Spring Plant Sale happening soon!

April 19, 2024

The Compost Education Centre (CEC) is hosting our annual all-organic May plant sale! May 11th, 2024 10AM-2PM

The plant sale will take place in Haegert Park (1202 Yukon St.) one block from our site on North Park street. 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.

The Spring Organic Plant Sale features local farmers offering a wide variety of organically grown vegetable, flower and herb seedlings to get you off to a successful start this growing season.

There will also be a Parent-Child workshop taking place during the sale, from 11:00am-12:00pm so bring the whole family!

What you can look forward to:

• The largest selection of organically grown heirloom tomato varieties all in one place for easy shopping

• Organically grown vegetable starts from arugula to zucchini

• Native plants for your low maintenance garden

• Perennial edibles like berry bushes and other fruiting shrubs

• Medicinal herbs like English lavender, chamomile and yarrow

• Culinary herbs like Genovese basil, dill and chives

• Companion plants like marigolds, sweet cicely and comfrey

• Live bicycle powered music!

The Compost Education Centre is located on unceded and occupied Indigenous territories, specifically the land of the Lekwungen speaking people—the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations. These nations are two of many, made up of individuals who have lived within the porous boundaries of what is considered Coast Salish, Nuu-Chah-Nulth and Kwakwa’wakw Territory (Vancouver Island) since time immemorial. At the CEC we seek to respect, honour and continually grow our own understandings of Indigenous rights and history, and to fulfill our responsibilities as settlers, who live and work directly with the land and its complex, vital ecologies and our diverse, evolving communities.

Compost Education Centre memberships get you free workshops, discounts at garden centres around town and more great perks! Sign up or learn more on our website.

Accessibility Information

The sale will be happening in Haegert park which is grassy and slightly sloped, there are curb cuts at various entrance points to get into the park.

Visitors can park at the Vic High parking lot between Gladstone Avenue and Grant St. The parking lot is a 200m walk from Haegert Park.

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Updates from an Amateur Gardener: Thinking About Soil Quality and Compost

April 19, 2024

I haven’t officially taken possession of my plot, but I’ve wandered over to take a look a few times. The soil doesn’t look as happy and healthy as the soil at the CEC demonstration site (although the CEC’s soil is about 32 years in the making), and it doesn’t smell as “earthy” or “mushroom-like” as Kayla recommends for a vegetable garden. It feels and looks a bit sandy, which has me thinking I should try to add some compost and/or organic matter.

A few months ago, someone dropped off a Bokashi at the CEC because they weren’t interested in using it anymore. The Bokashi system is a 5-gallon bucket that facilitates anaerobic fermentation of organic matter that produces a nutrient-rich liquid that you can use as plant fertilizer as well as a fermented residual that needs to be further composted. At the time, Zoe-Blue encouraged me to take the Bokashi home for some experiments. I hesitated for a few reasons. The first is that while I have many houseplants, I don’t have so many that I need a constant supply of liquid fertilizer. The second is that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the residual besides put it in our apartment’s organics green bin. The third is that the Bokashi system uses a “bran,” or a mix of essential microbes on a cereal base. While you can buy bokashi bran online from Bokashi Living, I felt daunted by the shipping costs. So I had left the Bokashi sitting (lonely) on our balcony for the past few months.

With the availability of a garden plot, I’ve felt re-energized to use the Bokashi. I stumbled upon this recipe for Bokashi bran using used coffee grounds. I had everything I needed on the recipe list to make the Bokashi bran except the “Effective Microorganisms,” (EM) and I was able to order those locally from the Organic Gardener’s Pantry. The Pantry’s owner, Christina, dropped the EM off for me at the CEC office this week. I’m excited to keep drinking coffee and get this Bokashi going. (I also realized when ordering the EM that Christina also sells Bokashi bran…so I’ve got a backup plan if this DIY approach doesn’t work out.)

In the meantime, my friend Amanda let me know where I could get some partially decomposed horse manure. Animal manure from cows, sheep, and horses can be an awesome soil amendment for home gardens. The manure supplies primary nutrients and micronutrients for plant growth, and it’s also a source of organic matter. By increasing the organic matter of the soil, you can increase the soil’s water-holding capacity, improve soil drainage, and promote the growth of beneficial soil microorganisms.

