COVID-19: Capacity limits lifting as two-dose vaccine requirements begin

On Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, full vaccination for everyone born in 2009 or earlier (12+) and presentation of your BC Vaccine Card will be required to access certain events, services and businesses. On Monday, Oct. 25, more people will be able to come together at organized gatherings and events in parts of the province where vaccination rates are high. The provincial health officer order restricting capacity limits to 50% for inside organized events and gatherings will be revised to allow 100% capacity in those settings where the BC Vaccine Card is in place and proof of vaccination status is checked. In addition, the requirement to remain seated at a table in restaurants and pubs will be lifted. Indoor mask requirements remain in effect for all indoor gatherings and events. These changes apply to: indoor sporting events (e.g. hockey or basketball games) indoor concerts, theatre, movie theatres, dance and symphony events indoor organized events: examples are wedd…
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Food Business Refresh Program Helps Salt Spring Island Small Business Adapt

Small B.C. food businesses are accessing customized training, coaching, business planning and implementation support through the Food Business Refresh Program, and the results are being served on Salt Spring Island. Culturalive fermented foods is a small business that ferments locally sourced and mostly organic vegetables and herbs to make sauerkraut and kimchi. The products are sold in stores on Vancouver Island and many of the Gulf Islands. For owner Melanie Furman, COVID-19 presented a series of new challenges that forced her business to adapt. “With the arrival of the pandemic, all of a sudden I was juggling parenting as a single mom, home schooling and running my business,” Furman said. “I lost my employee and had to scale back production, which was challenging because as the pandemic unfolded, interest in my fermented products increased as people looked for more local, immune-boosting foods. I just couldn’t keep up with the demand from store owners.” In partnersh…
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Farm Stand Tour and Piping Piper

One of the many charms of Salt Spring Island is our network of local farm stands. Most are trust based stands openly offering their goods to visitors and locals alike. In a 'normal' year, these farm stands dot the island and are an experience that many visitors to the island often recount as part of their stories of time spent here. While many cater to visitors, some are also full-time, year-round farm stands for treats, veggies, meat and eggs that also have many of the staples needed for delicious, local meals. This year, in response to the pandemic, farm stand operators banded together to organize a holiday tour to encourage locals to get out for a fun, pandemic friendly shopping experience. Numerous stand operators took the extra initiative to light up their stands offering even more moments of beauty and charm. Our little family bubble hit the road today to visit some of the stands. We came home filled with treats and handfuls of gifts for friends and family. We also …
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Last Seeding, Powdery Mildew, Timely Tasks

This week is the last chance to sow frost hardy lettuce, corn salad and arugula in the garden outdoors. If you have cold frames or are sowing in an unheated greenhouse you can get away with waiting another week or two, but given the generally cool season, I would still sow as soon as possible. With the high daytime temperatures forecast for the next few days, be sure to shade new seedbeds so that seeds and seedlings don’t fry. By now, with gaps opening up in the garden where sweet corn, onions, early potatoes, etc. have been harvested, you should be able to find lots of open spots to sow seeds. You can also sow corn salad and lettuce under tomatoes, peppers, pole beans and other crops that will be finished in October—just pull back mulches and scatter the seeds on the soil. Corn salad simply won’t germinate in warm soil, but when it is a bit cooler you will suddenly see the soil covered with seedlings. Powdery mildew, that whitish dusting seen on leaves of squash and other p…
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Leaves, Mulch for Winter

This is my annual note to remind you to collect as many leaves as possible now, both to mulch your garden for winter and to stockpile for mulching next summer. Here are some notes addressing misconceptions and questions that appear every year at this time: What kind of leaves can be used for mulch? All leaves are usable, but black walnut leaves shouldn’t be used on some plants until the leaves have been well composted first (this breaks down a chemical called juglone in the leaves, which suppresses the growth of some plants). One hardy perennial myth is that maple leaves shouldn't be used (luckily, no one told my garden, which has been heavily mulched with Bigleaf Maple leaves for 18 years). Even oak and Arbutus/Madrone are fine, but they do take longer to break down. Mixing oak leaves with other tree leaves works well for a fluffy winter mulch and I reserve Arbutus leaves for pathways where their toughness is an advantage. Should they be shredded? Not for winter mulching…
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Watch: GISS Improv Team Featured in CBC Documentary

