Steele: Support farmers: Buy local

Support our farmers: Buy from our cornucopia of Okanagan grown produce

  • Oct. 6, 2016 5:00 p.m.

Cornucopia of locally grown produce.

Last Tuesday I took my 95-year-old dad, Art Hughes-Games, on a delightful drive through East Kelowna orchards.

He came to Kelowna in 1926 and is full of the history of the area.

Listening to his stories and remembering my own childhood, I am filled with gratitude to have lived here most of my life.

The valley is beautiful and filled with abundance. The climate is great for growing most of our food.

Gwen SteeleOur family had a quarter acre vegetable garden. Canned and frozen produce lasted us until the garden began producing the next year.

All four children helped. We all grew up to be gardeners.

Kelowna was small and mostly an agricultural community. Capri Mall was a pear orchard. There was a pig farm at Sutherland and Burtch. Rutland was a separate community of orchards and farms.

The fascinating pictures of fruit box labels on electrical boxes around town gives a sample of the names of many old packing houses.

The present Cultural District was filled with packing houses including the Rowcliffe Cannery. They canned tomatoes among other things.

As well as fruit, lots of vegetables were grown to be shipped to other places.

Produce was loaded into freight cars that were barged down the lake to Penticton to link up with the railway.

Things have changed dramatically since the 1950’s. Much good farmland has been covered with houses, roads, parking lots, shopping malls and industrial buildings.

With cheap transportation we have come to expect to eat fresh produce, like strawberries, all year round. Most of our food is imported.

Public and government support for local agriculture has diminished.

Fortunately the Agricultural Land Reserve was created in the 1970s. Without this all the arable land would likely have been sold and built on.

As transportation costs increase and water becomes scarcer for growing crops in places like California, imported produce will become very expensive or unavailable just as it was when I was a child.

Now is the time to make sure our farmland is preserved, programs are created to help young farmers get started, and older farmers get support to make their farms more efficient. We need to prepare for the future by creating and supporting strong local food production now.

I am grateful to see signs of change.

Our large Farmer’s Market makes fresh local produce more readily available and connects buyers to farmers.

Some schools have gardens. Children love to grow their own food.

Recently I’ve been excited to see a substantial increase in vegetable gardening, especially among younger people.

From a xeriscaping perspective, a vegetable garden is an excellent alternative to lawn and water-thirsty ornamentals. It does need water but with good soil, drip irrigation and a layer of mulch to hold in the moisture, the water is used efficiently and it provides the gardener with healthy, ‘free’ food.

This Saturday, Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Kelowna Veggies at 2570 Old Vernon Rd., is offering the remainder of their crops to anyone who wants to come and harvest. Gleaners can take home half of what they collect. The other half will be donated to the Okanagan Food Bank. Produce available includes various squash varieties, tomatoes, peppers, jalapeños, and eggplant.

Just Posted

Rockets stumble again, lose 6th straight to Moose Jaw Warriors

The Rockets will have to bounce back with weekend games against the top two teams in the league

Hail the mighty Caesar: Kelowna Caesar creators expand their shop

Simp’s Serious Syrups has opened a store on High Road

Freezing rain, some snow forecasted for Okanagan-Similkameen-Shuswap

Environment Canada forecasting freezing rain and snow for much of the region

New Lake Country school sports fields to include track and field oval

School rec facilities to be developed on former Aspen Grove golf course

UPDATE: Homeowners keep fire at bay in Oyama garage

Fire crews are reportedly on scene of a structure fire on Broadwater Road

Barack Obama to speak at Vancouver event

Former U.S. president will speak with board of trade in March

Prince George could get province’s second BC Cannabis Store

The first brick-and-mortar government retail location opened in Kamloops on Oct. 17

B.C. chowdery caught up in ‘rat-in-soup’ scandal to close

Crab Park Chowdery will be shutting down Jan. 20

Vancouver councillors unanimously approve motion declaring climate emergency

Vancouver joins cities like Los Angeles and London

Caribou herd disappears from Kootenays after last cow relocated

One cow from the South Selkirk herd and two from the Purcells were moved this week

‘I never said there was no collusion,’ Trump lawyer says

President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani says he has ‘never said there was no collusion’

Body of Canadian miner found after African kidnapping

Kirk Woodman’s body was discovered 100 kilometres from the site where he worked for Progress Mineral Mining Company in Burkina Faso

Study finds more than half of food produced in Canada wasted

The study released Thursday is the world’s first to measure food waste using data from industry and other sources instead of estimates

Snowed-in Austrian nuns insist they’re staying put

Authorities have deployed heavy equipment to clear snow and fallen trees blocking the road to the monastery

Most Read