SGI Greens January 2022 Newsletter

Hello and Happy New Year for 2022!  We look forward to sharing events, ideas and news with you throughout the year.  In this edition you will find a message from Elizabeth, a report on the recent Annual General Meeting for SGI, upcoming local BC Greens events, an overview of our new website and a gardening update from Gary and Nancy.

Read on for more…..


Notes from Elizabeth

It is hard to believe the long parliamentary break is finally over. What a wasted year for work we should have been doing!  The House rose in late June. The writ dropped on August 15 as we all know! And the election was on September 20.  We had an unusually long wait for Parliament to restart. Canada is rare among democracies as there is no legislated time limit on how long a new government can take to get parliament – or legislatures – re-opened.

Parliament only sat three weeks from late November to mid December. And now we start up again on Monday January 31.

Of course, most MPs stay busy.  I have been working pretty much straight through. I have several Private Members Bills all drafted and ready to go.  Look for me to move to protect passenger rail service and to move forward with a bill that died on the Order Paper in August to address environmental racism. I seconded it in the last parliament with a dear friend and Liberal MP from Nova Scotia, Lenore Zann.  It is super rare for a member of another party to ask me to second their bill.  In fact, it had never happened before. Sadly, Lenore did not get re-elected and I may be the best placed MP to pick up where she left off.

My team is also geared up for pressing for climate action.  The Green Party submission is just excellent.  I love working with our collaborative new Interim Leader, Amita Kuttner, plus Shadow Cabinet climate experts and fellow MP, Mike Morrice.

We will also start right in to pre-budget submissions to the Finance Committee. We did have a few Finance Committee meetings during the parliamentary break so I have been seeing other MPs on zoom.   Due to my recent knee surgery and the omicron variant, I will start next week on zoom and see about heading to Ottawa a bit later.

One other highlight I should mention was our super SGI EDA AGM (see below). If you missed it we hope to post the recording soon. It was great fun and the talks from Federal Council President Lorraine Rekmans and MP Mike Morrice really inspired us to know we are a party that is healing and growing again!



SGI 2021 Annual General Meeting

Saanich-Gulf Islands recently held their postponed 2021 AGM with a well attended virtual meeting on January 22nd. The event was chaired by our CEO, Dan Kells.

The routine business of the EDA was taken care of and included a report from the CEO, the Financial Agent, Sharon Forrester and our local Federal Councillor, Bob MacKie.

If you wish to see the financial documents or the minutes of this AGM or others, please look here. 

Eighty-four people attended the meeting with 61 members from SGI. Our guest speakers certainly drew interested people from outside the riding – Lorraine Rekmans, President of the Federal Council of the GPC,  Mike Morrice, the Green MP for Kitchener Centre along with, of course, our own MP Elizabeth May. It was excellent to hear from these outside speakers about their work in the party and how they are viewing the party now. We learned that there has been a general increase in party donations and memberships as the GPC moves forward into 2022.

The plan is for the EDA to host their 2022 AGM later this year, likely in November.  An in-person event would be ideal but that is impossible to forecast during a pandemic.

To all members who attended the AGM – thank you so much. Your participation is very welcome and also necessary to keep Saanich-Gulf Islands a healthy and relevant piece of the Green Party of Canada family!


BC Greens Events 

Our local BC Greens in Saanich North and the Islands have a fabulous speaker lineup for 2022.

First up is  “Voices of the Forest Protectors” on Wednesday February 2nd.  This will be an online event via Zoom, and will feature several people from within Saanich North and the Islands who have spent time at Fairy Creek.  They will have stories, poetry and songs to share.

To register, click HERE.


To find a list of upcoming events sponsored by BC Greens in your riding, or in the province, you can search here.


Gardening with Gary and Nancy

Many gardeners talk about a beginning and end of the garden calendar. And it is true that when getting into gardening we often start by purchasing seedlings or larger potted vegetable plants and growing them out in the garden and then eating their produce until they expire in the fall. As we progress in our gardening skills and passions we then begin to start our plants from seed to take advantage of the myriad varieties that are not available as seedlings at the garden shops or roadside stands. We likely progress to putting our harvest by for the fall and winter and then possibly growing more difficult to raise plants. Another notch in the gardener’s rake handle is extending the growing season into the fall and winter months. It is at this point where we begin to look at our gardening as a cycle with no discreet beginning and end. It is important to note that by cycle we do not mean a treadmill where we relentlessly move on without seemingly making any progress only to do the same thing over and over. It reminds us of the difference between farmers with 30 years experience versus those with 1 year of experience 30 times. The gardening cycle should be one of renewal and recharge as we grow and learn by doing this wonderful avocation.


Images: Miners lettuce self seeded in a greenhouse; some local seed sources

To us, what connects the cycle is not all the food we have on shelves and in the freezer, but it is saving the seeds from the very plants that we grew in our own garden. And to be successful at this you likely need to start at the end in order to figure out how to get there. By that we mean you will need to plan your garden with seed saving in mind. Full disclosure, we are not purist seed savers by any stretch of the imagination. We recognize, respect, encourage and, to some extent, participate in the collection and saving of heritage varieties. But we take a fairly pragmatic approach to seed saving. We don’t expect you to follow it, but we want to share it in case it helps your thinking or else confirms your impression that we are just two old folks who have been baked in the sun of their garden too many years.

