Skookum Gleaners is back!

Our lovely logo, designed by rabideye (AKA Giovanni Spezzacatena)

Back in 2010 and 2011, the newly-formed Skookum took on management and support of the Skookum Gleaners project, which had formerly been known as the Powell River Fruit Tree Project. Member Anne Michaels was the coordinator, and we put together a team to support her and get some picks and other fruit-tree activities going. In the end, it became difficult to give Anne the support she needed, and regretfully the Skookum board decided to shelve the project after the 2011 fruit season.

The good news is that this project is back. David Parkinson has decided to take on management of the picking activities and is also working on coordinating some fruit-processing activities involving Skookum members.

Plans are evolving, but the general idea is to make picking opportunities available to Skookum members, and to plan some group processing activities using one or more church kitchens in the region (to keep costs down for participants). David is hoping to generate some revenue through sales of processed fruit so that the project can become more self-sustaining. But the main idea is as always: to save more food from going to waste; to reduce bear incidents; and to share food-preservation skills and food.

You’ll be hearing more as time goes on, but for now here are some ways that Skookum members can help:

  • By donating picking equipment (ladders, baskets, etc.);
  • By offering up fruit from your trees or from your neighbours’ trees, if it looks as though they won’t be using all of their fruit;
  • By making a vehicle available for picks;
  • By sending us your great ideas and suggestions;
  • By volunteering to help process fruit.

Saving fruit that would otherwise go to waste, processing it for longer-term storage, and distributing it into the community is the kind of project that a cooperative is perfect for. Eventually it would be nice to see this summertime project evolve into a year-round series of opportunities for our members to produce, preserve, and share more food amongst themselves.

Stay tuned for more news and more opportunities to pick fruit and get together with others to preserve the fruit.

Survey Results

surveyTop 5 Interests indicated by our members from our Skookum Members’ Skills Survey held in late 2012/early 2013

5. (TIE!) Seed-Saving and Cider/Wine-Making
4. (TIE!) Bulk Food Buying and Public Outreach + Facilitation
3. Food Preparation (cooking/baking)
2. Food Preserving (canning, smoking, dehydrating, pickling, lacto-fermentation, cheese-making, salting/ packing in sugar)
1. Gardening!

32 members responded to our recent survey (feel free to respond anytime as well), and we already have some positive action from several members, including:

  • A generous offer to fix and maintain our cider press, along with a backup option
  • An offer to host a summertime Skookum picnic on a member’s seaside property (more on this soon!)
  • And several members said they would keep an eye out for the materials we need to complete the Skookum Cider Press kit (see here for what we need; you can also donate money to the project via PayPal (accepting credit and debit card donations as well, and cheques too– click the PayPal link for more info).

Remember that a big ongoing Skookum project, The Abundant Pantry Bulk Food Buying Club (TAP), is taking orders until Sunday, May 12 at 11 pm. Make sure you get your orders in before this. The next order after this will be in July. For more information, contact the coordinator Wendy Pelton at bulkbuying@skokoumfood.ca.

Consider Cover Crops

co-vercrops

Cover crops — also unglamorously called ‘green manure’ (although the technical definition is different) — are well-known to larger-scale gardeners and farmers, but also worth considering even for the home gardener.

Cover crops are grasses (oats, wheat, clovers, buckwheat, barley, rye, alfalfa) and legumes (peas, hairy vetch, fava beans) that are planted to cover the soil surface. They help to reduce erosion and weed growth in unplanted and overwintering garden beds. Green manure crops (especially the legumes) have the added benefit of enriching the soil.

Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative will have more information and sample packets of cover crop seeds for sale at Seedy Saturday, so drop by our table on March 9, 2013 at the Powell River Recreation Complex.

