radicle beets

Scattered Forest: Project Response to Destroyed Community Garden by radiclebeets
The Purple Thistle Gardeners are stoked to let you know about our new Food Tree initiative starting this winter. As most of you are aware, our Food Forest was destroyed by a neighboring property owner. Most of our plants were cut down and chopped up. This is really sad, especially in that we had really close relationships to those plants. However, the folks who tore out the gardens had the heart to save all of our trees by transplanting them into paint buckets, which we drilled holes into so they wouldn’t drown. Now we have 41 food trees, mostly fruit and some nut trees, that need new homes so they can survive and thrive. 
This is where the Scattered Forest Project comes in. The city has asked us not to work on the Food Forest site for the time being, and the gardeners are focused primarily on saving those trees. We got together and figured out how we would like to do that, while keeping them accessible within the community!
We are looking for folks in the East Van neighborhood to act as community hosts and caretakers for the trees. Our Food Forest was a project to create a self-sustaining permaculture garden completely open to the public. All of the food we grew was for everyone in the community. Even as we separate the trees and find them new homes, we wish to keep those values. 
So here is what we are looking for:
-Folks with space accessible to people walking by (front yards, back yards) 
-Folks available to care for the trees, with an idea of how to keep caring for them as time goes on (long-term strategy to keep the trees in the community)
-Folks willing to try growing their trees using permaculture techniques (planting guilds to create biodiversity and symbiotic relationships)
-Folks willing to share their resources, knowledge, experience with others so we can learn from and help each other grow clean food, and build solid community with our neighbors.
The trees will be given out in mid-February. We will be setting up a workshop for hosts to learn tree-pruning, and organize a meet-up/potluck date for the hosts to meet each other, so we can create a system of support within the community. In March, when all of the trees are planted, we will be organizing a community bike tour, where the public will be brought to each site and can meet the trees with their hosts. We will also be giving participants of the bike tour a community map that shows each site of the Scattered Forest. 
We are in the planning stages of this project. If you are interested in helping organize with us, we have weekly meetings Tuesday at 6pm at the Purple Thistle 975 Vernon Dr. If you are interested in being a host, please send us an email to scatteredforest@gmail.com.
Mulch Love!!
 Scattered Forest Folk

Food Forest Eviction -> Orchard Move by radiclebeets
October 15, 2013, 1:05 pm
Filed under: Events, Food Forest, The Gardens | Tags: , , ,


This year has marked the .Guerrilla Gardeners of the Purple Thistle. with some pretty intense challenges, as we expected. Admittedly, staying positive and motivated has become more and more difficult with each blow, but we are trying.

This final blow of the season came from our Food Forest neighbor, who last year shared some of his land with us to put up half our Food Forest (super nice of him). Unfortunately, he is not down with our garden style, and has different expectations of what our gardens should look like, and how/what they should grow. He gave us notice to evict for November 1st, and has not been willing to communicate since.

Soooo… since it is his property, we don’t have much of a choice. We want to save the trees, and as much of that side of the garden as possible. We are going to move everything to the Parker Gardens down the road, so we are asking for your help!

This is a call out for Community Support!

We need help prepping the Parker beds, and transferring these beautiful trees with care. We will probably be making a compost tea for them too, so if you want to learn, now is a good opportunity!

We really hope you can come help us with the move. There will be food for everyone as a big big -BIG- thank you!

You can check out the FB event here.

