By Ryan Elizabeth Cope —

The coronavirus pandemic came at everyone like a freak storm arising out of nothing. Even for those self-reliant with backyard or terrace gardens, the DIYers of the world, or the homesteading types, physical distancing rules and myriad restrictions and shortages threw everybody for a loop. Although we have fared better than some places, here in BC, we have not been without our share of illness and tragedy.

An added benefit to having backyard chickens: adorable, feathered
companions. Photo: Ryan Elizabeth Cope

With spring and summer come themes of renewal, rejuvenation, and new life. These past few months have been fraught with anxiety, uncertainty, and lots of unease, but we’ve also welcomed many positives and what amounts to something of a culture shift. Read on about five success themes that showcase our collective ability to rally, persevere, and innovate in times of crisis. The true test will be our willingness to hold onto these “new norms” as we venture out of our physically and socially isolated environments.

1. The Rise of Sourdough Culture

Take a look on any social media platform, or simply poll ten of your friends. Chances are good that someone you know is mixing flour and water together and letting it sit on their counter, hoping to capture wild yeasts out of the air. With commercial yeast shortages across the province, people are finding ways to continue their baking by cheaper, more magical means.

2. Hatch a Plan for Success

The pandemic threw into sharp relief the pitfalls of our cumbersome, globalized food system. Outbreaks of the virus ballooned at meat-packing plants and there were runs on staple foods like eggs. Many consumers took matters into their own hands and are investing in small flocks of backyard hens, making the distance between producer and consumer that much shorter.

3. Grow Where You Are Planted

Similar to the influx of newbie backyard chicken owners and the rise of sourdough culture, consumers are also taking back their lawns, terraces, and kitchen counters with plants. This pandemic made it clear that consumers really do care about where their food comes from, the safety of it, and how it’s produced. For many, it’s easier and less stressful to #GrowYourOwn.

4. Nature Nurtures

Being in nature is profoundly healing and calming for our frenzied, anxious minds, now more than ever. But travel restrictions and social distancing measures have hindered our ability to really get out and explore. The rise of “staycations” in our own backyards is ensuring we find peace of mind and discover something new (locally)… without the need for airplanes.

5. Meditate on This

So much has changed in our physical world in such a short time that it can seem incredibly overwhelming and hopeless. However, this has given rise to a new generation of meditation practitioners, since finding peace within is the only real tool we have at combatting a world of uncertainty. This is the kind of mental calm we need to cultivate new ways of being.

There are many other positive stories coming out of such a dark time in our history. Some of those include communities finding ways to connect despite physical distancing requirements; families spending more time together than ever before (even if it is over Zoom); the “Buy Local” movement seeing a massive influx; and increased interest in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiatives and farmers markets across the province. The pandemic has been bittersweet, but ultimately, it has taught us that when we bring our efforts closer to home and focus on building up our communities, we can create our own resilience.

Ryan Elizabeth Cope is a Kelowna, BC-based advocate for plastic-less, healthful living. She blogs at Seven in the Ocean where she marries her love of food with her disdain for plastic-wrapped garbage.

Recipe – Potato Salad with Fresh Herb Vinaigrette

Adapted from Thug Kitchen
by Ryan Elizabeth Cope

This fresh, vibrant potato salad is the perfect accompaniment to any summertime meal gathering. Gather fresh herbs from your own herb garden or pick some up at your local farmer’s market. By early fall, new potatoes will become available along with fresh carrots making this dish a locavore’s dream. Happy eating!


1 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp dijon mustard
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 Cup walnuts, pumpkin seeds, orc sunflower seeds
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup carrot, shredded
1/4 red onion, sliced thin (optional)
1/4 cup chives, chopped*
salt and pepper to taste
*feel free to add/omit fresh herbs to your liking! Parsley, cilantro, or basil would all work


  1. Cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Place them in a sauce pot and just cover with cold water. Sprinkle in a generous portion of salt, stir, and bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, reduce heat slightly and cover with a lid (leaving ajar for steam to escape). Cook until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork (10-15 minutes).
  3. While the potatoes cook, assemble the vinaigrette. Mince garlic (or use a press) and combine in a small mason jar with mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, and oil. Screw on the lid and shake, shake, shake!
  4. Drain the potatoes and put them in a large bowl. Add the dressing and gently toss with a rubber spatula.
  5. Add shredded carrot, onion (if using), chives, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Cover with a lid, beeswax wrap, or plastic wrap, and put in the refrigerator to sit for at least 30 minutes, allowing the potatoes to soak up all the vinaigrette goodness.

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