Wednesday, August 14, 2024

Welcome to Victory Gardens for Diversity

Victory Gardens for Diversity: recipes for community-based ecological engagement is an artist residency project at Terra Nova Park. Our team includes lead artist, Lori Weidenhammer, Lois Klassen, Crystal Lee, Jenn Pearson, Catherine Shapiro, and Lori Snyder. Looking forward to inviting you to participate in gardening, bioblitzing, cooking, stitching, dyeing, making paper and creating with us in 2020!

UPDATE: Our events have moved online! Please check out the blog posts below!

This year-long artist project is inspired by the historical WWII Victory Gardens movement and popular slogans such as: ‘grow your own, can your own’, ‘grow vitamins at your kitchen door’, ‘make-do and mend’, and ‘use it up, wear it out, make it do’. Our artist team will present a diversity of public engagement events including nature walks, citizen science activities, drama and rainbow arts with children from the Nature School, textile-based artist workshops and the creation of biodiversity banners, incorporating printing, embroidery, drawing, cyanotypes and the production of natural dyes and pigments. There will also be tea parties, bioblitzes and picnics with artist-led workshops including hands-on planting, seed-saving, salve-making, tincture-making and cooking activities.

Red Barn Fun Days: Join members of the Victory Gardens for Diversity Creative Team for an exploration of nature and art at Terra Nova! We’ll meet at the Red Barn and then head out on a guided Nature Walk. There will also be seasonal tea and crafts set up at the red barn. Free event! Everyone welcome.

What is a biolblitz?: A community science exercise where we observe and document living species: plants, bees, birds, and more!

Key Dates: Watch for details as we get closer to these dates!

SORRY, these events have been cancelled. Please stay tuned for updates.

May 3, 1-3 pm: Sunday Red Barn Fun Day

May 17: Victoria Day Weekend: Demo Beds Sunday Get it in the Ground Planting Day! (registration  required)

May 31, 1-3 pm: Sunday Open House Victoria Gardenpalooza Fun Day

June 7, 11-3 pm: Sunday Red Barn Fun Day: MEGA BIOBLITZ!

June 14: Red Barn Garden Beds Work Party (registration required)

August 2, 1-3 pm: Sunday Red Barn Fun Day

Aug 16:  Richmond Garlic Festival

Sept 6, 1-3 pm: Sunday Red Barn Fun Day

Sept 27, 1-3 pm: Sunday Culture Days Project Finale Fun Day

Oct 4, 1-3 pm Sunday Red Barn Fun Day

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Mapping the Garden Beds

Big shout-out to my friend Thanu for helping do some gardening on World Bee Day! Looking forward to hosting her on our new virtual garden series called The Gardens of our Lives. Stay tuned for details!

In order to help our volunteers weed our plots, we are mapping out what is planted in each bed. Many of our butterfly garden plants given to us by the David Suzuki Foundation are in the first plot. This is the first bed, with kinnikinnik (left) and oceanspray (right) on the west end by the blueberries. We'll talk more about these plants over the next part of our residency, but for now we just need to get them in the ground and water them well to help them get established. We're also dealing with some very vigorous weeds, particularly horsetail and bindweed.

In the same bed, we have two asters on the north side, a wild strawberry (lower left) and sea thrift with the pink flowers (lower right). If we keep the weeds away from those strawberries the runners that they are setting out will be able to take hold in the soil and spread as a lovely ground cover.

In Bed 2 we've got goldenrod from the David Suzuki Foundation on the left (southeast side) and marigolds (top right) and calendula (bottom right). The marigold flowers will be used in handmade paper and the calendula flowers will be used to make salves.

Further West on Bed 2 we've got more marigolds on the bottom left (south side), a kenikir plant in the centre and more calendula on the right. The kenikir has orange flowers which will be used to dye paper and cloth.

Bed three has nodding onion and camas. The camas are very delicate and just past their season, so the green parts have died back and will remain as tiny bulbs under the ground. We'll have to be very careful with that bed.


