City gardens key to food independence

Kamloops Daily News
March 5, 2013 01:00 AM

Kamloops may not yet be at the point where residents are uprooting their lawns and digging in lentils, grains and vegetables instead, but the city has a lot going for it in terms of growing food.

The keynote speaker at the B.C. Association of Farmers' Markets conference held here on the weekend told attendees that with climate change and rising prices, people and municipalities should be thinking more about producing their own.

Michael Ableman advocates for working farms that would educate people about growing in the city, big compost facilities in neighbourhoods, and homeowners producing their own vegetables so larger farms could focus on grains, beans and other protein sources.

As the co-founder of Sole Food Street Farms, he knows a thing or two about converting idle plots of land, even parking lots, into vegetable producing meccas. There are now four such "farms" in Vancouver, including one started in 2009 in the Downtown Eastside that employs marginalized people and sells the food to restaurants and at farmers markets.

The Kamloops area is gifted with all kinds of producers - beef, chicken, lamb, fish, fruit and vegetables, honey and wine - and many of these goods are readily available at the farmers markets that run here from spring to fall.

There are more than a dozen community gardens offered by the City, seniors, churches, schools and community groups where people can get their hands dirty and grow what they like.

A variety of groups are involved with a downtown public produce garden where passersby are encouraged to pick anything they'd like to eat for free; there was around 200 kilograms of food harvested from the front plots of City Hall and distributed to the food bank and Interior Community Services last summer; there are even experienced gardeners teaching people at a subsidized residential complex how to garden and process their bounty.

So there is lots ongoing relative to locals producing their own food here but as Ableman points out, there is always more that can be done.

Hiring marginalized people to tend garden plots and then sell the wares at a farmers market, as they do with the Sole Food project, could be a next step in our city's evolution toward self-sustainability.

The sky is truly the limit in the potential for such growth.

© Copyright 2015 Kamloops Daily News

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