Opinion

URBAN GARDENER: Lettuce pray for food security

If It Weren’t For The Dedicated Efforts of three commercial food farmers in this city and the support of North Island College  (NIC) Continuing Education Dept. food growing programs, we would still be treading water these past three years on the vision of becoming a self sufficient community.

Kira DeSourcy, who was just awarded the city’s prestigious Stewardship Award, is in the forefront of our “young farmer” movement. Since last winter she has been managing the food production of a remote farm cooperative on Cortes Island. Overlaying that she’s  been teaching a program on agriculture and backyard gardening and has developed a film series in conjunction with the city and NIC  on food security.

The course called “Lettuce Grow” included  backyard gardening and small scale agriculture. The series attracted an unexpectedly large turnout and received great reviews. That became the impetuous for designing the winter program which is now in progress. It includes bi-monthly events and workshops. Topics range from mason bees to organic gardening, permaculture and hydroponics. Check the NIC Continuing Education website for dates and registration.

Connie Kretz, owner of Coastal Roots Vegetables, is in her fourth season of food production on the Hudson family’s farm in North Campbell River.  Working alone, with occasional help, Connie grows more than 20 different crops on an acre of land.  She has developed a  highly successful box program which supplies a stylish container  of freshly picked vegetables every week to her client list. The program wrapped up on Oct 1 but the energetic Ms. Kretz doesn’t take that date as a signal to slow down. She is now preparing soil for her personal winter garden. This includes a broad selection of cold-hardy plants including lettuces, chards and onions.

Third On My List of Active Farmers are Steve Ross and Michelle White of  Ross Mountain Blueberry Farm on Peterson Rd. They established the farm three years ago and it has been a long stretch of back breaking work to arrive  at where they are today.

This summer they harvested their  first crop of lusciously plump blueberries, not enough for commercial purposes, but a harbinger of great returns when their bushes reach maturity in the next year or two.

The Putting Your Garden To Bed event attracted a great turnout at St. Patrick’s Church library last Saturday.

The Comox Strathcona Waste Management on-site educator Elaine Jansen invited master gardener Lorraine Waring of Courtenay to present a program which included advice on bedding down the veggies as well as lawn care, pruning shrubs, composting and fall planting. One topic that particularly interested me was her admonition to lime, lime, lime. She strongly believes that Vancouver Island soils are very deficient in this valuable mineral and suggests we amateur gardeners can easily test our own soil with an inexpensive kit purchased by mail from West Coast Seeds.

Did You Know the horticulturist at world renowned Kew Gardens in London says you can insect proof your garden with a simple spray mix of one egg yolk, a litre of water and one tbsp. of baking soda. Now, that sounds easy!

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