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Prarie Gold Meat + HMI

Blake Hall with baby pig in forest stand on farmland in Red Deer, Alberta. Blake practices holistic management. These pigs spend time in a forest stand helping to root up the forest floor, decompose the woody debris, turn up the soil, fertilize the land, and germinate native species. Blake will move them through the area so that they don't spend too much time in any one spot and so that the ecology benefits the most possible from its interactions with these land stewards.

Blake Hall, of Prairie Gold Pastured Meats with baby pig in forest stand on farmland in Red Deer, Alberta. Blake practices holistic management (HMI). These pigs spend time in a forest stand helping to root up the forest floor, decompose the woody debris, turn up the soil, fertilize the land, and germinate native species. Blake will move them through the area so that they don’t spend too much time in any one spot and so that the ecology benefits the most possible from its interactions with these land stewards.

Blake hosted a Young Agrarians farm tour with Steel Pony Farm, this past March. We had around 70 farmers and farm lovers come from the surrounding area to tour the farm.

YA Alberta Mixer-24Steel Pony is a mixed vegetable operation that benefits from being on farmland with Prairie Gold. Together they manage fertility and stack life upon life in Canada’s beautiful prairie landscape.

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I Love Ecological Farmers

Its been a big year. Young Agrarians has turned from a seed into many plants as we work with more and more farmers and organizations across BC. The work growing the network is good, and admittedly stressful. The issues that new farmers face are various from access to capital and land, to the complexities of business start-up in todays economy, to the overwhelming need for consumers to get educated about where food comes from- and why certified or uncertified organically grown food is important to our local communities, ecologies and economies.

Generally speaking, the cost of production for small scale certified or uncertified organic producers in B.C. is higher than the return on investment in the first five years in many cases.  However, if you factor in social and environmental capital into the cost/benefit analysis, ecologically grown food represents a huge benefit to us over all and is key to our long-term ability to weather climate change and feed ourselves.

In B.C. and elsewhere, organics are costly for farmers to produce and consumers to buy because of the high cost of production – B.C.’s land values are almost double other provinces in Canada and farm inputs are expensive (feed, infrastructure, seed, etc.). The ecological farmer today has lost much infrastructure compared to days gone by including agricultural extension services (govn’t paid farm scientists or agrologists that supported farmers to develop their farm operations). There is a deep need for change if we want the next generation to be able to work the land regeneratively. We need many more people to support food systems we grow with our hands and purchase from local producers.

Our home is on First Nations land in Canada. Indigenous food sheds and lands, which in many places have been contaminated by industry and increasingly altered by climate change- need to be stewarded not destroyed. I believe we can work collectively to better understand and support our foodsheds and peoples to grow and regain resiliency over time. There are a lot of barriers to small food producers, fishers and ecological farmers to get on their feet in the current economy. We have a lot of work to do to transform our foodsheds into healthy community-driven (grown, purchased, distributed, supported and locally financed) food systems.

My deep hope is that the food movement will continue to grow and flourish and make for a healthier food system in the years to come. The young agrarians networking we do on farms, through the tours and potlucks that we co-host with farmers, community allies, organizations and agro-ecology educational centres in B.C. – along with our fall land linking events (bringing together land owners with land seekers) and winter young farmer mixers, aim to build relationships and connections to nurture collaboration and support new growers.

I have been fortunate to travel to different parts of BC and meet people and learn more about what people’s challenges, successes and dreams are. This last adventure took me to O.U.R. Ecovillage on Vancouver Island. O.U.R. Ecovillage offers internships and apprenticeships in ecological building, permaculture design certification, gardening, homesteading and much more. O.U.R. is at the heart of land reform in British Columbia having recently won a new land zoning designation that allows for the building of multiple dwellings on one property without having to subdivide. Me and the garden interns made some photo art together.

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Photos of: Asivak Koostachin, Hasi Eldib, Morgan Eichwald, Ian Giesbrecht and Obang Seungyeon.

Full photo set viewable on FLICKR 

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Growing the Agrarian

Pasted from:

My adventures into Agrarianism started back in 2006.  I was broke and needed a break from work and the big city where I had grown up.  I lived right in the middle of Downtown Vancouver at the time, ran a photography studio, worked a couple contracts and any extra time (which there wasn’t) I volunteered.

That first summer was a break like no other break.  Over four months, I lived on three different gorgeous B.C. farms.  I got over my fear of living in the middle of the forest when the owners of the homestead I was learning on, where there was only a radio phone and an electric fence keeping the bears out of the orchard- left to visit their grown-up kids.

