steinman, EcoReality Co-op Communication Steward


EcoReality Co-op Newsletter

You are receiving this because you signed up to be a member of our Advisory Council, or otherwise asked to be kept in touch.

If this is no longer true, simply say so in a reply, or visit our unsubscribe page (scroll to the bottom).

For various reasons, we haven't had a newsletter since 2009. What can I say -- excrement occurs. But we're still here, and I hope you've missed us!

The only thing we've sent out since 2009 has been this year's annual report, which gets into some of the reasons for our absence. Suffice to say that we've been through trials and tribulations, and after a long and ongoing recovery process, things are beginning to look up again, with significant progress in several areas.

First off, we'd like to invite you to come over and observe some of the ongoing changes first-hand!

Salvador Dali Lama house concert and greenhouse celebration, Friday, 25 May 2012

Salvador Dali Lama Confessions.jpg
Please join us in welcoming wandering organic farm minstrel Salvador Dali Lama, who will regale you with his eclectic "gypsybilly" style of singing and songwriting. Dali (as he likes to be called) is doing a tour of Western Canada organized by Willing Workers on Organic Farms.

Dali and travel companion Clyde Bennet will perform at ten organic farms and farmers markets in BC and other western provinces this summer, with the goal of creating an organic farm house concert performance circuit. says Dali "hopes to raise the awareness of WWOOFing, the organic farm lifestyle, local food production, and the joy of traditional acoustic music," and that Dali is "truly nothing short of a good old-fashioned entertainer, a throwback to another time."

Dali has recorded two albums, available on-line on a "name your price" basis.

The greenhouse is up!

Greenhouse from north.jpeg
Although Dali is playing farm house concerts across the country, our big reason for inviting him is to help celebrate the completion and operation of our large new greenhouse. Funded primarily by Advisory Council members Brad and Jennifer McArthur, it's been a long time in coming, hampered by regulatory issues as well as internal challenges. But it is up and cranking out starts for both vegetables and medicinal herbs, which will be available for sale at the event.

The 3,550 sqft greenhouse comes at the cost of a huge sheet of long-lived plastic, so in repentance, we have declared "war on plastic" in our greenhouse operations, structured around plastic-free "soil blocks," as promoted by renown organic farmer and activist Eliott Coleman.

Carrie Ben transplanting.jpeg
Normally, seeds are planted in large "plug trays" made of flimsy dead dinosaurs. When the seedlings are ready to transplant, the trays are "popped" and the plugs removed for planting into larger trays with more soil. In the process, the thin plastic is stressed, and the trays rarely see more than a few seasons of use, and spend most of their short lifetime in storage before heading to a landfill.

But with soil blocks, a small, simple press is used to make blocks of a special potting soil mix. These presses come in various sizes, with impressions in the larger ones precisely ready to receive transplants from the smaller ones. Although this is more labour-intensive than using trays made of non-renewable fossil sunlight, it generally results in healthier plants with better root development and less transplant shock -- not to mention less carbon in the atmosphere and less plastic in landfills!

We will still re-use "previously-owned" plastic pots for larger sizes, but our intent is to buy no new plastic greenhouse containers. The soil blocks are ready for putting right in the ground -- no waste required!

Event details

Doors open at 12:30 PM on Friday for an informal "meet-n-greet" where people can have a word with Dali and get a quick tour of our new humongous greenhouse.

The house concert begins at 1:15 PM, in the greenhouse. (Or if the weather is totally unsuitable, in the classroom.) Dali will perform two 45 minute sets with an intermission in-between.

Then from 3-5 PM, we get informal in the "open house" portion of the event, and Dali will jam with whomever brings instruments while Jan, Carol, and Ben give tours of the newly completed greenhouse and the gardens.

Organic, local snacks and refreshments are served at intermission and during open house.

EcoReality Co-op farmstead items will be available for purchase, as well! We will also be taking applications for our community supported dairy shares. (Only dairy herd shareholders may receive dairy products.)

