Talk on the art and science of eating wild mushrooms

A message from the Metchosin Biodiversity Project.

Each year in November the Metchosin Talk and Walk series partners with the Metchosin MycoBlitz to bring you an outstanding presentation on local mushrooms. This year we have the privilege of hosting Dr. Denis Benjamin. This Texas physician is one of North America’s authorities on mushroom toxins. His talk, though, is not technical–it is a broad look at issues and experiences around using wild mushrooms as a food source. We had Dr. Benjamin with us several years ago and audiences were delighted at his talks.

If you can, join us on Saturday for a mushroom foray with Dr. Benjamin and other local experts. Mushrooms are popping up all over Metchosin now.

More information on the weekend at the Metchosin Biodiversity website.

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2016 AGM

Metchosin Foundation President Chris Pratt welcomed Canadian journalist, environmental activist and former host of CBC’s All Points West radio program JoAnn Roberts as the feature speaker at their eighth Annual General Meeting last May 29 at St. Mary’s Church. Her speech titled If Not Now, When? was backed by an excellent power point presentation and ranged from the need to act on global climate change issues to steps that can be taken Canadians and by local communities to address the need for change.

President Chris Pratt recapped the year’s achievements, highlighting the success of the April Biodiversity weekend that attracted over 100 people to the teaching shelter, walks and displays in Witty’s Lagoon. Now in the sixth year of its biodiversity work, Metchosin hosts the 2nd longest-running BioBlitz in BC. This annual combination of public celebration and scientific research by taxonomy experts has yielded a database of over 2300 species – second in BC only to Whistler. Targeted BioBlitzes this spring at Matheson Lake, the Albert Head DND property, and William Head Institution added about 120 new species, including one extremely rare find, Juncus kelloggii, known only (in Canada) from Uplands Park.


Welcome to The Metchosin Foundation!
The Metchosin Foundation is a non-political charitable organization registered under the Canada Revenue Agency.  It has been created to:

  • Encourage and support the rural nature of Metchosin,
  • Support and maintain a harmonious community, and
  • Preserve and safeguard Metchosin’s unique ecosystems, flora, and fauna for the benefit of all Canadians.

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Photo by T.J. Watt

If you would like to support initiatives to protect and conserve the natural environment and rural character of Metchosin, consider becoming a member of The Metchosin Foundation, make a donation, and/or include the Metchosin Foundation in your Estate Planning.

2016 AGM

Metchosin Foundation President Chris Pratt welcomed Canadian journalist, environmental activist and former host of CBC’s All Points West radio program JoAnn Roberts as the feature speaker at their eighth Annual General Meeting last May 29 at St. Mary’s Church. Her speech titled If Not Now, When? was backed by an excellent power point presentation and ranged from the need to act on global climate change issues to steps that can be taken Canadians and by local communities to address the need for change.

President Chris Pratt recapped the year’s achievements, highlighting the success of the April Biodiversity weekend that attracted over 100 people to the teaching shelter, walks and displays in Witty’s Lagoon. Now in the sixth year of its biodiversity work, Metchosin hosts the 2nd longest-running BioBlitz in BC. This annual combination of public celebration and scientific research by taxonomy experts has yielded a database of over 2300 species – second in BC only to Whistler. Targeted BioBlitzes this spring at Matheson Lake, the Albert Head DND property, and William Head Institution added about 120 new species, including one extremely rare find, Juncus kelloggii, known only (in Canada) from Uplands Park.

Biodiversity Day Team with (l-r) new directors Mike Fischer and Jacqueline Clare, forest ecologist Andy MacKinnon, Vice-Chair Joel Ussery, CRD Parks employee, and Kem Luther, director.
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Pratt noted that combining community education and awareness with good science fits well within the Metchosin Foundation mandate of Healthy Lands, Healthy Waters and a Healthy, Caring Community.Preservation and stewardship of Metchosin ecology is also strengthened by the monthly Walk and Talk sessions featuring speakers on key ecological subjects.

The foundation and Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) continue to work together to establish nature covenants on lands that are ecologically intact and unique to this region. Lands that straddle the Metchosin-Langford border on Humpback Road are the focus of work currently, and it is hoped that good news on this project will be announced this fall.

It appears that potential may exist for a partnership between the Metchosin Foundation and HAT to establish voluntary covenants on environmentally sensitive shorelines. Via our website and through other means, the foundation is seeking interest from landowners who may wish to establish shoreline covenants.

Pratt also drew attention to the Valerie Cochrane Memorial Fund that was established in her honour by her husband Charles Priester to assist Pearson College students faced with family crises to fly home. It is modelled after a similar fund operating from McGill University in Montreal and is being managed by the Metchosin Foundation. Already two students have been able to address their family crises in person due to that fund’s existence. Typically, these loans are repaid generously when the student is able.

In March, foundation directors convened a meeting to review the formation, constitution, past and current activities of the Foundation to help plan projects and future directions.  Many great ideas came forward and will form the basis for the work of the incoming board.

Vice-president Joel Ussery thanked Chris Pratt and Dan MacIsaac who have generously served their eight-year terms with distinction and thus  were stepping down from the Board. In thanks for their service, each was presented with potted blue-eyed grass-like (Sisyrinchium idahoense), native to Metchosin, although not common here. Pratt was further surprised when a birthday cake with his name on it was wheeled out and the enthusiastic audience sang Happy Birthday.