Lib & Frank grow 80% of their own food. Fish comes from the Arrow Lakes down the way, chickens from the eggs (oops), fruit from the trees.  The orchard is to die for.  Seriously epic with several varieties of fruit grafted onto dwarf root stock.  You can harvest plums and apricots from one tree, or the crossbred plucots, and pears and apples on another.  I’ve had good fruit since, but never as good as the fruit from their trees.

The first food I harvested from the ground turned a light bulb on so bright on in my head- I didn’t at the time quite know what to do with it.

After my time at Lib & Frank’s I landed in the Kootenays.  Thinking I would visit for a few days and then begrudgingly go back to the city and reality…  Within two days I had a job working at a local organic farm in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), a vehicle to drive, and a family sized yurt to live in.  The next two months were spent harvesting daily and doing markets in Nelson twice a week.  I spent much time with the farmers, and sold a lot of food, and traded a ton of vegetables for other people’s goods.  It was my introduction to the gift economy- trading other people your beautiful things for theirs.  Why we don’t live like that more in the cities is beyond me.  Perhaps on the horizon we’ll grow up and learn how to share better.

Four months after leaving I returned to Vancouver.  I dove back into work and volunteering and kept the fire alive in my heart for farming.

In 2007, I volunteered at my first Power of Hope camp on Linnaea Farm on Cortes Island.  And visited Channel Rock.  I was fortunate to get into the Linnaea Ecological Garden Program in 2008, and my journey into agrarianism deepened.

The journey hasn’t stopped since Linnaea.  I have worked, visited and photographed dozens of farms, created a self-directed 2-year permaculture practicum, and am now teaching urban permaculture in Vancouver.

I long for the day when I return to the land.  When there isn’t so much work to do in front of the computer.  When the doom gloom of climate change has manifested into massive intelligent and collaborative agrarian action to live again with Nature – rather than against her. When our cities are vast gardens and when our countries are the ecological oases they once were, with diverse, resilient communities networked over time and space through shared values of food, water, and alive environments.

Abundance is ours if we embrace her.




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Fall Urban Permaculture Design Course at Langara

Urban Permaculture Design Course with Sara Dent & Guests 

Photo montage images from L.A. Farm Lab

Langara Continuing Studies – 72-hour Certificate Program

2012: Fridays, September 21 – December 7, 10am-5:30pm (no class Oct. 19 or Oct. 26)

Weekend Field Trip – Saturday & Sunday, October 13 & 14 

Confirmed Guest Teachers: Erin Innes, Delvin Solkinson

Course Highlights:

Ecological design fundamentals



Designing for Urban Places

Four-Seasons Gardening

Pattern Literacy

Portland Place-Making

Social Permaculture

Soil Management

Dive into ecological design theory and hands-on practice and earn your internationally recognized Permaculture Design Certificate. From growing food and creating healthy soil to building community and re-envisioning the urban environment, this 72-hour course will give you the skills you need to create vibrant and healthy places in the city!

Sara Dent is a trained organic farmer and permaculture designer through the Linnaea Ecological Garden Programme (Cortes, BC), and permaculture educator through the California Urban Permaculture Guild. She has farmed across B.C. and in Mexico and brings her enthusiasm for organic matter and growing local, along with her training as a facilitator to permaculture education.

Registration and Information

Fee: $1100 (70253) Some bursaries available.

Contact: Sonja Embree

Register: 604.323.5322

Info Session: To learn more about the course and meet Sara, please join us Wednesday, Sept. 5, 6-7pm, Room A218, Langara College, 100 West 49th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C.

Photo by: Jonathan Dy

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Young Agrarians

The Young Agrarians network building project I’m working on is growing, and its blowing my mind! Every week there is something going on…  A potluck to go to, a young farmer to meet, connections between people to be made… Young people are coming out of the woodwork from many different walks of life who are focused on food growing and reclaiming their relationships with the land and Momma Earth.

Below is Neil Carrodus and his farm crew at Camp Fircom on Gambier Island.  Its a beautiful getaway just twenty minutes by water taxi from Horshoe Bay. I’m excited to see their food production capacity grow!

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2012 Vancouver Urban Permaculture Design Course


Learn How to Grow Your Own Food & Permaculture Design in the City!

