Thursday, October 2, 2008

800 Pounds in 2008!

photo by Andrew Fyson

A beautiful day, a bevy of enthusiastic SPUDSters, and voila... 800 pounds of beautiful potatoes unearthed on SPUD's first annual harvest, Saturday, September 27th, 2008! Everyone's hard work pitching in to help prep the field, build the fence, install the water cistern, water, weed and sing over the crops obviously paid off! Congratulations to all SPUDS members, and everyone who had a hand in seeing this fabulous project come to fruition.

Unfortunately, the school kids patch at the front of the Hermitage grounds ran out of water during the long drought before the fifty or sixty originally healthy potato plants in that area had a chance to form fruit underground. Maybe next year the kids can participate inside the larger Co-op's fenced-in area and enjoy the benefits of the cistern when SPUD members are watering the larger community crop (an idea to be negotiated, at any rate!)

You'll find a plethora of great recipe ideas for cooking with potatoes in the Links column on your right, and also access to detailed information on how to store potatoes for maximum longevity. For example, it is recommended that freshly harvested potatoes be left them out in the sun for a few hours to dry off and allow the skin to harden a little. Before storing, brush off any excess soil and check for damage. While your storage area should be cool, the most important thing is to exclude light! (please click on Links for additional details)

Bon appetit everyone!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Exciting News!

SPUDS first annual potato harvest will take place on Saturday, September 27th from 1-3pm. Members are asked to bring a shovel and a large cloth bag.

As the yield isn't that large for our very first year (about 850 lbs) folks will be asked to take their portion of the harvest home (hopefully around 20-25 pounds) to store and enjoy.

Potatoes will be set aside for any member unable to make it on September 27th. Please call 335-1828 to make arrangments for pickup from Veronica, or a downtown location to be determined. Anyone who wishes to donate their share of the harvest rather than enjoy it themselves is also asked to call with that information.

Congratulations on SPUDS very first harvest to all our members...see you on the 27th!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Watering and Weeding!

(Stay tuned for a photo of SPUD's recently aquired water cistern...)

We now have a water cistern in place and Spuddites have been taking turns watering the parched field. Looks like this hot-dry spell is going to last another month! Thank goodness we bought the cistern!

Veronica is putting a roster together for the next water events.

We are asking people to work in pairs. One to weed the field covered in buckwheat
and help move the hose over the rows and the other to water. It takes 2 hours to water the entire field.

Because it's a tedious job we are asking people to water/weed for one hour.

Thursday, July 17th, - the Fire Dept. will fill ithe cistern with 2,000 gallons as a training practice on their new pumper. Thank you Fire Dept!

Call Veronica if you can do a one-hour paired water/weed session. 250-335-1828.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

June 8th work bee in the Potato Patch!

Fifteen adults and two junior spudsters made it out to help with the first weeding and hilling of our inaugral potato patch, on Sunday morning, June 8th. Organic farmer Bob Parsons once again provided sage advice on techinque, in our quest to maximize yield. The plants look vigorous and healthy after all the rain. Check back for info on the next work bee party, if you weren't able to make it out today...coming soon (within the next ten days or so, give or take...) to a community potato patch near you!

above photo by John Millen

Saturday, May 31, 2008

June 8th work bee!

There will be a SPUD-LICIOUS work party this Sunday, June 8th at the Hermitage from 9:30 am to 11:30am-ish.

We will be mulching, hilling, weeding, and, if the buckwheat comes in, we will be seeding as well. Please bring hoe-hoe-hoes if you have them.

Spud members, please respond as to whether you can come or not, as we will be phoning anyone we don't hear from to make sure they got the message!

Looking forward to getting dirty with everyone.
- Corinne

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Next SPUDS planting...

SPUDS members and others who were unable to attend our inaugral planting last Saturday, are encouraged to join in this coming Saturday, May 26th! The remainder of our available seed potato will go in the ground between 1pm and 3pm, so please bring a shovel if you have one, gloves and hat if you need 'em, and some water. Planters work together in a team.

If you are unable to pitch in, please get in touch and we'll let you know when an opportunity to pitch in on another project is forthcoming. Please see past posts below, for details about membership and involvement in SPUDS for you and/or your family!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Potatoes are IN the ground!

On Saturday, April 26th, SPUDS members and friends raised the fencing around the field, held a brief commemorative ceremony with yummy refreshments and entertainment provided by the Raging Grannies, and got planting! Our designated potato guru , organic farmer Bob Parsons, did us the honor of cutting the ribbon and leading us in the planting technique of the day.

Members who were unable to participate are invited to gather next weekend for a second planting session to get the rest of our potato seed in the ground. Check back here for time and date, which will be determined based on what works best for those yet to pitch in!

Thanks to Andrew Fyson for the wonderful photos below:

The Raging Grannies look on, as appreciations are made to the Hermitage for the potato co-op site, to Freedonia for our start-up grant, to Linnaea Farm on Cortes for long-standing inspiration, and to everyone else who has supported SPUDS along the way! Co-founding SPUDS member Peter Janes, standing in the gateway fashioned out of cedar rails from his farm, led a hard-working crew in fencing the area. Approximately one third of the prepared field will grow potatoes, on a three year rotation basis. The remainder of the field will eventually be cover cropped.

Other SPUDS co-founding members Brian , Corinne, Veronica and Fireweed (Peter missing from photo, as well as Herb Jones who was away)

Denman vegetable farmer (and organic mentor to many) Bob Parsons does us the honor of cutting the ribbon...

...and announces the SPUDS potato patch officially open for planting!

DESSERT FIRST! Organic apple cider, courtesy of East Cider Orchard, and organic chocolate cake help celebrate the occassion.

