Alison Colwell

About Alison Colwell

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Alison Colwell has created 271 blog entries.

Sustainable Seaweed Harvesting by Emma Luna Davis

Last June’s Seaweed Harvesting Workshop was one of the most popular we’ve run, and so we are thrilled to be able to bring Amanda Swinimer back. Participants appreciated being given the opportunity to learn both at the beach and in the classroom, as well as getting to taste many varieties of seaweed. Here’s some of what they had to say about the workshop:

“Prior to this workshop I knew little about seaweed harvesting. Now I feel confident about my abilities to forage sustainably. Thank you for this great learning opportunity.”

“Delighted that we can contribute by harvesting as much of the invasive species as possible.”

“I have been around the ocean my whole life and learned so much in the hours spent with Amanda. Thank-you!”

“Amanda was fabulous! She was so smart and knowledgeable, but made the information accessible. You could tell how passionate she is about edible seaweed.”

“All aspects were fabulous. The instructor was very knowledgeable; I learned a lot; the outdoor harvesting was meaningful, and the tastings at the end in the classroom were delicious. The day was an excellent balance of practical and technical. Well organized.”

“Learning outside with my neighbours, learning more about our shorelines and ecosystems, learning what is closely available to us to harvest sustainably and how that promotes our health.”

“I loved learning about how to ethically harvest and where, and learning about the nutritional and medicinal benefits of the tea.”


2019-07-18T17:49:10-07:00April 18th, 2019|Categories: Food Program, Workshops|0 Comments

Galiano’s Next Top Nettle Cooking Competition

Chefs, cooks and foragers: It’s time to put your “pedal to the nettle” in this year’s competition at the 12th Annual Nettlefest Community Potluck Celebration at the South Galiano Community Hall. Come “test your nettle” by entering your best nettle dish against fierce island competition. And the sting: all dishes must be in by 5:30pm.

• Dan the Man Island Style (featuring 100% ingredients grown or foraged on Galiano)
• Avant-Garde Cuisine
• Homestyle Cooking

2019-04-02T21:17:31-07:00April 2nd, 2019|Categories: Food Program, Nettlefest|0 Comments

12th Annual Nettlefest Community Potluck Celebration

Sunday, April 7th Doors open at 5:00pm
Come together to celebrate the return of Spring as we gather as a community for the 11th annual Nettlefest Potluck.   It’s all about gathering with friends and neighbours, sharing some wonderful food, and enjoying the entertainment of some amazingly-talented locals. Join us, and bring something to share with others.

2019-03-23T15:53:28-07:00March 23rd, 2019|Categories: Food Program, Nettlefest|0 Comments

Forest Foraging Walk

10:00am, Saturday April 6, Alistair Ross trailhead parking lot
with Holistic Nutritionist Cedana Bourne from the Galiano Conservancy Association

Bring your cameras and notebooks and learn about foraging in our local forests. We’ll walk through Galiano’s wild places and talk about nettles and other edible wild greens, how and when to pick them for a sustainable harvest, where they grow, and their roles in our local ecosystems. We’ll also learn about their nutritional and health-giving properties, and how best to preserve them.

Suggested donation $15-$20. Please register at

2019-03-23T15:48:57-07:00March 23rd, 2019|Categories: Food Program, Nettlefest|0 Comments

Wild Kitchen—Nettle Cooking Workshop with Alison Colwell

This Year we are holding 2 classes – Thursday April 4th and Friday April 5th at 5:30pm

Learn how to make a variety of delicious nettle dishes and how to remove the sting so that you can take advantage of all of nettle’s incredible health benefits. This hands-on class includes cooking demonstrations and is suitable for all levels of cooking skills. It’s a prime opportunity for those looking to develop their skills and incorporate wild foods into their diet. We will create a delicious meal to share around a communal table at the end of the evening. This is a chance to bring questions, and get ideas for your entry into the Galiano’s Next Top Nettle Cooking Competition at the Potluck.
Registration includes all ingredients for a meal we prepare in class, plus a copy of Alison’s Nettle Cookbook.
Please register at Sliding scale $15-$25
2019-04-01T22:02:05-07:00March 23rd, 2019|Categories: Food Program, Nettlefest|1 Comment

12th Annual Nettlefest by Alison Colwell

Whenever I’m explaining the Food Program to new people (both on island and off), I always mention Nettlefest because it’s a Galiano celebration that both mystifies and inspires!

Most people think nettles are a weed, but those of us who are lucky enough to live on Galiano know better! Stinging nettles are among the first edible plants to burst from the ground in the Pacific Northwest. Around Valentine’s Day, sometimes even earlier, green shoots start emerging from the ground, and soon the nettles are everywhere! For me nothing says spring like the arrival of this tasty green plant—free for the foraging. Plus, nettles are good for you, high in Vitamin C and calcium.

