Spring may not officially be here…. But no one told the nettles! They are nice and early this year and this delicious, nutrient packed green is popping up everywhere! I look forward to spring nettle harvests every year and I make sure to gather enough to make into many fresh meals and still have copious amounts to dry for use in infusions over the winter. Many people fear nettle because of the bad reputation it has for stinging and have no idea how delicious it is, yet alone what a broad spectrum pharmacy it contains.

                Nettle has dozens of uses, but is mostly used as a nutritive, tonic, kidney ally, a superb women’s ally and a spring alterative. In 100g of nettle there is about 2900 mg of Calcium, 860mg of magnesium, 41.8mg of iron, 1750mg of potassium as well as many other essential minerals and vitamins. Using nettle during pregnancy and lactation is well known as an amazing galactogogue to enrich breast milk and nourish the mother’s blood all throughout pregnancy.

                I recommend having an everyday spring brew or meal containing nettles. This plant medicine will tonify and strengthen bodily tissues, heal damaged tissues and it’s rich mineral content will make hair gleam, glow and thicken. Nettles have a very powerful restorative action on the adrenals. Use it for increasing energy, lessening allergies, and even for stabilizing blood sugar. The usual daily dose is a half cup of freshly steamed greens or 1-2 cups of a strong infusion. Make sure and only harvest young nettles, once they flower they produce substances that are undesirable. Happy harvesting and make sure and take in some nice deep breaths while you’re in the forest!

sources: Healing Wise by Susun S. Weed (I highly recommend this book)

Back to School Lunch Ideas

      The single most important nutrient growing kids need, is healthy fat. I make sure my son eats ample amounts of avocados, egg yolks, butter, coconut oil, fish oils (especially fermented cod liver oil), grass-fed animal fats, yogurt, raw milk and kefir. After fat, make sure protein is covered. It's a good idea to give your kids different sources of protein with every meal to make sure they get a full spectrum of amino acids. 

       With the guidelines of lots of fat and protein for all of my son's meals, the other half of his plate is an assortment of vegetables to provide necessary minerals, vitamins and fiber. Carbohydrates are your least valuable food- as their main nutrient content is starch- which is the least important of all "food groups" if you want to think of them in this way.

Here are a few pictures of my son's lunches last week:

Homemade lacto-fermented pickles and cheddar cheese, apple slices and nut butter, garden cucumbers and a 9 minute egg.

Homemade lacto-fermented pickles and cheddar cheese, apple slices and nut butter, garden cucumbers and a 9 minute egg.

garden veggies, homemade egg yolk and cream custard, cheese and lacto-fermented pickles.

garden veggies, homemade egg yolk and cream custard, cheese and lacto-fermented pickles.

Grilled cheese on sourdough bread with homemade ketchup and garden cukes. I also added some crispy nuts in a smaller container for extra fat and protein, and we had steak and eggs for breakfast this day! 

Grilled cheese on sourdough bread with homemade ketchup and garden cukes. I also added some crispy nuts in a smaller container for extra fat and protein, and we had steak and eggs for breakfast this day! 

Sometimes the easiest lunch is just leftover dinner! I'll often pack up stir-fry, meat and veggies or casserole into Ethan's lunch for the next day. I've sent him with leftover chicken soup, and shepherds pie too. Two of my other absolute go to lunch snacks are homemade liver pate on crackers and full fat, plain yogurt with grated apple or berries.

Keeping The Family Healthy When School Starts

by Andrea Jones RNCP


            Autumn is right around the corner. To most people that means that school is starting, regular routines are being re-established and we can look forward to cozy sweaters and pumpkin pie. It also means that cold season is here and with everyone together inside, in close quarters, illnesses starts to spread rampantly.


            Every year myself and the staff at the Community Farm Store, write articles about all of the wonderful foods and supplements you can take to avoid getting sick. Once inspired, we all have these glorious intentions when the beginning of September rolls in, but how many of us are still getting adequate sleep, drinking lots of pure water, eating regular, wholesome meals and avoiding processed foods, sugar and stimulants by the end of the month?


