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Organic Gardening, Composting and Native Plants: Permaculture Design on the Sunshine Coast

September 17, 2009

A weekend long introduction to permaculture course is happening at the Heart Gardens, a branch campus of the Sustainable Living Arts School, in historic ‘downtown’ Roberts Creek this weekend . The course is offered through Capilano University. Join Delvin in a unique learning experience about permaculture in the Elphinstone rainforest.

Permaculture Design is a holistic approach to sustainable community development. This course is a basic introduction to permaculture principles and concepts. Organic gardening with native plants will be discussed, and there will be tours of the Heart Gardens and Gumboot Gardens in Roberts Creek. There will also be a discussion about composting and a hands-on workshop about making your own organic solid and liquid fertilizers with an easy to create and maintain worm farm.

Where? The class meets at the “Elfinhome”, at the back of the Gumboot Café in the Heart of Roberts Creek.

Sat Sept 19 and Sun Sept 20

Noon – 5 pm

via Capilano University


More info?
Email Delvin at


100-Meter Diets, Gardens, and Food Security in the West End

September 16, 2009

A creative evening with Robin Wheeler (Edible Landscapes) for apartment dwellers on Vancouver’s downtown peninsula


7 to 8:45 pm, September 28, 2009


Gordon Neighborhood House, 1019 Broughton Street

(Between Nelson and Comox. Venue tel. 604-683-2554)


Robin Wheeler teaches traditional skills, sustenance gardening and medicinals at Edible Landscapes (, a nursery and teaching garden in Roberts Creek, British Columbia. She is the author of “Food Security for the Faint of Heart” and “Gardening for the Faint of Heart.”


Think about the 100-mile diet, farmers’ markets, community gardens, high food prices, sustainability, food safety, emergency preparedness…and you will understand why more and more people are interested in having healthy food grown close to home. Now there’s a buzz about the “100-meter diet.” But how much food can we grow for ourselves here in the West End of Vancouver?

In the first half, Robin Wheeler will cover various concepts from her book and experience—edible landscapes; food growing on apartment balconies and patios; ideas for sharing land, food, space, and time; food preservation/storage in apartments; and so on. In the second half, an open discussion will share information about issues in the West End. What’s already being done and who’s doing it? How can apartment dwellers get more space to grow food? What frameworks and support systems exist? Can these ideas somehow help low-income families? What problems and opportunities exist? Entrance by donation ($5 recommended). A report will be prepared afterwards, so please contact us if you can’t attend but would like to know the outcomes.



Green Millennium Foundation (

West End Residents Association (

Herb Nerd Weekend- August 15/16

July 31, 2009
A note from Edible Landscapes on the Sunshine Coast –

Hi, all – I had marked August 15/16 as Herb Nerd Weekend, when a couple of herb instructors would be about doing their thing, and anyone could follow along, make tinctures, learn about infusions and decoction and do lots of plant ID. Meanwhile, a drought has moved in and the place is dry as toast. Many plants are not their usual selves.  But there is still a great opportunity to hang out with Garliq and maybe Cymba and Lyrae and I, make medicine and chat till it gets dark about the plants we love to be with.

  • The weekend fee is $125. This includes camping, some plant matter, tincture bottles etc, and some food, and loads of learning and experiental opportunities.
  • There is a modest bus with sleeping platform and electricity for $15 a night and a camper for the same price. Friends or family can take in the beach, do some cycling or hang about the farm.
  • Please let me know by August 5 if you would like to attend – I can send a PayPal invoice which also takes Mastercard and Visa.
Have a good summer, folks, and stay cool!

You are invited to a Bee Appreciation Learning Party

June 19, 2009

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

Bee Appreciation

….with master beekeeper Brian Campbell

Saturday, June 27 at 10am-noon.

Join us afterwards for a picnic in Clinton Park if you like.  Bring the kids!

This learning party will happen in the Hastings-Sunrise Neighbourhood.  Address will be emailed to the folks who register 3 days before the learning party.

Bee’s are the life’s blood of the environment. They connect plant life to animal life making abundance and creating a healthy ecology. For bees the city is the place to be. We provide a wonderful habitat of flowering plants and soil profiles that supports Canada’s greatest diversity of pollinators.

