Sunday, March 28, 2010

Minutes for March 8, 2010

Members in attendance: Bob Vosburgh, Kevin Mitchell, Mike Nestor, Fireweed, Ron Sakolsky, Sheila Nopper, Rae Eckel, deNeen Baldwin


I. Financial Report/Membership Update
2. Outreach/Communications
3. Basis of Unity amendment
4. Field Management
5. Next Meeting

1. Financial Report- Mike

Old Balance (in checking account as of February 28, 2010): $ 97.17
Outstanding bills: $ 15.00 (room rental)
Outstanding Deposit: $ 25.00 (family membership received)
New Balance: $ 107.17
Paid Memberships (as of March 7, 2010): 14 (12 family/2 individual)


i) Area A Grant In Aid – Mike mailed in application February 27. The requested amount was $ 400.00. Copy of document will be kept for future reference.

ii) Missing Bank Statements -- SPUDS is still missing the first 14 statements (from January, 2008 – February, 2009) from its bank account. We could obtain copies, but it would cost the membership $ 35.00 to replace (at $ 2.50 per statement.) Given current finances, I am not recommending we get these now, but they would be useful in helping clean up our accounting from 2008 and 2009.

iii) Budget for 2010 – Mike Lindsay has told us rototilling the whole field will cost $ 100.00. The seed potatoes for planting have been purchased and Maxine has brought them up from Victoria.

2. Outreach/Communications:

a) Sheila reported working on the SPUDS binder. Bob V mentioned that REDI was turned down by the library so space there may also be an issue for SPUDS materials as well. Sheila will update.
b) Fireweed reported that the Flagstone did squeeze in our short SPUDS article, although it was split into two sections,
c) and that SPUDS’ updated listing for the REDI local foods directory was submitted
d) Discussion ensued about low membership attendance at this and the previous meeting. It was noted that while meeting regularly is not a prerequisite of membership, our adoption of consensus process means it is the responsibility of individual members to ensure that their voices are heard in a timely manner regarding any issues of concern.

3. Basis of Unity amendment

As reported in the minutes of our Feb. 22nd meeting, Fireweed reiterated her proposal that SPUDS amend the Sustainability section of our Basis of Unity statement to include the following: (addition highlighted in italics ).


We source supplies locally and use organic seed, compost and fertilizers whenever possible. We use organic practices that are least harmful to the soil, water, plants, people, animals and the ecosystem as a whole. Domestic animals and animal byproducts are excluded. We work toward maintaining a membership level commensurate with the yield ability of the field which we seek to maximize. We sustain the membership through regular communications, education and other events. We maintain a harmonious and respectful working relationship with each other, the community and the Dharma Fellowship/Hermitage Board. We maintain financial viability.

The proposal was adopted and the Basis of Unity amended accordingly.

4. Field Management

a) Rae reported that she is still planning to conduct soil tests and just needs to get some distilled water to carry this out
b) On March 7th, Derek and current members Mike, Fireweed, Bob V, Rae and Karl met in the field to assess field conditions. NOTE: Contrary to earlier plans proposed to the membership, it has now been determined that an early planting date is not a viable option.
The pea seed planted last fall needs more time to mature before we can plant this year’s potatoes. We are advised to harvest by mid September this year (vs. mid-Oct. last year) so we can get our cover crop in earlier so it in turn matures sooner next spring. After much discussion the members came up with two options for accommodating soil fertility requirements. Our new goal is to till by May 2nd at the latest (earlier if possible) and plant by May 15th.

[NOTE: see (g) below, for consideration of fossil fuel use in SPUDS field management practices.]

Option 1- When the field is ready (hopefully by late April/early May) till only the north half, leaving the standing pea crop to continue maturing undisturbed on the south half. Plant potatoes on the east side of the north half, and peas on the west side. After harvesting our potatoes in the fall, till the entire field. Clover and vetch would then be planted on the south half and the northeast quarter, and peas on the northwest quarter.