There are at least eight reasons why you should make cover crops part of your year-round  garden plan, including:

  1. To protect good topsoil from being washed or blown away;
  2. To keep the nutrients in topsoil from being washed out of your soil;
  3. To loosen the soil deeper than you can or would want to dig (thus avoiding the hard work and microbial damage caused by extensive soil disturbance);
  4. To increase organic matter, improve soil structure, drainage, and aeration;
  5. To control weeds (cover crops typically outperform weeds);
  6. To help beneficial insects, birds and micro-organisms overwinter (the plants provide protection and food);
  7. To increase yields and break pest/disease cycles;
  8. To grow your own mulch and compost material (when the plants are tilled into the soil and left to rot for at least 3 weeks).

It would seem that merely letting a garden go fallow would relax it, but the right cover crops provide the aeration and nutrients required when they are cut and tilled in before the seed heads mature (this is important as cover crops will self-seed and become unruly weeds if not managed). If you till in the whole plants, allow at least 3 weeks for them to decompose, as raw biomass ties up soil nutrients to the detriment of newly planted seedlings. Depending on the cover crop used, you can be planting any time between the late winter to late fall, so as you remove spent plants, you can plant cover crops and never miss a beat.

Cover crops provide the primary benefit of preparing your soil for further vegetable cropping. If you choose to allow your cover crops to go to seed so you can harvest the grain, be aware that their root mass can be extensive and difficult to turn over. That said, your own oats, rye or buckwheat straight from your own garden are really a treat and can aid the determined 50-Mile dieter.

The choice of cover crop seeds and when to plant them depends somewhat on what you will be planting once the cover crop is turned under, but the most popular cover crops for our Maritime Pacific Northwest region are:

Maritime Pacific Northwest cover crops: From http://www.soilandhealth.org/03sov/0302hsted/covercropsbook.pdf

Maritime Pacific Northwest cover crops: From http://www.soilandhealth.org/03sov/0302hsted/covercropsbook.pdf

Also, for more info, check this link to  Oregon State University’s article

“Plant cover crops to protect and nourish soil”.

The Oregon State University Master Gardener handbook “Sustainable Gardening” recommends planting the following cover crops in the late summer and fall after harvesting your summer vegetables. Mixtures of legumes and non-legumes are especially effective. Here is an excellent guide to when to plant/turn under different types of cover crops,

And below is a handy guide on how much seed is required per square foot:

from West Coast seeds- see their list of cover crops here: http://www.westcoastseeds.com/product/Vegetable-Seeds/Cover-Crops/
from West Coast seeds- see their list of cover crops here: http://www.westcoastseeds.com/product/Vegetable-Seeds/Cover-Crops/

Fall Fair Fabulousness

Pete and ‘the son of Spiderman’, with requisite admirers

Whew! Some 20+ Skookum members and friends were on hand this past weekend for year 2 of our Fall Fair cider-pressing/processing/vending presence, and we provided a very good show indeed! Not to mention delicious fresh, lightly spiced hot and cool cider, sold by the mug ($1) and by the 32-oz bottle ($5).

This Skookum fundraiser raised somewhere in the neighbourhood of $500 after expenses. We would like to thank all the apple donors as well as those folks and organizations (CJMP springs to mind) who let us use their materials and equipment. Very special thanks to Board member/taskmaster David (who organized the whole shebang this year, taking cues/tips from Jax), our president and chief im/presser Pete, Jacqueline herself, Jan (and husband Gary, both working behind the scenes to make sure we had the press, bottles and materials we needed), and former director Sharon!

Members Stacy, Annabelle, Connie, Patricia (and her husband John), Melissa (and her daughter Chelsea), Emma, Lyn, Dan, and many others I met for the first time worked so hard (many on both days of the fair!) and were so generous with their apples and materials/equipment to make the event a success. You can spot some of them on our Facebook page photo gallery (plus videos).

Remember that the press belongs to Skookum members, and as a member you can rent it for just $20/day (see details here).