I have a few months until I plant and harvest so I applied about a wheelbarrow’s worth of manure, and I worked it in the soil. My plan is to keep any eye on it over the next few months, keep working it into the soil, and hope that it is more fully decomposed before planting.

After I mixed the manure in with the soil (which was so much fun!), I did get the warning from another friend that horse manure can contain a high amount of grass and weed seeds. This is something I’ll keep an eye on over the next few weeks, and I might do something differently next year!

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Updates from an Amateur Gardener, Pt. 1

April 10, 2024

I feel like I’ve won the lottery! A few weeks ago, I got an email from the Oswald Park Community Garden letting me know that there was a garden plot for me. How exciting! 

I live in a third-storey apartment with a very small balcony that doesn’t get a lot of light. I worked from home during the pandemic, and like many people, I got very into my houseplants. I did what I could with the balcony (and I confess I’ve killed a lot of plants). But after working for the Compost Education Centre amidst a beautiful demonstration site (come visit anytime!) for a couple months, I started to hanker for something more. The reasons to grow your own food are extensive. It increases your personal physical and mental health, leads to greater food security, and creates community. I think I also wanted to make the work I do a bit more tangible. As Executive Director, I do a lot of sitting at my computer and in meetings thinking and talking and writing about composting, circular food systems, and community resilience. I love it, but it can feel a bit abstract. I guess I want to make and use some compost with my hands instead of my words. 

I went down a bit of a rabbit hole trying to get my apartment building to okay me starting a boulevard garden, and I received a hard no from the building’s strata council. I put my name on some community garden waitlists, and I daydreamed about starting a guerilla garden somewhere on a piece of neglected land by our apartment. My partner and I talked about housing prices and whether we’d ever want to move out of our cozy apartment to somewhere with a yard. It didn’t feel like my energy was going anywhere. So when the message from Oswald Park Community Garden popped into my email inbox, it felt like a ray of sunshine on a grim late February day. It felt like the promise of spring warmth and long summer days. It felt like I had a place to put my energy. 

I’ve started polling folks for advice, and I have to admit my recent Google search looks something like “first year community garden plot help.” If I had known a few months ago that I was going to have a garden plot, I probably would have registered for Kayla’s “Grow the Best Garden: 5-Part Workshop Series.” Kayla is the CEC’s Site Manager and Community Education Coordinator, and one person who attended her workshops described her as their “invaluable gardening mentor guiding [them] through this journey with unwavering expertise and passion.” I’ve already missed the first two workshops of the series so I’m following the advice of one Redditor to “be patient, be prepare to fail, and be happy to start again.” I’m also asking Kayla for advice on our lunch breaks, and I’m poring over the CEC’s extensive factsheets. 

Stay tuned here for more updates! 

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We’re hiring a Site Assistant!

April 10, 2024

The Site Assistant reports to the Site Manager. The Site Assistant is responsible for the garden stewardship at the CEC’s demonstration gardens and various other urban gardens in the Victoria area in partnership with the CEC’s Site Manager as well as the coordination of the volunteer program across the organization.

Applications due May 26th

Interested in Applying? Click here

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Zoe-Blue Coates (she/her), Birder and Resilient Communities Enthusiast

February 22, 2024

If you’ve been by the Compost Education Centre, you’ve probably been warmly welcomed – and educated – by Zoe-Blue Coates. Zoe-Blue is our officer manager, communications coordinator, and general doer. If you have a question about anything regarding the Compost Education Centre, she’s probably the person to ask! And if you catch her at a quiet moment, she’ll relay to you her latest efforts at a more sustainable and resilient life whether it’s solar dehydrating mushrooms (grown at the Compost Education Centre demonstration site!) or showing up for her community in an intentional and grounded way.

When she’s not dispensing composting wisdom at work, she frequently leads nature walks for the Special Bird Service Society, a group focused on making nature more accessible for the global majority through birding. Across her work and play, Zoe-Blue aims to inspire other to form reciprocal relationships with the land through caring for the natural world that is closest to them regardless of whether it is in a rural or urban environment.

