We need to talk about growing our own food

  • Sep. 22, 2008 7:00 a.m.

Submitted by Sara Eaton-When one has changes and challenges, one can put on blinkers or face them squarely and decide what to do.In response to recent news of food shortages and our already rising transport costs, let’s look at our island food security. Our food arrives now by a complicated, just-in-time freight network from California, Ontario or further. This system made sense when fuel prices were low, but they will never be so low again. We are at the far end of the supply routes. One often prunes things by clipping off the ends. Will anyone but us care if our food gets here?BC Ferries already sees us as awkward customers. Government and industry will have little use for a healthy community here; we will, in fact, be a bother.Food can be grown on Haida Gwaii. The Haida have gathered, managed and grown their food since myth-time. Yaatsxaaydaga (the rest of us) have done it for a least a century. For info read Growing Food on the Queen Charlotte Islands, published by Friends of the Library, Massett, BC in 1986. Today local residents grow celery and wheat, keep goats, chickens, sheep and cattle. The fish will require careful management (ought we to re-examine the catch and release rules?) There is plenty of venison, though that too will need to be carefully managed.People are starting to grow at least radishes and lettuce! And there’s talk about community gardening. Which makes one realize there are dozens of ways to tackle community food raising. Who will do it? For whom? Will it be larger areas of currently treed land, cleared and collectively managed? Will we each dig up our lawns, or will it be the classic community gardening plots? One Tlell farmer talks of renting unused acreage there. Private? Co-op? Non-profit?How to move from “I’d like to do that,” to doing it? Education will be a big part of this and beginners need input from experienced growers. Thank goodness we have them.To address these questions we need to get together and work out what might be most feasible/best for our communities. We might start small and get grander. We do need sympathetic village councils. Instead of trying to evict villagers from living a simple lifestyle on the beach, will the Queen Charlotte council support us by allotting an area for community gardening?Our challenge is to start thinking for next season and the future. Please watch the Observer for notice of an upcoming meeting. If you would attend a community food security meeting, please e-mail sara@haidagwaiii.net or leave a message (soon) at 559-7713 – so numbers and venue will fit each other.