            The truth is, if you simply supply your body with its basic needs of plenty of rest, water, and nourishment, you’re far more likely to avoid getting really sick. Our bodies want to be healthy; they strive for perfect harmony, always. It is unavoidable to have no exposure to viruses and types of bacteria that can make us sick, but the difference between exposure and illness depends entirely on the terrain of our bodies.


            If you are well rested, hydrated and nourished, your body has the energy, capacity and supplies to fight off infection so fast you don’t even realize you’ve been exposed. If you are run down, dehydrated and lacking vitamins or minerals (even just one!) than your body has a more challenging time dealing with the extra burden of destroying and eliminating foreign attackers.


            There are several key supplements that we pretty much always need to be taking to ensure we are properly supplied. These are: plenty of omega 3’s, vitamin D, vitamin C, probiotics and minerals. For me, this looks like: Fermented cod liver oil, Sealicious fish oil, St. Francis mineral matrix, Health Force Acerola Cherry and plenty of bone broth and fermented foods. There are dozens of foods and supplements that you can choose to fill these requirements in a way that suits you best.


            At The Community Farm Store, we are fully staffed 7 days a week with Holistic Registered Nutritionists to help you keep your family healthy and in good spirits, all autumn and winter long.


            Keep in mind- staying healthy for the season is a marathon, not a sprint. The little things you do every day, with regularity are going to be the most effective therapies for illness prevention. So pace yourself, making good choices, and stick to them!

Admiration for Avocados


By Andrea Jones RNCP

                I am an avocado fiend. I love them. In fact, my partner and I are so enamored by the avocado, that we have spent more time than some would deem prudent trying to plot a conceivable plan that would allow us to eventually grow them with success, in a giant green house, as part of our food forest.

                What deems the avocado worthy of such affection, you might ask? Aside from being an extremely delicious and versatile fruit, avocados are an absolute powerhouse of nutrition. The avocado contains a generous dose of vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, B6 and vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin E and twice the amount of potassium as bananas. Avocados are especially high in two nutrients that are well known for healthy eyes: lutein and zeaxanthin. One ounce of avocado contains about 81 mcg of lutein. Avocados can actually help increase the amount of an important anti-cancer and liver protecting antioxidant in your body called glutathione as well.

                Avocados are also loaded with fat. Good fat; essential fat. The kind of fat that we need to be eating liberally in our diets to protect our immune systems, improve cardiovascular health and nourish every cell in our bodies. The fat in avocados improves the absorption of nutrients from our meals by slowing the digestive process which also helps stabilize blood sugar levels. This helps keep you satisfied longer and promotes healthy weight levels.

                I am so grateful for the avocado and all of the health benefits associated with their consumption. As If I really needed an excuse to eat more delicious, guacamole!

Travelling This Summer?


By Andrea Jones RNCP

       Here at the Farm Store, we love going away for summer vacations. Many of us take off for camping trips, hiking adventures, road trips, family visits, gatherings and other adventures.

            Most of us, especially if leaving the island, dread the idea of finding food to eat on our travels. Solution: We bring our own! At the Farm Store, we’ve got everything you need to bring healthy food with you! Don’t get caught on a trip with no choice but to fill up on genetically modified, overly processed, preservative filled, imitation foods.

            My first rule is to always bring a small cooler. Then I make my own salads, wraps, sandwiches, fruit salads, vegetable platters and put them into stainless steel or glass containers (many of which we carry here at the store). I put my own dips, dressings and sauces into small mason jars to add on before eating. Even most airlines allow a small cooler to be your carry on!

            Thirsty? Bring your own water! I always fill up several empty 1 gallon apple juice jugs with water for longer trips and I bring my own refillable stainless steel water bottle along everywhere I go. I have one of the Purica insulated ones for hot or cold water. At an airport, you can fill water bottles after going through security so you aren’t stuck drinking horrible water on an airplane too. I always travel with my own tea bags and find hot water at any café. I even have friends that travel with their kombucha mother and keep a continuous brew going on the road, but I always leave mine at home waiting for me.

            Some other Farm Store quick travel grabs are dried fruits and nuts (great to mix together for your own trail mix). We do have some premixed versions as well. The Super snack mix and Dragon’s blend from Harmonic Arts are divinely delicious. The dried miso soup sachets are also a must have for flights and long trips. It’s never hard to find hot water to add and make yourself a nourishing cup of soup.

