The Bee Whisperer of Fernwood

John and his demonstration Dadant bee box.

John DeFayette is the bee whisperer. Sharper than a tack, he has the laugh and the vitality of a thirty-year old and for the past eight-years he has been producing and selling the finest honey in all of Greater Victoria at the Moss Street Market. Sadly for the thriving and tightly knit community of  ‘foodies’ on Southern Vancouver Island, John and his wife, have recently gotten out of the beekeeping business; by selling off their bees and beekeeping equipment. The proceeds are being used, to help finance a second retirement and move back to the picturesque Ottawa valley area, so that they can be closer with their children and grandchildren. Luckily I was able to ‘tread’ on over to Fernwood, before they left. I was able to ask Victoria’s most iconic beekeeper about the ins and outs of a diminishing, but vastly important trade.

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Spic and Span without Mr. Clean [Green Cleaning Pt. 2]

If your household cleaners, have given you a cleaning hangover it is high time to stop and consider going green. Conventional cleaning products that marketers pitch to us in flashy commercials featuring bald headed and muscular men are actually causing us to become more ill, more often.

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Off of the Grid

On Route to paradise; Lasqueti is the island in the foreground of the picture.

Lasqueti Island is a modern-day Walden sandwiched safely in between Parksville to the north on nearby Vancouver Island and Texada Island located to the southwest. As far as gulf islands go in British Columbia, this is the most remote of the bunch; accessible only by foot passenger ferry, private plane, boat and or barge, don’t expect to have your daily caramel macchiato during your stay. Besides the local pub and a tiny café located on the north end of the island, which doubles as a convenience store, there aren’t any chain stores located on this island.  For the estimated three hundred and fifty Lasquetian’s who call the island home year round, this arrangement suits most of them just fine. This is especially true, for the few commercial small business owners on the island, who run a monopoly on everything ranging from: beer, to biscuits and even gasoline.

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Green Cleaning Part # 1

It's shocking to see just how many toxic ingredients are lurking within household cleaning products.

As a kid, I can remember dreading weekly cleaning on Sunday afternoons, even reminiscing about it, as an adult, is enough to give me chills.  It wasn’t that I hated scrubbing toilets it was that I couldn’t stand the: sneezing, congestion, throbbing headaches, watery eyes and dryness in the throat that are directly linked to the harsh chemicals that are used in many conventional household cleaning products. Arguably the demographic, at greatest risk of suffering neurological and developmental disorders from chemical exposure, writes environmental advocate Deirdre Imus, are children who are just entering adolescence. Both Autism and ADD/ADHD disorders are now at epidemic levels across North America and there is an increasing body of scientific evidence to suggest that genes aren’t the sole perpetrator for their proliferation. To blame are household cleaners and similar personal care products whose ingredient list will often contain a laundry list of suspected or proven: carcinogens, neurotoxins, immutoxins, tertogens and or endocrine disrupters.

What you should avoid, is any product that claims to have or use these toxic ingredients:

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Building Global Community

When Bob Dylan first sung the lyric, ‘the times they are a changin’ back in 1964 he couldn’t have known, at the time, how great an impact and a legacy that this song would have.  In the 1960s a generation of young men and women  rejected the status quo. This song became a justification and a rallying cry for those who: refused to sit on the back of the bus,  would no longer sit and eat lunch at segregated lunch counters in department stores and for those who would rather flee their country, then to be drafted into a conflict, that would reduce the meaning of a life to that of a pawn piece in a global chess game between two stubborn giants.

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BC Hydro Powersmart

If you have to wear your winter best to dinner, then your home needs better insulation.

Your home is your Castle. It is unfortunate, however that it has to feel this way; no home should be as drafty as a castle in the Scottish Highlands, although most often are. Many of today’s homes are as porous as a slice of Swiss cheese; heat seeps out of your house through inadequately insulated walls and through improperly caulked window frames. So rest assured, if you are reading this post right now, from your home computer you are not the only one wearing five or six layers of clothes. This frustrating reality puts a burden on family finances and also makes us look silly at dinner parties; it is pretty awkward for a host to greet his or her guest at the door, looking like Maggie Simpson in her winter snowsuit. To overcome our home energy woes, Claire Jean, Amy Phipps, Mike Bradley, Allison Julius and Alyssa Mundy from the BC Hydro Powersmart Team were happy to answer some questions about how to take your home from an environmental zero to an environmental hero. Continue reading

Campus Green

When Canada’s environment minister, Peter Kent recently spoke to the media about the importance of ‘ethical oil’ in Northern Alberta, this proved just how hollow the federal governments’ commitment to sustainability actually is.  Those within the governing party on Parliament Hill would be wise to revisit the true meaning of the word sustainability because it has nothing to do with the ethics of oil. Continue reading