May 2021 SGI Newsletter

Welcome to the SGI Greens May 2021 newsletter.  In here you will find how to join our anniversary celebration of Elizabeth’s election as MP, information about our Annual General Meeting in June, green face masks, regenerative gardening, SGI book club, BC Greens events and more…… Read on!


You won’t want to miss this occasion!!!

Friends and members of Saanich Gulf Island Greens - it is time to celebrate! This year, the month of May marks TEN amazing years since Elizabeth May was elected as Canada’s first Green MP!

Join the SGI Greens at 7 pm on Friday May 14 to reminisce with speakers and artists from across Canada to honour our unique and revered Member of Parliament. 

In recognition of this special occasion, a gathering of exceptional Canadians will be joining us for songs, stories and poetry. Come and join these amazing people for the party!

Annamie Paul - Leader of the Green Party of Canada

Sonia Furstenau - Leader of BC Greens, MLA Cowichan Valley

David Suzuki - Ph.D, Science broadcaster, Environmental activist

Adam Olsen - Green MLA North Saanich, BC

Cate May Burton - Author and daughter of Elizabeth

Jenica Atwin - Green MP for Fredericton, NB

Paul Manly - Green MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, BC

Pat Carney - former PC MP Vancouver-Centre BC, former Senator

David Coon - Leader of the New Brunswick Greens, MLA Fredericton-South

Mike Schreiner - Leader of Greens of Ontario, MPP Guelph

Ken Wu - Executive Director, Endangered Ecosystems Alliance, BC

Sylvia Olsen - Author, Historian, Knitter Extraordinaire

Including the music of Bob Bossin and poetry by Lorna Crozier.

A federal election may be just around the corner and the Leader of the GPC, Annamie Paul, will be running in the riding of Toronto-Centre. Elizabeth will conduct one of her famous Dutch Auctions with all funds raised going to promote that important campaign. This is an opportunity for SGI Greens to celebrate our shared Green values and to support others. Islanders know that a rising tide floats all boats.

There is already strong interest in this special occasion, so make sure you register with the following link for this one of a kind event.

When: Friday, May 14, 2021 07:00 PM Vancouver

Register in advance for this event here.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.



The 2021 SGI Greens virtual AGM will be held this summer, likely in August. We have an interesting, motivated executive team, a few of whom have been taking a turn on the board for many years and are looking forward to a well deserved break.  Please consider putting your name forward or encouraging a friend to do so.  If you would like more information about board activities please contact Nancy Searing.  The Green Party runs on support and engagement with it’s grassroots members and it is important to have turnover in order to generate new ideas and energy.  Thank you in advance.

As previously advertised we are still looking for a Financial Agent to give our current FA, Sharon Forrester, a well deserved break after 8+ years on the board.  Do you have a financial background?  Do you know a green supporter who might be interested?  Please give this some serious consideration and contact Sharon for more details.



As mainstream media becomes less responsive, thereby less valuable, to smaller political parties and issues, social media becomes the important information and news communicator for many of us. Here in the Saanich Gulf Islands EDA, we have a request for our members to assist us with this endeavor.

Our group has a Facebook account plus a Twitter account. We would love to have you join us in our efforts to bring the news and views of this valuable Green organization forward. We are currently  working on developing a fledgeling Instagram account which we will announce soon.

Come and work with us as we build a strong social media team leading into the next election. Please contact Dan Kells at [email protected] for more info.

CELEBRATION OF ELIZABETH’S NOMINATION (As reported by Elizabeth in Good Sunday Morning

It was a busy week and capped off with such a fun zoom celebration on the evening of April 9th, of my nomination as the Green Party candidate in Saanich-Gulf Islands. Thanks to all the local SGI team who joined in, to William Deverell and Adam Olsen MLA for coming along to endorse my campaign! And especially to surprise guest MP Paul Manly.

We had a blast. And it reminded me again how much I miss working in person with Paul and Jenica, and our time in real life in the House of Commons together, as opposed to only seeing our dogged debate in parliament in a small box on our computer screen.  I did make a wonderful announcement - as we gear up for an election none of us think we should have!  My SGI campaign manager will be Debra Eindiguer!



For those of you who wish to style your way through the pandemic, check out the Green Party of Canada facemask. For $10, you get a great looking mask branded with the GPC name and  logo. With a cotton layer against the face and polyester to improve wear & appearance on the outside, this mask has an opening for an insert, adjustable straps and a nose bridge. As there are a limited number of these masks, we will first make them available to SGI members.

