Vital signs is a check-up that measures vitality of a region, identifies concerns, and supports action on issues that are important for our quality of life. Each year the Victoria Foundation shares this check-up in a report. This year, the Compost Education Centre is featured in the Environmental Sustainability section.
The Compost Education Centre is on a continued mission to see as many boulevard gardens growing in your neighbourhood as possible! We’re hoping to help some folks on this journey in November – by sheet mulching a boulevard together!
If you have an adjacent boulevard to where you live and are able to obtain permission to start a garden on that boulevard from the homeowner, or you have a neighbour who’s into it, please reach out! We’d love to host an onsite workshop to sheet mulch your boulevard (creating an in-situ compost pile) so that it’s ready to plant into come spring! Reach out to Kayla at email@example.com for more info and to tell us a little bit about your situation!
Seven Years of Success with the Healing City Soils Program
October 1, 2023
By Claire Remington
The Healing City Soils (HCS) program dismantles barriers to people growing their own food; educates on how soil health is vital to local ecosystems, community wellbeing, and climate change mitigation; and builds community around restoring damaged soils. The program is a partnership between the Compost Education Centre (CEC) and Royal Roads University (RRU). On August 28th, the HCS community came together at Hatley Castle on the RRU campus to watch – and celebrate – undergraduate environmental science students present the results from the program’s seventh successful year of implementation.
Soil testing can be expensive, and the results are often complex, confusing, and disheartening. The uncertainty of soil contamination, the expense of soil testing, and the opaqueness of soil testing results are all barriers that prevent people from growing their own food. The RRU students addressed these barriers and furthermore, they educated on the importance of soil health. There were other environmental science students, Capital Regional District (CRD) growers and gatherers, CEC staff, RRU professors and staff, and friends and family in attendance; and the audience walked away with an improved understanding and appreciation for soil health.
Have questions about your soil quality? Stay connected!
Over the course of eight months, two student groups in Professor Matt Dodd’s environmental science major project course performed literature reviews, designed research questions, learned new laboratory protocols, and engaged in hands-on environmental science.
Both student groups competently explained their science, shared their challenges, provided recommendations for next year’s crop of students, and tackled critical barriers to scaling up sustainable food systems in the CRD.
The first student group focused on providing free heavy metal soil testing of backyards, community gardens, boulevard gardens, and traditional harvesting sites in the Capital Regional District (CRD) to 100 food grower and gatherer program participants; this is part of the CEC’s long-term HCS program. All participants received the results of their heavy metal soil tests alongside easy-to-understand educational materials like the CEC’s factsheet on soil contamination. The results will be incorporated into an interactive online map.
The second student group was drawn in by the questions of the Ground Beneath Our Feet (GBOF) pilot that the CEC started in 2020; the GBOF group analyzed the potential of using plants, compost, and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) to remediate soils contaminated with heavy metals. AMF naturally occur in many habitats, and they improve plant nutrition, stress resistance and tolerance, soil structure and fertility. The students maintained three different pilot sites where they tested soil quality and plant tissue for heavy metals, planted and maintained plants hypothesized to be bioaccumulators, and applied compost and AMF. The students found the combination of woolly sunflower, compost, and AMF to be effective in remediating contaminated soils.
The Compost Education Centre is seeking skilled leaders and innovators to serve on its Board of Directors.
Our mission is to create resilient communities, which support the land and all living beings to thrive, and we want you to join us in this objective!
The Compost Education Centre (CEC) is a project of the Victoria Compost and Conservation Education Society, a not-for-profit, charitable organization. Since 1992, the CEC has provided in-school and community-centred educational programs for people of all ages throughout Greater Victoria and our Capital Regional District (CRD). The CEC is mandated to provide practical, hands-on education around composting, waste diversion, soil conservation and environmental stewardship while also promoting organic and ecological gardening practices as a means of reducing the health and environmental effects of chemical gardening practices, which can be harmful to natural systems, as well as promoting the environmental and social benefits of local food production.
Benefits of Participating
Fantastic opportunity to build experience in organizational growth, not-for-profit and charity work;
Connect & collaborate with a dedicated team that is passionate about waste reduction, soil conservation and local food production, as well as the intersections between food, land, and environmental justice;
Training and leadership development opportunities (soil conservation and composting, team building, social enterprise development, event coordination, sustainable living skills);
Contribute to your community and to the wellbeing of local ecosystems and the broader environment.
Attend Board meetings on a monthly basis from 6-7:30pm at the Centre 1216 North Park Street in Fernwood, or online via Zoom
Participate in 1-3 committees: Policy, Finance & Fundraising, and Board Development
Work as part of a dynamic team to maintain the successful long term operation of the CEC
Commit to a 2 year term consisting of 5-10 hours of work per month
The Compost Education Centre (CEC) is hosting our annual August Plant Sale at 1202 Yukon St. from 10AM-1PM! This event features local farmers offering a wide variety of organically grown annual overwintering vegetables and perennials to keep you eating local organic produce through the fall and early spring. through the winter.
The plant sale will take place for the first time in Haegert Park (1202 Yukon St.) one block from our site on North Park street. You can also look forward to live-bike-pedal-powered music, a raffle, and artisan vendors. ‘
Bring a blanket or a picnic so you can enjoy the music in the shade of the giant Sequoia tree. Entry by donation or free for CEC members. Dogs welcome.
There will also be a Parent-Child workshop ‘Garden Arts & Crafts’ taking place during the sale, so bring the whole family and learn about composting while you’re here!
Fundraising from this event will support CEC educational programming initiatives for children, youth, and adults in the community.
The Compost Education Centre (CEC) is hosting our 11th Annual August Plant Sale! This event features local farmers offering a wide variety of organically grown annual overwintering vegetables and perennials to keep you eating through the winter. And to celebrate our 30th birthday as an organization we’ll also have live music, cake, artisan vendors, an e-bike raffle, a bean counting contest, and more!
The plant sale will take place for the first time in Haegert Park one block from our site on North Park street. Bring blanket or a picnic so you can enjoy the music under the giant Sequoia tree. Entry by donation or free for CEC members. Dogs welcome.
This week we are highlighting How to continue in the climate apocalypse with bugs and flowers, a zine by CEC staff member Zoe-Blue Coates. This project highlights the importance of insects in our community and their ability to be our greatest allies in the face of climate emergency.
“This zine is a love note to the wasps, bees, flies, worms, beetles, and others that have taught me how to be gentle in this world despite the destruction & death. I hope you will be inspired to find something that will fill you with hope though this climate apocalypse.” – Zoe-Blue
This month we’d also like to share a read along of Charlie’s Dirt Day by Andrew Larson, with illustrations by Jacqueline Huson-Verrelli. This is one of our favourite compost-related kids’s books here at the CEC, for younger primary school aged children. It’s about a boy who discovers that compost can help him grow fruits and vegetables in containers on his balcony! This book is suitable for children ages 3-7.
If you know of any child and/or youth resources (books, zines, videos, workshops, ect.) that would pique our young audiences interests, please let Elora know via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the rainiest of rainy days, a few brave souls got together to build a sweet raised bed out of rotting wood, green garden waste and compost. Hugelkultur is German for “hill culture” and it’s a great way to use rotting wood’s capacity to store water to your advantage. The quick and dirty: lay rotting logs in a line, add brush material on top, then a layer of nitrogen-rich green materials, then soil, then compost, then soil, then plant! Of course there’s more to it than that, check out our Site Manager’s more detailed blog post about it here. Huge thanks to Vic High’s garden club who provided the site for this little hugel demo and who helped with the build!