The Raging Grannies entertain SPUDS supporters with the 'potato song'...scroll up to the links column over on the right hand side of the page to enjoy the 'original' version!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Celebrating SPUDS!

The field has been ploughed, the potatoes are sprouting, and all eyes are on Saturday, April 26th!

Members of Denman's newly formed SPUDS collective, and anyone else keen to support this exciting local food sustainability initiative, are invited to attend our inaugral seed planting and celebration beginning at 1:00 pm.on the grounds of the Hermitage on Denman Road. We'll have a brief welcome, ribbon cutting at the field, and cake and refreshments to share just before we get started planting! Even if you're not a SPUDS member, come on out and share in the community spirit. Rumour has it that the Raging Grannies may even be on hand to add to the festivity of the occassion.

Earlier in the day, volunteers are needed to help with fencing, so please contact Peter Janes at 0970 if you can lend a hand with that. The plan is to get underway at 9:00 am, and with a few more volunteers the fence might be up just in time for our opening ceremony!

SPUD membership involves participating in the planting, hilling/weeding, and harvesting of our potato patch. If you've already signed up and haven't yet submitted your membership fee, you can do so on Saturday at the Hermitage. The membership fee for individuals is $15, and $25 for families. Work trade may also be available, just ask.

As guests at the Hermitage, all Potato Co-op members are obliged to sign a waiver of liability. If you are not a member, but would still like to come out and pitch in on Saturday, thankyou for excercising extra caution on the site. Any children must be attended to by adults at all times, and stay within the potato patch area. There is a small pond by the barn, so please note that area as entirely off limits. Thankyou!

On Earth Day, Denman Island school children planted their own potato patch in another supervised, fenced-in area at the Hermitage, and donated a few plants to the Community SPUDS project. Then they celebrated with a baked potato lunch and entertainment from the Raging Grannies. If you like the idea of so many Denman Islanders 'growing together', see you on Saturday, April 26th! Please bring a shovel, garden gloves, rubber boots, and water bottle. Call 1209 for further info.

Above: Denman school kids enjoy a baked potatoe lunch after planting potatoes in their own plot at the Hermitage for Earth Day. The Raging Grannies entertained (above)!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Membership General Meeting, April 17th

Everyone who has expressed interest in, or who has already signed up to be a member of SPUDS, is invited to attend our first general meeting, scheduled for this Thursday, April 17th at 7:30 pm in the Library of the DI Community School.

As you may recall, we're modeling our co-op after the successful program at Linnaea Farm on Cortes. This first year will take a little more organizing time than future years, just to get the infastructure in place. Everyone is welcome to contribute what they can...we'll decide at the meeting when we're going to plant, how much to plant, etc. Help will be required to get our fencing in place, so if you're available for that, you can volunteer at the meeting. We're also looking for hay mulch, so if you have any to spare or can provide a lead, that information will be most welcome.

After planting, a minimal number of communal workbees will take place throughout the growing season members are encouraged to attend when they can. One person per member household is expected to participate at Linnaea, although whole families come on out for the fun, socializing and quick work that gathering in a group achieves!

We'll keep the meeting to an hour. See you there! Please call for details if you can't make it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


It’s official. Denman Island’s fledgling potato co-op has found a suitable home, and site preparation is already underway. With thanks to all the kind islanders who offered up land for consideration, SPUDS founding members are pleased to announce our arrangement with the Hermitage on Denman Road which has graciously granted us the space to get planting!

Working together as a community to feed ourselves sustainably is a very worthwhile project. It’s alarming to consider that non-organic potatoes have lost up to 100% of their Vitamin C, and that this staple food crop not un-suited for Vancouver Island’s regional climate is generally shipped in from thousands of miles away! [Guy Dauncey, EcoNews, 2006]

Now is the time to join up as a SPUDS member if you haven’t already, and/or volunteer to help with the necessary infrastructure that will take a little time to put in place to get the whole thing up and running this spring. Our intention is to grow enough potatoes collectively to meet the needs of our membership throughout the year, storing them onsite in an accessible community root cellar.

You may remember reading in an earlier issue of the Flagstone that our co-op plans are following in the footsteps of the very successful long-term potato co-op at Linnaea Farm on Cortes Island. How it works there is that each individual or family membership requires approximately four or five commitments during the growing season to show up for planting, weeding and harvesting workbees that are fun, social gatherings. Much like the Garden Party Series Denman Islanders have participated in over the last several years that show and share support for our local commercial organic produce growers, the goal is to accomplish something truly rewarding with a minimum amount of time and a maximum amount of community spirit!

We could use a little extra assistance right now, though, with site prep, and fencing, etc. Anyone with the ability to help out on this front is encouraged to get in touch. With thanks to Freedonia for their generous grant, we have the budget to purchase necessary supplies, so all we really need is the people power! Watch the Grapevine for announcements about upcoming work-bees, and the inaugural planting of our first crop.

Appropriately, the United Nations has declared 2008 the International Year of Potato. So although the dream of this particular local organic food security initiative on Denman has been discussed for a long time, apparently we’re right on schedule! Even if you already grow potatoes, you might like to consider making that space in your garden available for other veggies, and choose to participate in SPUDS' community building project.

The humble potato, the largest source of food in the world behind rice, wheat and maize, is even considered one of the safest foods available. According to British researchers, "Whereas some food intolerances appear to be caused by too much of the same food, on a too regular basis, it seems that the potato is the exception to the rule. The reason potato is so low on the list is because it is a protein that is easy to digest. It breaks down easily in the digestive system, so causes least reaction and problems.” [York Press, York, UK, 2008]

Packed full of nutrients, this versatile food that stores so well and is easy to prepare in an amazing variety of ways is being celebrated around the world this year, so stay tuned for local fanfare as we make progress together at the SPUDS Hermitage site!