Monday, September 07, 2009

Worm parties, farmers' markets and squash soup

A frantic round of this and that last week. The event I was very much looking forward to, the Compost Education Centre's autumn worm party, was delightful. Half a dozen or so of us stood in some bonus sunshine for a couple of hours, getting our hands dirty sorting through the bins that had housed the centre's summer campers - worms that are part of the school worm bin project.

These worms had been spending the summer lying around and eating and breeding and generally enjoying themselves, but now it was time they were rounded up and sent back to school. Local teachers will soon be stopping in to collect their charges, who will work all year demonstrating their skills at composting to a new year of Victoria's schoolchildren.

We picked through the worm castings

to find and capture these light-shy worms and their eggs

and drop them in a big bucket which would be turned over in a few days to allow a finer sorting.
These are red wigglers, which is a fairly wide term for a number of different subspecies that include some natty tiger stripe fellows

and they love, as we discovered, corn - were found hanging onto cobs for dear life.

We heard that they were fed the contributions of discarded produce from a local grocery store - the only one in town that would supply the centre; the others have all gone funny and cite 'health and safety' as their reasons for tipping tons of produce into the dumpster every day. Such is our world.

So that was Friday's excitement. On Saturday I hoisted the sign of the snail

to sit at the North Saanich Farmers' Market and explain the world of Slow Food to passers-by (a good moment to do so with a few tasty events coming up in the Vancouver Island & Gulf Islands convivium). The market is small and neighbourly and featured the wares of Kildara Organic Farm,

some green eggs from Ameraucana hens (I'd seen some last October at Terra Madre, as Araucana Chickens are one of Chile's Presidia products)

some local watermelons

some really local fruit and veg

but hands-down the busiest stall at any farmers' market seems to be that of the bakers,

which featured some spectacular cupcakes

and gorgeous tarts

The weather was very up and down and at times it sheeted down, which did not stop our excellent local performer Paul Stephens.

Rain and chill being something of the story of the weekend, I was grateful for a taste of Peg's fabulous Rebar-inspired spicy squash soup on Saturday night, made from - and served in - her amazing golden hubbard squash.


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