            The other Farm Store travel foods I never leave without are the Island bison pepperoni sticks, jerky or buffalo caveman sticks. They are a great source of protein when you know you won’t be around any decent source of meat for a while. Hard boiled eggs can be a great high protein snack for weekend trips as well.

            No matter where you are going this summer, make sure to prepare ahead of time by bringing healthy snacks, meals and beverages with you. Your wallet and your body will be grateful to you!


Fermented Foods: Critical to Your Health

By Andrea Jones RNCP

      Human beings have been fermenting foods and beverages since pretty much as far back as we can look. Eating fermenting foods and drinking fermented beverages such as kefir, water kefir and beet kvass is quintessential to the inoculation of the gut with good bacteria. Constantly giving your body a source of wonderful probiotics from food is a way to consistently offer your body protection and help your body maintain its unique bacterial biofilm. Bacteria in our intestinal tract outnumber the cells in our body 10:1. They exert enormous influence on us through their interaction with digestion, detoxification and our immune systems.

       More than 70% of your immune system is in your gut. Researchers are now also finding out that the gut acts similarly to a second brain, manufacturing neurotransmitters. The gut actually produces more serotonin than the brain so you can see why maintaining a healthy intestinal tract is important for the mind as well as the body.

       Fermented foods are also some of the best chelators for toxins and even heavy metals. Certain fermented foods and beverages are also incredibly mineral rich. These foods help us to nourish our bodies and eliminate wastes more effectively.

      Making fermented foods and beverages is as easy as mixing chopped or grated vegetables with a little bit of whey or salt; either using a starter culture to encourage and optimize some very unique and healthy bacteria- or letting wild fermentation take over which produces unique flavors and variables in the types of bacteria produced and packing the mixture down into a crock, glass jar, or wooden barrel.

       I personally prefer to ferment with salt than without as it tends to add a crunchier, more flavorful aspect as well as helps directly inhibit molds or other pathogens. Good quality sea salt is also very important for digestion.

       You don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment, just a knife, cutting board, a bowl and a friend to chop vegetables with! I find it helpful to chop my cabbage very finely and to let the vegetables sit for an hour once I have put the salt on. The salt will start to draw out the liquid and before putting them into the crock I give the veggies a good squeeze to encourage their natural juices to further come out.

       Make sure to ensure that the brine is well above the vegetables once you have pushed them down. Crocks come with stone weights but you can improvise something depending on your container. Taste your fermentations often until they reach your desired taste and then transfer into jars and put into a fridge.

       There are no rules when it comes to combinations of vegetables, herbs and spices. Use your imagination and be creative with your palate. Blessings on your fermentations!

Please note that I will be scheduling a fermentation workshop (or two) for this summer so be sure to check the events page periodically for new classes!

Is Buying Organic Still Worth the Extra Expense?

(As seen in the Valley Voice Magazine)

By Andrea Jones RNCP

       A CBC article was recently posted scrutinizing the organic food industry in regards to pesticide residues. The article, written by Joanne Levasseur and Vera-Lynn Kubinec has given non-supporters of the organic food movement justification to continue purchasing chemically grown agriculture. The ongoing debate on whether or not organic food is any different or superior to conventionally grown agriculture has been happening since the early 1900’s. According to The Organic Institute, all agriculture was organic before the Second World War. After World War II it was discovered that the thousands of gallons of leftover chemicals that had been formerly used to kill people, could also kill insects. (1) As activist Vandana Shiva so eloquently and accurately states, “we’re still eating the leftovers of world war II.” As industrialized agriculture (what we now call conventional) was born, so created the need for traditional farming practices to be preserved. The new term for farming without chemicals was “organic”. After reading the CBC article the big question hanging heavily over our heads remains: Is buying organic still any better for us or worth the added expense?

       Organic foods may be mildly contaminated some of the time; however these foods are still far safer than the non-organic versions. In the article written by Levasseur and Kubinec of CBC, the authors state that pesticide residue levels in organic food “were still considerably less than the ... [levels]... of non-organic samples the inspection agency found containing pesticide residues”. If I can choose between food containing lots of chemical residue almost all of the time and organic food that sometimes contains a small amount of chemical residue, I am still choosing organic.

