Wednesday, 17 December 2014

We Love our Local Monashee Community Co-op Store!

Id like to start off by apologizing. In focusing on getting everything into my last post about 2014, I had a bit of a brain fart and missed one of the key elements - our experience with our local Monashee Community Co-op store! And to all our Co-op brothers & sisters: "We're sorry! Please forgive us <3" But, it now gives me a chance to showcase and offer our heartfelt praise to this amazing project in its very own post!

The Monashee Community Co-op is a volunteer run, and community driven initiative that started right here in little Lumby this year. It showcases almost 100 local vendors in its amazingly beautiful retail space, and is supported by hundreds of local patrons and members, not to mention the dozens of volunteers who believe in, and devote their time to running this project. The Co-op started off as a bulk buying club, and quickly evolved into a beautiful retail space offering a plethora of local and ordered food products, offering workshops, home to an in house massage therapist, a book exchange library, a eco laundromat, a meeting place and much much more!

The products you can find from local vendors range from local food (veggies, meats, cheeses, dairy & more!) & prepared foods, crafts & curios, beauty/spa/house hold products, candles, clothing & accessories, jewellery, gifts, snacks, prepared meals, sculptures & local art, antiques, books, eco products, and so much more! If you need it, chances are the Co-op has it (or can get it in) :)

We are overjoyed to be part of this project, if only as a vendor right now (we hope to support it in other avenues in the future!). We've been selling quite a bit of our produce through the Co-op store, and have received huge support from the local community. We hope to increase the quantities & range of produce we offer next year at the Co-op. And we thank everyone for their continued support.

 We are so grateful to all the volunteers who devote their time, and work with each other to manage and run the Co-op. It is no easy feat to cooperatively run a project (we know this all too well having moved from the Yarrow Ecovillage project in the Fraser Valley). We know how much work is put into these projects and we just cant say enough good stuff about them, or thank them all enough for their hard work!

Their success this year is a sign of the times. People want more and more to support their local artisans & community, and this model project is an excellent example of community supporting community. There should be a Co-op store in all small towns! For the people, by the people <3 Great change starts from the ground up, and we are honoured to be part of the Groundswell that is the Monashee Community Co-op!

We love our local Monashee Community Co-op store and would like to send out a big hug and a heartfelt thanks to all those who make this project possible! <3

Shauna & Nevin Gavigan

Look at all this food! And this is only half of it!

A local sustainable meat farmer topping up his freezer at the Co-op
The Co-op tries to have a plethora fresh produce on hand at all times (we help with this!)
A local produce vendor admiring a display (look familiar?)

Some core volunteers donating their time to receive & process a bulk order (Thanks ladies for all you do!)

Its a lot of work organising then receiving and processing these bulk orders, and this lady is a pro!
Look at all this fresh organic produce and dry goods! Made available to the small rural town of Lumby BC through the Monashee Community Co-op!
Some of the local volunteers processing the bulk goods for sale in the Co-op store. Thanks Volunteers!!!!!!!!
Our local in house Massage Therapist is also a very talented artist! (and a dedicated volunteer too!)
Some of the local kids helping out with a day of clean up
Thanks to all the volunteers who keep the Co-op in such a beautiful state!
A couple of the local ladies who volunteer their time to run the daily operations at the Co-op. Thanks Ladies!
Check out these intrigued workshop attendees learning how to compost with worms (vermiculture)
Those are some happy workshop attendees! Thanks to all the local teachers who run workshops at the co-op, and who share their wisdom and talents with their local community!

Monday, 15 December 2014

An Ode to 2014!

Wow, what an amazing year its been! We packed so much into 2014, it's hard to remember everything we've accomplished. If accomplishments where physical blocks, we would've built a mountain this year :)

We started off 2014 moving the rest of our farm from our previous site in the Fraser Valley. Which included a trip in a very large moving van, traversing the internationally renowned Coquihalla Highway at the peak of winter weather (nothing gets your blood pumping like trying to make it up Larson Hill in crazy winter conditions, while the semi truck you just past starts sliding backwards down the hill!). Then a mid-spring trip back to the old farm to transport our cooler, and conduct our last cleanup.

Then there was the 4 month-long task of installing & repairing farm infrastructure: pump-houses, wells, pumps, trenching irrigation mainlines, building roads, installing fencing, building our 3000sq ft greenhouse, setting up electrical systems, installing irrigation lines and several grey water systems, working with BC Hydro to get power hooked up (which is always a treat! /shesaidsarcastically), building an indoor wash station, and more!

