Tag Archives: This Earth is Ours

Grandpa Rupert, war veteran

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Here is a photo of Grandpa Rupert, just a teen, who enlisted to fight in WWI.  (Check out the KILT! ) I was told that he exaggerated his age to join up to fight for King and Country, eager lad that he was. He came back from Europe a broken man.  He barely survived the trenches of WWI, along with only a handful of soldiers from his regiment.  He never spoke about the war, except to say that “war is a terrible thing”.  Returning to Vancouver Island, Grandpa Rupert healed his wounds tilling the soil, growing berries.  I’ve discovered that more and more war veterans are turning to farming every day.

http://www.organicgardening.com/living/veteran-soldiers-become-novice-farmers

http://www.farmvetco.org/

You may recall the post I did on the OTA awards and the young Iraq Vet turned organic farmer who led us in the marine oath to be Semper Fidelis.  With staggeringly high suicide rates and suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Syndrome, war veterans kill themselves at a rate of one per day.  That’s a conservative estimate.  And who can blame them; they have seen the worst of mankind, experienced the horrors or war.  Thinking about this yesterday I discovered a new  piece of Grandpa Rupert’s puzzle (he died when I was young).  I had hitherto only thought about him as an organic farmer and songwriter.  Now I think of him as a war veteran who healed himself through the Earth.  His songs of the Earth were inspired by a love of Mother Nature.

Grandpa Rupert farmed organically in the 1950s, when his peers were starting to use chemical inputs.  Grandpa used sawdust as a mulch, seaweed as a fertilizer, and extolled the lowly earthworm.  He always would leave the soil better than he found it.  Here is a link to one his songs I recorded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnRo3kFQEFU.  I remember him this Remembrance Day.  I think of his journey, his redemption through the soil.  Through my own experience with gardening, I know that working the earth in harmony with her creatures heals the spirit and energizes the soul.

Let us all be semper fidelis to each other, to all creation from the earthworm to great ape. Let us wage not war on the earth but peace.  Let us grow food as an act of healing, of love. And let’s give peas a chance!

The Low Down and Dirty – Chef Survival Challenge 2013

It was my first Chef Survival Challenge.  It was a hot day of watching Chefs alongside Firefighters get sweaty and dirty and labour and fight and cook for farmland conservation.

Let me set the stage with four time Juno award winner Lester Quitzau who played amazing guitar.  Riffs and moods and skills.  Big up respect.  Wow.

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Adam Olsen, of the Tsartlip First Nation and interim leader of the BC Greens gave a welcome and blessing honouring the land.  He spoke eloquently about the importance of local farms.

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Lovely Lola and Corey Francis sang a couple of songs in Lola’s stage debut. DSC_0516

Proud mamma Nathalie below.DSC_0520Then the Chefs and Fire-fighters were presented as contestants. In past years it was just chefs but this year the brawn was supplemented.  Plus the local fire-fighters were honoured for…being heroes. In the photo below Madrona Farm’s Nathalie and Dave Chambers point out the obstacles to be overcome in the photo below.  Nathalie and Dave are also heroes.  They got 3000 people chip in and they donated their family farm to a land trust.  How many folks do you know do that?  They wanted their farm to be preserved forever and given to the community after their turn.  Nathalie and Dave show how it can be done on Madrona Farm.  It’s Nathalie’s dream for all farmland to be owned by the community.  The Chef Survival Challenge is about raising funds for communities to purchase farmland (Big Dream Farm-fund) and farm it sustainably.  No GMOs or pesticides, herbicide toxins.  Farmland to be preserved in perpetuity for the community via land trusts.

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The Chefs and Firefighters started the obstacle course with the sack race…DSC_0530

They soon got muddied in the mud pit….

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And then had to crawl under nigh-impossible obstacles while being hosed by malicious gremlins.  (Children).

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Look at the metal pipes.  They are heavy.  Look at them being displaced.

Now look at the lower left corner.  Are you squirming?DSC_0545

From down low and dirty to up high and mighty.

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After the chefs were exhausted, tired, and cotto (means cooked in Italian)… they had to cook up a storm.  The firefighters proving their might, stood around and looked strong.  There was a live auction which raised $100 for an individual to be carried by a firefighter across the mud hole.  Sadly I didn’t get a picture of that but suffice it to say that it was hot.  Okay.  The firefighter took off his shirt.  And he was ripped.  Did I mention that it was hot?

I sang Grandpa Rupert’s Song “This Earth is Ours” along with pianist Lisa Olive.  Lisa is an amazing talent, a little technically challenged with a non-fully functioning  half-length keyboard.  Despite said technical difficulties and false starts when Colin the sound guy ran up to the stage waving for us to stop and support from Lester Quitzau himself, Lisa played with the flair of Chopin.

The victuals were beautifully, locally sourced.  The CRD was there with their water truck eliminating the need for single-use plastic bottles (KUDOS).  Here is the line up for the food.  Well worth the wait. Lots of vegetarian and vegan food I’m pleased to report.