 

Call for orders of Tattler BPA-free Canning Lids (deadline EXTENDED TO MONDAY July 16 @ 9AM)

Click the picture above to visit the survey/details/order form

We haven’t been able to run this bulk-buying project since July 2010, so if you are interested in BPA-free reusable canning lids shipped from the US. This is a Members-Only project (Not a member yet? Click here to find out how to become one).

Click here to order via a simple online form.

Deadline to order EXTENDED TO MONDAY, JULY 16 at 9AM.

We need to reach a minimum order of 750 regular and 750 wide mouth lids+rings.

More info on the order form here.

If we do not as a group attain this number, there will be no order.


More information on what these are and why to use them: http://www.reusablecanninglids.com/

Just a couple of points of interest…

  • The lids and rubber rings are reusable (the lids more than the rings, which are reusable at least 15 times, it would seem)
  • The lids are plastic but BPA-free (a good thing!)
  • There is no waste like there is with conventional lids (where you throw away the lids each time)
  • Their Regular Mouth Lids and Rings are 70 mm and the Wide Mouth Lids and Rings are 86 mm.
  • Metal (reusable) screw-top rings must be purchased seperately but are available in town. Do you have a lot of extra ones? Let me know — we can share them amongst members who need them if/when they pick up their lids (giovanni@rabideye.com)

 

 

Home Tanning Workshop: Part Deux

Home Tanning Workshop Part 2: Saturday July 28, 2012 11:00AM-3:00PM FREE! (Donations to Skookum  always graciously accepted)

Home Tanning Workshop: Part 2

(Click here for the lovely poster 262kB pdf)

With Hana Turtle Granny and Jacqueline Huddleston

For hunters, homesteaders, craftsmen, seamstresses and those with a serious intent to learn the basics of home tanning leathers and furs

This second workshop will focus on the techniques used to “break” the tanned hide. We will also introduce you to working with larger hides, including: deer, goat and sheep. If you missed the first workshop “green” hides (untanned) will be available to practice fleshing, with instruction.

  • What: Part 2 of a 3 workshop series on tanning local hides
  • When: Saturday July 28th 2012
  • Where: 5905 Fraser Street, Powell River BC
  • Time: 11:00AM to 3:00PM
  • Fee: Free of charge*

(*donations to Skookum always graciously accepted)

We recommend: Tan Your Hide, by Phyllis Hobson (IBSN # 0-88266-101-9) if you want to preview some of the techniques we will be using.

Important: Bring your own tanning kit including:

  • 2 old towels
  • Rubber gloves and apron
  • 1 pair of utility scissors
  • 1 skinning or fleshing knife or other tool i.e.
  • Ulu
  • spoon, shell or something with a rounded edge
  • 1 piece of plywood 3/4 ” thick 2 X 2
  • Your tanned rabbit hide from workshop 1 (if you attended this)
  • Participants should also bring lunch and a thermos

To register please email jaxhuddleston@me.com or call 604 483-9902!

Members’ Table Scraps

At the Skookum AGM in April, our crack team of Event Organizers came up with some great ideas to coax out some of our members own thoughts on worthy projects for the cooperative. Each person attending was given a card with the image of a vegetable on it. Then, when the time came, we split up according to the vegetable image. And, with the tables draped with ‘scraps’ of kraft paper and pens, we got to work. Below is a transcription of those ideas collected that evening.

We welcome even more ideas (and the energy to back it up) from those who attended and from the general membership. Just leave a comment below even if you support one or a few of the projects listed here; we’d like to know.