Admission is by donation, with $5 to $15 suggested.

CLICK HERE or call 250-653-2024 to let us know you're coming so we'll have enough eats, or simply show up for the concert, open house/jam, or both, and hope we have enough!

We hope to see you on Friday, 25 May! More photos are available on our greenhouse celebration page.

Kids, kids, kids!

2012 kidding.jpeg
The 2012 kidding season gave us seven baby goats from three dams. Dhati delivered first, with two darling doelings, named Asita and Zyara, on April 24.

Then Tuccha delivered triplets five days later, and trouble began. She rejected them, kicking them off when they tried to suckle. The three kids looked dejected, heads and tails down, not cuddling, not nursing. Carol and I and helper Anna began bottle feeding them colostrum every two hours to keep them alive.

On the morning of the third day, we found the lighter buckling dead. It was a bit devastating, as we'd never lost a full-term kid before. A bit of detective work raised more questions than answers, as the poor thing had a bit of blood around the mouth, and was quite flat. And Tuccha was now giving proper care to the surviving two kids.

Had Tuccha made a command decision that two was all she could handle, and so crushed the third kid? We'll never know. But "Saddleback," as we had called him, was to play yet another dramatic role in the play of life and death at EcoReality.

Farewell Saddleback.jpeg
"Compost, or wildlife support?" That was the question regarding Saddleback's remains. On the one hand, we didn't exactly want scavengers to develop a taste for goat, but on the other hand, we didn't really want to be picking goat bones out of compost some day. All agreed that simple burial was wasteful of a natural resource.

So we decided to put him out for the scavengers. By supper time, we had two eagles and three vultures vying for him, and watched in rapt attention as the five big birds jockeyed for position. One eagle finally got the upper hand, and was busy feasting, when five Canada Geese flew over very low in tight formation. I know they weren't interested in Saddleback, but they seemed to have some interest, perhaps to chase the eagles away from nearby goslings.

The geese circled and landed in a loose semi-circle around the scene, perhaps only 20 metres away, and began slowly advancing on the remaining eagle, who stopped eating and looked about nervously, finally taking off to the east with 2.1 kg (4.6 lb) Saddleback in tow, barely clearing the ground. I imagine it had to land on the ground somewhere nearby, but it was out-of-sight behind the greenhouse.

What a thrill to have such big-bird drama after dinner! I never would have dreamed that Canada Geese would intimidate a Bald Eagle. Seems like a fitting end for Saddleback. I hope it's the last such drama we'll have for a long time.

After such drama, it was a bit anti-climactic when Maya gave birth to two large bucklings on May 9. We had been speculating that Maya, who was absolutely huge at the time, might give us triplets, but instead, we got the biggest buckling we've ever seen, at 4.1 kg (9 pounds). So now the kidding season is over, and we're going back to much more milk and cheese than we've been used to having.

Welcome, Ben!

Ben Corno haircut.jpg
Ben Corno comes to us with much practical organic farming experience, and is an accomplished singer-songwriter.

After studying golf course greens keeping, Ben decided he needed a more sustainable career, and began learning all he could about organic farming.

Ben is super-organized, known for his little notebook and written checklists. He does what he says he'll do, and brings out the best in us by inspiring us to do the same.

He also is the host of the show Radio Free Salt Spring, heard Monday afternoons at 5PM on CFSI FM, 107.9 MHz.

Shown here before and after a haircut during his recent Nepal trip, you can also spot him above, working with helper Carrie in the greenhouse, and there will surely be more photos as time goes on.

Ben will be teaching a song writing workshop in July, but the details aren't in yet -- we'll let you know in the next newsletter!

We are extremely fortunate to have Ben supervising our market garden and greenhouse work for the next year. Please join us in welcoming Ben to EcoReality!

Welcome, Geo!

