How farming saved Hardwick, VT

October 14, 2008

This story is pretty inspiring, and sounds like where we could be headed in the Powell River region, with some more smaller farms springing up, a bit more awareness of the value of local food to the local economy, maybe some small businesses and value-added operations, and something like Helena Bird’s proposed teaching farm & market garden (AKA “Full Circle Farm”) to anchor the community around a central facility to provide a common infrastructure for production and processing.

Here’s the part I like:

“All of us have realized that by working together we will be more successful as businesses,” said Tom Stearns, owner of High Mowing Organic Seeds. “At the same time we will advance our mission to help rebuild the food system, conserve farmland and make it economically viable to farm in a sustainable way.”

Cooperation takes many forms. Vermont Soy stores and cleans its beans at High Mowing, which also lends tractors to High Fields, a local composting company. Byproducts of High Mowing’s operation — pumpkins and squash that have been smashed to extract seeds — are now being purchased by Pete’s Greens and turned into soup. Along with 40,000 pounds of squash and pumpkin, Pete’s bought 2,000 pounds of High Mowing’s cucumbers this year and turned them into pickles.

Somehow we need to start pulling in the same direction. Things seem very ragged and disorganized right now, largely thanks to the policies of large centralized governments, but helped along by societal forces that make farming an unattractive profession. It’s so bad now for small-scale farming that almost anything would help reverse the trend.


Growing your own food is catching on in BC

May 5, 2008

From The Tyee, Some evidence from local seed retailers that the grow-your-own food movement is really catching on this season:

“We put out the catalog at the beginning of January, as we always do” says Jeanette McCall, a sales representative at West Coast Seeds, based in Delta, B.C.

“Then, boom. We had many, many, many more orders than we anticipated. [Our computer system] simply couldn’t handle the load,” she adds. “It just sort of crashed.”

It’s the same story at Salt Spring Seeds, which specializes in heritage and heirloom vegetable varieties.

“I’ve never seen the likes of this in over 20 years of selling seeds,” confirmed owner Dan Jason.

Now, if we could only establish a local seed-saving project here, to serve our local needs…

Why we’re in trouble

April 30, 2008

Interesting update from Corky Evans, who will be in Powell River on Sunday June 1 to talk at the Open Air Market. Corky is currently touring the province talking to farmers and getting lots of information on the effects of the new regulatory regime, especially the meat inspection regulations, which are causing a lot of our local farmers to fear for the future of farming in this region. Corky:

Dear Friends,

I have been traveling BC for a few months talking to farmers about farming. I have heard a huge number of excellent ideas for support systems to regenerate the business of farming that are not subsidies. None of these ideas, though, will work as long as BC is content to be LAST in Canada in support for food production and farming.

The enclosed graph was sent to me yesterday by a person who I met on the tour. It is the best representation of the overall situation in BC, now and historically, I have ever seen. Please give it a look. In fact, please give it a considerable amount of study.

The graph is pretty easy to understand. It starts in the 1980’s and runs up to last year. It shows that under the Socreds, the NDP and, now, the Liberals, British Columbia has failed farmers and farming. The top line is the average (not the best, the average) of support by Canadian Provinces. The bottom line is BC. As long as this condition continues to exist no Minister, no Cabinet and no Premier will be able to turn things around for the farmer. Essentially, we are the least competitive jurisdiction for this particular form of business in Canada.

If the graph interests you, send it to your friends. Maybe broad public knowledge of this embarrassment will convince society and societies Leaders to want to fix what is broken. I am working on the Party I support to understand the issue. Maybe you could work on yours.

Corky Evans
Agriculture Critic/ Official Opposition

In case you missed it, here‘s that graph again. It tells a pretty sad story indeed. But the question is: what are we supposed to do about it?

Come on out on June 1 to hear Corky Evans speak in Powell River. Guaranteed to get you fired up!