Springing into Summer

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

As we near summer solstice there is no doubt that spring has rushed by in a blur and the serious business of summer is soon to come. Serious fun that is, as we continue to develop our new farm property here in the West Kootenays. In the short time since winter and the later-than-usual snows finally left we've been busy working on critical tasks like deer-fencing projects and building a chicken coop and yard to house our flock of layers. Colleen, as you can see, is welcoming them into their new home. We've also been tilling up our fields that are currently growing a nice crop of garlic and will eventually be producing our beloved seeds.

We've had excellent help this spring from great volunteers lending their hands. We can now count new friends from France, England and Canada as part of the special magic that happens when people work together towards a long-term vision. Ten years from now I know we'll look back at all the little things (and a few big things too) on this farm and remember the people who passed through here helping it all become a reality. Thanks to Brad, Lydia, Frances, Alex, Martin, Anne et Mathieu. It's been a great start to our new farm.

To all our friends, and to customers both new and old, who purchased from us this spring, we thank you for choosing our seeds to plant in your gardens. It's been a cold and wet and late start for most of you, as we keep hearing when you speak to us on the phone or by email. Summer is coming! So is the heat! And we will all reap great, tasty rewards from the earth...soon. I know from our own experience, as well as your stories, how well these locally grown seeds will grow - even with the challenges of a late start. Enjoy your time in the gardens and fields, be it the backyard, or the back forty. Share the abundance that you'll harvest, share meals with your friends, and have a great summer tending your crops.

Happy Spring!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Ahhh ... spring! It's time to get outside and plant your gardens and grow beautiful, healthy food to satisfy your cravings during the summer and maybe into the winter. It's been a super late spring here (we hear we're about a month behind schedule), as it sounds like it has been in many other places across the province. But, just in the past week it finally feels like spring may be here! The bud are starting to blossom and the garlic quickly growing. It feels great.

We had a super busy, exhausting winter this year. We were started off way behind from our usual schedule because of our move - who knew moving a farm took so long??? But, we're finally feeling caught up and are trying to get back to a more sustainable work schedule. We did have a great winter though making new contacts and meeting new faces, as well as renewing our friendships with other farmers, gardeners and seed savers across the province.

Our new property is starting to take shape and feel like home. We have made the tough decision to greatly decrease the number of seeds we will be producing this year (but will be back full swing next year) in order to work on weed pressure and fertility in our main field. So, we will be spending this season working on our field, growing a small amount of seed and growing some fresh veggies in a neighbour's garden for our own eating. We will also be focusing on putting up some infrastructure at our farm. We have just finished putting up our first deer fence (around about 2 acres) and it has been successful in keeping out deer so far! We are also going to work on projects like creating a greenhouse, tool shed, a wood shed and maybe a cabin for our amazing WWOOFers that visit us during the season to stay in. We have also just purchased our own tractor to help us out with many of our big farm tasks ahead of us and to keep weeds under control in our field. There are many other things that we have to figure out at our new place, as it hasn't been in production for many years. We are also hoping to get some small livestock this year and are hoping to chickens and ducks.

We are really happy where we are and are looking forward to creating our farming space with our own vision. We want to wish everyone a happy gardening season. Happy planting!

Seedy Saturdays 2011 A Great Success

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Well, we're almost done Seedy Saturdays for the season. While we've had a blast seeing old friends and making new ones across the province, we're so excited to be home and sleeping in our own bed for more than a couple of nights in a row. The events that we went to (Victoria, Kalso and Enderby) were fantastic and we have heard from friends that did others for us that they were great as well. Maybe we'll be able to check them out at some point in the future. We have our last Seedy Saturday of the season this upcoming Sunday in Nelson, BC from 11-2. Make sure to come out if you're in the area to trade your own seeds, pick up some new ones and to meet and support other local growers.

We are still super busy putting together seed orders that are streaming in and are getting more and more antsy by the day to start growing, get our hands dirty and work on our piece of land. We have decided that we will probably spend this summer focusing on infrastructure, getting up a deer fence and greenhouse and hopefully an outbuilding or two, and doing some soil building. We are also seriously entertaining the idea of getting some small livestock ... rabbits and chicken/ducks. They can help us fertilize our fields as well as provide some nutrition. Just a start to what we envision in the future. We are also feeling the pressure to grow even more of our own food for summer eating and storage crops, with the increasing cost of food. As well as grow some seeds, of course. It's shaping up to be a busy and exciting summer that we're both really looking forward to.