Beds three and four have a mishmash of plants! We've cleaned them up and top-dressed them.  There's kale and mustard. There's more marigold and calendula planted around the edges of beds.

 We've planted some ground cherries, that will be used in our cooking workshops.  One of those plants is not like the others. Can you find it? There's a dragonhead plant in there!

Bed five has a row of lettuce in it and we planted more dragonhead and ground cherries beside it. There's a cilantro plant in there between the two ground cherry plants.
So here we've got kenikir (top left), ground cherry (top right), dragonhead (bottom left) and lupins (bottom right).

Bed five has nasturtiums growing at the west end, then dragonhead, which is a tea plant in the mint family and ground cherries.

The east side of bed five has mustard greens (the big brown leaves) and lettuce growing in it. I'm waiting until the lettuce gets a bit bigger to weed out the other stuff.

Bed six had things planted in it already--those bulbs, which are maybe gladiolas--we're not sure and potatoes. The red flowers are crimson clover which is a great cover crop that bees love. We also planted other cover crops for the bees, including Phacelia tanacetifolia, which is growing west of the bulbs. This garden does NOT need much weeding because it would be tricky to separate the weeds from the cover crop--apart from the obvious weeds like horsetail and bindweed.

We also planted some Hopi dye sunflowers in bed six which will be used to dye cloth.

The larger plants on the left are the sunflowers.

So this is all a work in progress as you can see and we are super grateful for our volunteer Barry who is helping us out during these extraordinary times!


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

You're Invited to an Online Discussion of Gardens Past, Present, and Future

Four gardeners from the Victory Gardens for Diversity artist residency at Terra Nova Rural Park talk about the intimate ways gardens have shaped their lives. Lori Snyder, Catherine Shapiro, Lois Klassen and Lori Weidenhammer will talk about gardens in their past that have inspired them, how their present gardens are being informed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and describe what their dreams are for gardens of the future.
Bios Here:
Lori Weidenhammer is a Vancouver performance-based interdisciplinary artist and educator. She is originally from a tiny hamlet called Cactus Lake, Saskatchewan. It is in this place, bordered by wheat fields and wild prairie, that she first became enchanted with bees. Her mother’s garden, with its sunflower forest was a special source of inspiration for the work she does today.
 She is the author of a book called Victory Gardens for Bees: A DIY Guide to Saving the Bees published by Douglas and MacIntyre. For the past several years she has been appearing as the persona Madame Beespeaker, practising the tradition of “telling the bees”. As a food security volunteer and activist Lori works with students of all ages on eating locally and gardening for pollinators. She has worked with several models of community gardens in the Lower Mainland as a consultant, advocate and educator.
On occasion, she likes to dress up in silly costumes and talk to bees.
Lori is originally from Treaty 4 Territory in Saskatchewan the original lands of the Cree, Ojibwe, Saulteaux Dakota, Nakota, Lakota, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation and feels gratitude to be able to live and work in unceded territory of the Coast Salish nations.

Lois Klassen is an artist, writer and researcher based in Vancouver, Canada. Known for long-range projects that invite and engage participants in collective actions, her projects address social and political concerns – deliberately facing ethical demand with social, aesthetic and material methods. Klassen's artworks have been hosted by Dunlop Gallery, Santa Fe Art Institute, The Glenbow Museum, The Western Front, HubM3 (University of Salford), Banff New Media Institute, and more. Lois Klassen is a 2020 Fulbright Scholar (Center for Inter-American Border Studies and the Ruben Center for the Visual Arts, University of Texas El Paso). Her PhD dissertation (Cultural Studies, Queen's University, 2018) focused on ethics and participation in art. She earned a Master of Applied Art at Emily Carr University of Art + Design (Vancouver, Canada) in 2011, and a Diploma of Art History from University of British Columbia (Vancouver) in 2008.

As a settler artist working and living on traditional and unceded Coast Salish territory of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, I am humbled by the long and difficult journey for justice for Indigenous peoples. I am committed to respectfully joining in alliance on this journey by learning, witnessing and taking action.