Please join us in welcoming Geo Morrow to our little community! A retired mother of three grown children, Geo seeks a simpler, sustainable, rural life-style, and has a wonderful contagious optimism that brings out the best in all around her. She'll be moving into the white house at the beginning of June.

Geo last visited in September of last year, before coming again early this month. Circumstances were in alignment for a change for her, and the white house was vacant. And the rest (as they say) is history.

Thank you for helping with our experiment in sustainable living, Geo! We're looking forward to working with you.

--Jan Steinman

Recent sightings

Here is a reviewed list of Internet resources and articles of particular significance to EcoReality and our values, vision, mission, and purpose.

Have you come across a link that you think might be of interest to readers of this newsletter? Send it to the editor, together with a few words about why it is important and how it relates to EcoReality, and we'll try to include it in the next newsletter.

More categorized and reviewed links are available via our reviewed links page.

End Polluter Welfare Act
US Senator Bernie Sanders is speaking truth to power once again, introducing legislation that will eliminate tax breaks for non-renewable energy companies. You can go to this site to sign a petition in favour. If you can vote in the US, please also contact your US Senators and urge them to co-sponsor this bill.
Club of Rome issues new warning
The group that commissioned the paradigm-shattering "Limits To Growth" 40 years ago says humans may not survive without a major change in direction.
How should government treat raw milk?
A new milk advocacy group sponsors a poll on how people think raw milk should be treated by the Canadian Government.
Mother Earth News Fair comes to Puyallup
A full slate of sustainability and homesteading topics are covered in this June 4-5 event, featuring actor and activist Ed Begley, Jr. as keynote speaker.

Jan Steinman

Recent happenings

Past calendar.jpg
Here are some highlights of recent meetings and events. Click any entry for details.
May 16 Residents' Meeting 
greenhouse finishing touches, water system repair, greenhouse celebration planning, grant approved, more.
May 9 Residents' Meeting 
greenhouse work, goat babies, east field planning, more.
May 2 Residents' Meeting 
comings and goings, moving chickens, soil blocking, more.
April 25 Residents' Meeting 
funding new rotovator, moving starts to new greenhouse, peas in ground, more.
April 18 Residents' Meeting 
greenhouse celebration agreed, Bioestate Tea proposal agreed, greenhouse doors complete, more.

Get all the details of any meeting via our meeting minutes log.

Upcoming events

Busy calendar.jpg
Here are some highlights. For details, please go to the meetings page on our website. All activities are at EcoReality, 2152 Fulford-Ganges Road, Salt Spring Island (directions), unless otherwise noted.
Greenhouse celebration
1-5 PM; farm house concert by Salvador Dali Lama at 1 PM, open house and jam session at 3 PM. Local organic refreshments included in admission by donation ($5 to $15 suggested). Local farmstead products available.
Cheese Making Workshop
Learn the basics of cheese-making while you use two different techniques to make two different cheeses -- which you'll get to take home to eat! 10AM to 3PM, $55. Pre-registration (via link above) required.

Regular events

every Friday
1PM to 4:30PM: work party.
every Friday
5PM farm tour: please bring footwear appropriate for soggy fields! Please call in advance during the winter months, as we may make other plans if no one is scheduled for a tour.
every Friday
6PM potluck: Please let us know you're coming, so we have enough place settings.
every Friday
7:30PM movie or program: Call or check meetings to see what's playing. If nothing is planned, bring your favourite movie! (No gratuitous violence, please.)
every Wednesday 
9AM: Residents' meeting, business and work around the farm. Please ask to attend; no drop-ins, please!
New.gifLast Sunday of every month
workshop or special event. See upcoming classes and events for details.

Thank you for supporting EcoReality with your interest, ideas, and good thoughts!

Want to write for this newsletter? Or want to see something written about? Contact the Communication Steward with your story ideas!

EcoReality Coop (directions)
2152 Fulford-Ganges Road
Salt Spring Island, BC V8K 1Z7, Canada
+1 250.653.2024
Info AT EcoReality DOT org

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