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The Sustainable Living Arts School RIP

October 22, 2013

The Sustainable Living Arts School was founded by Robin Wheeler and offered weekend workshops on growing and preserving food, medicines, natural building and other ‘traditional’ skills in and around Robert’s Creek, BC as well as hands-on learning parties in kitchens and backyards around Vancouver, BC .

The  city school was inspired by Robin’s work and Andrew Rushmere’s Free Folk School, created for his Master’s in Environmental Education at SFU (Fermenting the Free Folk School: tending a culture of place-based ecological learning and living“. Both Robin and Andrew (who is now with UBC Farm) provided me with inspiration, mentorship and collegiality throughout my curating, teaching and learning experiments.

Robin died in 2012. The Sustainable Living Arts lost a champion but she seeded good ideas, grand experiments, crazy projects and wild abundance in gardens, kitchens and garages all over.

Robin also founded the One Straw Society, was active in creating a mentorship project to share the hands-on skills she feared we were losing just as we needed them most, ran her edible landscape nursery and herb shop, wrote books and offered friendship and guidance to innumerable people who found the path to her door, talked with her on the phone or corresponded with her. When she died  I searched my inbox and there were 1000’s of conversation threads with her.

The legacy I treasure most is her plants from her gardens. I asked her once what her favourite form of medicine was. I was thinking something like, tea or tincture? She paused and said “living and growing with the plants”. It’s true for me too and I’m glad to be still propagating and sharing what she nurtured

I still love learning parties.


A distributed learning party

March 23, 2010

Everywhere and nowhere. Here and there.

SLAS salutes the literary learning partiers involved with the Motley Reader project. Reading James Joyces’ Dubliners off the grid and all over the web… The Motley Readers are blogging, discussing, and sending some rather delightful surprises through the postal system.


They want to learn. They want to party. We raise a pint of Guinness (or a homebrewed stout) to their intrepid spirits.

You are invited to the homebrew learning party!

March 19, 2010

Free Beer Tomorrow Neon Sign shared CC by Lori Spindler

You are warmly invited to another hands-on Sustainable Living Arts School Learning Party….

The Home-brew Learning Party!

….with beermeister John Margetts

This is a 2-part learning party.

Part 1 Brewing: Monday, March 29 from 7-9:30

Part 2 Bottling: Monday, April 12 from 7-9:30

This one gives me great delight. As a dedicated and nearly life long beer enthusiast (my mom tells me I liked the taste right away) I am very excited to add this craft to my repertoire of the sustainable living arts. This 2-part learning party series will give us all the basics to brew our first batch of beer at home. Please come with your favourite snack to share with beer. Samples of beer provided! Looking forward to seeing you there, Keira

Our guide for the day: John Margetts
“I first pitched some yeast into a beer kit a little more than twenty years ago but I really started making beer about 11 years ago. That was when I first met Dan (of Dan’s Homebrewing Supplies) and he taught me how to use a mash tun and the value of using fresh hops.”

Teachers provide some guidance, but the real learning comes from the student her/himself and their experiences. I think the best way to learn how to do something is by working with someone with experience and then just doing it and learning from your successes and failures both.” John Margetts

There are so many reasons to brew your own beer: it’s cheaper, it’s tastier, it’s often better for you (unfiltered, unpasteurized) and has real food value, it’s less predictable (i.e., more interesting), it’s educational and empowering to do it yourself. It’s one step in the right direction- avoiding mindless consumerism. The old saying about chopping your own firewood applies: it warms you twice, and it’s fun.


Location: – Close to Main and 23rd. Address will be emailed to registered participants 3 days before the learning party.

Cost: $40 You’ll go home with approx. 2 litres of our homebrew after the bottling party.

A huge thank-you to our sponsor for this learning party- Dan’s Homebrewing Supplies! We highly recommend Dan’s for all your homebrew supplies. Find them at 692 East Hastings.