       The use of these chemicals in the first place has permanently contaminated our planet. If we are seeing detrimental effects of this now, the use of more chemicals is only going to make the situation worse. The CBC authors quote Matthew Holmes, the executive director of the Ottawa-based Canada Organic Trade Association. Holmes points out, “We see pesticide residues throughout our environment. It's in our soil, they're in our water, drinking water now, and there's new reports coming out showing there's pesticides in fetal cord blood. So unfortunately, it's really hard to have a zero pesticide residue any longer”. We can take this information for what it is, a huge warning flag, or we can use it as an evasion. Either way it does not make any logical sense to justify the previous use of poisonous pesticides by continuing to use more pesticides. We cannot hold an “oh well, we’ve ruined it anyways” attitude. It is up to us as individuals and together as collective communities and countries to ban the use of these pesticides and grow food in the most ecologically conscious ways we can. When choosing ecological consciousness, the only choice is organic.

       When we buy organic we are not just minimizing the effects of the chemicals on our health, but also using our dollar to vote for farmers who are trying to minimize the harm of agriculture on our environment and our entire ecosystem. Levasseur and Kubinec quote Mark Kastel, a farm policy analyst at the Cornucopia Institute in Wisconsin. Kastel says “I'm very comfortable that the vast majority of allorganic fruits and vegetables and other commodities are produced with high integrity, but we do need to protect the ethical farmers that are participating, and businesses in the organic industry — and, most importantly, consumers who are seeking authentic food.” If we want to be able to trust what we are eating as consumers, than we need to put the responsibility of growing our food into the hands of farmers who actually care about its quality and integrity—not into the hands of chemical companies whose sole responsibility is to maintain the highest profits possible. When we buy organic, we are voting with our money for the kinds of foods we want to be grown. We are choosing to support farmers who are trying to set a higher standard for better quality food, and a healthier, stronger eco-system. When we put money into the hands of large corporations, we are not giving them incentive to change.

       We have to start somewhere. If one can grow and forage all of his or her foods locally, that would be ideal. However, when faced with the question of which is better for you and the planet: buying an organically grown pineapple or a genetically engineered, chemically grown pineapple? The answer is obviously the organic pineapple is better. Holmes states that “past studies have shown the quantity and incidence of pesticide residues in organic produce are consistently lower than those in non-organic”, for example: “[t]he average quantity of thiabendazole measured on organic apples was 0.02 ppm whereas the average amount measured on non-organic was 0.3 ppm — about 15 times higher”. I would still rather purchase food that is accidentally contaminated from “contamination of water or soil through pesticide spray drift from neighboring farms” than from those very farms where the pesticide spray is drifting from that are knowingly poisoning their food and soil in much higher volumes than what their unfortunate neighbors may passively receive.

       As intelligent beings we have to realize that regardless of the state of things, we can always choose better. We have a responsibility to choose better for ourselves, for our children, for our environment and most importantly for the future. So when I ask myself if I should continue to support organic or not, the answer is “YES!” It is definitely still better and has a lower cost to my health, the health of the planet and everyone and everything on it.





Eating Organic on a Budget


        Living a healthy lifestyle has been a fulfilling, educating and joyful experience. There are no downsides to eating clean, local and organic food- except maybe that it costs more. I personally started eating only organic or locally uncertified organic food when I was 16. I managed to maintain this even through university as a “starving student” and as a young mother and now as a single mother. I pretty much consider myself living proof that no matter how much money you make, you can buy organic foods. It is all about what your priorities are. Restaurants, take out, clothes, shoes, vehicles and other expenses have had to become non-existent or lowest on my priority lists. High quality food is always the first thing that gets budgeted for after the major bills like rent and insurances have been taken care of. It has taken me 6 months to put enough away for a new sweater or pair of pants before but my family and I have always had a kitchen stocked with healthy food. 
                Most of us are now aware that non-organic foods can contain antibiotics, chemicals that cause cancer; disrupt normal hormone function, and pesticide and herbicide residues. Pesticides are poison, literally designed to kill. They have been shown to cause neurological problems, cancer, infertility, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, allergies and asthma and have been linked to auto-immune disorders as well as hundreds of other conditions from eczema to birth defects. This is why we need to avoid these chemically laden foods and consume only the most nutritious foods available to us so we can save big time down the road in medical costs, prescription drugs, doctor visits and lower quality of life. We can either pay the farmer or we can pay the hospital, but one of the two is going to get our money- the choice is ours. Here are some tips to eating organically on a budget:


  • Plant herbs indoors in your kitchen or somewhere convenient so you can always have fresh herbs on hand.