To purchase a mask, please send an email to [email protected] and an e-transfer for $10.00. In your email, include your name, phone number and preferred pick up location - North Saanich or Gordon Head, and someone will be in touch about pick up or delivery.


We are hearing a lot about “regenerative farming” especially with the establishment of the Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture. The need for the term “regenerative farming” is a sign of how far we have come from traditional agriculture which, until the last century, had been practiced for thousands of years and was a regenerative process.

Both farming and gardening should be a regenerative process in that we should be adding back into the soil at least what we have taken out. This is how it has been done for centuries before modern agriculture, which has become more like terraponics.  Terraponics, like hydroponics, is a system where you use an inert medium, in this case soil, and then add all the nutrients plants need to survive and grow. In agribusiness these inputs are largely petroleum-based fertilizers. The terraponic tomatoes like the ones usually available in grocery stores taste nothing like a vine-ripened tomato grown in rich, organic soil.

In our own gardens, we need to pay attention to what we take out of the soil. As we harvest greens, we are removing the entire plant that contains the nutrients it has extracted from the soil. The harvest of fruits such as tomatoes and cucumbers is less extractive in that virtually the entire plant remains in the garden. And then there are the legumes which fix nitrogen in the soil leaving it richer than it was when they were planted. However, even legumes remove nutrients from the soil. It is important to replenish those nutrients every year and there is no better way than replacing them with compost.

Whether you compost your garden “waste” (we hate that term “waste” because the plant remains in your garden have fixed lots of energy from the sun all season and they are much too valuable to “waste), or purchase a clean, high-quality compost, your garden can continue to provide you with lush crops of highly nutritious and tasty food year after year simply by adding back the nutrients you have removed annually.

In Brett Markham’s book “Mini-farming: Self Sufficiency on ¼ Acre” he talks about the nutrition of food grown in healthy soil versus the standard agribusiness crops and in some instances there were differences of 100 times more nutrition in the crops grown in healthy soils. This calls into question the phrase “eat your veggies” which we guess should be qualified to read “eat your organic, locally produced veggies grown in healthy soil”. And of course the best way you can be assured of that is to grow them yourself. Just keep adding the remains of the garden, your lawn clippings, and any other organic matter you can find back into your garden to keep it healthy and productive year after year.

When we first got interested in gardening, the primary source for organic gardening in the 1970s was Robert Rodale’s books. He actually coined the phrase “regenerative agriculture” back then in response to industrial farming with petrochemicals. We now know more about what it takes to retain and restore soil health and it basically amounts to no tilling, no bare soil, no monoculture, and adding organic matter to the soil.

There is no shortcut as to what needs to be done to build the soil at the Sandown Community Farm. It will take time. Green manuring would be one of the best and fastest methods of increasing soil fertility. While it is more difficult to green manure in a no-till system with permanent beds, there are a few approaches that could work. One is to cut the green manure crop and cover it with tarps to kill it before planting a food crop. Another would be to cut and compost the organic material harvested -- grasses tend to re-grow so the type of manure crop would need to be beans or other type of crop not prone to re-growth. And lastly, before permanent beds are created, livestock could be used to harvest the crop and fertilize the land with their manure. 

Sandown is using Fickle Fig’s pigs to do this on a small part of the land now and they could be cycled through much of the land given enough time. Given the digging that pigs do, we are not convinced that they would be considered “no till” but they do a great job of removing unwanted vegetation. Adding chickens to the mix would be even better because they eat seeds, potential pests and add high nitrogen manure after the pigs have excavated the soil. The success of Sandown will be in soil management as is the success of our gardens. 

If we have healthy, fertile soil we end up with healthy, nutritious food – and that is what it is all about.


Nancy & Gary Searing

Honeysuckle Cottage


This feature has profiled Greens from Canada and around the world. This month brings us back to SGI to feature one of our local Greens, Erin Bremner-Mitchell.

Photo Credit: Erin Bremner-Mitchell - a productive harvest; showing how kelp is farmed

Imagine a single species that can: create and nourish habitat, feed people and animals, sequester carbon, be a basis for pharmaceuticals or cosmetics or biopackaging while creating employment for coastal communities. It sounds like an amazing tree in a forest perhaps but this item is an organism from another forest - a kelp forest. 

Seaweed has an ancient history as food and medicine and it also provides shelter for many species of our near shore waters. Anybody who has ever had the good fortune to swim within a kelp forest enters a cathedral of undulating golden light alive with a kaleidoscope of colourful sea creatures

Living on Vancouver Island, we are blessed to have kelp in our churning ocean waters and there are those who harvest this wild bounty. Even better, there is a local company that is learning how to grow kelp and other seaweeds for the myriad of uses for these macroalgaes. 

