Growing food and sharing food, in our Coastal Communities.

Our local paper ‘The Ocean Star’ had a great article on the front page today! Jasmine McFarlen a fellow Errington dweller has started a great Facebook page for gathering food called ‘Hunters,Gatherers ,and Farmers, Food Trading’. It is a local group that can share their bounty and or trade for equal value! I saw it pop up some time ago on another local Facebook page, the comments were exciting and intriguing. After I joined, I was truly amazed at all the local goodies being exchanged!

I know many people who base a lot of there diet on forging-like habits, focused on seasonal plants. I also know people who have large productive gardens and small families.  Vancouver Island is a lush provider of flora and fauna, with too much being wasted or spoiled.

The seasonal harvest is often too much for the average family, with many people having too much of a good thing.

Parksville B.C. Food saving

Jasmine’s Facebook page is great! Thank you for helping to prevent food wasting!

Jasmine has created a venue for people to share there bounty, trade the harvest, and offer tips in storing all the good food!

– A link to the article HERE

I love this page and its so addictive! I check it constantly looking for gems that I have eaten from the garden before. I love all of the variety you can have by sharing food with the community. Food sharing is not a new cultural endeavour but a tradition that many communities have lost. Jasmine touches on connecting with a local farmer in the article;

“They have beautiful food. To them, growing a garden is a habit…they plant one every year.”

Many people desire to connect our food with our community and Jasmine found a way to do it!

I think fruit trees are a great way to give to our community and to our family. They produce freely, increase bio activity in any garden and create shade to those below!

I crave large fruit bearing trees, from almonds to figs, the apples and pears – oh my! Trees offer so much bounty and with a little TLC every year, they will continue to bear food for years to come.

Running a business has left me little time this year to have the veggie garden I had hoped for.. and I plan on continuing to live a dynamic life that won’t always be able to have an active veggie plot. That is why fruit trees are a great addition to any property.

No matter what is going on in life, your fruit tree will continue to provide year after year…


Cornus mas flowers in the winter/early spring. Fruit is edible in August/September

Cornus mas flowers in the winter/early spring. Fruit is edible in August/September

My favourite edible tree right now is Cornus mas. The Cornelian Cherry is its common name, and the preserves you can make from this tree are delicious! Cornus mas flowers in the winter, and bears fruit in August.  It has beautiful dogwood leaves and is a very hardy tree upon establishment. If you don’t use the fruit, the birds quickly clean up the

A great introduction to Cornelian Cherries HERE

 An older blog entry on the Cornelian Cherry HERE

Trees are easy to maintain provided they have guidance in early development. If pruned carefully, seasonal maintenance is a reasonable cost in comparison to the yield received.

So plant your trees and enjoy the bounty! 

Growing Trees 101

  • The first 3 years after planting are imperative to any tree! It takes time for any plant to adjust, but the first few years establish the tree and set the tone for a healthy life.

The first year they sleep

The 2nd year they creep

The 3rd year they leap!

  • Purchase young trees, bare root if you can! You can check for girdling roots, root damage and disease. A young tree is eager to start growing  and get healthy!
  • “Right plant, Right place” is our motto! Discover your property for what it is worth and buy trees that will do well in that location.
  • Water deep and thoroughly, but, infrequently! Over watering will harm any tree, so checking the soil temperature and moisture to gage the amount of water needed. Soil is different everywhere you go, so study your soil before you plant.
  • Mulch is key! Mulching keeps weeds at bay, protects the nutrients, and keeps the moisture in the soil.
  • Pruning a young tree properly guides into a long healthy fulfilling life. Having a Tree Specialist (International Society of Arboriculture abiding professional) guide a tree for the first few years saves money. This service is worth every penny, as it prevents long term issues that can cost hundreds of dollars.
The Arbutus our coastal beauty with edible qualities

Photo By: Amy Robson on Hornby Island. 2010 The Arbutus our coastal beauty with edible qualities

Click here for more information on Tree Care from OUR WEBSITE


Cornelian Cherry – Cornus mas


Cornus mas

Cornus mas – 03/07/14 Photo taken  Amy Robson

This lovely little tree or large shrub is not a Canadian native but it sure does work well in our climate! Cornus mas  flowers from late February to mid March (in the  Pacific Northwest).  Cornus mas flowers abundantly providing nourishment for pollinating insects.  With a mature height of 5 metres,  birds will find shelter in the branches.

It also has other adoring features such as, silver bark that at maturity reveals hues of peach and orange as it peels. Its habit or form varies as it can grow as an understory tree or stand alone as a specimen.  Hardy to zone 4 ( -34 C) Cornus mas can be cultivated in a variety of places.

Named after a semi precious gemstone, the Cornelian Cherry ripens in late August/September with cornelian coloured fruits. There are a few cultivars of Cornus mas such as,  ‘Golden Glory’ which has more flowers and a longer bloom time. If  you desire to eat the fruit choosing a cultivar can effect nutrition.

Cornus mas can grow in a variety of soils, but exposure should be orientated around ripening of fruit which requires some morning and afternoon sun.

I like this tree in small gardens because of its mature size and it tolerates understory planting. It also has seasonal interest from the flowers and fruit.  Cornus mas is also more resistant to Discula spp. an Anthracnose that is killing many ornamental dogwoods. Cornus mas is a low maintenance tree that offers edible fruit to people and birds, this tree would be a great addition in many gardens.


Kwantlen Polytechnic University

University of Connecticut plant database 

Plants for a better future

Cornus anthracnose