Downtown Eastside / Strathcona, Coast Salish Territories, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Classroom Location: Ray Cam Cooperative Centre Map Link here

Course work + hands-on, organic gardening & permaculture practicum

Course Schedule: Introductory Weekend, May 4: 6:30-9:30pm, May 5: 11am-6pm, May 6: 10am-5pm

Saturdays, 11am-6pm, Sundays 10am-5pm:

May 19, May 20, June 9-10, June 16, July 14-15

Wrap Weekend August 17: 6:30-9:30pm, August 18: 11am-6pm, August 19: 10am-5pm

Cost: $225 Introductory Weekend, $900 – $1,100 Full Course

Sliding Scale / Payment Plans

ABOUT: Dive into the fundamentals of ecological design theory and practice and earn your internationally recognized Permaculture Design Certificate. From growing food and creating healthy soil to building community capacity and re-visioning the urban environment, this 72-hour course will give you the skills and experience you need to live abundantly in our changing times and be a regenerative force for the planet and your community.

As a learning community, we will study the design philosophy of permaculture and its application within an urban setting. We will focus on urban gardening, from design to plant propagation, building soil, composting and more. Vancouver’s Eastside will be our main classroom. Guest teachers will demo: bee keeping, backyard chickens, aquaponics and more.

The permaculture topics this course will cover include:

Permaculture Ethics & Principles

Observation & Site Analysis

Energy Conservation

Natural Cycles & Pattern Recognition

Mapping & Design Exercises

Animal Husbandry

Trees & Food Forests

Soil Building & Ecology

Plants, Propagation & Planting Strategies

Eco-Building & Appropriate Technology

Aquaculture, Water Harvesting, Management & Conservation

Urban Permaculture & Social Ecology


Permaculture is the ancient art of studying Natures principles and applying her gardening techniques through systems design to human habitats. In a natural ecological system there is no waste and no external inputs. In cities, we have the opportunity to put these ideas into practice to create more sustainable living environments that are less dependent on fossil fuels for food production and energy. The term permaculture was coined by Bill Mollison associated with the Australia Permaculture Research Institute (PRI). This course will follow Mollisons curriculum, with a focus on permaculture applications within an urban environment.

Information and Course Registration:, 778-968-5518

Lead Facilitators / Permaculture Teachers:

Sara Dent is a trained organic farmer and Certified Permaculture Designer through the Linnaea Ecological Garden Programme (Cortes, BC), and Permaculture Teacher with the Urban Permaculture Guild. She has farmed across B.C. and in Mexico. She brings her enthusiasm for organic matter and growing local, along with her training as a facilitator to permaculture education.  Sara is a member of Village Vancouver.

Erin Innes is a Certified Permaculture Designer and a recognized Permaculture Teacher with the Urban Permaculture Guild. She has a long history in community activism and collective organizing, focusing on popular education and un-schooling. She is deeply involved in grassroots food justice work, is a member of VIllage Vancouver, and founded the Farmhouse Farm Bike-Powered Urban Farm.

Guest Teachers:

Jodi Peters has a passion for empowering people to re-connect to the natural cycles that support life on this earth. She works with people of all ages in schools, community gardens and backyards, to help them learn how to grow nourishing food for themselves and their community in a way that enhances the surrounding ecology. She also adores fermenting just about anything! She currently works with the Environmental Youth Alliance ( and teaches for Gaia College (

Oliver Kellhammer is a guerilla forest gardener, botanical artist, and one of the great permaculture visionaries of Canada. He has worked as a land artist and permaculture designer for over 25 years in British Columbia, and has trained a generation of permaculturalist at Linnaea Farm on Cortes Island BC. Oliver established the Cottonwood Community Garden, using permaculture principles to regenerate the land and open up space for community to grow food!

Vancouver Urban Permaculture Design Course is sponsored by: Village Vancouver

Village Vancouver inspires individuals and organizations to take actions that build resilient and sustainable communities. We are one of several hundred official Transition Town Initiatives spreading across the globe, the first in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and pleased to join our fellow sustainability pioneers in Victoria, Nelson, Salt Spring Island, and Powell River.


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Permaculture Love

It is that time of year!  I am getting the seeds organized for the season and dreaming of my plot design for 2012.  I’m looking through past photos to figure out which one I will use to promo my permaculture design course this year.  My time in Mexico and the States in 2010 was so precious.  The shots taken at the L.A. Farm Lab bring me much joy- imagining how Vancouver can ‘re-imagine’ itself from a permaculture perspective, over the next 10 years.