When you are picking nettles for cooking, choose the young, tender leaves, usually the top four or six on a plant. Use scissors and you won’t damage the plant. Nettles are delicious—but most first-time nettle eaters are nervous about being stung. Use rubber gloves when you are picking and until the nettles are processed in some way. Once the fresh nettles are steamed, frozen, dried or cooked, the sting is neutralized. There are lots of ways to use nettles. Some of my favourites are: soup, pizza, nettle pakora, and a green nettle ravioli pasta.


2019-07-18T17:47:19-07:00March 18th, 2019|Categories: Food Program, Nettlefest|0 Comments

Community Greenhouse by Barry New

Located behind the Galiano Library on the School grounds, the Greenhouse Growing Group grows vegetables together in the Community Greenhouse. Anyone is welcome to join. The charge is only $20 for the whole year. This fee includes all soil amendments, seeds, pots, and tools, but people are still encouraged to bring their own. Participants share the produce.

We specialise in the early Spring Starts and then roll out a program for year-round crops. We learn and share our knowledge about potting mixes and seeds, pests and problems. Over the years, we have built up a good collection of saved seeds and benefitted from the Seed Library of Galiano with a Seed Swap and sharing their collection. The group meets informally once or twice a week throughout the spring and summer. By the summer, we have a watering schedule so participants take regular (weekly) turns to keep the plants well- watered. It is a teaching and learning environment—we have knowledge and experience to share, and some resources and good links to help further the skills of participants and answer your specific gardening questions.

We specialise in tomatoes, eggplants, basil, peppers, melons, and many other seasonal vegetables. There are also raised beds (no bending!) outside the greenhouse where we have grown strawberries, runner beans, zucchinis and cucumbers.

First meeting of the 2019 Growing Season is Saturday, March 16, 11:00, at the Greenhouse. Come on out and see what it’s all about! If you have any questions, you can email Barry, the Greenhouse Coordinator.

What Perogies Mean To Us by Brahmi Benner

Join us on Sunday, January 27th for an immersive experience in Ukrainian culture and cuisine. We will pinch, cook and eat together as our workshop presenters share stories and songs from this rich traditional culture. Bring a rolling pin and a tray!

“While pyrohy were a regular part of meals in our household, they were especially important during festive events like weddings, church functions or Christmas. On Ukrainian Christmas Eve (Svyata Vechera) pyrohy were made with homemade cottage cheese, sauerkraut, potato and prune fillings as part of the twelve traditional meatless dishes. The prune filling was especially memorable to me as a child as it was made only during Christmas and it was like having a dessert during the main part of the meal. Sour cream and a sauce made from high bush cranberries (kalyna) were used as a dressing.” -Ed Andrusiak, Galiano resident, Ukrainian- Canadian

“To me, pyrohy are the ultimate comfort food from my childhood. They evoke memories of my grandmother, mother and all my female relatives in somebody’s big kitchen, laughing, singing, talking and arguing while peeling potatoes, grating cheese, chopping onions, mushrooms and sauerkraut, and making and rolling out paper-thin dough. Then we would put potato and cottage cheese or sauerkraut and mushroom filling, my two favourites, gently into each circle and finally fold and lovingly pinch it closed before plopping them—one by one—into huge pots of boiling salted water. Dining on a plateful of these precious, delicious dumplings, sliding around in butter and sour cream, is heaven on earth. – Christina Stechishin, Galiano resident and great-niece of Savella Stechishin, author of Traditional Ukrainian Cookery

I grew up eating pierogies and they are deep in my Polish soul. I love to eat them but I also really enjoy the way people gather to make them. Spreading flour on a kitchen table, making the dough, preparing filling and

boiling the water in a big pot. Everyone got their hands dirty to create a mythical half-moon shape stuffed with their favorite filling. After a few minutes in boiling water, the pierogies would land on our plates and the feast began. We shared the work together and we also shared stories about our best pierogi recipes. We reminisced about people in our lives and all the moments spent with our family and friends preparing pierogies to celebrate the beauty of life. -Konrad Dwornik, Galiano resident, born in Poland

“It was my favourite food as a child. I grew up being part of the assembly line. There would be at least three generations at the table pinching the pyrohy, cousins, aunties, grandmas, and kids. The matriarchs always bragged about how many they made. You don’t just make a few!” -Beverly Dobrinsky, founder of Zeellia, Slavic Soul and director of Barvinok Ukrainian Choir

“Homemade perogies remind me of my aunt Beverly’s kitchen, her Christmas Eve dinner and her way of bringing Ukrainian music and food together. I’ve always stuffed them too big and I still do. Before dinner, I would pester my aunt to find out how many dozen we had made this year as my mom nudged me to leave my busy, flour-dusted aunt alone. As kids, my brother, cousins and I would compete over who could eat the most. I was so greedy and just wanted to stuff as much as I could into this one magical night of the year. Maybe that’s why I love to make and share perogies now.” -Brahmi Benner, Galiano resident