Dessert: berry crumble!DSC_0556

Below, pianist Lisa Olive and I display our GMO OMG tees (organic cotton). But of course! What else would you want to wear to an event honouring the food that comes from the Earth (actually it was so hot that I wanted to go au naturel and bask like a pig in that mud hole)

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I met Kelsey from Innotech Nutrition with his ‘bro’.  Out from from Winnipeg for a few days, he came to Chef Survival Challenge coz he heard that this was the best partay happening in Victoria.  Dude got that right!

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Andrew Weaver spoke below, introduced by Lester Quitzau (sorry for quality of the photo). Andrew mentioned how his kids got him a playmobil farm set since he loves farms that much.  We love that he loves farms.  Hmmm.  I wonder if he has a Green thumb?

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Chefs cook-cook-cooking away on camping gear.  Don’t let that fool you for a minute!

This was big-up gourmet: Note the care with which the marshmallow was roasted.

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This Chef below was a speedy gonzales, beating the fire fighters in the obstacle course and doing cirque du soliel moves on the zipline.  He won for best costume (Note to self, get him for Style-Diet Shot).  (Anyone please tell me the chefs’ names so I can credit them?)DSC_0580

The chefs auctioned off gourmet meals to the highest bidders.

Sadly I couldn’t stay longer.  As I left the burlap sacks in the dust, the music on hiatus, happy community bonding underway with an auction frenzy…. I noted that the mud hole was being well-utilized.

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 Every adult was holding the leash tight on their inner child.

Fighting the urge to get really super dirty.

(Did I mention that it was hot?)

Big Dream Farm Fund

Dream Big.

Nathalie Chambers is an infectiously positive person.  She is the only person I know of who has raised 2.7 million dollars in order to save her family farm and then turned around and gifted that farm to the  community via a Land trust.  What a bright, shining example of glorious possibilities.  Thanks to Nathalie, this land will belong to the community.  Forever.  Food security is a pressing problem.  Here is how Nathalie described it to me “Imagine the world as an apple, take 3/4 of that away for the oceans.  We’re left now with 1/4 of that apple.  That’s land.  Now take the thin little peel on this remaining quarter slice of apple.  This piece of peel is how much land we have for agriculture”.

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Nathalie Chambers at Madrona Farm. She farms sustainably with her husband Dave. Most concerned about preserving and enhancing biodiversity, Dave has engineered a light plough a couple inches shorter than standard so that it doesn’t disturb the local bees who hibernate in the ground over winter. Nathalie has studied the trees on her farm and has found out that they enhance biodiversity since that’s where the pollinators thrive.

When we lived in England, we joined the National Trust.  This is a beautiful system by which the people collectively buy and protect historical sites, land and wildlife.  People give as much as they can afford.  It’s a delightfully democratic system with integrity.  The British have much to protect.  I think that Canada, given our sheer size, has way more.

Inspired by the UK Trust, Nathalie has a similar vision for Canada – and the World!- called the Big Dream Farm Fund. http://chefsurvivalchallenge.com/the_big_dream_farm_fund.html  Last night she unveiled her new National Vision tonight at the Vista 18 restaurant at the Chateaux Victoria.  So many people would love to farm but can’t afford to buy the land.  If the community can unite to protect and own the land, then farming can be accessible to those who want to.  Nathalie and her husband Dave are a fine example demonstrating that it’s possible to make a living farming sustainably.

What if every Canadian contributed just 10 dollars to preserving farmland – our glorious patrimony?   Owning our farmland collectively, protecting it from land-grabbing speculators and big biotech companies who want to poison the soils and water with GMO Biofuel production (which is unsustainable, taking far more energy to produce that what it yields) or GMO food production which is highly unsustainable and scary in it’s misled monocrop vision.  Monsanto claims to be feeding the world.  What they don’t tell you is that 70% of GMOs are not intended for human consumption!  Feeding the world, as they say over and over again – Bah Humbug.  They’ve said it so many times that people believe them.  Believe me -the Emperor is naked.

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Chefs running an obstacle course at the 2009 Chef Survival Challenge at Madrona Farm. The Challenge both builds community and raises funds for farmland conservation.

By committing to preserve farmland for sustainable agriculture, we can enhance our biodiversity, keep our water and soils pure and help supply the ever-increasing demand for organic foods (Organic means GMO free.  Organic has never allowed GMOs).  Nathalie has two upcoming events in September called the “Chef Survival Challenge” which brings together local chefs and local farms.  Well-known chefs race and swim and do all sorts of difficult and goofy obstacles before getting to pick their veggies and cook them into a 3 star dish which is judged.  The winning chef becomes the year’s Golden Broccoli winner.   Applause please.  Funds raised from this fabulous community affair go right into the Big Dream Farm Fund.   Raucous cheering!

I will post more about this.  Til then I’ll leave you with a farmer’s anthem written by my Grandpa Rupert in the 1950s.  I can’t talk much about farming without thinking of my gentle, song-writing Grandpa Rupert, an organic berry farmer at Goldstream Berry Paradise.  He loved the Earth and said, “Always leave the soil better than you found it”