Canillas Mint Tea


Mint is prolific and quite unruly in the garden . . .  but on cold winter days, when the temperatures are in the minuses, it is such a comfort to have a pot of hot mint tea to connect us to the garden .  .  .  and iced in the summer it is refreshing and a delight as well! It is so easy to pick, bunch, and hang .  .  .  and enjoy all year round.



Tea for Two

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Seed Saving Comes to Canillas!

The Hanover Garden Club sponsored two inspiring seed saving-related events this past week: The documentary Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds on Monday and a presentation by Ken Green of Hudson Valley Seed on Tuesday.(Watch “Open Sesame” trailer) Genetic diversity is being lost at an alarming rate as the seed industry consolidates and focuses only on the most profitable seeds, much of which are GMO and cannot be saved. But we individual gardeners can do something: We can support independent local organic seed businesses such as Solstice Seed in Hartland, VT; and High Mowing Seed in Wolcott, VT.,   And we can save seeds!

A bit farther afield is Hudson Valley Seed in Accord, NY.  Hudson Valley Seed is preserving the stories behind seeds they save, and are using art as a way to honor the story. They select an artist, tell the story behind the saved seeds, then leave it to the artist to capture the story in visual form. (Hudson Valley sells prints of the art work as well as  beautiful seed packets that make lovely gifts and wedding favors.)


Pippin’s Golden Honey Pepper Seed Packet

The story:  Pepper seeds had been saved by Horace Pippin, a black farmer who found relief for his arthritis in bee-sting therapy.  He developed a friendship with a beekeeper/farmer, and in exchange for the bee-stings, shared his pepper seeds which were popular within the black community.  The farmer stored the seeds in a trunk, and when he died, his grandson discovered the seeds. The grandson, William Woys Weaver, was a seed saver; he grew out the seeds and kept the variety alive and eventually shared them with Hudson Valley Seed.

A few Canillas gardeners have been inspired by these presentations and by the threat of our seed supply being controlled by Monsanto and other chemical/pharmaceutical giants.  We will be buying seeds from Solstice, High Mowing, and Hudson Valley, etc and trying our hands at seed saving, with the intent to share our saved seeds with other gardeners. As of now, Helen will be saving sweet basil, Paula – Sugar Ann pea pods, Suzanne – sunflowers, Jean – Ganti tomatoes, Pat  – Yellow of Parma onions, Polly – Anna Swartz winter squash; given that the seed packets are generous, we will probably have seeds to share this spring.

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Peppers in December!


My peppers had a slow start in the garden this year. Too much rain. When frost was threatening, and they were in flower, I dug this plant up and brought it inside. Peppers love sun and my window only gets sun in the afternoon . . . but that was enough to produce these 4 jewels! I loved adding bright red pepper slices to the salad I made for New Year’s Eve festivities . . . a very special treat.

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Canillas Garden Shed Wreath

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 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All!

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High Water!


The two days of rain have left their mark, similar to the aftermath of Hurricane Irene!

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Climate Farming, the Agriculture of Hope


“Carbon levels in most agricultural soils have declined over the past 100 years, from some 5 percent to less than 1 percent in many places. These oxidative losses have degraded the structure, productivity, and resilience of these soils and their capacity to infiltrate, retain, and sustain water to cool climates.” – Walter Jehne, Healthy Soils Australia

“A lot of farmers are being educated about the capacity of soil to sequester carbon. It gets them excited to think that they can contribute to a reversal of climate change.” – Kate Duesterberg, Farm Manager, Cedar Circle Farm, Vermont

Soil health and climate stability are closely linked.  In the atmosphere, carbon exists as carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas warming the planet. But in plants, carbon forms a sugary liquid that is exuded through the roots and gobbled up by microbes. This infusion of carbon and the microbial activity it supports gives structure to soil, improves the nutrient density of food, and increases soil’s capacity to hold water.

A new and growing movement is inspiring farmers to produce food in a manner that can mitigate and even help reverse global warming. It is being called “climate farming, the agriculture of hope.” Techniques for climate farming include use of cover crops, no-till farming, and sequestration of carbon by returning carbon-rich material to the soil through composting.

