by Anne Jardine
Local Food Security & Kootenay-Columbia Part III
Here in Kootenay-Columbia, there are many individuals and initiatives that are striving to understand and mitigate the problems of climate change and to connect farmers to people and people to farms. Wayne Stetski, NDP Candidate for Kootenay-Columbia, cites Groundswell in Invermere, which has great ideas about food independence and security.
“Under the leadership of visionary educator Alison Bell and with the help of a strong committee of local food enthusiasts, Groundswell built its geothermal greenhouse on the grounds of the local high school and community college facilities in order to be an educational resource for students and local food enterprises,” says Stetski.
The Greenhouse supplies the high school’s nutritional lunch programs and its culinary arts courses as well as the college’s horticultural courses. As a model of creative small-scale production, it continues on a year-round basis to carry out its goal of educating and connecting people to the locally produced essentials of life.
Creston is our region’s hub of agricultural activity, and another example of leadership in connecting people to the essentials is Kootenay Meadows Farm, run by the Harris Family. Kootenay Meadows has been an organic producer for three generations and it follows grass pasture, minimal processing, and traditional practices for its milk and cheese production. Its milk is sold in reusable glass bottles and is available at Kootenay Co-op, Save-On Foods, and numerous other food stores throughout the region. This farm prides itself on absolute respect for the farm’s soil, pastures, and cows.
Wayne observes, “Being at the farm for the Spring Turn-Out of their dairy cattle is an event not to be missed, even if you show up in a suit!”
There are dozens of other examples of agricultural best practices throughout Kootenay-Columbia. Our farmers are essential contributors to the wealth of this region. The processes of organic restorative farming are being developed and woven together with traditional farming methods that nurture the land.
In recent years, small abattoirs have also improved our food security by enabling some ranchers to not have to depend on the giant, inhumane feedlot and industrial slaughterhouse systems that disconnect people from their meat.
Large production may have its efficiencies and may bring us convenient supermarket facilities, but for local producers, these advantages can be mixed blessings. Food prices must go up if farmers hope to make a living. If small farms collapse in the face of larger and larger conglomerates, the cost to the climate and the losses to rural communities like those in Kootenay-Columbia will be immeasurable.
Stetski asks, “How can the government make sure local food production, the heartbeat of rural life in Canada, has a chance to survive and thrive?”
Spring Turn Out at Kootenay Meadows Farm