The Dawn Patrol

First report from the dawn patrol: Excited? Of course. Tickets? Buying them at EMCS registration @ 9:30. Bike safety check done? Three months ago, must recheck tire pressure and brakes. Weather report? Sunny all day with a high of 16, utterly perfect biking weather. Today’s rewards? Plenty, including fresh air, a community of like-minded folks dedicated to the transition, thought-provoking dialogue, lively entertainment, backroads discoveries and all kinds of treats, including  a fresh-pressed mug of apple cider at Sunriver.

Cheers all, another day in paradise awaits.

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Fundraising Raffle @ the Collective Transition

Yes, of course we’re doing a fundraising raffle – no community event is complete without it!

The most time-sensitive of the offerings is a pair of hotly-demanded tickets to Sunday’s harvest feast at Sunriver Community Garden. These will be up for grabs by silent auction at Edward Milne Community School.

Among the raffle items offered to those who purchase a bargain three tickets for $5 …

Lunch for four and/or dessert by the fireplace at the Sooke Harbour House (merci to Frederique & Sinclair) 

Chicken tractor from Erik Bjornsen @ Natural Landscape Solutions
Class passes from Ahimsa Yoga and Fitness Studio courtesy Paula Kelene
Weekend for two at Serenity by the Sea B&B (Galiano Island)
* Gift certificate from Stick in the Mud coffeeshop (hat tip to Dave Evans) 
* Reflexology Treatment with Lee Hindrichs RN RCRT (Life Force Pathways)
Hearty thanks to all our contributors! Fund are earmarked for the community – notably the Sooke Bike Skills Park.

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Super Sustainable Sunday in Sooke

SSSS: Super Sustainable Sunday in Sooke

What’s happening at the Collective Transition Sustainability Expo & Marketplace @ EMCS,  you ask?
Let us count the ways, beginning with a Sustainabilty Expo featuring demos on solar energy, backyard chickens, foraging, splitting cedar, natural fermentation, container gardening and more. A handful of e-bikes will be available for exciting test rides in the parking lot. A fleet of electric cars will be arriving at 11 a.m. courtesy the Victoria Leaf Club. Awareness Film Night’s Jo Phillips will be running a mini-film festival of Transition Town-friendly films in the auditorium. And there will be a mini Transition Town village set up on the school’s grounds spreading out to the football field. Check out our list of exhibitors and marketplace vendors here.
We’ve also lined up a full day of bonus entertainment and activities at the Collective Transition @ EMCS. Highlights: The lively folk/roots band Gals I Like will be playing during the noon hour, a quartet from the Sooke Philharmonic is set for 1:45 and the bluesy, torch song stylings of Marian Scholes backed by Thom Southwood and Eugene Neptune follow at 2:30. Yoga and fitness teachers Leslie Rose, Tatiyana Evans and Alanda Carver will offer free warm-ups and classes. And there will be demos from the Sooke chapter of the Taoist Tai Chi Society of Canada and the Sooke Moon Community Wellness Society’s Sifu Moonfist. All of them generously giving their time and talents to the day. Sincere thanks to all!
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The Fine Print

Ticket Options & Drop In Policy @ 2012 Sooke Slow Food Cycle

1. Purchase full cycle tickets ($21 individuals/$42 families) either online or at registration on Sunday at Edward Milne Community School. Registration is open all day starting at 9 a.m.

2. You can also purchase a limited number of tickets at each of our stops along the cycling route. You’ll be asked to sign a waiver and will receive a ticket/map and proof of purchase button – a very cool one featuring our snail-on-a-bike – and then will have access to every location on the route map.

3. Ticket holders only will be allowed at Ella Beach, InishOge Farm and the Sooke Classical Boating Society.

4. We’re asking for a $5 donation per visit from anyone without a ticket who wishes to drop-in to any of our private homes along the route: namely AJ’s Garden, Deb Wood’s home on Maple Ave., Wendy Salhstrom’s home high atop Stone Ridge Estates and Edith Newman’s oceanfront garden on Kaltasin Road.

5. Everyone is welcome at all our public spaces and independent businesses involved in this year’s event: Sunriver Community Garden, Charters River Salmon Centre (open ’til 12:30), Sooke Region Museum, Sooke Harbour House, Double D Garden Centre and Little Vienna Bakery.

6. The Collective Transition Sustainability Expo & Marketplace at EMCS is open by donation (suggested: $5) or free if needs be, no one will be turned away.


Whew, is that all clear now? Bottom line: SSFC 2012 is an amazing deal no matter how you slice it. Be here! It’s going to be a splendid day all over town.