With this in mind, we at Canillas asked Lebanon’s Department of Public Works for the leaves from Fall clean-up of Colburn Park.  Not only did they offer us the leaves , but they delivered them to our garden – three truckloads of dried leaves!  With funds from the Robert F. Church Charitable Fund, we purchased a leaf shredder, and yesterday, began the process of shredding those leaves. Some of the shredded leaves will be mixed with manure and added to the hugelkultur.  We will also experiment with a chicken wire,’silo’ of shredded leaves and manure, to be added to gardens in the springtime.

We have also purchased organic buckwheat seeds, to be used as a cover crop on raised beds  . . . a little too late to be useful this year (buckwheat likes warmer weather) but luckily, buckwheat seed is viable for many years.


Shredded leaves!

Two articles on this topic, source of much of the above info:

Awareness of this issue has been heightened through the Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition List Serve discussions. Formed in February 2017, the Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition are mostly Vermonters, representing grassroots activists, enthusiasts, organizations and businesses that work with or for the land and water, all volunteers with an interest in shifting the paradigm of how people interface with the land. We operate under the premise that we can restore land water cycles by covering Vermont’s bare soil; nurturing photosynthesis and the biology underground.

To join our brand new, still-forming group, fill out this quick survey []. Then, follow the instructions in the email confirmations that you’ll receive to join the listserv.  If you have any trouble, contact Cat Buxton at or Juan Alvez at


Posted in Bright Ideas, Soil Health, What's New? | 2 Comments


A spirit of generosity runs through Canillas Community Garden. A few unsung volunteers maintain and enhance our garden. As the garden season is drawing to a close, we would like to acknowledge their contributions.

Cherry Angell is indeed an angel in our garden.  She weed-whacks the surrounding area frequently and weeds and mulches the pathways between beds. She fills the water bucket regularly. Cherry has created and maintains beautiful entryway flower gardens and helped create the new pollinator garden. Her presence in the garden makes her a greeter of visitors, to whom she often gives tours. Cherry donated the benches in our sitting area and helped pay for the large oak tree planted this year on Arbor Day. Her daily, behind-the-scenes work is a huge favor to us all.  Thank you Cherry!


Liz Bickel (L) and Cherry Angell (R)

Liz Bickel has been a volunteer for years. She helps maintain many of the flower beds, including the spiral. Her advice, as a former professional gardener, has served us well. This year, Liz donated three raised beds to replace beds that were falling apart. She and Cherry have volunteered to replace three other beds next spring.  Thank you Liz!


Helen Brody

Helen Brody is one of the founders of Canillas Garden. She has worked to create lovely entry way gardens, including the crab apple tree which is especially beautiful when blooming in the Spring . . . and when laden with fruit in the fall.  This year, Helen maintained the herb garden and she and Cherry created a new entryway herb garden, open to the larger community – anyone can pick parsley, basil, sage, mint, oregano, etc. ) Helen also organized and helped pay for the Arbor Day oak tree planting and celebration. Thank you Helen!


Polly Gould

Polly Gould is one of the founders of Canillas Garden and the creator of the spiral flower garden which she maintains. In springtime, she grows and donates flowers and veggies for the spiral, the bean tepee, and the hugelkultur.  She orchestrated the building of our shed by the Regional Resource Center students in Hartford, VT. She and her husband Frank built the tepee and Canillas Community Garden sign. Polly created the two garden people (ok, scarecrows, though they are too whimsical to really scare anything.) She donated the locally made bird bath and helped renovate it with mosaic glass and pottery shards (some of which came from the soil in the garden.) Polly and Cherry helped build and maintain the hugelkultur which currently is producing lots of tomatoes and winter squash to be shared with Canillas gardeners.  Polly was also involved in the creation of the new pollinator garden.  Thank you Polly!



Suzanne Church has been instumental in the creation of the new pollinator garden at Canilllas. She has done research into the connection between pollinators, plants, people, and pesticides and is interested in promoting awareness of these issues.  Thank you Suzanne!


Paula LaPlant

Paula LaPlant is new to Canillas this year and has been a welcomed addition to our weeding team; imagine, someone who enjoys weeding!  She is a hard worker and helped create the new pollinator garden in the pocket park behind Goss-Logan Insurance. Thanks Paula.

Thanks to CCBA for the land, the liability insurance, the keeping of the books, and the general support and partnership!

And thanks to all the others who have contributed to the success of the garden!


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