News

Shaping Our 3-Year Strategic Plan

September 14, 2023


The fall is a time for fresh starts. As students head back to school and our child and youth programming kicks off, we’re laying the foundation for our three-year strategic plan. So much has happened in the past three years that we’re taking a moment to reflect on the challenges and successes, gather insights from our community, and come together and connect.

The CEC’s staff, board, and volunteers met the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic with innovation, commitment, and care. External demand for the educational services offered by the CEC increased significantly in the first two years of the pandemic. COVID-19 greatly impacted supply chains and availability of food, and, in parallel, lockdowns and social distancing protocols offered a moment for community members to begin gardening and composting. The CEC was able to provide educational resources that were extremely popular and led to more people growing food and making compost. We observed a significant increase in our membership, retail sales, web hits, and phone calls.

The increase in demand for CEC’s services stretched the organization’s internal resources and capacity. The CEC’s five-person staff rapidly responded to the pandemic by teaching workshops over Zoom, creating take-home educational kits, and modifying the demonstration site’s visiting hours.

As a whole, the organization continues to adapt and grow, and in February 2023, the CEC hired me (hello!) as the new Executive Director.

Last week, we went out to Shirley, BC for our staff retreat. It was wonderful to take time for nature, snacking, and intentional conversations. We spent some time on Muir Creek Beach and French Beach: Elora wandered off looking at all the mosses and flowers; Zoe-Blue identified loons and sea lions through her binoculars; Kayla facilitated some funny team-building games; and Jeffrey and Claire almost lost a Frisbee to the ocean waves. We talked about our strengths and areas of growth, both as individuals and as an organization. We discussed how power works in our organization and how we hold ourselves accountable for how the organization wields its powers. Overall, we came away with a greater feeling of connection to each other and more clarity on how we might be more impactful as an organization moving forward.

We’re going to be taking those thoughts with us into the strategic planning days that we’re having with our board at the end of September. To help contextualize our conversations, we have been surveying our community via an online questionnaire.

Interested in helping shape our 3-year strategic plan?

Fill out this form here – and enter in your email to win a prize!

We’ve already received such wonderful feedback from you all. In response to the question, “How will we know we are succeeding?” one respondent shared,

We have a team of staff who feel supported, thriving programs and services, connections with many partners in the community, and we are working in alignment with our organizational values and principles.

We’re so grateful for you all – and we do feel supported! We know that the next three years will be full of challenges, and we are confident in our ability as an organization to strengthen our community’s resilience and ability to adapt to those challenges.

Excited to hear about what happens behind the scenes?

Become a member of our growing community today!

 

We are so grateful to have received funding through the Government of Canada’s Community Services Recovery Fund (CSRF). The Community Services Recovery Fund is a one-time $400 million investment from the Government of Canada to support community service organizations, including charities, non-profits and Indigenous governing bodies, as they adapt and modernize their organizations. We have been able to engage in the staff retreat and other strategic planning activities with the support of the CSRF.

“I am continually impressed by the passion, dedication, and creativity of community service organizations, like the Compost and Education Centre. I am equally proud the Government of Canada has supported their important work through the Community Services Recovery Fund. By investing in these organizations and their projects we can help to create a more just and equitable society, where everyone has opportunities to succeed. I look forward to seeing the positive impact of this investment in (community name) over the years to come.”

– Jenna Sudds, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

 

By Claire Remington, Executive Director

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Blog, News

CEC Annual General Meeting

September 13, 2023


At our Annual General Meeting (AGM), staff and board members of the CEC will review the important work that the organization accomplished in 2022. We will recap educational program achievements, new projects and programs, and discuss some of the ways that the CEC adapted its offerings to serve the public throughout the pandemic.

Want to join our Board of Directors? Find out how here!

CEC members in good standing will have the opportunity to vote on decisions that affect the future of the organization, including helping to elect new members to our Board of Directors. Members in good standing who attend the AGM will also be entered to win a door prize which can be picked up at the Compost Education Centre in following days.

Anyone can attend the CEC’s AGM. For members and non-members, attending our AGM is a great way to support the CEC and learn more about the work that we do here!

RSVP

Posted in Announcement, Blog, Events

August Plant Sale and Celebration

July 13, 2023


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.
Posted in Uncategorized

Welcome Celia!

June 15, 2023


Summer is here and we are so happy to welcome our newest staff member! Celia has been a longtime volunteer in the garden and the Healing City Soils program. We are fortunate to have her on our team this summer. Below are some get to know me questions.

What’s your favorite dish? Tabbouleh! So fresh and delicious.

What’s your favorite summer activity? Riding my bike to the lake. 

What do you like about the Compost Education Centre? I like feeling connected to food, the land, and growing out food responsibly with reciprocity for the beings around us. I love sharing that education with everyone in our community who wants to learn. It’s been great working with the CEC and feeling connected to food and flowers! 

What’s your favorite berry? I love strawberries, but when it comes to flavor, raspberries have my heart.  

What do you do in your free time? I like to garden, sew, and read. Currently, I’m rereading the Lord of the Rings. 

 

Posted in Announcement, Blog, Featured, News

The Secret life of worm herders

March 4, 2023


Our resident worm herder and child and youth education coordinator, Jeffrey was featured in a Saanich News article on work composting.  In the article and accompanying video, Jeffrey demonstrates how worm composting can help us keep food waste out of the landfill and composting facilities, while creating a nutrient dense growing medium for gardeners. Click here to read the article ??

Posted in News

Welcome, Claire!

March 1, 2023


Claire Remington has joined the Compost Education team as the Executive Director.