We hope you all enjoy the rest of your winter and embrace spring once it starts. Happy growing!

Permaculture Course Being Offered in the West Kootenays, BC

Monday, January 31, 2011

This is a great sounding course that our friend Susan Grimble is putting together. It looks amazing.

Fry Creek Permaculture Design Course, March 10-22
In beautiful Johnsons Landing, BC (2 hours north of Nelson)

“Permaculture helped me understand that everything is a living organism. I now use permaculture principles in everything; with my family, with people I work with and in running our business, in my garden and even in how I set up my living space.” Rachel Ross, Non Violent Communications Facilitator

The teachers:

Zia Parker has lived a permaculture based life for 20 years, taught in Africa and the US and runs the Willow Way Permaculture Farm in Colorado.

Jim Gibson is a friend of Paul Stamets and a graduate of the Stamets schools for Mushroom Cultivation and Mycorestoration. He is the fungi man and teaches soil building courses.

Gregoire Lamoureux is a respected permaculture teacher in the Slocan Valley.

All of them have a vast array of skills and they want to share them with you!

Check out this video to find out more about Permaculture and meet Zia and Jim.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-siFJK686I

Zia’s website is www.willowwaywellness.com

This will be a hands-on-class designed for farmers and gardeners of all skill levels, urban and rural.

CURRICULUM

• Permaculture Principles and Ethics

• Permaculture Design Method
• Observing Nature, Site Analysis, Designing

for Diverse Climates, Creating Microclimates
• Nutrient Cycling in Water & Soil
• Gardening: maintaining soil fertility,

exploring the wisdom of plants, Seed saving.
• Season Extension: four season gardening,

cold frames, hoop houses and greenhouses
• Forest gardens, agroforestry, fruit trees
• Multiple Benefits of Fungi: agricultural

applications; cultivation for medicinal & culinary use
• Renewable Energy
• Ecological Building including building with earth materials
• Wise Water use: bioremediation with constructed wetlands, rainwater harvesting, greywater systems, aquaponics, aquaculture
• Incorporating animals into your system: poultry, fish, bees, others
• Urban Permaculture
• Sustainable Community Design
• Group Design Projects

Certification
Our Curriculum is internationally-recognized by the Permaculture Academy. A Permaculture Design Certificate is given upon course completion.

“I have been gardening in the Kootenays for 39 years. I am new to Permaculture but what I have learned has made gardening so much easier. Learning to grow more of our own food and working in alignment with nature will be the foundation for our security in the future.

I look forward to sponsoring this Course, assisting Zia and Jim and creating a safe, comfortable space for you.”

Susan Grimble, Feldenkrais Practitioner
For more information contact me at 250 366-4395 or 352-3449 or email frycreek@kootenayjoe.net

Orders Going Out!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Well, after lots of hard work and long days, seed orders are finally going out the door, from us to you! We sent out our first orders this week on Monday and took another big load to the Post Office today. It feels so good to see all of our hard work being sent to our customers. We're still behind on our orders, but want to thank everyone for their patience - I think we will probably be caught up next week at some point, so we're getting there. We're still working really hard to get everything done and in place and the orders will be sent out as quickly as possible. Again, thank you for your support and patience, we're getting things out as quickly as possible.

Other big news from North Kootenay Lake is the 4th annual KALSO SEEDY SATURDAY has just been announced for FEB 27, 2011. We're really excited to be working with the wonderful Aimee Watson of the Kaslo Food Hub to put on this fantastic event. We are planning on including a variety of seed, agriculture and farm-based vendors with fantastic products from the north end of Kootenay Lake, as well as interesting documentaries and a seed saving workshop by Colleen during the day. It's shaping up to be a quite an event and we really encourage you to come check it out, if you're in the area. It will be from 10-2. Keep and eye out for more information in the Pennywise and posters in the surrounding areas. We hope for a good turn out to support local growers and artisans in the area. If you would like more information on the event, please feel free to contact us at info@stellarseeds.com.

Seedy Saturdays/Sundays

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

We have had some requests for a list of the Seedy Saturdays/Sundays across the province, as well as the ones we will be at this year. Below is a list of the ones we know about. There is an * next to the ones we and/or our seeds will be at.

