I finally made it out to a CR FAIR (Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable) meeting yesterday. This was held in Sooke at the new community allotment gardens in Sun River Estates. The plots are on land provided by the developer to Sooke for community use.
The host group was Sooke CHI, they are also the sponsors of the community gardens. The allotment gardens are beautiful and worth a short detour down Phillips road if you are in the area. They have an amazing shelter build by a local marine welding company from the scrap material from the old winery on Quadra street. Even in a neighbourhood where it would seem everyone should have access to a garden to grow things, they have managed to find takers for all of the plots.
One thing I was surprised about was that apparently there is a covenant in Sun River Estates that does not allow for people to plant food gardens. That sounds simply crazy to me, could it really be true you are not allowed to grow food there?
It was interesting to hear the interests of the people that made it to the meeting, but it was light on people active in agriculture, very light. The whole process is an important one, but there is still a cultural divide between traditional farmers and the food security community. Farmers have traditionally been blue collar and red neck, the food security community is left of centre and suspicious of free enterprise. The way the people dress, the lives they lead and the language they speak do not make it easy for there to be an alliance.
The one big aspect of agriculture that the food security community does not really understand is the scale of what is needed to feed the public. It is fine to work on a small scale but it is only a tiny niche in the food system. There is a reason why the prairies have huge grain farms, we need need the volumes to provide food for the people. Large scale agriculture has also found major innovations that means we produce a lot more food on less land, in fact we have no danger of running out of food globally.
More on the economics of food later in another post.
Most of our discussion was about the allotment gardens, the need for the them and the way they were created. We also discussed the status of funding from VIHA for food issues and that it looks like the money is not going to be around this year.
I am going to try and go to more of the meetings, I think I would offer a perspective at the meetings that is missing.