While you might be able to get hybrid seeds to germinate and grow, they will not grow true so it will be a bit of a crap-shoot as to what you end up with. Therefore, if you want to save your own seeds, the most important step is to start with what are called “open pollinated (OP)” seeds. The best thing about OP seeds is that they cost a fraction of the cost of hybrid seeds. And to some extent, that cost enters into our seed-saving strategy. Why save seed from plants whose seeds cost a fraction of a cent when they will take time, care and space in your garden? We tend to just purchase those. Then there are those hybrids that are just amazing and we have not found OP options to come close to the productivity and flavour. Some of the broccolis, cabbages and Brussels sprouts fall in this category. Okay, we hear you, there are some very good OP varieties of those vegetables – yes, and we grow them too. But here is where the second practical element for us kicks in. We generally do not try to collect seeds from large plants that cross pollinate with vegetables (or flowers) in the same family. While it is very possible, in fact easy, to collect seeds of broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, etc. they all cross with each other and a host of other cole/brassicas/crucifers. And that includes about half of the crop we plant judging by the space they take up. If you allow 4-6 plants to go to seed to get some genetic variation in the seeds you eventually produce, that means you would have to cover (with Remay) all those plants, hand fertilize them and leave them in the garden an extra-long time for the seed to ripen (and then watch the pods carefully so you harvest them before they shatter). Without covering them you would have to keep them about 250 m (minimum) from other cole crops which is impossible unless you live on a large farm.

So let’s talk about the easier crops to save seed from like peas, beans, peppers, eggplants and tomatoes. A bit more challenging are cucumbers, squash and melons. Most other vegetables, though easy to save seed require long separation distances that the average home gardener may not be able to meet given that your neighbor may be growing a different variety of the same crop. Peas and beans only need to be separated by 3-6 m from other varieties and then just need to be picked when they are fully ripe (i.e., dry). Tomatoes should be separated by 3-15 m from other varieties and peppers and eggplants need 100+ m spacing. However, it is relatively easy to only grow one variety of eggplant, more challenging to limit peppers to only one variety because how can you not grow both sweet and hot peppers? With cucumbers, squash and melons, we simply isolate individual female flowers with Remay and hand-pollinate – pretty basic and easy to do and no separation required. Seeds from dill, celery, cilantro, lettuce all can be readily saved, but their cost ranges from less than $0.01 to a few cents per seed so is it really worth the effort? That said, we always save dill seed because it is just too easy.

The cost of seeds is still generally relatively low unless you plant Tyria Cucumber at $2.59/seed. But we plant thousands of seeds each year, which can add up even with the current cost of seeds. Saving seeds for us is not a financial need, but for some gardeners it may be. In that case determine the number of seeds you generally plant and look closely at the cost per seed (not the cost per packet since the number of seeds in a packet can vary from 10 to thousands). To see a very rough list of OP and Hybrid (F1) seed costs per 100 seeds, click here.

When planning to save seed, it is important to know the average life-span of the seed. Beans and peas have a high germination rate for about 3 years, tomatoes for about 4 years and peppers, eggplant, dill, cucumbers and squash for 5 years. Therefore, if you save seed one year you won’t have to save seed of that variety for 3-5 more years (or more: we simply plant more seeds to account for reduced germination as the seeds age). To put this in more understandable terms, we grow about seven varieties of tomatoes each year. We isolate one variety each year and save enough seed for 7 years, or enough to last until the next time we save seed from that variety. We only grow one variety of pea so we would only have to collect seed every 3-5 years, but we plant a lot of peas and seem to need more seed every year. Since it is so easy to save and collect, this is no hardship. Beans are a bit more complex for us because we have grown up to 6-7 varieties. Fortunately isolating each variety that we want to collect seed from is relatively easy and we only need to collect new seed from each variety every 3-5 years. We are fortunate to have a greenhouse so we grow most of our peppers inside. That allows us to grow one variety of pepper for which we wish to collect seed from outside and we can vary the variety each year and accommodate 5-7 different varieties that way.

There is as much to learn about growing collecting and saving seed as there is about all the other aspects of gardening. That is what makes it so rewarding. We loved hearing from you last month about your ideas on changing lawn into something more environmentally friendly. We would love to hear your ideas and tips on seed saving. But then, making a wish-list from all the seeds offered in the catalogues is like being a kid in the candy store. Who would want to give that up completely?

Nancy & Gary Searing

Honeysuckle Cottage


The New SGI Website

Our website ( is a ready source for information about:

– Our new Executive

– Executive meeting minutes

– Financial documents

The website is also an access point to Elizabeth May’s weekly Good Sunday Morning blog as well the SGI monthly newsletter and event announcements (

Important policy documents are also stored, the most recent being the GPC submission to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change about the inadequacy of the “Net Zero by 2050” target

We encourage you to become more familiar with the website and to submit suggestions for further improvements or additional content using the online form to contact us.

Tom Niemann


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