PS All monies raised will first go towards covering the expenses of this volunteer-run, non-profit event. $1 per cycle ticket sold is earmarked for Sooke Food CHI’s Seedy Saturday heritage seed-saving program. Surplus funds will be distributed in the community, notably to the Sooke Bike Skills Park.

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Grazing in style at the 2012 Sooke Slow Food Cycle

The 200 tickets available for the harvest feast at Sunriver Community Garden tomorrow night sold out in a hurry last week. There’s no reason to starve in Sooke tomorrow, however.

Purchase a ticket for the cycle tour and graze in style along the route. Edith Newman will be serving tea and homemade cookies at the Blue Raven Gallery. Follow it with morning coffee at Charters River Salmon Interpretive Cenre. The Sooke Region Museum is serving pioneer-style biscuits hot from its stone oven. Pizza and fresh-pressed apple cider is available during the day at Sunriver. Steve and Mary at InishOge Farm are firing up their cob oven for a unique seasonal treat – plum and peach pizza (a favorite of their two children). The tour’s foodie highlight is at Ella Beach, where Dante Chicano will be roasting salmon and serving pickled kelp and wild herbal teas.  On the ride back to EMCS, stop in at the Little Vienna Bakery for samples of its organic bread.

All of the above are perks of your $21 per person/$42 families event pass.

Cyclists and those attending the Collective Transition @ EMCS can also enjoy their share of good eats.  Among the fresh, sustainable fare on offer: Ragley Farm’s homemade soups and muffins, kelp from Dakini Tidal Wilds, samples of Moonstruck cheese, raw milk from the herd at Bella Terra Farm, baked goods, tons of fresh produce from regional farms + (my favorite, I confess) Sheila Wallace’s Tsunami Bars, awesome slabs of honied granola goodness.

Special SSFC locally sourced menus are available at some of our restaurants too this weekend. The Stone Pipe Landing has for a second year extended itself to create a 100 km menu: Saanich turkey and chicken entrees, wild blackberry cobbler and Van Isle wine list included. Little Vienna is having a rare Sunday opening from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Local fare is also on tap at the Prestige Hotel’s Mix at Ric’s lounge. And it almost goes without saying, but never forget the Sooke Harbour House, lauded far and wide as a Slow Food mecca and a magnificent spot for lunch or dinner.

Bon appetite! And don’t forget there’s plenty of roadside blackberries ripe for the picking …


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Stops #1-5: A Loop Route for the Less-is-More Crowd

There are all sorts of ways to navigate our cycle route this year, all conditional on each rider’s interests, energy levels and whether they want to tackle it all or proceed at a more relaxed pace with a selective strategy.

Our most relaxing, low key loop incorporates the 2012 map’s first five stops, encompassing about 12 km of riding in total and all within an easy pedal of our start/finish line at Edward Milne Community School. Combining these locations with the exciting buzz of activity at the school will add up to a pleasantly full and stimulating day by many measures.

After leaving EMCS, head east for about 1km, turn right onto Kaltasin Rd. at the Sassenos Elementary and follow our trademark white snail road markings to the whimsical oceanfront Blue Raven Gallery. The food and flower gardens here have been established and artfully decorated with recycled finds by homeowner Edith Newman with help from gardner Marlene Barry. Add plenty of elbow grease and imagination, and the result is a truly lovely refuge sited perfectly by the sea. Details count here, including a twig fence, compost system, inspiring touches, a carved portico (pictured here) and other elements that are functional, eye-catching and rooted in the natural environment.

A little further down the road at 2019 Kaltasin, folks who have pre-booked harbour tours at EMCS registration can park their bikes and enjoy a paddle out to sea in replicas of 18th century Spanish longboats with the Sooke Classical Boat Society. Limited to participants aged 14 or older. Learn more in our previous blog entry.

Once back on dry land, return to EMCS and pedal another 3.9 km to the Charters Rivers Salmon Interpretive Centre (via Sooke River Road and short detours on Kirby and Dixon Streets to the Galloping Goose trail). A tranquil forested ride over a trestle bridge leads to a staging area manned by two of our volunteers. Leave your bikes here and stroll down a winding trail to the centre.  Visit the salt water aquarium to meet the hatchery smolts, then enter the impressive centre itself to learn about fish habitats and the building of Sooke’s fresh water flowline, constructed in 1911-15. Without the flowline’s liquid gold, local food production would not only be slow, it would be effectively impossible (rainwater collection systems aside). Please note: This stop is open until 12:30 p.m. only.  

