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The Van Berckel’s edible garden offers bounty of fruit, flowers and vegetables (Bowen Island, Vancouver, BC)

David and Aubin Van Berckel sit beside a willow sculpture named Con Brio by Vancouver artist Ken Clarke in their 2.5-acre edible garden on Bowen Island. Photo by Kim Stallknecht.

Just when I thought I had seen everything, the Van Berckels lead me into another area where there are two tunnels — one made from espaliered apples, the other from golden hops, from which David makes beer.

By Steve Whysall
Vancouver Sun
Aug. 19, 2016


As we descend deeper into the garden, David hands me a ripe Italian fig to taste. It is juicy and delicious. Next, he offers me a handful of ripe mulberries. Heavenly.

“I pollard (remove the top) our other mulberry trees. They look great in the winter. But since I prune them so hard, I don’t get fruit, since the fruit is only produced on previous year’s growth,” he says.

From The Fertile Crescent terraces, rows of grapevines are visible as well as the grove of Himalayan birch trees at the foot of the hill. Dotted here and there are stately stands of tall yellow mullein.

Water supply is a big issue on Bowen. To water vegetable patches, the Van Berckels have installed wooden box watering-stations that look a little like beehives.

“We call them ‘teapots’,” says Aubin. “Inside are pails of water into which we put comfrey leaves to make compost tea. We use this to water everything.”

More water is available from large tanks at the top of the hill. Two tanks are fed by a “trickle well”, two by rain run-off from the roof of the house.

Read the complete article here.