2019-07-18T17:37:29-07:00January 18th, 2019|Categories: Food Program, Workshops|0 Comments

Solstice in the Dark by Alison Colwell

I was working in the kitchen at the South Hall, with a small group of volunteers, baking the bread for the Solstice dinner when the storm started on Dec 20th. The power went out, and after 30 minutes, we decided to start the generators. A grant to upgrade the Hall’s electrical system had allowed us to get the generators wired in properly, but I’d never used them before. It took a little while. We had to call for help, but we got them going, and (hallelujiah) kitchen lights, stoves and freezers were all working. We’d discovered the gas cans next to the gennies were empty, so one volunteer left to fill them, but the tree that came down at Murchison Cove stopped her getting back to the hall that night.

A few hours later, more trees had come down between the hall and the pub, but the bread was all baked, I abandoned my van and walked home.

By the next morning it was clear the whole island was out of power, and we weren’t getting it back soon. But I also had 5 huge free-range turkeys in my fridge that needed to be cooked. That was the tipping point. Solstice was on. We’d just make it up as we went along. When we set the tables we didn’t know if twenty people would come, or a hundred. Would people stay home? Or would they want to eat a hot meal, and get together with neighbours?

Some volunteers came. Some couldn’t make it. We carried on. During the day a steady stream of people stopped by the hall, looking to charge their phones, looking for information. “If you have Facebook tell people we’re still on. If you see Hydro, tell them to come by for hot food,” I told them. Sandy couldn’t bring the wood for the bonfire, but Orion, Barry, Stephen and Ron decided fair was fair, and we’d burn some of the tree that had taken out our power lines.

At five o’clock Emma opened the doors. We lit the dozens and dozens of tea lights in the hall. And people came. Lots of people came. Like 160 people. Some brought lots of food. Some brought none. It was just perfect.

I was in the kitchen when I heard the clapping, turned to seeing the standing ovation in the hall. “What’s happening?” I asked one of the volunteers watching the potluck table. “A Hydro crew just arrived.” We don’t always have a lot of real heros in our modern world, but that week, we did. At the end of the night we packed up a box of sandwiches to give to the crews who were giving up their holidays to get us back our power. The next day, I was talking to one of the men, and he said: “I’m going to bring my wife here next year. I couldn’t explain what it was like, last night , in that hall. I want to show her this place.”

I hope he comes. (Though maybe with a truck – just in case!)

2019-07-18T17:34:03-07:00December 29th, 2018|Categories: Food Program, Winter Solstice Potluck|0 Comments

Community Magic by Alison Cowell

It’s traditional on the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, to stay awake all night, keeping a bonfire burning, in an effort to call the sun back. We have a bonfire on Solstice too, but our celebration is all about gathering with your friends and neighbours, sharing some wonderful food, watching the kids arriving at the hall in a torchlit parade, chatting around the fire, and enjoying the entertainment of talented locals. The Solstice is all about creating the magic of community.

For me the Community Solstice Dinner begins with a visit to Ireland Farms to pick up the four large organic turkeys that we roast for supper. (I’m always grateful the dinner is potluck, as four turkeys are all I can fit in the ovens at the hall, but those aren’t nearly enough to feed the hundred plus people that arrive for dinner!) I work with groups of volunteers in the kitchen the day before and the day of the dinner, preparing dozens of loaves of bread, gallons of soup and pounds of roast potatoes. (We make gravy in a soup pot!)

It’s the community that creates the wonderful dinner, the magical setting, the awesome bonfire. It’s the magic of a community of people who go beyond all the time. We have chosen to make our homes here on this island in the Salish Sea. We have chosen this community. And together we can create a community that cares, that supports us when we are sick or hungry, and need an extra meal, a community where hundreds of volunteers work at everything from making food, to running a library, fighting fires, tending a garden, recycling our garbage, or helping at the school. It’s a community where you can always find someone to stop at the bank for you, or bring something home from town, or lend a hand when you need your kids looked after for a couple of hours. Every day we make choices about what we can do for others, and we choose to work together, to volunteer together and create together, to dream something better for our island. This is what makes our island such an amazing place to live.

In my opinion, the magic of this season is something that exists all year on Galiano.

This is the 11th year we will celebrate the Solstice by gathering together for a potluck. Contact the Galiano Community Food Program to find out how you can share your enthusiasm, talents and skills for this wonderful community celebration.

2019-07-18T17:29:25-07:00December 18th, 2018|Categories: Food Program, Winter Solstice Potluck|0 Comments
Load More Posts