Farming for the Future

This is a guest post by CYH volunteer, Jamee DeSimone.

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Famous chef and campaigner for fresh, Jamie Oliver, recently went to “the most obese city” in the US, and asked elementary school students to identify fruits and vegetables by sight, in their natural forms. Sadly, many of them couldn’t even tell the difference between a tomato and a potato. And most did not know that they were grown in the ground. Most of their food came to them processed and unrecognizable.
Perhaps this is an extreme case, but I don’t think this is so far off from the reality many of us in North America face. Processed or otherwise, do you know where your food comes from?

Canned and processed foods are almost always the cheapest (and easiest) products to buy. But processing not only cuts down or eliminates the nutritional value of the food, it also adds potentially harmful chemicals, and produces tonnes of waste. It also consumes incredible amounts of energy; unnecessary and wasteful energy use contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere and enhances the effects of climate change.

We deserve better!

So I set out to find local examples of “better”.

An especially awesome place I found in my search is the Richmond Sharing Farm, where I recently participated in a volunteer work day. Not only is the farm a non-profit organization run by passionate young people, but it also provides all of its naturally grown, nearly organic produce to the local Richmond Foodbank all summer long! They don’t spray chemicals, which are harmful to the natural environment, and they provide an incredibly valuable social service.

The experience I had there was extraordinary. I used to think farming was mostly done by people my parents’ and grandparents’ ages, and that it was a dying industry run by disgruntled (and rightfully so) people. But what I saw on the Richmond Sharing Farm turned that idea around. Everyone there was young and vibrant, and so passionate about their work! They LOVED getting out onto the fields and getting their hands dirty every day. They saw the beauty of the life they were sowing, and the real purpose of their work. I also met some university students that were working as interns, while going to school to learn how to be farmers. I was so happy to see that farming is making a comeback, with young people like us getting involved and starting careers!

We’re currently finding ourselves on the path to a potential global food crisis, where food security issues are ever present in the media, and environmental and social problems are affecting our food yields.
We need to start thinking more about where our food comes from, and what we’re putting into our bodies.
We need to engage young people in sustainable farming practices.
We need farmers to become more important parts of our social fabric.

I believe we can do that.

So I encourage everyone that has any interest in growing food to spend some time on a farm. Experiencing farm life is a great way to see how our food is born, and how it’s loved and tended to before it reaches our plates. If you can’t farm, check out your local farmer’s market and have a chat with the person who grew that tomato you’re buying! It’s a different food experience when you know where your food came from.

Our grandchildren will thank us.

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Jamee works in energy management at BC Housing. Commonly referred to as a “tree-hugger” by family and friends, she has a passion for all things natural and environmentally friendly, and seeks to surround herself with like-minded people.

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