Permaculture Design and Food Cycles Program

January 25, 2010

2010 Sustainable Living Arts School
Permaculture Design Certification
and Food Cycles Program

Join Delvin Solkinson and Robin Wheeler for a dynamic year round adventure in education. We offer a full Permaculture Design Certificate with a complete Food Cycles Program to create an integrated system of both design concepts and functional living skills.

Permaculture is a holistic approach to conscious living. It promotes an awareness of the world with a focus on sustainability, low impact living and healthy community development.

The Food Cycles course promotes seasonal awareness with practical activities to do at every time of year.

Learn the role of native plants, tips for organic gardening, growth cycles, propagation, seed saving, harvesting, food preservation, water wisdom, medicine making, integrated composting and so much more as part of practical and relevant Timely Actions in the Garden. Other course topics include design methods, patterns in nature, climatic factors, water, soils, earthworks, design strategies for urban and rural applications, practical living for all climates on the planet, trees, aquaculture, waste management, sustainable architecture, ethical business practices and economics, bio-regional organization, and effective aid.

From dormant earth to finished season, the Food Cycles program will occur in conjunction with the Permaculture Design classes to round out and ground in the new permaculture practitioner’s certificate.

13 spaces only
register now to hold your space

Class will begin March, on every other Monday and last for 15 months.
Location: Edible Landscapes, Robert’s Creek BC

Robin Wheeler : (604) 885-4505
or Delvin Solkinson :
for more details

Like to eat meat raised by small, local farmers?

December 2, 2009

Some of us are figuring that RIGHT NOW, OVER THE COMING WEEK is a very, very good time to write a letter requesting that our BC government exempt small farmers from the imposed meat regulations. We think a focused push, hopefully with hundreds of letters, might show how we have not gone away, that there are in fact even more of us, and that we want change.

Please ask that farmers be permitted to sell healthy animals from their farm gates, without trauma, fossil fuels, time and extra cost, and without the increased threat of contamination that a visit to a government inspected facility can bring.

Please write to our Premier. He has the power to lift the meat regulations as other provinces have.

Hon. Gordon Campbell
or Room 156, Parliament Buildings, Victoria BC V8V 1X4

or Ida Chong, who is holding the meat regulation potato right now:
Hon. Ida Chong
Minister of Healthy Living and Sport
P.O. Box 9062 Stn. Prov. Govt.
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2

or our Agriculture man, Hon. Steve Thomson
Minister of Agriculture and Lands
P.O. Box 9043 Stn. Prov. Govt.
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2

Thanks, everybody. A gathered effort cannot hurt and must be done. Please forward this to friends, farmers, consumer groups, Facebook groups, etc for maximum exposure. And please see for free downloads of bumper stickers, buttons and more.

Workshops with Robin Wheeler- Sept. 29th & 30th

September 26, 2009

Tuesday, Sept  29th

Concepts in Year Round Gardening 9:45-11:45 am
Grandview Woodland (near Nanaimo and 1st)
The Whys and Wherefores of food cycles – why we want them, how to get them. We will plan round the calendar food supplies, both in the larder and stored in the garden.

Introduction to Medicine Making 1:30-4:30 pm
Main St./Little Mountain (near Cambie and King Ed)
There are so many plants that are safe, easy to recognize and locate, and effective. We will learn some recognition techniques, and then how to make teas, poultices, tinctures and infused oils. We’ll learn about solvents, supplies and storage.

Apartment and Container Gardening 6:30-8 pm
Potluck @ 5:30 for folks who would like to share a meal together
Downtown (near Davie and Seymour)
How to get more food from your balcony or patio. Space and weight are big problems for apartment dwellers. We will decide how to choose plants, discuss containers, soils, feeding and watering, succession planting and more in this workshop for small spaces.