Feb 5 - Qualicum Beach *
Feb 12 - Lillooet *
Feb 13 - Salt Spring *
Feb 19 - Victoria *
Feb 19 - Port Alberni
Feb 26 - Vancouver *
Feb 26 - Kamloops
Feb 27 - Kaslo *
March 5 - North Vancouver
March 5 - Courtney *
March 5 - Enderby *
March 6 - Slocan Valley
March 6 - Nanaimo *
March 6 - Rossland
March 12 - Kelowna *
March 12 - Cobble Hill *
March 26 - Duncan
April 2 - Penticton *
April 2 - Mission *

This is what we are confirmed to be at right now. We may add more as they get closer. We will update this blog as that happens. Hope to see many of you at Seedy Saturdays/Sundays across BC soon!

Happy New Year!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Happy New Year. We hope that everyone had a restful, safe holiday filled with lots of time with family and friends. We had a great, much needed break.

We are starting to get into the swing of things here. Our new website has been up for a couple of weeks now, the paper catalogues went into the mail on Tuesday and the orders are starting to come in. It's feeling really good and we're looking forward to an exciting seed season.

We are super busy cleaning seeds to get them ready to send out to you. Colleen has spent hours, days, even weeks sorting through peas and beans seeds to get them nice and clean and ready for packing. (Check out the photo) Patrick has been busy working on lettuces and other greens outside in the freezing cold. We are going to start printing out seed packages tomorrow and hopefully start packing them this weekend or early next week.

We hope to start filling seed orders on January 15 and mailing them out to you as soon as possible. We are finalizing the Seedy Saturdays we will be attending across the province this season and will post a list as soon as we're confirmed. We're looking forward to visit old, familiar ones and checking out new local ones.

We hope everyone is enjoying winter.

Colleen and Patrick

Big Change at Stellar Seeds

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Stellar Seeds has gone through some milestones and big changes in the past few months. We have reached our 10th anniversary, which we are very excited about. Thank you for supporting us and making that possible. Our other big news is that we moved at the beginning of November. We now live and operate in the West Kootenays in the small community of Johnson’s Landing at the north end of Kootenay Lake. We love it here. We have been very warmly welcomed by the community here and are looking forward to working on and developing on our own piece of land. And, we have a lot of work ahead of us, from outbuildings to establishing a garden and deer fencing. But, we’re really looking forward to the big learning curve ahead.

That being said, Stellar Seeds is still going to run and operate the same way it always has, just from a different location. We have some great new crops to offer seeds of this winter, as well as lots of customer favourites. Our catalogue should be available by Christmas 2010 and will start mailing out seeds in January 2011.

We have also hired the wonderful, talented Dan Trobak (www.trobak.ca) of Kaslo, BC to update our website for us this year. On it, we will have many new pages (where to find our seeds in stores, grower profiles, message boards) along with our selection of seeds. We are really excited about how it is looking. It will be ready on Winter Solstice 2010, just in time for Christmas.

We are also looking forward to attending many Seedy Saturdays across the province this upcoming February and March, checking out new ones in our local area, as well as going to old favourites. We will post a list of Seedy Saturdays where our seeds will be available when we have confirmed everything.

Big Changes are Afoot

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Big changes are afoot at Stellar Seeds. This fall we have relocated to our new farm on Kootenay Lake in the small community of Johnson’s Landing. We’ve been welcomed warmly here, and are delighted to be farming a beautiful field on the slopes of the majestic Purcell mountains. Our southern and western exposure not only gives us inspiring views of the lake and mountains around us, but warms the soil, drains frost, gives long hours of afternoon sunshine, and promises many years of good seed production ahead.

This past summer, we marked our 10th anniversary. Most of those years were spent in partnership with our friends at Left Fields in Sorrento, where we shared their farm and established our seed company. Our new farm has an agricultural legacy dating back almost a century, but has lied fallow for over twenty years. We’ve started by ploughing a portion of our property for seed and food production, while we focus on infrastructure projects that will allow us to grow forward over the coming years.

Our medicinal herbs section has expanded this year and we’ve enjoyed the sight of these regal plants in our fields, as well as the diversity they’ve brought to our farmscape. Many are magnets for beneficial insects, doing dual work healing our garden as well as our health. It seems obvious that every piece of land should provide nourishment and medicine. Why didn’t we see it sooner?

We’ve also redesigned our website. Here you’ll find pictures of our crops and our farm, customer forums, seedsaving tips, books and resources, bulk seed listings, grower profiles and more. We’ll be updating the site regularly with photos and stories from our work turning this great piece of land into a thriving farm full of food, seeds and breeds.

May the sun shine and your garden grow fine,
Patrick Steiner and Colleen O’Brien