Here’s a CBC Canadian Improv Games documentary featuring GISS Improv, the 2019 National Champs. CBC Gem is streaming this amazing documentary series on the Canadian Improv Games hosted by Andrew Phung.         .embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }  
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Win Discounted Tickets to 'Time Piece' with Country Grocer

Here's your chance to win a voucher to purchase a $10 ticket to 'Time Piece', a locally produced thematic rock concert with dialogue while also helping to support Dawn and Cindy, two former Country Grocer employees, each going through challenging times. 'Time Piece' is a thematic rock concert featuring a wide variety of music from artists such as Pink Floyd, Sting, Barenaked Ladies, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Cyndi Lauper, Neil Young and more brought to you by the people who produced “Peter on the Brink” - Disclaimer: there will be a fog machine and loud music! Win a voucher that will get you into the show for just $10 for the Friday, September 13th or Saturday, September 14th performances and while you save on money on your ticket, the proceeds of the savings will go to Dawn and Cindy. We have 50 vouchers to give away for each night. Enter soon before they run out! There are two nights and two ways to get discounted tickets. For the Friday, September 13th show: G…
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People Profile: Marialyn and Tom Boekbinder from El Loco Taco

Community People Profiles on the Salt Spring Exchange feature local personalities on our island home. These profiles are short interviews that share with us a little about what each of these folks are thinking about as they go about their lives and work on Salt Spring Island. This profile features Marialyn and Tom Boekbinder from El Loco Taco Marialyn and Tom arrived on Salt Spring Island 5 years ago. Tom is a retired Veterinarian ad after some time got bored. Tom loves to cook and feed people and Marialyn loves working with people and serving them. They purchased the El Loco Taco Mexican food shop last November and have been working hard to learn the business, new for both of them. Making improvements in the menu ingredients, such as fresh meats, smoked on premises and other fresh ingredients. With the addition of the full restaurant, licensed, they hope to make this a place for local to come and eat great food, have a drink and socialize. What brought you to Salt Spr…
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Pruning, Grow Lights, #*!#*@#! Spotted Wing Drosophila and Yams

Well, I don’t know if there will be a winter this year or not, but other than windstorms, there hasn’t been much winter in evidence. As I started to write this, it was sunny and unusually warm outdoors and I suddenly remembered that early warm weather makes trees bloom early….I leaped up and shot out the door to start pruning my trees and grapes.

Pruning: So this is a reminder to get started now on pruning, especially if you have a lot to do. Start with the earliest flowering trees, such as cherries and peaches as they are most likely to burst into bloom soon. Be sure to only prune cherries and peaches on a dry day, frequently sterilizing your pruners as you go to avoid spreading bacterial canker, which is all too common on these trees in the coastal climate. To sterilizer tools, wipe your pruners with rubbing alcohol or soak them in 1 part hydrogen peroxide bleach to 9 parts water and rinse well.

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First Cold Snap

Just a quick note that the first cold weather of the year is forecast for this week, with night time lows by Wednesday and Thursday forecast to drop well below freezing in some parts of the region. That’s the signal to finish mulching everything if you haven’t done so already. Now is the time to add mulch right up over the tops of carrots, beets and other roots to make sure the shoulders of the roots don’t get nipped by frost. I like to have at least 6 inches of leaves on top of carrots, etc. when really cold weather starts. Tip: When you harvest your root crops this winter, stick in a marker of some kind to show where to start digging next time—with all that mulch on top you can’t tell what has been harvested already. It has been so warm this fall that many things have continued to grow, which is all to the good if some of your cabbages or Brussels sprout plants were rather small at the end of the summer. I keep getting inquiries about garlic that has started to grow: bu…
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Nights of Grief & Mystery with Spiritual Activist Stephen Jenkinson on Salt Spring

Stephen Jenkinson is at it again. More accurately, he’s still going at it hammer and tongs, all the while shouldering a new book and a bigger band to bring the 2018 Nights of Grief & Mystery Tour to communities throughout North America. From mid-September through November 2018, the tour will travel west across the lower provinces of Canada from Ontario to British Columbia, before heading south into the States along the coast through Washington, Oregon, and California, then back east via Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan, and New York. For those of already familiar with Stephen’s work, including his 2017 international Nights of Grief & Mystery Tour, you’ll need no encouragement to purchase tickets now for his upcoming event here on Salt Spring Island at ArtSpring on October 16th, 2018 from 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm. Buy tickets directly on Eventbrite. Nights of Grief and Mystery weaves together the extraordinary talents and skills of internationally renowned author, tea…
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Gregory Hoskins and Stephen Jenkinson Craft New Genre Of Performance at ArtSpring

