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Project News

Somenos Marsh OpenAir Classroom

We’re very pleased with some of the results so far at the OpenAir Classroom at Somenos Marsh Conservation Area. This work was lead by Elizabeth Aitken of the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society. The role of Saanich Native Plants was to develop a restoration plan for the site and prescribe and provide native plants and seeds.
We first did baseline surveys and consulted with local experts including David Polster David Polster(Polster Environmental Services), Jared Bates (Cowichan Land Trust) and Mena and Peter Williams (Elders, Cowichan Nation).
The area pictured here was converted to a concrete parking lot underlain by hogfuel (unrefined mix of coarse chips of bark and wood fiber) sometime in the 1990’s. Plants previously planted in the site were struggling and winter flooding created additional challenges. We suggested planting a suite of species that are suitable for dry summer conditions, wet winter conditions, and gravel substrate. The site is sometimes completely under water in the winter, so much so that a California Sea Lion was seen swimming right over the area!  In selecting appropriate species for the site we drew upon local examples of plants found in similar habitats on gravel substrate within our ecoregion like gravelly glacial outwash pockets on Southern Vancouver Island and those of the South Sound Prairies of Washington State. In October 2016, we did small trials to see what fared well into the following year prior to expanding our restoration footprint. Then, in fall 2017 we held a seeding event with a group of volunteers to seed the area. Prior to seeding we broke up the cover of non-native grasses so that the seeds could make good seed to soil contact. We included species like Yarrow, Nodding Onion, Pearly Everlasting, Common Camas, California Oatgrass, Tufted Hairgrass, Woolly Sunflower, Western Rush, Pacific Wood-rush, Large-leaved Lupine, Yampah, Self-heal, Douglas’ Aster, Barestem Desert-parsley, Sea Blush, Western Buttercup, Blue-eyed Grass, Roemer’s Fescue, and Fool’s Onion. Pots of species like Slimleaf Onion, Wild Strawberry, and mature Common Camas bulbs were also added. The Camas bulbs came from Streamside Native Plants We're observing the slow, but steady success of many of these species and will follow up through the season with you!


ŚW̱,ȻENEṈITEL Indigenous Foods Initiative

This past month, we have been proudly partnering with ŚW̱,ȻENEṈITEL Indigenous Foods Initiative. Our role is to help make some of the native plants available for the project.

The ŚW̱,ȻENEṈITEL Indigenous Foods Initiative (Doing Good Work Together) is a project supported by the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CRFAIR), with support from the Horner Foundation, that began in response to recent and future impacts of Covid-19.

The program is in support of Indigenous families planting gardens that include Indigenous foods (native plants) and veggies, as well as accessing Indigenous foods and medicines.

The program has seen a remarkable response from families and more funding is needed. They are now seeking community support.

Donations are tax deductible and can be made here

Please feel free to contact the coordinator at info@indigenousfoodsinitiative.com

More info can be found at:

https://www.indigenousfoodsinitiative.com/


Lochside Pollinator Meadow

Saanich Native Plants has partnered with Peninsula Streams Society and Pollinator Partnership Canada to restore a half-acre Garry oak meadow along the Lochside Trail in Saanich. This project is supported by the North Quadra Community Association, Don Mann Excavating, and the landowner, BC Hydro.

An original site survey found very little existing native vegetation and few pollinators. The original top layer of soil had been removed and the area was primarily covered with invasive grasses. Don Mann mechanically removed the vegetation layer before we brought in new weed-free soil from Peninsula Landscape Supplies.

In September 2018,work started with local volunteers to condition the soil and plant more than 2,000 native plants. The restoration work also included broadcast seeding of additional native plants over the entire half-acre site and creating vernal pools and cobble mounds to increase plant diversity and bee-nesting habitat. The restored site provides essential habitat for threatened native pollinators and other local species, as well as an aesthetically pleasing and educational community space for local residents.

Visit the site and see the transformation of this beautiful pollinator meadow for yourself!


Helliwell Provincial Park, Hornby Island

Since 2015, Saanich Native Plants has been working with the BC Ministry of Environment, BC Parks, and the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team to help restore rare coastal meadow habitat in Helliwell Provincial Park, Hornby Island.

These open, shallow soil meadows have been degraded through decades of wildfire suppression, which has resulted in the encroachment of Douglas-fir forest into the meadow. The establishment of invasive non-native plant species also threatens this unique ecosystem. These habitat changes have resulted in the loss of native plant species and extirpation, or localized extinction, of the endangered Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly.

Saanich Native Plants provides expert advice to guide restoration activities for these coastal meadows. We also supply native plants and seeds to re-establish native vegetation, which will hopefully create a habitat that can once again support species like the Taylor’s Checkerspot.


Harvest4Knowledge

Harvest4Knowledge is a new project connecting students with Indigenous plant and traditional food knowledge on the territory of Lkwungen-speking Peoples, Songhees First Nation and Esquimalt First Nation. Six schools in school district 61 have received grants to build Indigenous native plant food gardens. 

The program is led by Farm2SchoolBC, School District 61 Aboriginal Nations Education Division, and the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, with funding from the Horner Foundation.

We are helping in the project, along with others like the Habitat Acquisition Trust and Parks Canada.

These gardens include interpretive signage in both Lekwungen and English and QR codes so students can hear the plants spoken names’ in Lekwungen, while an online curriculum is being developed to support teachers and students. These gardens create interactive learning environments so students can connect with elders and knowledge-keepers and to learn about, harvest, and eat traditional plant foods and medicines.

So far, Saanich Native Plants has helped design and build Indigenous plant gardens at Victoria Highschool, Spectrum Community School, Shoreline Community Middle School, and Esquimalt High School.


 
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