A new agricultural mindset is taking root in Boundary Bay

It was a great few weeks of fun over Christmas but I am glad to be settling down into a new year. I tried my best not to overindulge in the many culinary delights that were available of late but alas, I am weak.

I also enjoyed what was something of a real stretch of winter but am happy to see the rain and feel the much warmer temperatures.

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I was checking my photo archives and there were pictures of us eating kale and mixing compost into our school neighbourhood farms last year at this time. Not so much this year. The soil is still frozen and if you like kalesicles, there are a few of those kicking around.

The young student farmers at the Delta Farm Roots Mini-School are keen to get outside and get going. They have crops growing in raised beds close to the school which retain decent heat and have tarped off a half-acre for their first field. This area had been tilled in the fall and will need some more preparation before seed is sown and seedlings are transplanted.

The soil here needs some remediation and people are stepping up to help out. This past Monday, before the rains came in, Kevin Savage, who is working on land preparation on the Southlands, was kind enough to use a large Volvo excavator to fill three dump truck loads of topsoil, which was carted to the Farm Roots field site. Thanks to Century Group for thinking of us.

As part of the Farm Roots partnership, and until they can get outside, the students will be receiving instruction from the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Institute for Sustainable Food Systems. Dr. Rebecca Harbut will be leading the way this semester.

Her first lecture last week was fascinating as she related philosophical observations from American physicist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn with the idea to get the kids thinking about alternative points of view to traditional thinking, especially as it pertains to agriculture. She stressed that it is important to move yourself down the spectrum in the hopes you can better appreciate other viewpoints.

The crux of the lecture, for me, was to envision a food economy where different ways of doing agriculture can co-exist.

A portion of the lecture showed what family units around the world spent on weekly food budgets. Harbut showed photos of the family and the items they would typically purchase. At the top of the list was a family of four from Germany that spends $500 a week on cheese and mostly packaged food. A family of four from Carolina spent $341 a week. The only thing fresh in the photo were grapes and tomatoes. All the rest was pizza, packed stuff, chips, pop and lots of fast food boxes. These two examples were a sharp contrast to a family of 13 from Bhutan who live in a very lovely looking home. They spend $5.03 on their weekly food budget. I only saw two items that appeared to be packaged. Everything else was fresh vegetables, fruit, grains and protein. If these are the types of things our kids are learning in our school system, they will be in good stead for a promising healthy and prosperous future.

Mike Schneider is founder of Project Pickle and likes to write about growing, cooking and eating food. He is a Jamie Oliver Food Revolution ambassador.

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