  • Start urban farming at your home regardless of how much space you have.

  • Once you start growing produce, give herbs, fruits and vegetables as gifts to family and friends (saving money on other material objects they might otherwise not use or collect).

  • Remember to buy non-GMO seeds.

  • Check out Geoff Lawton’s free Permaculture design videos online.

  • Learn how to preserve your garden goodies by canning, fermenting and freezing.

  • Get a couple of chickens and hatch your own eggs. You can even trade them with neighbors for veggies they may grow that you don’t.


  • When staple or favourite items are on sale for two for one; or buy one get the second cheaper- stock up.

  • Order beans and grains you used a lot of in 25lb bags. You will save a lot. We offer all of our members the ability to order co-ops for any of our bulk items in 25-50 lb bags.

  • Buy unpackaged foods like beans and grains from bulk dispensers instead of prepackaged.

  • Refill your spices and herbs in our bulk spice department. The cost to refill can be a fraction of what you pay for the little glass jar of it new.

  • Buy bulk dried beans instead of canned ones.

  • Bring measuring cups with you to the grocery store if you are buying from bulk containers. That way you can get exactly the amount you need for a specific recipe and you won’t be paying for extra.

  • Buy the whole animal and freeze the portions you don’t use. You can do this by contacting your local farmer and then splitting the cost with a group.

  • When craving candy buy a few pieces in the bulk section, or go for a few pieces of organic dried fruit or 10 chocolate covered almonds instead of a whole bag.

  • Keep track of what foods are in season and keep well (potatoes, apples, etc) and buy those in bulk, as they will be significantly cheaper.


  • Check the websites of your favorite companies and stores for coupons and special promotions, almost all of them have some.

  • At the farm store we offer 20% off one item coupon cards to everyone who spends 75.00.

  • Join your favorite company’s social media pages for special coupons and deals. For example, if you join Nutiva’s facebook page, they will give you access to a $10 dollar off coupon. This is perfect for stocking up on chia seeds, coconut sugar, coconut oil, etc. (They also run huge discount specials every Tuesday.)

  • Check out various organic coupon sites.

  • The Community Farm Store offers seniors who are members 10% off.

  • Become a member at The Community Farm Store and receive 2% back on purchases.

  • Most big box stores take each others coupons, so don’t be afraid to use them all in one shopping trip at your most convenient or favorite store.


  • Plan out your meals for the week according to organic foods that are on sale and/or that you have coupons for. It really pays to be organized ahead of time.

  • Budget. Write out a weekly and monthly budget to help you keep track of both erratic spending and responsible spending. This will allow you to see your spending habits and help you prioritize purchasing organic food within your budget.

  • Do it yourself, rather than buy it. Make your own organic granola bars, kale chips, smoothies, and juices to replace store-bought.

  • Learn how to portion and prioritize – it is a necessity to always buy organic meats and dairy products, and, therefore, learn to portion your consumption of these products each week. In my house 1 steak feeds two or three people depending on its size. Ideally a portion of meat is about the size of a deck of cards (4 ounces)

  • Invest in a water filter directly under your sink to avoid having to buy bottled water. Unless you have Duncan water and then there’s no need! Also, check the Environmental Working Group guide on choosing the right water filter for you.

  • Check out the book “Wildly Affordable Organic” for organic menu planning on $5 a day or less.


  • 9 times out of 10 the organic frozen produce at the store is cheaper than fresh, especially if the fruit or vegetable is out of season.

  • Freeze all leftovers using inexpensive mason glass jars or silicone ice molds for smaller portions.

  • Freeze homemade cookie dough and other treats so you can have a treat ready to go in the appropriate portion size.