-Mulch Love,

PT Gardeners

So Much Dirt! Season Update by radiclebeets


Holy muck, so much to learn! The Guerrilla Gardeners are in our 5th season of gardening, and we’re growing! This year we wanted to focus more on education and finding mentors, so we’ve had folks come in and facilitate workshops, we’ve sent folks out to learn about mushrooms and tree pruning, and along the way we ran into a few life jams! So far, this year’s jam themes seem to be how to better interact with our funny industrial community. We’ve come across challenge after challenge with folks vandalizing our gardens, whether it be bored folks breaking things, broke folks stealing trees, big business folk tearing down living walls, squatters idling by to power their hockey games, or urbanized humans dumping in our wetlands. Hit after hit, we recognize our battle to reclaim and regenerate life in an industrial wasteland is massive and long-term. Each blow hits us deep in our spirits, but we recognize each new situation is a symptom of a system that is founded on alienation and dislocation that is free-market capitalism. If we want to change that system, we have to get to the root of it. Take a machete to the Himalayan Blackberry, and it will grow back fast with aggression. We gotta dig down to the root and pull it out before we can plant something new. There is no better place, no more of an obviously painful place than where we and our gardens are. If we can grow good food here, if we can heal land here, if we can restore ecosystems and life here, where all there seems to be is dead cement, if we can heal ourselves HERE, we are soaring.

unicorniaUnicornia: Permaculture Design in case of Zombie Apocalypse. Natural border of defense? Blackberry bushes.

Past Workshops/Classes: 
Intro to Bioremediation:
Leila Darwish came from Victoria to facilitate a 2-day seminar on grassroots bioremediation. Fun, and intensely soul-squeezing, we came to realize how important it is to take care of the land we live on, as the land is our home, food, and medicine. We recognize how civilized humans got real good at making toxic soup out of it all, so some of the folks who attended the workshop felt inspired to put our new knowledge to use. The witches of east van teamed up with us, and with Leila’s help, we concocted some awesome compost tea to spray around Strathcona for their annual May Day fertility march.

Mushroom Food Forest Workshop


Our collective decided it would be a good idea to send a few folks to Portland, Oregon to boost our mushroom knowledge.  Ja Schindler and Maria Farinacci of Fungi for the People did an amazing job teaching us hands-on a few different ways to grow a few different mushrooms. Four of us drove an old VW hippy van (where subsequently we also learned a bit about engine maintenance) across the border where we inoculated logs with Turkey Tail, Chicken of the Woods, Reishi, and Lion’s Mane. We made stacks, poles, buried logs, drilled, and prepared for a time where we may not have electricity by hand-sawing wedges out of logs and stuffing them with spawn. Ja and Maria were amazing, and even taught us a bit about mushroom identification. One of the things that stuck out most was Ja’s idea that we should learn to describe the smells of different mushroom species without using the word “mushroom”. Try it! It ain’t easy!


Radical Mycology 101:


Radical Mycology co-founder Peter McCoy came to visit us from Olympia, WA to share some of his knowledge. We learned the basics of fungi life including their ever-expanding gender spectrum, different ways of cultivation, how we can use them as allies to remediate toxic land, and also how we can learn from them to form stronger communities with each other. More about Radical Mycology: radicalmycology.wordpress.com/ Thanks Peter for helping us inoculate coffee grounds with Oyster Mushroom spawn! You are right, mushrooms are sexy!radicalmycosmiles

Garden Camp:


From April to mid-May, we invited youth between 8-12 to come hang out with us in our gardens. Here we guerrilla planted Sunflowers, dug up Dandelion Root for tea, picked Stinging Nettle with our bare hands, played with red wriggling worms, brewed compost tea to help heal the land, hung out with the honey bees, designed a permaculture home base in case of a zombie apocalypse, transplanted squash, pulled out horsetail, harvested a giant conk mushroom, painted signs so folks will stop stealing our trees; we ate together, sang together, danced together, and had a huge blast!! We are so grateful for the opportunity to hang out with such rad kids.