Retracing your path back to to the West Coast Road, hang a right and cross the bridge en route to the nearby Sooke Region Museum. Here executive director Lee Boyko and Sooke council member Maja Tait will be serving pioneer-style biscuits from a stone oven built by those same flowline workers a century ago. While you’re here, step into the museum (admission’s free) to view local archival treasures, displays and colorful exhibits focusing on the T’Sou-ke First Nation, early pioneer life and Sooke’s 20th century history as a fishing, logging and farming centre.

The final stop on this gentle ride is Sooke’s celebrated community green space, the Sunriver Community Garden. With many of its members dedicated to the evening’s harvest feast (now sold out), riders will be able to pick up a handout and conduct self-guided walkarounds. Volunteers will be on hand at stations dotted around the garden to chat about the garden’s alotment plots, compost station, orchard and more. While there, enjoy a slice of pizza from the cob oven.

From here, head back to the EMCS Collective Transition and marvel at the range of possibilities ahead of us as the values and practices of the Transition Town movement slowly but surely take hold in many of our lives at a grassroots level.

Voila and presto: A full and happy day trip on two wheels for individuals and family groups.

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Aaarrrrrsome paddle back into history

International Talk Like a Pirate Day was celebrated yesterday. Yet cycling seadogs with a yen for adventure can keep the scurvy vibes alive on Sunday in historically accurate style thanks to the Sooke Classical Boating Society.

Get to EMCS registration promptly at 9 a.m. for your best chance to reserve an oar on limited-seating harbour tours departing from the society’s Kaltasin Road dock (stop #2 on our tour). You’ll be asked to pull your weight with 10-person crews aboard tri-sail, open hull, red cedar longboats. The T’Sou-ke and the Dona Rosa were built in Sooke in 1991 by the society’s volunteers and modelled on the sturdy vessels used by Spanish explorer Manual Quimper when he landed here in 1790.   

Experienced guides will lead the expeditions, hoist the sails if the winds are cooperative and offer loads of colour commentary. Eagles often hover overhead and seals happily trail the boats as they hug the shoreline and head out to deeper waters.

The society will offer four outings in all – two at 11 a.m. and two more at 12:30. Eight of our ticket-holders will be welcomed aboard each sailing. Passengers must be aged 14 or older. The Sooke Slow Food Cycle will be covering liability fees usually levied by the society.

In brief: An arrrrsome experience awaits.

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The Greenest Thumbs

“One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people’s yards.”― Thalassa CrusoTo Everything There is a Season     

Veteran, amateur and rookie gardeners seeking takeaway tips and practical inspiration will want to pedal directly out to the west side of town for a series of info-packed sessions at three welcoming Sooke homes along with our town’s leading garden centre.

First stop in order on the route is Wendy and Steve Sahlstrom’s home with a view (built not long back by master builder Steve himself) in Stone Ridge Estates at the crest of a mildly steep hill (#8 on our cycle tour map). Over the last few years, the couple have turned a bare patch of rocky soil into an attractive, functional and integrated backyard food garden with raised beds, a greenhouse, a pond  and compost system. Wendy, a board member with the Sooke Garden Club, will be leading formal tours every hour beginning at 11:30 a.m. while Steve greets drop-ins as they arrive throughout the day. She’ll be focusing in particular on working with an organic fertilizer she  first read about in a Victoria Times Colonist article by Randy Shore, who modified a blend created by Pacific Northwest gardening guru Steve Solomon, author of Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades. Everyone will receive a copy of the recipe while also enjoying quality time with this friendly, down-to-earth couple.

Green-thumb riders may then want to head directly for two adjacent stops on nearby Maple Avenue South. Karen Longland is a master gardener who runs Double D Garden Centre with her husband Kenny in an oasis of forested land. She’s dedicating her off-day to us and will be pleased to discuss anything and everything related to coastal gardening … in particular all-season container gardening, which when properly planned through seasonal rotation and plantings can deliver fresh greens almost year-round in this climate.

Across the street at 1959 Maple is the Apple House, one of the town’s oldest standing homes now lovingly restored by Deb Wood and her partner Brian. Deb was part of the back-to-the-land movement as a young woman on Prince Edward Island, and she’s applied the skills she began honing back then to a verdant backyard filled with fruit trees, permaculture garden beds, swings for the grandchildren and an arboured hammock. As she always does at this time of year, she’ll be spending the day layering seaweed into her compost system – a three-bin homemade model that inspired one Canada World Youth exchange student to duplicate it in his village back home in Kenya. Learn about complimentary plants that please the pollinators (and keep bugs away from nearby vegetables in the process). Deb will also offer insights into compost cakes and teas (the latter made with comfrey and stinging nettle). Deb is a delight, as is the Apple House, its garden and the resident dog Thor, a shaggy charmer.