  • Buy local produce when in season and freeze to save for out of season, for example in the spring and summer spread berries on a sheet pan and freeze overnight and then store in jars for the fall and winter.

  • Double recipes and freeze leftovers, this works great with soups and stews.

  • Freeze core kitchen staples like butter, cheese and bread scraps for bread crumbs or homemade croutons.


  • Meat & dairy (animals products like chicken, eggs, cheese, butter, yogurt, milk, etc.) are the most important to buy organic because of the combined risk of pesticide, antibiotic and cancer causing growth hormone exposure. Make these priorities.

  • Reduce meat and dairy consumption if you cannot afford organic. When I have been the most strapped for cash, I will stretch an organic chicken breast or steak into many meals by chopping it up into small pieces for use in many different meals from casseroles, to wraps, to salads.

  • Reduce amount of organic meat used by substituting half the portion with organic beans.

  • Buy a whole organic chicken for less per pound, vs. just the breast, legs or wings which are more expensive per pound. Cook it whole and use leftovers all week or quarter it and freeze the cuts you want to cook later. The carcass is used to make your own chicken broth.

  • Use the “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen” lists available on to help you navigate which products to buy organic (or take with you when you travel). For example, if you have a choice between more expensive organic red peppers and less expensive conventional asparagus – choose the asparagus. Asparagus naturally repel pests allowing it to be grown with minimal pesticides.

  • Do not buy pre-washed and ready to eat fruits and veggies, as they can cost twice as much.

  • Make your own organic coffee and tea instead of buying premade at Starbucks etc.

  • Eat at home- it is significantly less expensive than eating at restaurants.


  • Local food can be significantly cheaper than food shipped from miles away.

  • Find a farmers market near you through and get to know your local farmers, create a personal relationship and negotiate prices. The Cowichan Green Community puts out a local food guide every year. I put it right up on my kitchen wall beside the phone.

  • Ask your farmer about his farming practices. Some farmers do not spray pesticides on their crops but do not seek organic certification to keep prices lower.

  • Be the last person to leave the farmer’s market. Farmers will likely cut their prices at the end of the day, so they do not have to take their produce back to the farm.

  • Buy a share in a community-supported agriculture CSA program. It’s nice to contribute to a local farm’s operating expenses while getting a weekly box of fresh fruits and vegetables.


  • On a road trip use to find out where to buy local, organic and sustainable foods from point to the other.

  • Go to a grocery store and buy ingredients to make your own easy healthy meal on the road instead of going to a restaurant. This will save you a lot of money.

  • Bring your food with you in a cooler.

  • Bring organic tea bags with you and ask for hot water.

  • Bring filtered water with you wherever you go in one of our awesome stainless steel or glass reusable water bottles so you never have to buy expensive bottled water.

  • Always carry snacks like homemade trail mix in your purse or bag for emergencies.

  • At the movies, bring your own organic popcorn and snacks if they do not offer them. There is no reason to pay a premium for conventional food.


  • Raw nuts and flours should be kept in the refrigerator to last longer without going rancid.

  • To repel bugs, place a bay leaf in containers of rice, flour and pastas.

  • Buy and keep bananas separated from one another, they spoil slower.

  • Turn almond butter, yogurt, sour cream, tahini and cottage cheese containers upside down when stored in the fridge – this creates a vacuum seal, keeping them fresh longer

  • Freeze or dry the pulp from homemade nut mylk– use it for smoothies, baked goods like biscotti or to make nut flours.

  • Repurpose vegetable pulp from juicing to add fiber to soups, smoothies or make crackers or bread.

  • Placed limp celery and radishes in water with a slice of potato to make them crunchy again.

  • Keep all organic citrus fruits in the fridge – they will last up to 1-2 weeks longer.

  • Do not wash organic dark leafy greens or berries until they are ready to consume.

  • Store herbs, spring onions, asparagus upright in a large glass filled with an inch of water

  • Freeze overripe bananas for use in banana bread later on.

  • If you know you will not have a chance to eat it, freeze food before it goes bad.

  • Choose to eat less, use a smaller plate to help you control the amount of food you might eat or end up wasting.

  • Compost all food waste to put nutrients back in your garden and out of the landfill.