BIG Fir Farm: Local Food

BIG Fir Farm: Local Food

Podcast: Interview with Anne Dzakovic and Sam Gibb about their life as market farmers on Cortes Island. Congratulations to Anne and Sam on the safe and successful birth of their second child, Graciella!  Just prior to their departure from Cortes Island to await her arrival on the big island, I had the pleasure of  interviewing Sam and Anne at their home on Blue Jay Lake Farm. Big Fir Farm Anne and Sam run Big Fir Farm, a small market farm;  it’s their primary livelihood, and they sell fresh produce at the Friday Market and through the Co-op.  In this interview, I ask them what it’s like being a small market farmer, producing organic local food for a living.  How hard is the work?  How many hours a week?  What kind of crops have they found successful?  What kind of planning and logistics do they practise?  What advice would they give to other people who feel inspired to support local food systems by becoming producers? Cortes Currents: De interviews Anne Dzakovic and Sam Gibb: Big Fir Farm, Local Food Sam and Anne tell us how they got into farming, what skills they started with and what kind of learning they did along the way.  They explain why starting small makes sense, and how much can be done with small plots (quarter to half acre).  They discuss the pros and cons of machinery use, the farmer’s yearly schedule, symbiosis between livestock and vegetable operations, produce prices, time management, and much more. If you’ve ever been interested in farming or gardening for market, and would like to know more about the real...
The Lessons Of A Virus

The Lessons Of A Virus

Strange Perspectives by Wendelin Jacober via Flickr (Public domain) In this episode we speak with  author and ecologist, Rex Weyler.  He has worked with Greenpeace since its founding in the 70s.  He represents an uncommon and refreshing perspective on the Covid-19 virus.  Cortes Currents: Max Thaysen interviews Rex Weyler about COVID 19: The Lessons Of A Virus The Underlying Condition: Overshoot We ask and answer: Is this the worst thing happening right now?  Why is it that we’re reacting so strongly to Covid-19 and are completely unmoved by other, more mundane, daily tragedies that have a much greater impact on the life and health of humans and non-humans.Rex explains, in this one-hour radio piece, how the virus is a symptom an underlying condition: overshoot.  Overshoot is a natural phenomena, quite common throughout nature, where a species reproduces and thrives and extends its number beyond the carrying capacity of it’s ecosystem.  The population then crashes as it hits the limitations on growth.  It might be a food shortage, building materials or a virus. Overshoot includes the habits and practices of a species as well as its numbers.  Rex tells us how we’ve got a problem with both.  Ample Warning We’ve had ample warning of this fact of nature from writers in the 60s and 70s and even earlier than that.  We know that some kind of balance between humans and the rest of the planet will be restored eventually, it’s just a matter of time (and this might be it).  In any case, this is a good time to wake up, shake our heads and consider how we might be...
Cortes Health Centre Staff Speaks Out About COVID-19

Cortes Health Centre Staff Speaks Out About COVID-19

Flattening the Curve, The Benefits and Risks of Self Isolation; & How we can care for each other during this pandemic. Cortes Health Centre Staff, Tahmeena Ali, MD—visiting doctor—and Isabelle Laplante, RN—new staff nurse— speak out about all anyone is talking about, COVID-19, and what it means for the people of Cortes Island.  Manda Aufochs Gillespie photo Cortes Currents: Manda Aufochs Gillespie interviews Tahmeena Ali, MD and Isabelle Laplante, RN about COVID 19 Coronavirus & The COVID 19 Pandemic The coronavirus has been floating around for a long time and many of us have already have had a form of the coronavirus as it’s what often causes the common cold, explains Dr. Ali. COVID-19 is a subtype of the coronavirus that is extremely infectious and for particular populations—the elderly or those with other medical issues—can cause serious illness and has even resulted in deaths. The mortality rate of those who have gotten it is much higher than for the common cold, especially for the elderly.  Viruses are more able to change or mutate very quickly on their own which is why it’s harder to treat viruses than bacteria, which can usually be treated with antibiotics. There is some research that there may be some antivirals that might help treat it, but as that is down the road, the emphasis has been on prevention, explains Dr. Ali.   Flattening The Curve  Flattening the curve refers to the idea of limiting exposure so that the healthcare system is able to manage the number of new serious cases of COVID-19 thereby stretching out the time period over which people get sick. It’s thought...
Interview With Mark Lombard Contract Manager For The Cortes Forestry General Partnership

Interview With Mark Lombard Contract Manager For The Cortes Forestry General Partnership

