Monday, February 3, 2014

Farmland Preservation

     Most of the food we consume today is produced far away in large monoculture, agrochemical dependent farms.  The environment created by these industrial farms is unhealthy for pollinators and us.  A new U.N. report (U.N. Press Release) supports a shift from a system of monoculture farming towards greater varieties of crops, reduced use of fertilizers and agrochemicals and greater support for small-scale farmers.  The report also supports more locally focused production and consumption of food (U.N. Report).  
     In Greater Vancouver we are blessed with rich agricultural land along the Fraser River from Richmond to Chilliwack.  However, this valuable resource has been disappearing at an alarming rate to non agricultural development.  The Agricultural Land Commission was created in the 70's to protect farmland as an independent authority not subject to political or industry interference.  In the fall of 2013 the BC provincial government announced plans to “modernize” the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) that governs the ALR in the province, which would remove the organization’s independent status and bring it under the umbrella of the Ministry of Agriculture. Decisions about land usage on the ALR would then be left to local governments and the oil and gas industry.  The same government that supports a pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta to our west coast would be in control of preserving our remaining farmland.  

     On Febrary10th the "Family Day Rally - To Save the Agricultural Land Reserve" will be held at the B.C. Legislature Grounds.  For more information go to The Farmland Protection Coalition (Facebook) or support the ALR by letting Premier Christy Clark and your MLA know how important you feel farmland preservation is (Contact information)
     An amazing example of local, organic food production is the "Urban Homesteadin Pasedena, California.  On just one tenth of an acre 15 minutes from downtown Los Angeles the Dervais family produce 3200 kilograms of organic produce annually on their city farm which includes ducks, chickens, goat and bees.  Their livestock provide eggs, milk and honey for their vegetarian diet and they use alternative fuels like biodiesel, pedal power and solar panels. 

     This year I am growing food and raising bees for the local foodbank.  I am always amazed by the amount of food you can grow on a small parcel of land.  Growing food is empowering and tasty and benefits our bees by providing good, organic forage.  I encourage everyone to grow food.  If you don't have land join a community garden or guerilla garden.  The City of Vancouver is encouraging the formation of new community gardens.  Here is a list of the 75 community gardens in Vancouver and the contact information for those gardens (Grow).


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