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

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

Putting Food By – Alison Colwell

It is one of the sweetest sounds of late summer. The soft, ping, ping as the jars on the counter seal. It is one of the most satisfying sites – rows of translucent, jewel toned jars, filled and ready to be stored. It’s rewarding to see shelves filled with sparkling jars of homemade preserves, made from the freshest fruit, put by for the winter.

As the harvest starts to come in I am always seized by an inescapable urge to save the food, to put it up for the cold months ahead. Perhaps it comes from my grandmother, from a generation that lived through the London blitz and the food shortages that followed the war, or perhaps it’s simply a part or our biological heritage, similar to the squirrels urge to stockpile nuts or geese need to fly south.

I do know that there are few things more satisfying than looking at pantry shelves laden with home canned goods, or knowing that your freezer is full of food to feed you over the winter.

When I first moved to Galiano I lived at the north end of the island, off the grid, and “putting food by” meant canning jams and tomatoes, and drying strings of onions and braids of garlic to hang from the rafters through the winter. Now that I live with power, I also fill my freezers with frozen pies, berries, stews and casseroles. My grandmother taught me to make jam. Some of my earliest memories of my grandmother are standing with her in the kitchen with a pan of jam bubbling on the stove, and cutting out disks of wax paper to seal the tops! In my grandmother’s time, everyone “put food by”; for our generation, and those following us, we need to remember or relearn those skills. Each fall I lead classes in preserving and pickling through the Food Program, as a way to pass on that knowledge and to stop it getting lost.

Making jams and preserves or canning tomatoes is one of the best ways to extend the bounty of the harvest. It’s satisfying to eat something you have made yourself. It will taste better, and cost less than anything you find in a store. And provided you follow some simple techniques, proper hygiene and food safety, careful storage, preserving will be successful and rewarding.

2019-07-18T17:25:43-07:00July 18th, 2018|Categories: Food Program, Workshops|0 Comments

Seaweed Harvesting

Summer is seaweed season in the Pacific Northwest. On Galiano, we are literally surrounded by seaweed. It’s a wild, sustainable, delicious local food source that is both nutritious and delicious. These days it’s enjoying a reputation as a ‘superfood’, but coastal cultures included seaweeds in their traditional diets long before it was trendy.

If you’re interested in harvesting our local seaweeds, you might be wondering how to learn what kind of seaweeds you’re likely to find on our coast, where and when to collect to make sure that your harvesting impact is sustainable, how to preserve it and how to prepare it to eat. While a license is required to harvest seaweed for commercial use, individuals can hand harvest at low tide without a license (though not at Montague as it is against the terms of the park’s foreshore lease).

The Food Program is excited to host a workshop this month that will get you started. Amanda Swinimer operates Dakini Tidal Wilds in Sooke, BC, which sells hand-harvested seaweeds for food and medicinal uses. She holds a BSc in Marine Biology from Dalhousie. Amanda teaches people about seaweeds in schools, colleges and universities, and leads workshops in communities. Amanda is passionate about sustainable harvesting. Her seaweeds are ‘pruned’, leaving the rest of the seaweed to continue growing, and only when seasonally appropriate.

Join us on Sunday, June 10, at 9:00am for a hands-on session at a local beach at low tide, followed by further instruction at the South Hall. Amanda will cover species identification, sustainable harvesting, and incorporating seaweed into your diet.

And finally, in keeping with the theme of gut bacteria, did you know that researchers have found that many Japanese people have a gut microbe that “has acquired a gene from a marine bacterium that allows the Japanese to digest seaweed, something the rest of us can’t do as well” (Michael Pollan, New York Times, 2013)

2018-05-20T11:59:53-07:00May 20th, 2018|Categories: Food Program, Workshops|2 Comments

Food and Culture Panel

At the Food Program, we’ve been paying extra attention to bacteria this year. In November, we hosted Alysha Punnett from the Compost Education Centre, for her workshop on soil bacteria. This month, we are hosting a panel discussion exploring the connection between how we eat and healthy gut bacteria. Did you know that:
• Out of the top 10 causes of death for Canadians, 9 of them have gut microbial links, including strokes and heart attacks;
• Brushing your teeth three times a day reduces dementia and Alzheimer’s;
• Just one course of antibiotics can negatively impact your gut microbiome for up to 1 year, but that you can also help replenish your gut bacteria through diet and probiotics;
• Fermented foods are part of traditional food cultures from all four corners of the globe?
Join us for this live event at 2:00 on Sunday April 21, and learn all about what you can do to encourage a balanced microbiome that supports living and aging well. Our panel, moderated by Nancy McPhee, will be made up of three Galiano personalities who each bring a unique perspective to this discussion

Dr. Erin Carlson, Galiano’s GP

Manisha Decosas wrote her PhD thesis on the negative impacts of the Green Revolution on crop diversity, soil, water, and seed security in India. She studied grass roots food sovereignty efforts and how they can transform both farming and policy. Her research also includes work on the many values of traditional food cultures, both nutritionally and socially. Manisha has lived on Galiano since 2010 where she has taught yoga and commutes to teach Women’s Studies at Langara College.

Dr. Brett Finlay is a professor of microbiology at UBC, and author of the book Let Them Eat Dirt, which explains how an imbalance in the microbes in children’s growing bodies can lead to chronic health conditions. His work also includes the effects of bacteria on aging. He spends quite a bit of time on Galiano and is known locally for his love of trails and jazz music.

Just before the event, join us for tasting plates of gut- friendly foods prepared by Cedana Bourne (Galiano Conservancy Association), Jesse McCleery (Pilgrimme) & Martine Paulin (SANTE Functional Nutrition).