As well, we planned and implemented a small 2 acre vegetable program which went really well. All the crops we grew performed great. We're starting with some amazingly nutritious soil here, which helps. We did however deal with a few more pest populations than we thought we would, but nothing too serious as to decimate a crop. But continuing with crop rotations, good weeding practices, and compost tea applications we'll be able to reduce those pesty's over the next few years :)

Then we started markets at the end of Aug (which was the last time you heard from us!). This was a change for us, as normally we start our market season in early May. We attended two markets a week at the provincially renowned Vernon Farmer's Market (they won an award for the best large farmer's market in BC last year!). Wow, was a great market, we really enjoyed it. We quickly built a loyal customer base, who commented constantly about how great our displays were, how clean and fresh our product was, and how happy they were to have another Organic vendor at market. Also mid summer, we received our official Certified Organic Status (yay!).

As well, we paired up with a new project that started in Lumby this year, The Monashee Community Co-op store.  What an amazing project this is! It showcases almost 100 local vendors, and in its first six months amassed a couple hundred members. Not bad for a volunteer run operation! We've been providing them with our local produce twice a week since the end of Aug, and its proving to be quite the partnership. We really enjoy, and are inspired by, the amount of passion that is put into this project, and we happily look forward to supporting it further in 2015. Thanks to all the folks who make this amazing local co-op a reality! <3

Then came the big mid-year decision, which threw a monkey wrench into our already laid out 2014 Farm Plan. Towards the end of Aug we were presented with an opportunity to plant 2 acres of garlic. We worked with our investors, and the project was given the green light. So, at a time of year when we were already overloaded with work, we began the 2 month endevor of sourcing and purchasing seed, popping & planting the cloves, and finally mulching 2 acres of garlic. We managed to plant approx 120, 000 cloves of garlic in that 2 acres, no small feat for 2 people! But we did it :)

Unfortunately that meant that our fall duties suffered. We lost the last 5 beds of carrots and beets, which we weren't able to get into winter storage before the freezes came. As well, we were caught with our greenhouse not sealed tight for winter when the first week-long freeze came (low's of -15 to -26!) which meant the greens we had planted in there suffered. We did however get the greenhouse locked up tight before the next freeze came. Which is good, as we cut back all the greens and are now waiting on the regrowth (we'll have some fresh greens come Feb & Mar!).

And now we are at the end of 2014; exhausted, happy, hopeful, excited and ready for a rest! We are attending the indoor Vernon Winter Market once a week now, with all the storage crops we managed to get in. Carrots, beets, turnips, rutabagas, cabbage, winter squash, pie pumpkins, onions, shallots, potatoes, oh my! Which is an easy & pleasant endeavour this time of year.

We've got some big plans in the works for 2015. We'll be entering into a joint venture with our most trusted friend and investor, and will be going big with the garlic. We'll also be continuing our vegetable production, as we love growing veggies, and will continue with sales at the Vernon Farmers Market and at our local Monashee Community Co-op store. We'll also be starting our first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in this region (we've done the program in the Fraser Valley the last 3 years and loved it!). We also have some exciting projects planned, like our rocket mass heater system to heat our greenhouse for next winter, and building a barrel washer for root crops.

A huge heartfelt thanks goes out to all our supporters. We could not do what we do, without you! We've had a very warm reception here in Lumby, with many people telling us we are the most exciting project to happen to this area for a long time. And people love our product and our philosophy, which makes us think all this hard work is well worth it! We love what we do and it shows in the products we produce :)

Wishing you all a happy, warm, special holiday season and a happy new year!


Shauna & Nevin Gavigan

Bin Washing Time! :)

Shauna enjoying her new indoor wash station :)

Wow! Look at all this garlic seed :) (this is 1/8 of what we had in total!)
Galic Planting Time :)

All planted! Now we just have to mulch it :)

Mulchy Mulchy!

Sorting out the first 2/3 of the winter storage harvest in our cooler
Mulched, labelled and ready for winter!
Getting the greenhouse ready for winter
View of Bessette Creek from the east side of the property
Nev enjoying the view :)
The last of the apples clinging to the old apple tree at the house
Candy Cane Beets! :)
Hoary Frost! So pretty :)
The Garlic is all cozy & tucked in for the winter :)

Some growth happening on our most rare and coveted garlic variety. This means big bulbs for next year!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Let the Markets Begin!

Market season has finally begun for us :) We attended our first market in over 8 months last Monday, and wow what a reception. The Vernon Farmer's Market is one happening place! It's one of the oldest Farmer's Market in BC, having been started back in the 70's. So much to see and do, in an amazing market location with more than ample parking. And, as a vendor, the extra long stalls (10' x 27' deep) were a pleasant surprise :)

It was like riding a bicycle. The familiar routine of setup/sell/take down. Only this time in an entirely new location. People were very excited by our display, which was rewarding as I've spent the better part of several months designing our new setup/layout.

We're really excited about attending markets again. It's that crucial social interaction, that can some times be lacking on a small farm, that we enjoy about the markets. We enjoy getting out and talking with people about what we do, how we do it, recipes, and just sharing our enjoyment for good food with others.

We'll be at the Vernon Farmer's Market every Monday and Thursday from 8am - 1pm. We're also hoping to attend a few days at the Kelowna Farmer's Market this fall (dates TBA). Maybe we'll see you there :)