Workshops coming up!

gardencampbees Honeybee Series with Brian Campbell:

 Saturday May 11, 2pm: Queen-rearing basics

 Sunday May 12, 10am: Starting work in hives—stimulating queen cell production

 Thursday May 16, afternoon: Removing started queen cells

 Sunday May 26, morning: Introducing queen cells into mating nucs

Since these are hands-on workshops and we don’t want to out stress the bees, there is limited space available. Please email Hannah for more info: hmjcarpendale@hotmail.com

Projects on the Go!
Natural Building with Cob – email Jenni to be part of the design team! Actual building of the cob shed will be taking place in July. jentigchelaar@yahoo.ca
Mushroom Enhanced Greenhouse – We just scavenged about 50 windows to use for our greenhouse. We’ll be using mushrooms to boost plant growth as the shrooms release heat and CO2. Help us design and build it for August! Email Phanh at abcwhatever@yahoo.ca or Kelsey ki2freedom@gmail.com

Look out for upcoming events and workshops that include Quinoa Sprouting, Food Forest Mushroom Cultivation, Herbal Medicine Making, and Permaculture 101. If you want to come help out, our garden parties are Sundays 11am-4pm, and Thursdays from 2-5pm. Also feel free to come eat with us at our Monthly Potluck Meetings every first Tuesday of the month. Invite your friends!

Mush Love and Peas!!

DAYcamp! by radiclebeets
March 5, 2013, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Cultural Growography, Events, Food Forest, Uncategorized


Radicle Beets Garden Camp!

April 3rd-May 15th, 2013

pumpkin love

Join the Purple Thistle’s Radicle Beets every Wednesday from April 3rd to May 15th, to explore, garden and regenerate land in the city! Camp-goers will go on daily garden missions, learn about plants, water, soil, bugs, and honey bees! We will also be doing screen-printing and creating beautiful garden art. We will learn about our place in the food web as we eat yummy food, share stories, and explore our silly sides with garden games. Most importantly, we’ll get our hands really dirty and make lots of new friends!

**For youth ages 8-12**
$150 for 6 week camp*
Wednesdays: 10am-2pm. (starting April 3rd)
daycampers@purplethistle.ca  to sign up!
*Sliding scale/ bursaries are available . Please contact us

About Us



Starting in 2009, a group of idealistic guerrilla gardeners dreamed of reclaiming unused industrial land in Vancouver. We wanted to create green spaces of community and learning from dusty abandoned lots.  Now, the Radicle Beets garden crew has become a youth-led collective that seeks and shares knowledge in urban permaculture and land restoration, with careful intention to be accessible to all. Based out of the Purple Thistle Centre, we have three intensive permaculture gardens, three beehives, a herbal apothecary, a wetland restoration project, and a young food forest with approximately 70 fruit and nut trees.


Meet The Beets



Born on Coast Salish Territories, Kelsey Corbett likes to connect with strange earthlings as she practices permaculture gardening, foraging, and tries her best to learn from the interesting lives of fungi. Kelsey is a youth-worker, and currently works with young people with disabilities. She is also an athlete and a coach. In karate, she is a former national gold-medalist, and Pan-American silver-medalist. Most of the time in her 20’s she spent on quad roller skates playing and coaching roller derby for Vancouver and Montreal. Now, she spends most of her time playing in the dirt, and organizing to get more humans to play in the dirt. This is what she is in love with. Come play in the dirt with us!

Phanh Nguyen has been a member of the Purple Thistle gardens for 2 years, while doing her studies at SFU. She enjoys spending her time between learning about neurobiology of nematodes in the lab and tending various creatures in the gardens. Loving children’s curiosity, Phanh is looking forwards to playing and growing food with kids while helping to cultivate their sense of wonder about nature.

Harvest Shakedown Party – Updates by radiclebeets

Oct 14, 2012 marked our 2nd Annual Harvest Shakedown Party. This year our main project was to install an irrigation system in our food forest. This was pretty ironic seeing as we woke up Sunday morning to pouring rain. So why were we so prompted to do this during such a funny, wet season? Well, we were advised that if for some reason there would be a dryer spell in the winter, the moisture would freeze around the roots of our trees. With the irrigation system, we will be able to prevent this from happening if necessary.

Considering the rain, the turn out was great! We would like to thank everyone who came out and got muddy with us!  We had 900 feet of irrigation to install (plus tedious prep time!) and we covered half of it. The second half will be much faster since we’ve finished cutting and gluing our piping attachments.