But all is not well. Bees and other pollinators are in decline around the world  so our privilege of bee diversity is also our responsibility to protect and conserve. Because of development our bee populations are divided up and separated from each other. By connecting these population pockets we help to make bees more resilient and better able to help the stresses we throw at them.

In this learning party we’ll explore a backyard habitat and then make a bee’s journey through the neighbourhood helping to make bee corridors. Come learn about how to plant for bees, make bee condos and help make one neighbourhood more bee-friendly.

Our guide for the day: Brian Campbell
Brian Campbell is a certified beemaster and beekeeper, heavily involved in food security issues in Richmond and beyond. A member of the BC Association of Master Gardeners, Brian spent three years as seed manager for West Coast Seeds. Brian guest lectures for Gaia College’s Growing Food in the City certificate program, operates pocket markets in Richmond and teaches young people about honey bees as well as native types. He offers classes in grafting fruit trees, food preserving and other farm skills.


Location: Hastings-Sunrise- details will be emailed to registered participants 2 days before the learning party.

By Donation: Suggested donation is $25. Pay what you feel.  Sustainable Living Arts School learning parties are 100% participant supported. Thank-you for your generous donations.

Children are very welcome with their grown-ups.

Comfort of Comfrey- Herb Workshop

June 15, 2009

The Sustainable Living Arts School and the Living Medicine Project  introduce the Living Medicine Series

monthly Learning Parties dedicated to the study and art of herbal medicine.

These hands-on, half-day intensives will include Plant Identification, Gathering and Medicine Making. These 3 simple pieces are the tools required to know how, when and which plants can be gathered from gardens, parks and lawns to become food and medicines to keep our families and friends healthy.

Join us for the 3rd in this Series…

Cool Comfort of Comfrey

Sunday June 21st (Summer Solstice)


Commercial Drive Area

**This is a family friendly event. Feel free to bring your kids. They’re much more likely to take the medicines that they help make.

suggested donation: $40 Pay as you feel

Donations will be split between SLAS, LMP and the facilitator(s)

Space is limited, Register here!

Information specific to the event will be forwarded to registrants on June 19th.


June 13/14 – Herb Weekend, SLAS, Roberts Creek

June 1, 2009

Please pass around where appropriate!

Two days of herb nerds! What could be better? We’ll learn recognition skills, making basic medicines, native herbs, harvest and storage techniques and more $25 per class.- take one or take all. You can either pay by Visa or Mastercard  via Paypal right away or mail her a cheque. 80% of student fees go directly to the teachers, with another 10% for preparing for classes and promotion.  Attending these workshops is a direct way to support folks who live on the land and keep the skills and traditions of the sustainable living arts alive.

If you are part of a family or group of friends who would like to learn and practice together, get in touch with Robin to arrange group pricing. Edible Landscapes is a place to come to reconnect, learn, relax and get inspired on how we can increase our self-sufficiency…together. You can camp on the land, hike to the ocean, walk in the woods, wander the gardens, browse in the edible and medicinal plant nursery and medicine emporium.

To register, contact Robin at (604) 885-4505, or email (and she will invoice you via Paypal) – see details on other programs at or

June 13

10:00 – 11:30    Herb Recognition and growing methods with Robin Wheeler
Seeing a plant bursting with vigour and swaying under the weight of the bees, instead of just in powdered form or tincture, is a great reminder that we are working with an integrated, energetic being when we make medicine. See, smell and taste some of the over 150 varieties of plants here so that you will more easily recognize them in the future. Take photos or leaf samples as that can help as well. We will discuss growing methods for those wishing to grow herbs at home.

11:45 – 1:00   Intro to Botany for Herbalists with Garliq

This class is designed to navigate the world of Green, to know why a plant is what it is and not a ‘look alike.’ We’ll learn to answer a few basic questions about flower and leaf structures that will enable us to be sure we’re working with the medicine we think we are. Please bring samples from Robin’s plant walk to help apply this learning directly.

1:00 – 1:45   Lunch – brown bag or order $6 snack lunch.