On Saturday March 14th, the monthly Cortes Currents news/talk show featured an interview with Mark Lombard, contract manager for the Cortes Forestry General Partnership.  This podcast explores what the “Community Forest” is, and how it works.  Did you know that CFGP’s license now covers far more hectares of Cortes Island than the MMB/IT/Mosaic license? This and many other interesting details are discussed in our program (such as what “MMB” and “IT” mean). All photos taken from the Squirrel Cove cutblock Cortes Currents: De Clarke interviews Mark Lombard, Contract Manager for the Cortes Forestry General Partnership A Tradition Of Selective Woodlot Harvesting Mark Lombard is a “seventh generation logger” from a family with a long tradition of selective woodlot harvesting.  He grew up working on family woodlots.  In addition to years of hands-on experience, he also has an undergraduate degree in business finance and a graduate degree in environmental policy with a focus on climate change, energy policy, and forest policy — “specifically community forests, and capacity building for community forests.”  So the Cortes Community Forest project was a perfect fit.  He served on the Board for a few years before stepping down to assume the operations manager role. In the course of the interview, we talk about what sustainability means; the economics of selective woodlot operation (as opposed to industrial clearcut logging); and how the CFGP (a for-profit corporation) covers its operating costs.  “We want to be known for producing high-quality timber,” says Mark.  This means investing more heavily in woodlot maintenance and selective harvesting — aging the forest to product higher quality sawlogs, rather than taking immature trees for immediate fibre production.  It means that short term profit maximising is not the...
Legal Observation: The Rule Of Law

Legal Observation: The Rule Of Law

Opinions expressed in the article that follow are not necessarily shared by Cortes Currents, its board, or other producer/authors. Trigger warning: The following program contains graphic descriptions of serious human rights violations. Max Thaysen Tactical teams with assault- and sniper-rifles dropped out of black helicopters.  Specially trained military-style police demonstrated snowmobile stunt skills.  Indigenous heroes sang songs of love and consequences on a Mad-Max battle-bus.  There appeared to be directors and cinematographers.  It was a high-budget production.  I had a front-row seat and played the role of Legal Observer.  Cortes Currents: Max Thaysen observing the RCMP raid on Wet’sewet’en traditional territory On the morning of Friday, February 7th, the RCMP moved in to raid the second of four camps along the gravel road that passes through the Wet’suwet’en Nation, Gidimt’en Territory.  The RCMP were enforcing a court injunction that prohibited anyone from blocking access to anyone working on the Coastal GasLink pipeline. I was a legal observer for that raid – a collector of information for the purposes of legal defense.  ACT 1 I spent three days at the camp known as ’44’ – all the camps are named for their distance from Houston, BC along the Morice River forest service road.  44 was the site of the main conflict with RCMP in January 2019, over the same issue.  The Unist’ot’en Healing Centre is at 66, on the far side of the bridge over the Wedzin Kwah (aka the Morice River).  This year, there are camps at 27, and 39 as well – not for blocking access, but for handling supplies, housing Wet’suwet’en people and their supporters, hosting media, and tracking the movements...
Two Upcoming Housing Initiatives

Two Upcoming Housing Initiatives

A Visioning Workshop - Courtesy Cortes Community Housing website “It takes a community to raise a village,” it says on the Cortes Community Housing website (at cortescommunityhousing.org).  This has clearly been the case on Cortes Island with two upcoming housing initiatives undertaken by the Housing Committee of the Cortes Island Seniors Society.  Cortes Currents: Manda Aufochs Gillespie interviews Sandra Wood Expansion Of The Seniors Village The first building project, the expansion of the Seniors Village, will expand the existing seniors village to include ten cottages from just six, occupied with a long waiting list since 2009. These are exclusively for people over the age of 55. If all goes well, construction will begin by June of 2020 and occupied before Christmas.  Rainbow Ridge Cortes Community Housing Development - map taken from recent rezoning application - see associated article. The second, and more ambitious, building project is known as Rainbow Ridge and that is the 51 acres right next door to the Seniors Village, south of the Firehall that runs along Cemetery Rd.  This project will start by housing 20 families that can include singles, elders, or people with children. The last couple of years has including a major fundraising effort to buy this land in order to even start the process of planning and funding a housing project. The first phase of building on Rainbow Ridge only uses six acres, the rest of the 45 is being held for community green ways and parks and to fulfill future housing needs, which Sandra Wood, Housing Coordinator for the Cortes Housing Committee, says could take any number of forms, such as long-term affordable home ownership,...