Annual General Meeting Members’ Table Notes (April 27, 2012)

  • Food processing for value-added projects (eg. Sundried tomatoes, blackberry chipotle sauce)
  • Stanley Darland: Sausage-maker
  • Workshop: Kitchen Aid (3hour workshop)
  • Employment for people with disabilities (NACL)
  • Nut-cracking Machine
  • Maple Syrup making
  • Pollination and Cross-pollination workshop
  • What you can do with blackberries
  • Hydraulic ram pump demo
  • Slug-killing by frogs/workshop by Colleen (donation by laughter )
  • Wood-chipper, chainsaw, gas-fired cement mixer
  • Making fruit vinegars (workshop)
  • Specific fruit and vegetable selection for PR region (workshop; prepared seed collection for this)
  • Develop a “Skookum Almanac” with variety of tips, anecdotes, etc. on growing exotic or unusual products
  • Elder stories about farming, food-saving, growing in the area; invite them and others to record—maybe a lunch event; maybe salmon lunch
  • Bulk-buying of plants/trees;
  • Meat-grinder
  • Organic pest-control workshop
  • Apple Cider and Vinegar-making workshop
  • Wild-crafting workshop
  • Active involvement in edible garden Tour
  • Skookum Marketing board: package food, prepare food, clean food and prep for market
  • Market stall for co-op members at the Open Air market(s), where people can drop off produce, a few people will clean and prep and one person will sell it
  • Small-scale member-driven produce sales (via Abundant Pantry or via short-term announcements via email or facebook; i.e. “I have a box of chard” + cost or barter possibilities.
  • Relationship building with PRREDS; project where they pay for soil analysis in the area to find out what would grow well where; make this info public.
  • Relationship with job creation entities (Career Link/ Community Futures, etc.) to develop Food Hub (including long-term cold storage facilities for year-round storage needs)
  • Community cold-freeze; people can buy meat in quantity and rent a small part of a large freezer to keep this
  • Community smoke-house
  • Couple with private company (Reliable Rentals) to ensure they get a certain number of requests for a certain garden-related machine, maybe a renters’ club; benefits include that they would buy and maintain the equipment
  • Tool share- Nola has rototiller for proposed tool library; share use for other equipment;
  • Repair/Repurpose classes
  • Carpentry workshop—how to build stuff (for gals)
  • Explore possibility to partner with VIU for their asset-based community development: contact Alison Taplay
  • Turn the cards (our business cards) into stickers or magnets
  • Silke’s or another retail outlet (?  Not sure what this means—buy Silke’s?- Ed.)
  • Mapping commercial kitchens
  • Blackberry products

Tan Your Hide: A Free Skookum-Sponsored Workshop

 

Click the image above to view the full flyer with full details

Hana Turtle Granny and Jacqueline Huddleston offer you FREE Home Tanning Workshops, with the first in the series on Saturday, June 9, 2012!

For hunters, homesteaders, craftsmen, seamstresses & those with a serious intent to learn the basics of home tanning leathers and furs.

Click here to see the flyer with the full details!

  • Part 1 Introduction and Fleshing (June 9, 2012)
  • Part 2 Breaking/Pulling date to be announced*
  • Part 3 Softening/Finishing date to be announced

*We will schedule the subsequent workshops with those who come to the first one.

Participants will get to take home a rabbit skin in their colour choice (we have white, black, grey and grey/brown with a herringbone-like pattern).
More skins will be available for sale to those interested for $4/hide.
To register email Jacqueline Huddleston: jaxhuddleston@me.com

Please note this is a free event open to the general public which will require vigorous participation. Register early to guarantee your space!

 

Announcing the Abundant Pantry Bulk-Buying Project

Wendy is waiting for you to pick up your bulk food...

Exciting news! After many months of planning and hard work, Skookum’s Abundant Pantry Bulk-Buying Project is ready for prime time! The coordinator Wendy Pelton and her husband Barry Bookout have created a fantastic website for Skookum members to place their bimonthly orders for bulk food and all members of Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative are invited to sign up and check it out.

Here’s how it works:

  • In the odd months (January, March, May, July, September, & November), Skookum members who have signed up with The Abundant Pantry will be invited to shop for bulk goods, using the new website;
  • Members can work together to split bags or cases, using the splits page;
  • The deadline for each order will be the second Sunday of the month;
  • Once we have closed the website and received the orders for that month, we pass our collective order to Melissa Call at Sunshine Organics/Ecossentials, who acts as our local distributor;
  • Ferries permitting, our order will come in on the following Wednesday and be ready for members on the Thursday of that week to come up to Melissa’s warehouse in Wildwood and get their food.