1:45 – 3:15   TBA – hopefully Infused oils and lotions with Barb Cotgrave of Halfmoon Herbals.

3:30 – 4:45  – Harvesting and Storage Techniques with Robin Wheeler
We will go outside and harvest leaves, stems and flowers, then go in and prepare them for drying. When we store herbs for any length of time, we want to use the best practices possible, know the problems that can occur and how to bypass them to retain high active levels in our medicine and culinary plants.

5:00 onwards – shared/potluck dinner.

7:00 – 8:30     Homeopathy and Herbs with Marlow Purves
Herbs and plants are a major remedy source in the homoeopathic pharmacopeia.  The herbs that have been used traditionally for thousands of years find new and different application when potentised.  Marlow will share some of the revelations of the remedies made from common herbs as a means of enhancing our knowledge, respect for and awe of our healing companions. We will likely try to potentize a herb for ourselves!

June 14

10:00 – 11:30    Introduction to Chinese herbs with Sarah Gilbert and Julie Starsage
Ancient Chinese systems are based on far different diagnostic criteria than we are used to, and the forms their medicines take, in terms of preparation and ingestion, are also new to us. Sarah will introduce us to herbs and formulas that have been appreciated for centuries, and give us a better idea of how they are used in modern times.

11:45 – 12:45    Wildcrafting Basics with Lyrae Emerson

An examination of the methods of ethically harvesting wild and indigenous plants in a manner that minimizes impact on the population while maximizing their medicinal potential. We will look at tools, time of year to harvest roots, barks, stems and other plant parts, as well as look at how the practice of wildcrafting in itself can be a healing experience. Comes with take home instruction sheet on wildcrafting and harvesting guidelines.

12:45 – 1:30    Lunch – brown bag or order the $6 snack lunch.

1:30 – 3:30 – Making Plant Medicine with Lyrae Emerson
Learn how to turn your raw or dried plant matter into finished medicines. Lyrae will discuss and show preparation of infusions, pills, teas and tinctures, show and share samples, discuss alternate procedures, and basically give a solid background so that people new to the field can go home and follow recipes with confidence.

3:45 – 5:00     Native Use of Herbs with Cymba
Consisting of in-the-field plant identification, discussing traditional and contemporary uses of these plants.  Food, medicinal and ceremonial uses will be covered as well as ecologically sustainable harvesting techniques.  A hands-on component will include topical salves making (everyone will leave with a traditional medicine).

Shared potluck dinner to follow for all who want to continue exchanging thoughts.

Growing Traditions: Sharing gardening knowledge across generations

May 21, 2009

The elders in our community have abundant knowledge of gardening practices. My grandparents grew up on farms on the Prairies during the Depression. Growing food and composting were facts of life. But as this generation of gardeners retires to smaller homes, their knowledge is leaving us.

At the same time, so many people are getting excited about growing their own food. Maybe it’s the recession, or maybe it’s just time: new parents want to teach their children how to garden, and flower gardeners are starting to cultivate food as well.

This year, the Sustainable Living Arts School, in consultation with the Edible Garden Project, is  working on a small garden mentorship program funded by North Shore Health. The Growing Traditions project is a small pilot program designed to help us learn how elders and new food gardeners can share their knowledge. We would like to learn how garden mentorships work, experiment with how learning parties can support these relationships…and get families growing food!

A big thanks to Stacey Friedman and all the participants of Intergenerational Landed Learning at UBC Farm who welcomed us to join them for a day of Landed Learning fun at the farm. We also took the opportunity to crash in on  Diane Johnson, who managed UBC’s Trimentoring Program through its start-up years.  They both asked great questions, created a context where we could ask what we needed and well, mentored us for a day.

The project is looking for experienced gardeners on the North Shore who would like to mentor newer gardeners. We’re also looking for families to participate – newer gardeners who would both contribute to and benefit from a community connection with an elder gardener. The mentorship would occur from June until the end of September.  At the end  families and elders will share their knowledge with their neighbors and friends by hosting a learning party.

Do you know anyone who would like to do something like this? Interested participants or those with any questions are welcome to contact Tricia at 604-842-3251 (please leave a message) or email growingtraditions(at)