By ANDREA PALFRAMAN
Transition salt spring
Atmospheric rivers. Heat waves. Drought. These are the conditions we’ve been warned are a “new normal” in an era of climate change.
Gone are the days when a consult of the Farmer’s Almanac could pair with your years-long experience to support the perfect garden plan. Nowadays, the idea of “perfection” is being replaced by the goal of “resiliency.” If that resonates with your own process of maturation and aging, well: consider yourself having taken the first step in the resilient gardener’s path.
Islanders are very fortunate to have Linda Gilkeson, Ph.D., as a community resource. A renowned author, entomologist and master gardening consultant, Gilkeson is helping to provide guidance to move through the challenges that climate disruptions pose to our coastal ecosystems and ability to grow food. Her career in organic pest control offers a good grounding in adaptive systems. She has been helping gardeners and farmers meet the challenges of increasing local food security while enhancing landscapes that are ecologically suitable to the weather extremes we are already experiencing.
Join Transition Salt Spring and Gilkeson on Sunday, Feb. 12 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. and learn how to garden (and landscape) in the face of increasing climate changes.
In this online webinar, participants will learn how extreme weather affects plants — including trees — and how to design resilient food and ornamental gardens that can survive changing weather patterns.
Of course, cultivating resilience is a team sport. Working together — by sharing land, labour and knowledge — is key to fostering a strong food network for our communities.
The Echo Valley Farm group offers a beautiful example of how collectivizing food production can create not only healthy systems but healthy human cultures.
Robert Birch, who has been farming together with his neighbours on their patch of south-end ground since the project’s inception, thinks of the Echo Valley Farm as a social experiment in neighbourhood connection. The project really gained momentum during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a way to counter isolation and, at the same time, boost the community’s immune system.
One of four gay men — all survivors of the AIDS years — who founded the project, Birch says, “This wasn’t our first pandemic. We already knew community mobilization is the single most effective response, the necessary partner to biomedical interventions. This mutual care and interest gives respite to trauma-based reactions by providing two hours a week of hands-in-the-earth relief from having to deal with a world seemingly coming undone.”
After years of working the soil together, the Echo Valley group have a new nickname for what they do Sunday mornings in a small valley, under the sun. They call it “Dirt Church.”
“We’re healthier because of each other’s willingness to overcome our fears. Kind-hearted enough, resourced enough (for now) to take responsibility and care for ourselves, together,” Birch adds.
Just as a seed contains a universe within it, so too do each of our individual gardens hold the potential to incubate community. Gilkeson’s Feb. 12 workshop is a chance to connect with people who want to proactively participate in a response to climate change that transforms grief into a practical process of repair.
Click here to enrol.
For seasonal guidance and practical, month-to-month gardening guidance, join Gilkeson’s monthly mailing list at http://lindagilkeson.com.