Option 2- When the field is ready (hopefully by late April/early May) till whole field. Plant clover/vetch mix in the south half. Plant potatoes on the east side of the north half, and peas on the west side. After harvesting our potatoes in the fall, till only the north half of the field. Plant clover and vetch in the northeast quarter, and peas on the northwest quarter.

The advantages to Option 1 are as follows:

i) by only tilling one half of the field this spring (leaving the existing cover crop to continue growing so that it does its job of fixing nitrogen effectively), costs to the group are delayed/ and there is more time for research, etc
ii) planting the clover/vetch cover crop later, rather than sooner, will mean it won’t be needing water during summertime drought
iii) all clover/vetch cover crop planting would happen at the same time (in the fall)

The members present favor Option 1 for the variety of reasons considered.

c) It was noted that we should keep our eyes on the pea cover crop as it continues to grow. Flowering will help determine our date for rototilling.
d) Rae reported on cover crop seed available through South Country Feeds. They are reportedly discontinuing red clover, their crimson clover isn’t in stock yet, and both are annuals anyway. They have a white perennial, and it costs 12.99 kg. She also noted that they have buckwheat for 1.99 kg. Not sure this is organic seed or not.
Fireweed will bring additional research on vetch and clover sources to the next meeting.
e) Hay sources found by Rae and deNeen- $6 a bale from Orkney Farms; Doug Wright, and Dante and Tashi are willing to donate some hay
f) Bob V reported that Mike Lindsay estimates a cost of $100 for tilling the whole field. ($50 an hour) He hopes to access Dan Stoneman’s tractor. A 10-15 foot clearance is required in the field.
g) Discussion continued on fossil fuel usage, including consideration of the interests of members interested in a no till approach to field management. It was noted that our new four year crop rotation plans will facilitate fossil fuel reduction gradually, as we work to rebuild soil fertility mindfully over the next couple of years. To underscore the importance of this concern, it was agreed that the following proposal made by Ron should be vetted by the membership for inclusion in our Basis of Unity Statement:

“Our goal is to reduce our dependence on the use of fossil fuels over time”.

5. Next meeting: Monday April 5th, 7:00 pm, at Ron and Sheila’s. deNeen to facilitate.

Meeting Minutes Feb. 21, 2010

Members in attendance: Rae Eckel, Karl Goodwin, Bob Vosburg, Fireweed, Mike Nestor

Notetaker: Mike Nestor


Old Business
New Business
Field Management
Next Meeting


a. Balance (as of Jan. 31, ‘10) $352.67
-outstanding checks - $280.50 for potatoes - sent
-$40.00 for Back Hall rental (Feb. 7) - sent
-$15.00 for Conservancy Room rental (Feb 21) - needs signature

-outstanding deposit (memberships collected and awaiting deposit) -$25

Balance (after the above debits and credits are dealt with) $42.17

b. Memberships: 11 currently (other new and/or expected renewals are Bill Engelson, Vern and Wendy Wright, Lyndsey Jennings, David Graham, Katherine Hill )
[NOTE: as of the posting of these Minutes, 2 out of 5 are now paid, bringing the number up to 13 confirmed memberships for 2010]

c. Missing bank statements noted: from Jan. 08- March 09 (will cost $2.50 a piece to replace or a total of $35. Not a recommended expenditure at this time given our current balance, though the membership had previously OK’ed this expenditure.)

d. CVRD Grant-in-Aid: in progress. Reported that Herb, Charlie and Mike met Feb. 12 to discuss. Mike will complete and send. Financial questions raised about irrigation system. Mike will speak with Charlie and/or Veronica.


a. an updated blurb describing SPUDS for the REDI Local Food Directory (deadline end of Feb) was read and adopted

b. a short piece for the Flagstone announcing space for new members in the co-op was read, tweaked, and adopted. (Flagstone early deadline for March has passed, but the editor said they would try to squeeze something in if they still have space)
c. information provided to Barb by Bruce Holden about his own potato growing methods, and passed on to the Communications Team via email through Herb, was shared with the group. This information has been added to former input from Bruce, and the list of other growers contacted in years past about their personal experiences and ideas around potato growing. Suggested that these notes be added to the SPUDS binder for access by the membership at any time.