Inside, we had food prepared and hot tea served through out the day. We were able to warm up when we felt like it was a good time.

Seeing as the Food Forest is also threatened by the Malkin Connector, we decided to use this time to respond to the city. People wrote letters, made cards, and together we started our mural-sized drawing. The mural is a reflection of how people in the community are truly connected to their city. We mapped out Vancouver, and created little drawings of ourselves, or things that were important to us, and posted it on the map. The idea is to show that there are things in the city that connect us to each other far more efficiently and effectively than a super, concrete road; for example community gardens like Cottonwoods, Strathcona, and our Food Forest.

We were really excited to see so many different people come by to lend a hand. We gave many Thistle tours for first-timers, and we made a lot of new friends. It was nice to see so many different people from different worlds connecting, working together and sharing ideas. Thanks again everyone!

Water!! And an Espalier! by radiclebeets

Last week, while we were in the food forest doing our thing, Jen noticed a little trap door hanging out by the wetlands. Adam and I watched  giddily as Jen, curious as she is, pulled open the door  to reveal a brand new water tap! This is very exciting news for the food forest as it means no more having to wheelbarrow giant bags of water back and forth from 4 blocks away! Not only that, but this also means fun possibilities in installing a new water irrigation system, which means even more possibilities for the food forest are headed our way. Woot!

Other exciting news at the food forest: our pod built a peach and apricot  espalier! We put our brains together, got some material, and designed a structure for our trees to grow against the south-facing building wall belonging to our friends next door. We also added a sloped roof at the top of the structure to protect the trees from rain. These fruit trees prefer a lot of sun and so we had to figure out a way to keep them dry and warm in this rainy Coast Salish climate.  Also it was a great excuse to spend two days working hard in the sun so that afterward, we could treat ourselves with some excellent ice cream!

Oh hey, what is an espalier anyway?

An espalier is the agricultural practice of tying tree branches to a frame and pruning them so they can grow flat against a structure. But why would we ever want to do that? Well, at the food forest we are lucky to have a south-facing wall be part of our garden. Since the sun shines hard against it all day, the wall absorbs a lot of heat and will retain that heat even after the sun has set. If we could get these sun-loving trees to grow nice and flat up against it, they will greatly benefit from the additional warmth.

An espalier is also a really great way to maximize space. In a couple of years, when our baby trees grow up, we will have a beautiful green wall that bears peaches and apricots. Not such a bad deal!

I’d like to give a special thanks to Jordan, who is on his way back to California, and Johana, who has gone back home to Toronto, for their amazing work in making this happen. We were lucky to have you and look forward to seeing y’all again!

Later days!


Notes from the Food Forest Design Group by radiclebeets
May 27, 2012, 5:58 am
Filed under: Food Forest

An awesome group of 12 of us met Wednesday at the Thistle to geek out on plants.  We were working on designing specialized guilds – mutually beneficial plant communities – for each of our trees.  We also discussed inoculating with fungi and establishing microclimate guilds.  Here’s what we came up with:

All-Purpose Guild Plants

These  ones were included in almost every design – they certainly bear repeating

Comfrey – perennial. biomass, nutrient accumulator, medicine & tea

Yarrow – perennial. nutrient accumulator, insectiary, pest-repellent, medicine and tea

Nasturtium – self-seeding annual. insectiary, pest-repellent (or diversive), food

Clover – perennial. nitrogen fixation, food

Chives – perennial. pest-repellent, food

Fennel – perennial. insectiary, food, medicine & tea

Chamomile – self-seeding annual. insectiary, pest-repellent, medicine & tea

Calendula – self-seeding annual. insectiary, pest-repellent (or diversive), food, medicine

Lovage – perennial. insectiary, food
















Asian Pear





Queens Anne’s Lace




Winter savoury

Native berries

Cherry / Pear / Plum




Queens Anne’s Lace





Korean Licorice Mint



Lemon Balm
























White Asparagus







Walking Onion







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