There are three challenges that face every musician. The first is writing new music that’s worth listening to. The second is creating a new live show that’s worth attending. Both of those have their shares of inspiration and perspiration. They both have their joys and their struggles. Both are largely in the hands of luck and fortune. But there is a third thing that is so difficult most musicians don’t even attempt it: coming up with a new genre of performance. And yet, that’s what Canadian singer/songwriter Gregory Hoskins seems to have done. Often described with epithets like “best kept secret”, “unsung”, and “an artist that has flown under the radar”, Gregory Hoskins’ career spans 11 recordings over 27 years and record deals on three continents. So what is this new genre exactly? And is it “new” or is it an older kind of thing that is just unrecognizable to our part of the world? Whatever it is, He and his band (drummer Adam Hay, and keyboard/vocalist Lisa Hodg…
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Last sowing, confusing bugs, splitter alert

There is still time to sow hardy winter lettuce and arugula if you do it this week and now is also the perfect time to sow corn salad for winter salads. Pull back mulches and scatter seeds under tomatoes, squash and other plants that will be finished in October. Corn salad seeds may not germinate until the soil cools down, so don’t worry if they don’t come up immediately; it is extremely hardy and one of the few greens that can grow (slowly) during the winter. If you are sowing winter greens in a coldframe, plastic tunnel or unheated greenhouse, you could also sow Chinese cabbage, leaf mustard and other hardy greens now, because the warmer environments provide a little more growing time. If you can buy starts of spinach, lettuce, Chinese cabbage and other leafy greens you can still transplant those into your garden (on Salt Spring, Chorus Frog Farm stand still has these available). Grow them as quickly as possible in nitrogen-rich soil with plenty of water. Even if plants don’t…
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Sowing Sprouts, Irrigation and Pest du Jour

Just a quick note this time, but I couldn’t let another day go by without reminding everyone that it is time to sow seeds of Brussels sprouts and any cabbage varieties that need over 120 days to mature (e.g., January King, Danish Ballhead, Red Langedijker). Getting the timing right for these crops seems to be a perennial problem for many due to conflicting information on seed packets and from nurseries. The long season cabbages really do need the whole summer to develop a good-sized head, but no matter what size they are by fall, they still provide a harvest. Timing of Brussels sprouts, on the other hand, is a trickier because if sown too late (after the first week of June), plants usually don’t have enough growing season left to produce sprouts before winter—and if they don’t form sprouts by the end of October, they aren’t likely to have them at all. Of course you can sow Br. sprouts earlier, but by waiting until now to sow them, you largely avoid …

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Tomatoes, Corn, Beans, Peas and Pests du Jour

With the warmth last week and the forecast of another sunny week, you can keep right on planting any and all cool weather crops (peas, lettuce, onions, leeks, all of the cabbage/mustard family, leafy greens, Swiss chard, carrots, beets, turnips, potatoes, etc.). It is still too cool at night in most places to rush warmth-loving plants into the ground, including tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, melons, corn and beans. And don’t push sweet basil outdoors too early, either: it can’t handle cool, wet weather. When tomatoes can go outdoors depends on your garden microclimate and how prepared you are to protect them with cloches, floating row covers or coldframes if it turns cool after you plant. Tomatoes are more robust than the other tender plants listed (and some tomato varieties can take cooler weather than others), but that just means they tolerate it, not that they thrive. If it is too cool for growth the leaves often turn purple from temporary nutrient deficiencies cau…
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Wet Soil, Cool Crops and Pollinator Plantings

Our cold spring continues…with the soil too soggy to work in many gardens, especially after this recent heavy rain. If you squeeze a small handful of soil and it stays together in a compact clod, then it is too wet to handle; it should be moist but still easy to crumble apart after you squeeze it. Trying to turn in amendments in wet soil compacts the soil and crushes the air spaces that let in oxygen and let out carbon dioxide (plant roots, soil microbes, earthworms, etc. all need to breath). If hard clods form when your soil dries out, it is a sign of compaction, often seen in clay soils. Wait until such soil are drier before handling them and keep adding compost and organic matter from mulches to improve soil structure.