Catherine Shapiro went to the San Francisco Art Institute for a couple of years in the late 1960’s and immigrated to Canada in 1970. Settling in the Caribou with her husband, they set up a printmaking studio and Catherine started gardening. Moving to Vancouver in 1974 she continued making multimedia work that expressed her growing knowledge about plants focusing on women’s contributions to the development of horticulture. In the 1980’s Catherine began making environmental works from plant materials that she foraged or grew including nettle, hemp, cedar, wisteria, artichoke, mallow, flax and bamboo. These interests have continued to inform her work and have given her the opportunity in the last few years to mentor a young artist in growing and processing indigo as well as to be artist in residence at MOP garden to continue this project.  Working with indigo has lead her to making a wide variety of paints from botanicals sources which she has been using recently on a new series of cast paper sculptures and paintings.

Lori Snyder is an indigenous herbalist and educator, with a deep knowledge of edible and medicinal plants. A descendant from the T’suu tina (Sarcee), Nakota (Assiniboine), Cree, Nipissing, and Anishnaabe (Ojibwe) people; with a Metis blend of First Nations people with Scottish, French, and Celtic ancestry. Born and raised in Squamish, Lori spent her childhood playing in the forest. From a young age, she has been learning about plants and later studied herbalism, aromatherapy and permaculture. Lori spent her childhood in the forest and helping her father in their back yard garden growing vegetables, fruits and berries which the community raccoons would like to visit!

This days Lori has been consulting on garden design and care takes the Medicine Wheel garden, showcasing native, wild, foods and pollinator plants at Moberly Arts' And Cultural Centre.
Since 2013, Lori has been bringing forth her First Nations perspective of wild, edible, and medicinal plants to help people reconnect to the wisdom of Mother Earth.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Zucchini Umami Recipe

I love having homemade condiments that you can grab out of the fridge and put on top of your main dish or side dish. They’re those things that elevate a meal just that extra bit, personalizing it to your taste. Sometimes these extras are not just about flavor, but also nutrition. Enter “zucchini-umami”, a ground nut and seed mix that adds some zipidity doo dah to your meals. It’s got walnuts, sesame seeds and salt, but it’s not quite Japanese gomashio or Egyptian dukkah. It’s just something I whipped together from the ingredients in my kitchen.

Note: It’s very important all these ingredients are fresh.

¼ c lightly toasted walnuts
1/8 c toasted sesame seeds
3 tbsp ground flax
2 tbs black sesame seeds
3 tbs kale chips
salt if needed, to taste

Put the kale chips and walnuts in a blender and blitz just until ground. Spoon into a medium sized bowl with the other ingredients and mix until evenly combined. Add salt to taste. You could make several versions of this with different spices and then have a little tray of condiments for your table to satisfy every picky eater in the family.  Today I sprinkled it over the egg salad I made which I ate with potato flatbread, aka lefse. I also added some radicchio thinnings for a bit of green garnish.

It’s best if this is stored in a jar in the fridge to keep the oily ingredients fresh. Why zucchini umami? Well, as my oldest friends know, my first performance persona was called “Zucchini Mama”, so it’s a play on that. You could put it on a zucchini dish or anything your like!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

You're Invited!!!

We hope you can join us virtually on May 19 at 7pm. Four gardeners from the Victory Gardens for Diversity artist residency at Terra Nova Rural Park talk about the intimate ways gardens have shaped their lives. Lori Snyder, Catherine Shapiro, Lois Klassen and Lori Weidenhammer will talk about gardens in their past that have inspired them, how their present gardens are being informed by the COVID-19 pandemic and share their dreams for gardens of the future. To register, email .

Garden Update!

Such a beautiful day to do some socially distanced gardening at Terra Nova! Lots of chive buds just waiting to pop open and welcome the bees into their fragrant florets.

We arrived to see the kale and blueberry flowers blooming their hearts out. No bees in the blubes, but the kale flowers were humming with honeybees from the nearby hives.

And we found the horsetail has proliferated in the gardens. Le sigh. Lots of work to do.