The Narwhal recently featured Zoe-Blue in its article, “Many birds are named for enslavers, colonizers and white supremacists. That’s about to change.” The article shares how Zoe-Blue has always been a birder, but through a “Bird Language Interpretation” workshop offered through the Compost Ed Centre, she started paying attention to bird sounds and found it to be an accessible and grounding exercise. (If you’re interested in taking this same course, we are offering it on March 9, 2024 at 10 am!) Zoe-Blue shares her take on renaming birds, which is that by changing names we can clarify the connection between birds and people, plants, and other beings. And by clarifying the connection? We could be lucky enough to have a deeper relationship with the birds and a richer commitment to conservation.

Interested in learning more? Zoe-Blue is teaching a workshop at the Compost Education Centre’s Strawbale classroom on April 27, 2024 at 1 PM about “How Birds Help: Gardening with Reciprocity.” In the workshop, she’ll cover what birds are commonly found in Southern Vancouver Island backyards; how birds help us control pests, rodents, and pollinate our plants; and how we can form a reciprocal relationship with our winged neighbors. We look forward to connecting with you!

Claire Remington, Executive Director

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Composting is Key to Sustainable Urban Agriculture

February 16, 2024

My partner recently sent me this article, Urban agriculture’s carbon footprint can be worse than that of large farms, and I felt a sense of outrage and surprise. I love urban agriculture!

I was relieved to dig a little deeper into the publication to find that the study did find that urban agriculture has a smaller carbon footprint than conventional agriculture when the following practices are followed:


Rainwater harvesting

Using construction debris and demolition waste for infrastructure

– Longer-term use of infrastructure and tenancy of a space

The Compost Education Centre helps to steward several urban gardens including at our demonstration site, a boulevard garden network in the Fairfield-Gonzales neighborhood, the Alexander Park Orchard, and SJ Burnside Secondary School’s teaching garden. Our demonstration site features eight different composting systems, rainwater cisterns and barrels, and a solar-powered aquaponics system. Come by anytime for a visit!

We have found that urban gardens serve as powerful outdoor classrooms that inspire local climate mitigation and adaptation activities. For example, our urban gardens empower community members to:

– Produce food locally with the objective of improving food security and mitigate emissions associated with our food system.

– Cultivate native plant and pollinator gardens to support pollinators, which are under threat from climate change.

– Implement rainwater harvesting to reduce climate change vulnerability.

In addition to acquiring technical skills, our community members experience increased connectivity to a peaceful and welcoming space in Victoria. We consider our urban gardens to be a nature-based driver for social cohesion and improved climate change adaptation – and we’re excited that the research backs us up, too.

Claire Remington, Executive Director

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The Dr. Wriggles Annual Update

January 8, 2024

The Compost Education Centre connects with and positively impacts children and youth in our region. A recent study published by the Capital Regional District reports that 56% of grade 7-12 youth in the region don’t feel connected to land and nature. This disconnect is representative of how many children and youth of all ages feel. Elora Adamson, the Child and Youth Education Program Manager, and Jeffrey Ellom, the Child and Youth Education Program Coordinator, address this disconnect by providing accessible and inclusive education.

Over the past year, Elora and Jeffrey have delivered 286 in-person educational workshops featuring soil science, food waste reduction and diversion, resource conservation, and composting to 4552 students and 789 adults. Elora and Jeffrey create and deliver workshop content that’s tied into British Columbia’s provincial science and social studies curriculum on topics including energy transfer, organism life cycles, chemical and physical changes, and sustainable practices. At the same time, Elora and Jeffrey connect students to the natural processes in their own neighborhoods rather than educating about nature in the abstract. To best help students engage with big ideas like climate change, our programs are regionally specific, solution-driven, and hands-on.

One workshop participant shared that “staff and children greatly enjoyed this workshop. They enjoyed the puppets and the storytelling. Many of the children were telling their parents about what they learned when they arrived at a pick up time. Even a week later, some of the children are still talking about how pollinators are helping our gardens.”

