Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Post 53: Back in Victoria!

Phew! It's been a very busy last month and a half for me. Travel to two conferences, covering my parents' vacation, and finishing up last week at the BC FoodPro West Conference with my sister, dad, and my family's Sales Representative Laura, was quite a feat!

Quick good news story: my parents have had a sourdough bread bakery (the Kaslo Sourdough Bakery) for about 23+ years now, and 2 years ago they started to produce sourdough pasta (Kaslo Sourdough Pasta, or KSP), which is amazing!!! The judges that evaluated the Innovation Award and Product of the Year must have thought so too, because KSP took the Innovation Award and got bronze for Product of the Year!!! Now I'm even more proud of them than I was before! The BCFPA had awesome videos of the nominees, and once they're up, I'll be able to share the one they made of KSP. My dad's voice sounds a little bit funny in the video because he was just getting it back after having tonsillitis! In any case, a SUPER BIG CONGRATS to them! They are so awesome. Here's us at the gala, post-award:

That's me on the left, my dad Silvio beside me, my sister Heidi in the blue dress, and Laura on the right!
(For those wondering why I'm in the photo, too: I am their sales representative here in Victoria, and sometimes do demos on the road for them, too.)

I am, however, glad to be back in Victoria and sinking my teeth into thesis work, and seeing my colleagues again. I have missed them, and there are some lovely changes around University House 4, too.

We have a picnic table!! I sat out on it yesterday doing some work already. Today it's a bit grey and clouded over, but maybe it'll still be a great lunch spot. :)

This morning I've already said hi to Mary, Mike, and Kristen, who came in yesterday to get some prep work and organizing done for Mary and Kristen's time in the field starting mid-July.

And after appreciating the lovely yellow blossoms of St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) in the front of the building, I was reminded just how different plants can look in one location and another!! Local climatic and environmental conditions obviously play a significant role in all of this. To illustrate my point:

Victoria's version of St. John's Wort: lush, succulent, huge flowers, big leaves. 

This gives a better picture of the full plant

Whereas in the Kootenays where I'm from, with it's much shorter growing season, I'm used to the St. John's Wort looking more like this: 

The scraggly, smaller flowered and leaved St. John's Wort of the Kootenays. 

I almost didn't believe that they were the same plant. BUT -- this reminds of the research project that I undertook with my group during the Redfish School of Change Field School that I participated in; at the time, we visited three different biogeoclimatic zones in BC: the one my hometown is a part of in the south-eastern corner of the province, the Interior Cedar Hemlock zone, the lower mainland's Coastal Western Hemlock, and on Vancouver Island here in Victoria, the Coastal Douglas Fir Zone. We tracked red-osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera) in each of those zones, measuring some of the key physical features of the plant, and were startled to see a HUGE difference: in the Kootenays they were bushes, whereas on the Island they were trees! (We did not, unfortunately, have the capacity at the time to check out soil or water chemistry properties, so limited our research to the physical factors).

The St. John's Wort and red-osier dogwood are good examples that I'll keep in mind to share with students in the future on something like the plant walks that I have done for ES 341 or Ecological Restoration, or ES 200, the introductory course. As I tell them there: "Never trust a plant!"

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