UBC Farm Blackberry Festival
August 19, 2007

The UBC Blackberry festival is one of the highlights of summer in Vancouver. There's music, snacks, and plenty of vegetables for sale. On Saturday the flower gardens were lush and busy with the humming of the new honeybees, particularly the sunflowers and cornflowers. The medicinal gardens were also popular nectaring sites, particularly the tiny oregano blossoms.

I stopped at the market to buy some salad greens and flower petals for our Sunday night dinner party. I had to take a photo of the beautiful basket of male squash blossoms for sale from the Mayan Gardeners at UBC Farm. I bought some amaranth and squash from their booth, then headed to Moody Bees where I bought a jar of the deep, rich buckwheat honey. The beekeeper says his bees had a slow start with the wet spring, but when the sun came out in July they worked at a record pace and got caught up with the supply of honey.

Ron, the organizer of the Urban Aboriginal Community Kitchen Garden Project, made some whole-wheat rolled oats bannock which he served (still warm from the oven) with butter and UBC farm blackberry compote. I sat and chatted with a volunteer while she painted a pink and orange butterfly on a little girl's face. I noticed that there was still and active barn swallow's nest in the roof of the Harvest Hut, and a hawk preened itself in the branches high in a tree on the north side of the market.

One of the volunteer beekeepers was opening the hives to give them a quick check. He said they are still not capping their honey, which means they are feeding from it instead of storing it for the winter. That means the beekeepers will likely have to feed the bees to keep them alive over the winter. He also said something that surprised me--that most beekeepers inevitably become allergic to bee stings. I thought the opposite was true, that most beekeepers developed a good resistance to bee stings. I'll have to do a survey, and see what people's experience has been with regards to developing allergies.

On the way out of the farm, I stopped to watch a hummingbird perched in a dead tree. It's tragic that some of Vancouver's best bird habitat is being torn down so that the University can build luxury condos and a supermarket. What was a quiet, naturalized corner of the world will never be the same again.