Wednesday, Sept 30

Seed Saving Primer 9-10:30 am
Kits Point Village (near Cornwall and Arbutus) co-sponsored by Kits Point neighbourhood Village
Seed saving is the missing link in food security. In our current political climate of seed patenting and ownership, it is increasingly important that a critical mass of a population have a good understanding of seed saving techniques. This will make it possible to create networks for seed abundance and resilience in many communities. This workshop will provide a deeper understanding of seed saving basics as well as provide time to discuss the implications of forming our relationships soon and well.
Your donation includes a copy of The Five Levels of Seed Saving by Terry Klokeid.

Shapes in Sharing 10:45-11:45 am
Kits Point Village  (near Cornwall and Arbutus) co-sponsored by Kits Point neighbourhood Village
Ideas for sharing land, food, space and time with a workshop component. We’ll do a study of our own assets and shortfalls and figure out how to equalize these on both a large and small scale.

Intensive Urban Microfarming 1:30-4:30 pm
Potluck @12:30 for folks who would like to share a meal together
Cedar Cottage (near Victoria Dr., south of Trout Lake/John Hendry Park)  For folks who are ready to refine and to deepen their knowledge of urban microfarming, Robin invites you to participate in a 3 hour gathering that will examine as many of the following topics as time allows:
· Increasing backyard food production
· Succession planting
· Shade growing
· Extending the growing season through your choice of plants, Water Wisdom, Plant Calendar Mapping and Microclimating.

Apartment and Container Gardening 7-8:30 pm
Potluck @ 6 for folks who would like to share a meal together
Lower Lonsdale, North Vancouver (near Lonsdale & 1st & Lonsdale Quay)
How to get more food from your balcony or patio. Space and weight are big problems for  apartment dwellers. We will decide how to choose plants, discuss containers soils, feeding and watering, succession planting and more, in this workshop for small spaces.

All workshops are offered on a pay what you can basis. A one hour workshop usually costs around $10 to $15; a 1 1/2 hour workshop around $15 to $20; a two hour workshop around $25 to $30, a 2 1/2 hour workshop around $30 to $35. and a three hour workshop around $40. Our contributions to these workshops make it possible for teachers like Robin to expand and to deepen the scope of the important educational and social change work that they are involved in, particularly in these uncertain times. Enrolment is limited to 20 people for each workshop. (15 for Apartment workshops.)

To register:
(or to find out more about hosting a future workshop), please contact Ross at

Food Preservation and Year Round Gardening this Friday in Vancouver

September 17, 2009

Robin Wheeler is back in town later in the week, and Village Vancouver, Fork in the Road, and Kits Point Village are very pleased to be offering two more neighbourhood workshops with her. (And three in Coquitlam a couple days later.)

Robin is the founder of The Sustainable Living Arts School (, and the author of Gardening for the Faint of Heart and Food Security for the Faint of Heart. She lives on the Sunshine Coast, and brings a vast wealth of knowledge and experience to her teaching.  You can expect your knowledge to expand and your soul to be delighted…and sometimes for your hands to get dirty.

Food Preservation Basics

Friday, Sept 18th  2-4 pm in Mt. Pleasant (on 7th, near Broadway and Fraser)

We will go over the top 10 food saving techniques and what pros and cons are connected with them. We’ll talk about seasonal availability and how to be ready for the bounty, plus what supplies we should have on hand at all times to be ready for any disaster.

Concepts in Year Round Gardening

Friday, Sept 18th  7-9 pm in Kits Point Village (near Cornwall and Arbutus)

The Whys and Wherefores of food cycles – why we want them, how to get them. We  will plan round the calendar food supplies, both in the larder and stored in the  garden.

Register: Contact Ross at

Both workshops are offered on a pay what you can basis. A two hour workshop usually costs around $25 to $30. Our contributions to these workshops make it possible for teachers like Robin to expand and to deepen the scope of the important educational and social change work that they are involved in, particularly in these uncertain times.

Enrollment is limited to 20 people for each workshop.