Have we ever had such a windy winter? But it does look like an early spring. If the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow this Tuesday, that will corroborate my prediction. Of course it will have to be an avatar groundhog for Haida Gwaii since Wiarton Willie lives in Nova Scotia and wouldn’t know what’s going on here on the opposite coast. My signs of spring are plant-based.
Daffodils are up, the winter-roses are in full bloom, the magnolia has buds and some rose bushes have new leaves. The wind is even a bit warmer and on the odd day that it isn’t blowing, the sun is hot in my greenhouse. This could all be misguided optimism on my part, and the plants’ part as well since a hard frost or a snowstorm is not out of the question for unpredictable February.
The Farmers Institute met last week and planned for the year ahead. Work on the dry storage half of the cooler will make it more available for temporary storage. A meeting of all the island farmers’ market managers is being planned for early February while the fifth wnnual Sara’s Seedy Saturday is tentatively planned for March 12 in the Port Clements Hall. There will be a group mailing of soil samples and if you want to have yours done, contact Ralph Leach. Finally the annual general meeting will be held on February 18th in the Tlell Fire Hall at 7:30 PM. If you grow or eat local food or just support the idea, come and join the Graham Island East Coast Farmers Institute (even if you live on Moresby Island) and make it happen.
This coming season has the potential to see local food production become a growing economic force for Haida Gwaii. Local food is far ahead of imported food in taste, freshness and health benefits, but until now it hasn’t been economically competitive. However, the famous $8 cauliflower is indicative of the rising cost of food worldwide and the infamous dropping dollar is making imported food more expensive for us. Climate change is causing drastic reductions in food production but is also making it more feasible for us to grow it here.
The farmers markets saw a huge increase in tourist traffic last summer, and this summer that lower dollar will attract more Canadian tourists on a ‘staycation’ as well as a large increase in American and other foreign tourists. So get going and get growing and take your surplus to the market.
It is good to see young potential farmers looking to get started. Lloyd and Sarah are one such couple. They are renting in Tlell and currently working at the Ranch in the feed store and clinic respectively, and looking for a home and land to buy. Stevie-Lyn and Caylen have been working on their little mixed farm, which they rent and lease.
They plan on expanding their garden space and growing much more produce. You will see them at the Tlell Farmers Market which Stevie-Lyn will be managing this year. Brock and Mary-Anne are almost finished the infrastructure of their recently purchased farmland. They are planning a permaculture mixed farm and will also be selling their produce at the local markets.
If you have a yard or even boxes on the deck, you too can be a farmer. Financial success is only icing on the cake of what raising your own food is all about. It is a lifestyle that offers so many rewards. Growing your own food contributes to your physical health but the satisfaction of creating it nurtures the soul.