>> Stephanie Enevoldsen

Did you know that the City of Victoria is now supporting Community Garden Coordinators? Funding has been received by various community organizations that have contracted different individuals to coordinate volunteer efforts at the public food forests around town. Spring Ridge Common (SRC) is one of such lucky sites, and in November the Fernwood NRG put out a request for proposals to fulfill such a position.

My name is Stephanie Enevoldsen, and after submitting a proposal to join the stewardship team for SRC, I was invited to begin this unique venture. My background involves a career in Natural Building that I started in 2001, Urban Permaculture and Placemaking in Portland and Victoria since 2005, four years’ experience in the health food industry, and most recently a two-year internship and Permaculture Design Certification at the Bullock’s 36 year old homestead on Orcas Island in Washington.

SRC was just a small food forest when I first moved to Victoria in 2004. It has grown so much, with many people using the space for a variety of agrarian purposes. In the interests of sustaining committed stewardship, organizing work parties, and raising funds to further some really cool projects, different educational opportunities are in the works, such as:

Fernwood Food Security Educational Site Tours

Are you curious to find out what community-scale ecological design systems are going on? Are you interested in learning more about the medicinal and edible plants growing in Fernwood? Support local food security initiatives in Fernwood by signing up for an Educational Site Tour!

This two hour tour will include a plant walk of the many edible and medicinal perennials at Spring Ridge Common, the Fernwood Community Center Gardens, and the Fernwood Community Orchard. Learn how permaculture systems are being applied in this community to enhance, diversify, and increase food resiliency. Sliding scale suggested donation is $10-30 per person. To book a tour, or be on our email list for Events and Work Parties, send a message to foodsecurity@fernwoodnrg.ca.

On Saturday, May 28th, Joshua Wagler will be leading a larger tour of Permaculture in Fernwood, including private gardens and businesses. Watch out for more details!

If you have an interest in co-teaching workshops, courses, or have seeds and/or edible or medicinal plants that you would like to sell, please email Stephanie at foodsecurity@fernwoodnrg.ca to collaborate and support local agrarian initiatives!


Commons Corner: What can I use Willow for?

Salix_alba_leavesThere are quite a few amazing plants and trees growing at Spring Ridge Common (SRC). Willow is an excellent species to include in a food forest, and this article will indicate just some of the reasons why.

Botanically, Willows are in the family called Salicaceae, which includes other trees such as poplars. White Willow is known as Salix alba, and one of its forms is Golden Willow, or Salix alba ‘Vitellina’. At SRC, the primary variety growing is called ‘Navajo Gold’. It has narrow, bright green leaves that turn golden in fall, and new branches that have bright yellow bark.

Coppicing of the fast-growing willow is the intent at SRC, because if we don’t continually cut it back, it is a weak-wooded, short-lived plant that can grow upright to 75-100 ft. tall and 50-100 ft. wide! Pruning hard will allow for harvesting new branches within reach, useful for basketry and so much more.

Traditionally, First Nations People used shredded willow bark for skirts, capes and footwear. Nets were made from willow fibre, pounded and prepared until soft and pliable, then twisted and spun into fine twine cordage. In plant propagation, willow bark tea is used for its natural plant growth hormones which can be used for rooting the new cuttings of other plants.

Two substances are found in the bark of any Salix species: Salicylic acid (SA) and Indolebutyric acid (IBA). Salicylic acid (SA) is a plant hormone which is involved in signalling a plant’s defences. Indolebutyric acid (IBA) is a plant hormone that stimulates root growth. Both are present in high concentrations in the growing tips of willow branches. By using the actively growing parts of new willow branches, cutting them, and soaking them in water, you can get significant quantities of SA and IBA to leach out into the water.

The more cut willow branches that are used and the longer they are soaked in water, the stronger will be the resulting willow tea water. As you are preparing your propagation cuttings from other plants, have the bottom end where you want roots to grow out of soak for several hours in the willow infusion. Watering your cuttings twice with willow water should be enough to help them root.

There is lots of information online and if you would like to get hands on experience in coppicing, harvesting, and making willow infused water, please come to a Work Party at SRC, or book an Educational Site Tour. Sign up at foodsecurity@fernwoodnrg.ca.