We currently have access to the catalogue from Horizon Distributors and plans are afoot to get other distributors’ catalogues into our online ordering system. Stay tuned.

The project's mascot, Skooky, created by Giovanni Spezzacatena

Beyond that, one of the most exciting aspects of this online ordering site is that we can list local producers and their products there for our members to buy in bulk quantities. Currently, our only local distributor is Skookum member Mischa Brooks-Thoma, the Powell River Natural Soap Lady, but Wendy is hard at work finding more local food other products for us. If you have suggestions, contact her. (Local producers whom we buy from do not need to be members.)

We’re also thinking ahead to frozen refrigerated products, but we plan to run a few simple orders before we start complicating things.

In February, we ran a small test run, and everything (well, almost!) went off without a hitch. And so we are now ready to try a larger order with more members involved. The order deadline this time around will be 11:00 PM on Sunday March 11, and the pickup day will be Thursday March 15.

You can check out the current catalogue here. (Please note that the full catalogue might take some time to load if you’re on a slow internet connection.) Information about joining The Abundant Pantry Bulk-Buying Club and getting your own secure online login information is here.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email Wendy or phone her at (604) 485-6664.


On behalf of all our members who will benefit from having a simple accessible online bulk ordering system, the Skookum board would like to acknowledge the contributions of the ‘guinea pigs’ of the pilot order, as well as Melissa Leigh, who has helped with invaluable advice on bookkeeping procedures financial sanity; Mischa Brooks-Thoma, for being the first local producer providing so much useful feedback; and above all, Wendy and Barry, who have given us so many hours of hard work trying to get the website all the procedures in order. Thank you, all!

Announcing Skookum’s Bulk Seed-Buying Project


Buying seed together, locally.

We’re happy to introduce a new project open to Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative members only. It’s a bulk seed-buying club that will start off small with a selection of some 30 seed types from a local provider, Eternal Seed. As you know, the more seed one buys, the cheaper the cost, but seeds don’t keep too well past a couple of years… so stocking up is not a great option. If we buy together, it’s better in many ways:

  •  It’s less expensive to buy seeds this way (if you still have too many seeds, you can donate/barter them at Seedy Saturday, or share with neighbours/friends);
  • With a percentage of the cost of buying seed through this project,  you get to support Skookum, the community, and a coordinator for the project;
  • We can support a local certified organic seed company, Eternal Seed.

If we manage to order 10 packs (or more) of any of the varieties listed here, we get a substantial discount from Eternal Seed. Then we tack on a small percentage to support Skookum projects (5%)the community fund (5%) plus another 15% for the project coordinator. Your seed packet will then cost on average 25% less than buying one packet via a normal retail outlet.

How it works

(Remember, this is MEMBERS ONLY. Not a member, but would like to join Skookum? Click here).

Skookum will not be held liable for the quality of seed or results from use of the seed, although Eternal Seed does have its own guarantee that can be found on their web site; download their catalogue as a pdf file here (please use Internet Explorer for best results). All seed descriptions below are from the Eternal Seed catalogue.

  1. I chose about 30 types of seeds from the Eternal Seed  catalogue (see here) ; In picking the seeds, I tended toward earlier, cooler temperature varieties, as well as a mix of good storage crops in a few cases.
  2. 10 packs of each of the c.30 seed varieties are offered to Skookum members only to purchase (note that you will be able to buy more than just one pack of any one seed variety as well) — first come first served;
  3. The varieties of seeds that do not reach that “10 packet minimum order” threshold by the deadline of February 14 (Valentine’s Day!) 2012, will be dropped;
  4. Click here to see the list of seeds on offer (with prices, descriptions, etc), and instructions on how to order.