For Cascadia Seaweed headquartered in Sidney, each day is a learning opportunity. Farming seaweed on a commercial basis is novel enough that there is much to be learned. And working in the heart of this cutting-edge business is one of our local Greens.

Erin Bremner-Mitchell is familiar to many in Sidney for her years as a Sidney councillor and is well-known to local Greens for her earnest contributions to election campaigns, both provincial and federal. 

I asked her why she is Green and she said it had to do with the Greens she met and the values they expressed that so resonated with her own principles. Those ethics are a key part of her present job as Manager of Communications and Engagement with a company that treats the environment with respect and integrity.

Erin is excited for the future of this growing industry which will be an agent of change. With over 10,000 species of seaweed around the world, there is much opportunity to develop new farming technologies and to discover new uses for this fast growing, climate-positive crop.

Equally exciting is the opportunity for sequestering of carbon by cultivated seaweed. Cascadia Seaweed’s efforts in this regard have come to the attention of Oceans 2050, an organization co-founded by Alexandra Cousteau, grand-daughter of the famous champion of the oceans, Jacques Yves Cousteau. A study to quantify carbon uptake by seaweed is underway by Oceans 2050, leading eventually to certification for Blue Carbon credits. 

(As a side note, Alexandra Cousteau intends, with worldwide seaweed farming, to sequester carbon dioxide, provide habitat for marine life, reverse acidification and hypoxia, support tourism and fishing jobs, enhance coastal climate resilience and restore depleted fish stocks - all by 2050.) 

Wow - what an abundance of benefits to be realized from that stuff we see growing offshore. And to realize that Vancouver Island and Sidney are right in the thick of it is deeply gratifying. 

For seaweed farming to achieve its potential as an employer of First Nations and other locals, a provider of food and pharmaceuticals and also to effect carbon capture, there is still much to be done but you can be sure that Erin and the team at Cascadia Seaweed are working hard to achieve success with this fascinating product. 

For further information on seaweed and it’s various products and benefits, Cascadia Seaweeds is holding a virtual event - Seaweed Days - from May 17 to 23. Tune in and find out how to put some seaweed on your plate or on your face, you just may be pleasantly surprised!



Everyone is invited to join us at 7pm on Monday, June 14 to discuss Seth Klein’s book, A GOOD WAR: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency.

We will be joined by the author Seth Klein, and our own Elizabeth May. In 2018, Elizabeth called for an all party war cabinet, based on the one formed by Winston Churchill at the beginning of WW11, in order to deal with the threat of climate change.

In his book, Klein also calls for wartime mobilization in order to combat climate change.  Writing from a Canadian base, Klein gives the reader hope by providing realistic strategies for action.

Please register in advance for this meeting here:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

The next two books chosen by members are:

June - Hope Matters: why changing the way we think is critical to solving the environmental crisis by Kelsey Elin.

July - Mamaskatch by Darrel J.McLeod.



Saanich North and the Islands Riding Association will host the next Voices of Saanich and the Islands virtual speakers event on Tuesday May 18th @ 7pm.  Join authors Cate May Burton and Sylvia Olsen as they discuss the making of an activist and their new book Growing Up Elizabeth May.  To regisister click here.


If you reside in Saanich North and the Islands, don't miss their Annual General Meeting on May 30th @ 3pm with a keynote address from MLA Adam Olsen.   For more information and to register for the event, click here.  As with SGI, the executive board of the provincial RA needs new members.  Information is in the link provided.

A listing of all BC Greens events can be found here.


We hope that reading this has left you feeling inspired, encouraged, fortified!  We are hard at work getting ready for a possible fall or ? snap election.  If you can, please consider helping the next SGI federal campaign to re-elect Elizabeth May!  There are many ways to help, even during the pandemic, and our campaign plans have evolved to consider the different situations that might be present whenever an election is called.  Would you like a lawn sign, to be delivered when the writ is dropped and picked up afterward?  Would you like to discuss volunteer opportunities?  We have a growing group of amazing volunteers, and we have fun.  And of course, donations to support the campaign are always welcome here

Please email [email protected] for further information about volunteer opportunities and to reserve a lawn sign. Our fantastic phone volunteers have been hard at work calling people who displayed a lawn sign in 2019 to support Elizabeth, but they have not been able to reach everyone, often due to changes in phone numbers.   A big thank you in advance for considering how you might support Elizabeth and the SGI Greens this year.

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