d. Fireweed also delivered information pertinent to no-till potato growing that she had offered in support of Barb’s research at the last meeting. This will also be added to the binder in the library for access by those interested who do not use the internet.

e. Meeting Attendance: Discussion ensued about the cost of venue rental, given the small turnout at tonight’s meeting, and lack of advance notice from the majority of members missing. Of the various venues available for rent on the island, the Conservancy Room was determined to remain the most accommodating to the needs of all members. It was noted that the home of Susan Marie, and that of Ron and Sheila were also suitable for those with chemical sensitivities, when available.

It was suggested that proposed Agenda items for the next meeting be included in the email updates (that also provide the Minutes from the previous meeting). Plus a reminder that effective consensus process requires members to keep abreast of the Minutes for meetings they may have missed so that decision-making can both benefit from the input of everyone interested, and proceed in a timely fashion.

It was also agreed that the facilitator or co-facilitators for subsequent meetings should be determined before we adjourn each time, and that members take responsibility for contacting the communications team or next facilitator with any additional agenda items prior to the next scheduled meeting, whenever possible.


-Planting date: everyone present was in agreement that our potatoes be planted as early as field conditions would allow. Mid March was considered desirable, with the understanding that getting the crop to maturity as early in the summer as possible is an important water conservation measure.

-Given discussions at the Feb. 7th meeting about encouraging fossil fuel reduction, members commiserated at great length about how and where to prepare the field at large for planting both potatoes and cover crop. Mike addressed in detail, the three scenarios for field management that he, Charlie and Derrek had prepared and provided the membership for consideration back in January.

The possibility of hand-digging a currently pea-covered section of our 2010 field quadrant was raised by Karl. Given that bringing equipment onto the field necessitates waiting for it to ‘dry out’ sufficiently, Karl suggested that this might help prepare a section for planting sooner than might otherwise be possible. Concerns about the difficulty it might be for a tractor to disc most of the field while trying to avoid a small section were voiced.

It is agreed in principle that the membership proceed with Option B (introduced at our January 13th meeting as the most ideal scenario of the three presented for optimizing field fertility), with the understanding that if the group’s finances and the will of the membership precludes additional cover cropping and field work in the summer, that our plans simply be amended to reflect Option C. Please refer to the emailed Minutes of that meeting for all three maps. These didn’t transfer to our blog, so again, refer to the emailed minutes for THIS meeting to review the two options referred to here.)

The agreement in principle (above) will be presented as a formal proposal seeking consensus at the next meeting, so the membership can move forward with plans for the 2010 growing season ASAP.

- Rae to investigate cost of buckwheat, and sources of hay mulch. Bob, Fireweed and Mike to contact various islanders who might be able to assist with field preparation this spring, and to source hay for mulch, as well.

-Suggested that members with questions be encouraged to submit them to the Communications Team ahead of the next meeting, and/or be prepared to provide alternatives or friendly amendments to the proposal that will be under consideration. Agreed.

-As a follow-up to her presentation at the Feb. 7th meeting, Fireweed will reiterate at the next meeting, her proposal that SPUDS eschew the use of domestic animals and animal byproducts (including a small addition to the Basis of Unity statement)

: It was noted that Sundays might not be best for most people, and those who had suggested a weekend date were not in attendance this evening.

The next official meeting of the membership is scheduled for Monday, March 8th at 7 pm. The venue is yet to be confirmed (likely the Conservancy Room again, but stay tuned)

ALSO, several SPUDS members will visit the SPUDS patch briefly on Sunday, March 7th at 10 am to assess the field prior to decision-making at the meeting on Monday evening. Any other members interested are welcome and encouraged to attend. Bring large cardboard, mulch, seaweed if you have it.

-Rae has proposed that members remember to bring their own mug to meetings for refreshments.

Facilitator for March 8th meeting: Bob Vosburg

Adjourned: 9:30 pm. Thanks to Rae and Karl for apple juice, and to Fireweed for brownies.