Gardeners are always eager to get out there and plant something, but really, there is no rush, especially if have crops in the ground year round. If you are not harvesting lots of overwintered crop…

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BC Rural Dividend Grant Funds Salt Spring Shared Business Services Study

As part of its rural development mandate, the Government of British Columbia is providing $39,136 to support community projects in the Cowichan Valley and Gulf Islands, Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan announced today. “The wide range of projects that received grants is a testament to the resourcefulness of the proponents and their commitment to diversifying their community’s economy,” said Routley. The funding is part of nearly $700,000 in project development grants being awarded to eligible local governments, First Nations and not-for-profit organizations under the BC Rural Dividend program. These grants, of up to $10,000 each, help rural communities develop projects to stabilize their economies and create long-term local employment. “Congratulations to everyone involved,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “The selected projects reflect the strength of rural communities – people working tog…
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Hot Tickets for a Hot Show

Opening night for Mamma Priscilla: The Sequin is March 9th! But you have to get your tickets fast. The Sequin is the “sequel” to the 2013 production by Mamma Priscilla’s Cagey Revue, and islanders know how good it gets when the Cagey Revue comes to ArtSpring. Some people were known to see the production two or three times! I spoke to Scott Merrick—who wrote the musical, assists director Susannah Devitt, and also acts in it—to ask what audience members can expect, beyond what I gleaned from the ArtSpring website. I didn’t see the last show, but the words “Mamma Priscilla” had me hoping that I’d get a real-life sense of what it would be like to be part of one of my all time favourite movies: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Scott told me that 40 wigs and many costumes are being used during the musical. Three or four people are hard at work applying makeup to the drag queens and kings. For the queen, it can take an hour to an hour and a half just for the mak…
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Love A Little Help Eating Healthy?

Valentine’s Day marked the “soft opening” of Country Grocer’s newest addition—freshly cut fruits and vegetables in its produce section. You can attend the Grand Opening on Thursday, February 15: the cooler shelves will be fully stocked with glistening colours and tasty cuts. The cooler features halved papayas and small watermelons; fresh blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries; fruit dip and guacamole; salsas that taste like they were made in Mexico; and much more. And then, peculiarly, chopped onions! Why? Because one of the goals of this cooler is to make cooking and eating easier and healthier and to make shopping even better for its customers. For example, busy people can walk into the produce section, choose their pre-cut vegetables, then take five steps over to the rack that has pre-mixed grains for a soup from scratch, and go home to make a family meal. Soon, Country Grocer be adding chopped celery, carrots, and fresh chopped garlic to make stews, soups, …
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2018 Salt Spring Film Festival: Meet Beau Dick - Maker of Monsters Filmmaker Natalie Boll

The following article was written by Jennifer Cikaluk as part of a series of articles about filmmakers coming to the Salt Spring Film Festival on March 2-4, 2018. Filmmaker Natalie Boll will be attending the festival and leading a discussion about the film following the screening. The Filmmaker series is sponsored by: Stonehouse B&B, Harbour House Hotel and Hastings House. Meet Beau Dick – Maker of Monsters: Interview with Co-Director/Producer Natalie Boll Meet Beau Dick: Maker of Monsters is an intimate portrait of a man, an artist, an activist, a father, a mentor and a true Canadian legend. Co-directors & co-producers Natalie Boll and LaTiesha Fazakas have created an authentic film that chronicles the life and achievements of master carver and storyteller, Beau Dick. The film provides an honest, candid and in-depth look at his life, his influences, his accomplishments and his struggles. Through interviews with family, community members, students, and the art …
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Show Us Your Love: Valentine’s Day Photo Contest!

Every season is the season for love. Let’s face it: Love is trending 365 days a year. But Valentine’s Day adds a dash of spice and invokes romance. It reminds some of us to do something different and extra special, perhaps with a bit more flair or creativity, to say, “Thank you for being so amazing.” If you you’re the kind of couple who loves to do that with fine food and wine then you may want to try to win our dinner for two at Auntie Pesto’s (gift card valued at $150)! To earn a chance to win this dinner, all you have to do is upload a photo with you and your sweetheart. Show us your love! (Your “clothed” love, of course!) Whether you’re young and ecstatically in love or in your 90's with a twinkle in your eye whenever you see each other, whether you’ve taken your “flirt” down a few notches over the years or you’ve taken your flirt up a few notches, we want to see your love. Here are the guidelines for the Valentine’s photo draw: Please submit only one pho…
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