We've left the beds with the vetch cover crop as bee food. They'll make the soil nitrogen rich for planting winter vegetables in the fall.

So lovely to see this cover crop (crimson clover) already in bloom. It's lovely mixed with Phacelia tanacetifolia.

Jenn and I got to work weeding out the morning glory and horsetail. That bindweed has roots that travel quickly and break easily. Leaving any part of root in the ground means it will just regenerate. A losing battle, really. The beds need to be raised to a higher level to deal with this problem.

We planted peas marigolds, calendula, and some radicchio.

Luckily, we have a wonderful volunteer "Mr. B" who is weeding and watering the garden. Thanks so much for the Nature School at Terra Nova for "lending" him to us! I gave him some homemade scones as a gift and he said he'd been baking too. He makes orange cranberry muffins, but has run out of cranberries. Kate, from the Nature School went home and got some out of her freezer for him. They did a safe exchange using that nice big basket.  Love these gestures of kindness!  We must get Barrie's recipe!

 We also added our David Suzuki Butterfly plants including kinnikinnik, goldenrod, sea thrift, camas and more! So exciting to finally get them in the ground. Once established, they should be able to compete with those troublesome weeds.

Jenn and I went for a stroll and lo and behold we saw a California tortoiseshell butterfly!!!!!

There were lots of hawks and crows chasing each other and songbirds galore, including this bring yellow sweetie!

Willows are going to seed. That fluff is perfect for nesting birds!

 These willow catkins are amazing!

It's so wonderful to see the trees and the shrubs leafing out. These willow leaves are soft and silvery.

And these silver cinquefoil leaves reflect the light beautifully.

Elderberry and crab apples are in full bloom.

May is such a lovely time to garden. Even if it's putting a few seeds in a yogurt pot on your windowsill, I hope you can grow something to witness the thrill of watching it transform and bring forth the miracle of life.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Bees to Meet You!

There are a few species of bees you may see in the Lower Mainland right now. I'm posting some photos of my recent sightings. Can you find these bees?

 This beautiful shaggy bumblebee is Bombus mixtus. The red on its thorax is at the very tip, which helps to identify its species.

This is the yellow-headed bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii), the most common bumble you'll see in the Lower Mainland. When you are taking photos of bees see if you can get a photo of their face, back, and side, especially that back leg. This will help to determine if the back leg has pollen baskets, which would make it a female bee.

 This one is  Bombus flavidus. See how long and narrow her "chin" is? She also has orange on her abdomen. At this time of the year you'll see queens and some workers, but usually not any males yet.

This is a female blue orchard mason bee. Most of the males have mated and departed, but these ladies are pollinating the cherry trees and will soon be ensuring a good crop of apples in our city fruit trees.

These blue orchard bees have hair bellies to carry their pollen, but as you can see, they do also carry a bit of pollen on their butt!

This beautiful golden bee is an Andrena mining bee.

Here's another species of Andrena, much darker and a bit larger than a honey bee.

After the females emerge and mate and start laying eggs in their nests, you will start to see cuckoo bees trying to sneak in the holes to go down the tunnel and lay their eggs. This happens at the hottest time of the day when the females leave the nest to forage for pollen.

This is a Sphecodes cuckoo bee with a blood red abdomen.You'll see her skulking around the nests of true bees.

This is a Nomada cuckoo bee, which even has red eyes.

There are also insects that mimic bees: the wannabees.

This is a hoverfly, flower fly syrphid fly that drinks nectar and it's larvae eat aphids.

This furry critter is a bee fly (Bombiliidae). Their larvae prey on bees, wasps and beetles.

These are a few of the bees and wannabees you might see in the Lower Mainland during Earth Week. If you take a photo, crop it in to show as much detail of the insect as you can and then post it to iNaturalist sharing details about what the insect was doing and whether it was on a particular plant.  If the insect can be identified by an expert, it may be a useful scientific observation. These kinds of observations can help us build better habitat for our pollinators and other garden helpers.