The slate of new directors was at that point proposed and elected.  Incoming President Carol Carman, Treasurer Joel Ussery and Secretary Kem Luther are veterans of the Metchosin Foundation board.  Three brand new board members were unanimously elected and welcomed:

  • Jacqueline Clare, geographer with a background in ecology, cartography, GIS, and data management
  • Mike Fischer, engineer with expertise in energy systems, energy efficiency, and software development for climate change research, as well as small scale farmer
  • Beverly Hall, environmental scientist, instructor and photographer

The new board invites members of the public to come forward with ideas and suggestions for the future.  The annual membership fee for membership in the Society remains set at $10.00.

Charity BN/Registration # 81576 1556 RR0001

Saturday Halloween Dance on October 24th

Come dance the night away on Saturday, October 24th at the Metchosin Community Hall.  Get into the spirit of Halloween early and support the Metchosin Foundation’s work on environmental protection and education in our community.  The local band Fine Spirits will get you rocking, rolling, and shaking off any stresses of the season.  There is a sixties theme to inspire your costume choice or you can come as whatever creepy character inspires you.  There will be a silent auction, refreshments, and midnight munchies for those who worked up an appetite on the dance floor.  Tickets are $20 and are available at the Metchosin Country Store, Broken Paddle Cafe or by contacting contact@metchosinfoundation.ca. The event runs from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. Bring your friends, have some fun, and support a local charitable organization.

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Update on 2015 Metchosin Bioblitz

On Friday evening, June 12, 2015, more than seventy guests crowded into the Metchosin Council chambers to mark a major milestone. They were celebrating the fifth year of the Metchosin BioBlitz, the fifth year of counting the District’s non-human species.

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Vancouver Island Ringlet – a red-listed species found in the 2015 Metchosin BioBlitz

The Friday evening event doubled as the 76th session of Metchosin’s popular Talk and Walk series. Kem Luther began the presentation with a short summary of BioBlitz results. The evening’s main event was an illustrated talk by local author and naturalist Andy MacKinnon. Andy described the complex ways in which fungi cooperate (or not) with plant hosts. Certain plants, the mycoheterotrophs, have parasitic relationships with fungi. Unable to make their own food—they are non-photosynthetic—they get their food from their fungal partners, who in turn may have gotten the food from other photosynthetic plants in the environment.

On Saturday morning the experts invited to help with the Metchosin BioBlitz assembled at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club’s Welcome Hut. Waiting for them were hot coffee/tea and cinnamon buns fresh from Martha Haylor’s oven. Some of the birders, coordinated by the omnipresent Ann Nightingale, had started their survey as soon as it was light enough to see. Once everyone was assembled, organizers grouped the sixty-plus participants into several teams and assigned them locations for the morning foray. This year the focus of the surveys was on the provincial crown land parcels that lie within the borders of Metchosin.

BioBlitz searchers returned at noon for fresh assignments. Waiting for them were boxes of pizza donated by My-Chosen Cafe and Pizza, bread and rolls from Cobbs Westshore, vegetable trays from the Langford Costco, and homemade soups prepared by Karyn Woodland, Brian Domney, and Mairi MacKinnon. The experts also picked up their thank-you gifts:  potted native plants from James and Kristen Miskelly’s Saanich Native Plants.

Species searchers returned from the afternoon forays about 4:00 pm. Over cold drinks and sweets donated by the Royal Bay Bakery they swapped stories about the day’s results. Some weeks later, when the searcher’s reports were in and the numbers were tallied, the BioBlitz organizers found that 900 observations of 540 distinct species had been added to the BioBlitz database. A dozen of these species fell into the provincial “at risk” and “endangered” categories. The 2015 BioBlitz added almost 120 new species to the BioBlitz and MycoBlitz data, bringing the grand total of species for the five years of the study to 2150. Because the 2015 BioBlitz occurred later in the spring than previous Metchosin BioBlitzes, the species experts were able to find a number of moths, grasses, and birds that had not been previously counted.

New species finds this year included a lizard, a moth, a rare estuary plant, a parasite, and a raptor. The lizard was the invasive European Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis), spotted by a homeowner on Duke Road. This reptile species, which escaped from a Saanich zoo in the 1970s, is gradually spreading across the Greater Victoria area. Two different teams found the spectacular silkmoths, both the Ceanothus Silkmoth (Hyalophora euryalus) and the Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea Polyphemus). The wingspan of these giant moths can reach four to six inches. Metchosin hosts one of the eight known Canadian stands of the red-listed Contorted-pod Evening-primrose (Camissonia contorta). On Camas Hill, Moralea Milne found California Broomrape (Orobanche californica), a plant which has no leaves, relying for its nourishment on the gumweeds (Grindelia sp) to which its roots are attached. The BioBlitz birders heard a Common Nighthawk, Chordeiles minor. The nighthawk arrives in our area in late spring. It flies at dusk and after dark, so the best clue that it is present is a sharp “peent” sound overhead.

More pictures from the event and species lists can be found on the BioBlitz web site at http://metchosinbiodiversity.com. The Metchosin Biodiversity Project acknowledges, in addition to the angels mentioned above, the generous financial support of CRD Parks, the Victoria Natural History Society, and the Metchosin Foundation. Thanks also to the District of Metchosin and the Boys and Girls Club for the use of their facilities.