Elora and Jeffrey build and maintain relationships with teachers, administrators, and education organizations throughout the CRD. To ensure cost is never a barrier, we offer free or discounted workshops to under-resourced classrooms. We have also had success adapting workshops to a variety of student access needs whether physical, behavioral, social, linguistic, or developmental. We also email teachers after workshops to invite feedback. To maintain accessibility to underserved rural communities, we bring workshops to any location in the CRD at no additional travel cost. Our aim is to reduce as many barriers to engaging and nature-based education as possible.

We are able to provide this low-barrier education with the support of donors and funders. We are grateful to the Rotary Club of Victoria for supporting our 2024 children and youth educational programming.

Claire Remington, Executive Director

Do you love Dr. Wriggles, too? Become a member today to continue supporting our programming in 2024 and beyond!
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Collaboration Spotlight: ReWood and the Compost Education Centre

January 6, 2024

ReWood is a volunteer-led social enterprise that aims to give old wood a second life by liberating lumber from building sites before it is transferred to the landfill. We have assembled a small but mighty volunteer team with the time, skills, and energy needed to design and custom-build strong and durable wooden infrastructure products for use in community gardens, small urban farms, nurseries, and related social enterprises.

We connected with the Compost Education Centre in November. Within a week of our initial meeting, we were already at work: we delivered over 70-feet of freshly salvaged 2x4s for use in building support stands for the CEC’s in-classroom worm compost bins. We hope to collaborate further on projects of mutual interest where we can contribute to each other’s success.

Two Challenges, One Solution

Through a FED Urban Agriculture-sponsored research project, Community Garden Guide, ReWood’s founders found many challenges confronting the establishment of community gardens. A key challenge was the ability to design, fund and build solid, common infrastructure like garden boxes, compost bins, and fencing. We found that wood costs alone accounted for roughly 25% of the build budget of the new Central Saanich Community Garden (CSCG).

At the same time, we were watching the demolishing of more and more residential properties in our neighbourhoods. Recent data from the Capital Regional District (CRD) estimate that unsorted wood accounts for almost 20% of total landfill-destined waste!

We saw two challenges that could be solved with one solution. Last year, we worked with the CRD and individual contractors to salvage wood from local demolitions including from the Capital Regional Housing Corporation project occurring adjacent to the Compost Education Centre’s site at 1216 North Park St. We diverted wood from the landfill to build garden boxes and compost bins designed by our volunteer team.

Waste Diversion Collaboration

Both ReWood and the CEC are grateful to be supported by the CRD’s Rethink Waste Grant. ReWood aims to divert wood from the landfill through direct projects, and the CEC seeks to divert organics from the landfill through education and research. It was awesome to find an opportunity to support our mutual goals. We’re interested in more future collaboration!

By Stuart Culbertson, volunteer lead at ReWood

Interested in getting involved? Contact us at rewoodvic@gmail.com if you would like more information about donating salvaged wood or sourcing reclaimed wood for a community garden or urban farm.


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Soaking Up Natural Dyes

January 4, 2024

In September, I attended a natural dyeing at the Yates Street Community Garden led by Angie Choly.  

I attended the workshop in hopes of learning some strategies for dyeing with natural material to bring to the high school gardens I teach in. The method we used was called bundle dyeing, and it was fun, effective, and quite simple!

The part of natural dyeing that always intimidates me is the mordanting process, which is essentially a way to pre-treat your fabric to make it more receptive to the dye and improve the stability of the colour in the finished product. Angie mordanted the fabrics for us using potassium aluminium sulfate, rinsed them and cured them in the fridge and brought them to us ready to go. I’ll have to get some practice mordanting on my own soon! 

After learning a little bit about other natural dyeing strategies, we got into our bundle dyeing process to create bandanas. We had all sorts of natural materials to choose from for our dyes. We used flowers including mallow, scabiosa, hollyhock, pansies, cosmos, zinnia, and more. We also used kitchen scraps including onion skins, turmeric, hibiscus coffee, cabbage, and berries.

I ended up using a lot of flowers, but I was really excited about the potential of dyeing using food scraps with high school students as it ties into our chats about compost and redefining what we consider waste so perfectly. And as a bonus? Food waste is a material that is so easy to access.