2018-04-26T04:16:53-07:00April 26th, 2018|Categories: Food Program, Workshops|0 Comments

Propagation Workshop with Manon Tremblay

RESCHEDULED to MARCH 25 9:00am-3:00pm

This workshop looks at different techniques to help you grow the plants you always wanted without having to buy them! We will learn about hardwood and softwood cuttings, layering, air layering, division, grafting, as well as looking at different seeding techniques to ensure germination. Morning at South Hall, afternoon at Community Greenhouse. Car-pooling will be organized. Please bring a bagged lunch. Sliding scale $25-$35. Registration is required – just email

More details below:

Perhaps you have seen the videos on Facebook teaching you how to “magically regrow” vegetables from your table scraps, such as celery or onions from discarded ends. While that is definitely one use for propagation techniques, there are other benefits too, such as growing plants that are hard to find in a nursery (but spotted in your neighbour’s plot), growing cuttings to give away as gifts, or saving the cost of buying seeds or nursery starts when you’re expanding your garden.

Plant propagation is “the process of creating new plants from a variety of sources: seeds, cuttings, bulbs and other plant parts.” (Thanks Wikipedia.) It’s surprisingly simple, as well as sustainable and cheap. And it reduces your dependence on multinational seed producers, while building community too.

We are very happy to host Manon Tremblay for a Propagation workshop in March. This workshop looks at different techniques to help you grow the plants you always wanted without having to buy them! We will learn about hardwood and softwood cuttings, layering, air layering, division, grafting, as well as looking at different seeding techniques to ensure germination.

Last year we were hosted Manon for a pruning workshop that was very well-received. Here’s just some of the enthusiastic feedback we got: “One of the best workshops I have attended” … “Manon was full of information, I would sign up for any workshop that she was leading. She was fantastic with questions, explained things really well, was completely approachable” … “Yes, I had attended other pruning workshops in the past, but Manon was so knowledgeable and presented her material so clearly, that I walked out feeling much more confident, and really understanding the rationale behind the pruning. I am grateful that you brought in such an outstanding teacher.”

Manon is a Horticulturist and Environmental Educator passionate about edible plants and organic gardening. She has been working as a Landscaper and Landscape Designer for the past 15 years and loves to share her experience and interests with enthusiastic gardeners.

2018-06-20T17:10:25-07:00March 20th, 2017|Categories: Food Program, Workshops|0 Comments

Bees and Seeds Day: Saturday – January 28th, 10am-1pm

Beginning at 10am at the South Hall, the Seed Library of Galiano will have its inventory on hand for those interested in browsing and borrowing seeds for the upcoming growing season. Yes, the time for spring starts is just around the corner! There will also be some seeds available for free, and those who wish to swap seeds with others are welcome to bring them along for a mini Seedy Day. Please contact Colleen with any questions.

2018-06-20T16:59:11-07:00January 20th, 2017|Categories: Food Program, Workshops|0 Comments

Beekeeping Workshop

Beekeeping Workshops: January 28th – 1pm

Mark your calendars for Saturday, January 28th, as popular and inspiring Vancouver Island Apiary inspector David MacDonald returns to Galiano to share his knowledge. A Beginner’s Tutorial will be from 1-3pm, followed by a more Advanced Class from 3:30-5:30pm at the South Hall, but all levels of knowledge/experience are welcome. If you are interested in participating please RSVP Colleen at or 250-539-2737. All are welcome. $10-15 per workshop, sliding scale, or, $20 for two classes.

2018-06-20T16:58:02-07:00January 20th, 2017|Categories: Food Program, Workshops|0 Comments

Growing Citrus & Subtropicals

Saturday, January 21 1:00-3:00 at the South Hall. Please RSVP to register. $15-$25 sliding scale.

Did you know that you can grow citrus on Galiano, without a greenhouse or any special equipment? Our increasingly mild winters mean that the list of Mediterranean plants that can survive our winters is growing.

Bob and Verna Duncan have dedicated the last twenty years to pushing the envelope on what we can grow in our region. They own a nursery and demonstration orchard in North Saanich, where they grow over 400 varieties of fruit trees, including citrus, olives, avocadoes, figs, olives, and pomegranates. They’re experimenting with exactly which conditions these plants need to thrive, and they travel to the colder regions of Israel, Turkey and Greece to learn what local farmers there are doing. They have brought back hardy varieties and cultivated them here, so they have plant varietals that are most likely to succeed in our conditions. Bob trained as a botanist and entomologist and worked with the Canadian Forest Service.

But it’s the citrus that gets me really excited. Available from their nursery are Meyer lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruit, variegated Pink Lemons, yuzu, kumquats, and sudachi. While some of these do need a greenhouse, the lemons, limes and sour oranges are hardy enough to survive our winters along the south wall of a building with a bit of floating row cover to trap the heat and a string of Christmas lights on the coldest days. The yuzu, a fragrant Japanese lemon, is especially cold-hardy. And citrus ripens through the winter, when fresh, ultra-local, pesticide-free fruit at the peak of ripeness is a real treat.

The Food Program is hosting Bob and Verna for a presentation in January – join us to learn all about cultural requirements and variety selection for success in growing citrus & sub-tropical fruit trees (such as avocado, pineapple guava/feijoa, pomegranates, and loquats) in South Coastal BC.

And next time you are in Victoria visit, visit Fruit Trees and More, just a 5-minute drive from Swartz Bay, and see what Bob and Verna have done on a third-acre suburban lot. It really has to be seen to be believed. See for more info.

2018-06-20T16:57:12-07:00December 20th, 2016|Categories: Food Program, Workshops|0 Comments
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