She is a settler with German, British, and Irish ancestry who has lived on Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ territories for the past five years. She was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and grew up in Nairobi, Kenya where her parents worked for an international humanitarian agency. She holds a BA in Chemistry from Reed College in Portland, Oregon and a MASc in Civil Engineering from the University of Victoria.

Claire is an interdisciplinary researcher with a decade of work experience focused on improving communities’ sustainability and resilience. Before working for the CEC, Claire spent 8 years working for SOIL, a non-governmental organization that operates a household sanitation and thermophilic composting waste treatment service in Haiti. Her strengths include project management, financial analysis, stakeholder consultation, and technical communication. She has also taught university-level courses with a focus on sustainable natural resource management, public health engineering, and sustainable cities.

In her free time you’ll find Claire playing ultimate frisbee, reading a book, hiking, or playing board games with friends.

Posted in Announcement, Blog, News

Call for Board Members

July 20, 2022


The Compost Education Centre is seeking skilled leaders and innovators to serve on its Board of Directors.

 

The organization is looking to fill three positions at our AGM.  Ideal candidates will bring some experience to the table and share our passion for composting, waste diversion, ecological conservation and food justice.

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.

Helpful skills and experience:

  • Familiarity with not-for-profits;
  • Leadership experience;
  • Prior experience on or working with a Board of Directors;
  • Financial or accounting experience;
  • Team and/or project management experience
  • A business background or experience in ethical/green entrepreneurship or circular economies;
  • HR experience;
  • Familiarity with social enterprises or revenue generation in non-profit structures;
  • A love for composting, food & environmental justice, urban agriculture, waste diversion and of course, soil health!

Responsibilities

  • Attend Board meetings throughout the year, usually held monthly from 6-7:30pm at the Centre 1216 North Park Street in Fernwood, or online via Zoom;
  • Work as part of a dynamic team to maintain the successful long term operation of the CEC;
  • Contribute 4-8 hours per month working in your area of focus;
  • Commit to a 2 year term.

How to Apply: Please submit a PDF to Board Chair, Lisette Chevalier (board@compost.bc.ca) containing a concise Letter of Interest, outlining skills, experience or interests you possess that could benefit the Compost Education Centre’s Board of Directors by Saturday, November 12th.

If you are interested in learning more about the CEC’s Board of Directors or about the organization before applying, please email Lisette Chevalier at at the previously listed contact.

To learn more about the Compost Education Centre and its programs visit our website www.compost.bc.ca

 

Board of Directors FAQ

What is the Board of Directors? The Board ensures that the Compost Education Centre is fulfilling its purpose and vision and oversees the society’s finances & human resources.

What do Board members do? They attend meetings every other month and join 1-3 committees: Policy, Finance & fundraising, Board Development – each with their own goals.

Can anyone become a Board Member? Yes! Anyone can buy a membership ($30) and express interest in being nominated to the Board of Directors at our AGM on Thursday, November 17, 2022. If cost is prohibitive to membership, please reach out, bursaries are available to cover membership cost.

What are the perks of joining the Board? Volunteering with a charitable non-profit org provides practical work skills. It’s also a way to meet like-minded folks from other professions and disciplines.

Are Board Members paid positions?  Unfortunately, no. The BC Societies Act prohibits us from paying Board Members. These positions are volunteer.

What is the orientation like? CEC board members are oriented to the society’s board work through a facilitated session led by Volunteer Victoria. Board Members have access to society docs that outline their roles and may also take free workshops. We also recommend reading the BC Societies Act.

Posted in Announcement, Blog, News

Annual August Plant Sale + 30th Birthday Party

July 14, 2022


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.

There will also be a Parent-Child workshop ‘Composting 101’ taking place during the sale, so bring the whole family and learn about composting while you’re here!

Posted in Uncategorized

Garden Plot Plan

May 14, 2024


Because I won’t have the plot until the end of the March at the earliest, it’s my plan to focus on summer crops to start. I’m trying to choose vegetables based on what I like to eat (duh), how easy they are to grow, and what people have suggested. So far I have: tomatoes, basil, and sweet peas. Ooh and I definitely want to grow some happy flowers for some happy pollinators.

The garden plots at Oswald Park are not big, which I think will be great for a novice gardener like me. I don’t really know what I’m doing and I tend to fill my summers with activities. The thought of having a relatively small space in which to mess up in sounds just about right. I took a look at the “square foot garden plan guide,” which shows how many plantings to do per square foot. This is what the current plot map looks like:

Most of the plants above can be direct sown, but the tomatoes need to be started early. I had a few seeds left over from a failed balcony container gardening experiment a few summers ago, and I bought a seed packet from the CEC, too.

I’m planning on traveling for a two week span over the summer so I’m also thinking ahead to watering needs. At the Victoria Seedy Sunday, I met the folks from Mayne Island Clay Works. They make these beautiful “ollas,” which are designed to buried in the ground and filled with water that is then slowly released to surrounding plants. We have one in the CEC retail space right now, and I’m kinda obsessed. I sent them an email, and they’ll bring one down to Victoria the next time they’re here doing deliveries. I’ve got this wild idea that I can dilute the Bokashi liquid in the olla for my fertilizer and irrigation needs. Stay tuned.

Next Steps

And we’re rolling, people! I’ll be keeping an eye on my tomato starts, drinking coffee for the Bokashi bran, making the Bokashi bran, and planning my planting dates for my other vegetables. Check back in a few weeks to hear how I’m doing!

Posted in Uncategorized

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.

Posted in Uncategorized

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!

Posted in Uncategorized

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! 

Posted in Uncategorized

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

Posted in Uncategorized

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

Posted in Uncategorized

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:

Composting

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

Posted in Uncategorized

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!
Posted in Uncategorized

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.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

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!

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By Elora Adamson, Child & Youth Education Coordinator

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