The bundle dyeing process itself is simple. It involves laying down all your materials on the bandana, and then rolling it up tightly in the way you’d roll a rug. If you fold it in half first, either rectangular or corner to corner you get a sort of mirror effect in the way the colour comes out (which is cool!). After that, you roll up your fabric into a spiral and tied tightly. The last step is steaming the piece the same way you’d steam a vegetable in the kitchen. We steamed our bandanas for about 30 minutes – you can see the results in the photos!

Interested in chatting with Elora about running a workshop with a group of students? Check out our offerings here.

This was such a fun way to engage with plants (that you can find in gardens, along boulevards, in sidewalk cracks, and other urban areas) as well as food scraps in a new way.

It can be difficult to find the time to pursue professional development and skill-building while also working as an educator with a busy teaching schedule. I was grateful to the Compost Ed Centre for making it possible, and I’m looking forward to integrating what I’ve learned into my teaching.

Thank you to the Yates Street Community Garden and Angie for hosting!

Support us by becoming a monthly donor today!

By Elora Adamson, Child & Youth Education Coordinator

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Let’s Make It Rot – Together

January 1, 2024

The Compost Education Centre launched Let It Rot! (LIR) in collaboration with a group of students at SJ Burnside Alternative Secondary School (SJ Burnside). LIR is an experiential learning program through which high school-aged youth acquire skills and knowledge on topics including composting, waste reduction, soil science, permaculture, and ecological stewardship. Now in its third year of operation, Elora Adamson, the CEC’s Child and Youth Education Program Manager, delivers lessons weekly to two cohorts of students at SJ Burnside and Mount Douglas Secondary School (Mount Doug).

We had launched the program because we had received feedback from student learners and teachers that teens need longer periods of time and relationship-building to more fulsomely connect with the resources that the Compost Ed Centre offers. We heard that students want to get their hands dirty, apply knowledge and skills in a tangible way, and build community around the intersection of food and climate justice. I’ve been so excited to see how Elora manages this program in a way that has had rippling effects. For example, upon graduating from SJ Burnside, an LIR alumni immediately found employment in the food security and food waste sector, which she was inspired to seek out after her experience in the program.

It is clear that LIR has deep impact on the participant students and their communities. Earlier this year, we started to wonder about all the other student communities at the nine other secondary schools in School District 61. How can we scale up our engagement of youth in gardening, composting, and conservation activities in educational gardens? Educational gardens are powerful outdoor learning environments for fostering climate action. How can we effect more climate change mitigation and adaptation by growing our Let It Rot! community?

To answer these questions, we started talking to longstanding food security organizations like CRFAIR, exciting new initiatives like Flourish School Food Society, long-time friends like Lifecycles, passionate teachers like Annalee Tyler at Reynolds Secondary School, and progressive funders like the Victoria Foundation. What we found is that we all care about transforming disconnected youth into engaged stewards of our world – and that there is an opportunity to progress towards greater collaboration and integration. By aligning our program delivery and participating in ongoing strategic discussions, we can focus more on impact and less on duplicating efforts with regards to funding, community focus, and capacity.

With the generous support of the Victoria Foundation, we’ve started exploring these questions and implementing strong collaborative practices. The latest (and so exciting!) update is that the Compost Ed Centre and Flourish have co-hired a garden coordinator to manage multiple school garden spaces. It’s exciting to think that we’ve managed to avoid some redundant administrative work and pool resources together to create a new job in the food literacy sector.

We aspire to connect students first to local natural processes and then second to big ideas like climate change. By demonstrating hands-on, regionally specific, and solution-driven practices through our educational approach, we try to reconnect youth to land and nature in a meaningful and productive way. By educating youth about the importance of sustainable agricultural systems, the science of compost, the benefits of native plants, and the importance of waste reduction and conservation, we are equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to build healthy communities with resilient local food systems.

We are so grateful to find ourselves in community with a growing number passionate student learners, dedicated teachers, and nimble organizations. We’re looking forward to even more!

By Claire Remington, Executive Director

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