An easy five-minute pedal via Sooke’s unofficial off-roads bike path and blackberry-lined Gatewood Trail leads to the home of Sooke artist AJ and his family. He’ll be welcoming drop-ins as they arrive while also leading a series of pre-scheduled workshops that you can learn more about in this earlier blog entry.

Now one final piece of inspiration after the obligatory G-search for gardening quotes: ”“The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world. ” Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma

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Safe & Seen On Two Wheels @ the SSFC

Stephen Hindrichs, one of our event co-founders as chair of the Juan de Fuca Cycling Association, is a strong proponent of bike safety. He checked in earlier today with a few thoughts on how to stay safe and seen at the second annual Sooke Slow Food Cycle … or anytime for that matter.


“Bike safety begins with your own bike and very much includes a healthy and respectful relationship between you and drivers. With that in mind, here are a few tips on how to prepare for Sept. 23.

The great news is that there is increased safety when more cyclists are on the road, and this will certainly be the case next Sunday in Sooke. That makes it the best of all possible times to be out there riding with your family, friends and neighbors.

Before leaving home, undertake a through check of your own bike or take it to a bike shop for a safety check and tune up. Your job is to ensure the following points: that your brakes are working well; that gears are shifting smoothly; that tires are in good shape and at the right pressure; that wheel nuts and headset is tight; and that your seat post is secure and adjusted to the optimal height. As required by BC law, you should also have a working bell or horn and properly fitted helmet.

One of the most ignored yet effective pieces of safety equipment is a mirror. It allows you to be better aware of what’s coming up behind you while also allowing you to plan ahead to avoid potential conflicts. The use of bright lights in the daytime can also be very effective at keeping you safe. The newer flashing LED lights help to make you more conspicuous, even during the day’s brightest hours. These lights grab the attention of drivers earlier and makes you their ‘radar’ rather than an indistinct object that suddenly looms up unexpectedly in front of them.

Brightly coloured clothing also helps. And it doesn’t have to be expensive neon-coloured jackets or multi-colured Lycra. Use your imagination and be a trendsetter! Bright scarves or other accessories can do the trick with plenty of personal style.

Remember to be visible but ride like you are invisible. Make eye contact with drivers, be predictable, signal your intentions and watch for opening car doors and other hazards on the road. Ride at a comfortable speed and take your time crossing busy roads. (At some of the busier crossings on the SSFC route we will have traffic control flaggers to assist you on your way).

Above all, have fun and stay safe!

Stephen Hindrichs, JDF Cycling Coalition

PS For further reading, Stephen recommends this excellent article by cyclist Tony Webster that was published by the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition in its magazine Cycle Therapy several years ago.

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Sooke Sustainability Day: 3-Part Adventure on Sept. 23

Hopefully all is clear (though we quite understand any confusion): Sept. 23 in Sooke can be experienced in one or more of three ways. Here’s the breakdown with appropriate links …

1. Sooke Slow Food Cycle tour, 15 stops of interest to modern homesteaders over a modestly challenging 33 km route starting from EMCS. Registration starts at 9:30, official departure at 10:30, return to base for 3:30 closing celebration. Tickets $21 individuals/$42 family groups, any size. Do as little of the route or as much. Create a personal itinerary to take in pre-scheduled workshops at some of our stops with the help of our registration team. Or ride any which way you like, visiting each stop as you come upon it. Ticket holders only please at Ella Beach, InishOge Farm, AJ’s Garden and the Sooke Longboat Society. Other stops welcome drop-ins for a $5 donation.

2. Collective Transition Sustainability Expo & Marketplace @ EMCS. Day-long demos, info booths, farmer’s market, yoga, music, martial arts & Tai Chi demonstrations, e-bike test rides, passenger-seat spins in e-cars & much more. Gates open to the public at 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Entry by donation (suggested $5) or free if needs be, no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Reskill yourself & learn the back-to-the-future wisdom of permaculture, small-space gardening, wild food foraging, backyard chickens and more. Meet passionate folk dedicated to the Transition Town long-term vision and dream of localization – food, business, currency and community values right here at home minus the fossil-fuel guzzling commute.  Please walk, bike, car pool or take public transit to EMCS. Parking available in park-and-ride lots and roadside.

3. A Taste of Harvest Feast, a locally sourced multi-course slow-food dinner highlighted by hot smoked salmon, Dungeness crab and black cod with heaps of seasonal goodness on the side. Presented at Sunriver Community Garden (five minutes or so from EMCS) by Sooke Region Food CHI. A separately ticketed event, $20 adults, $10 kids. Gates open at 4:30 p.m., meal served at 5 p.m. (as the garden enjoys its own early sunset). Live music, great folks, great food.

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