Close-knit farming community is strong and loyal

Finally a legitimate stretch of warm, dry weather! My Project Pickle young farmers are ecstatic that things will speed up a little now and I even brought the hose to out begin our spring long ritual of water fights to keep their fun meters on high.

The kids are learning about the obstacles facing small-scale agriculture but are understandably frustrated with the slow growth in a cold and wet early spring. These are small-scale problems that we discuss and I always tell the kids we are often taking risks in our planting and learn what works best and when. We can learn from our failures.

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Up the valley, potato and strawberry farmers have started their seasons and just this week local farmers are getting into the fields after a very slow start. Farming is fraught with difficulty and when you only have so much time but often have way too much to do, it can be a stressful time indeed. There are plenty of issues to work through and, as always, Mother Nature is ultimately in charge.

The difficulties of farming have given cause in Delta and elsewhere for farmers to consider politics a means to represent their brethren and the community as a whole so that critical issues around land use and food production can ensure proper stewardship of the land and all that it provides.

Delta has a rich history of farmers who moved in to politics to help bring important food and farming issues to the forefront. The Savage family, who immigrated to Delta in 1870, is one of the founding farming families. John Savage was an alderman in Delta before being elected to represent Delta as MLA and a respected minister of agriculture in the legislature. Savage was instrumental in securing provincial funding for crucial irrigation infrastructure for farmers when the South Fraser Perimeter Road was built.

John L Guichon was a farmer and councillor from 1919-1936 and again from 1939-1950. Doug Husband from the pioneering Pybus family was elected to council five times before serving one term as mayor of Delta.

The Roddick family had served the farming community in Delta for years with its feed and supply business and Val Roddick was a two-term MLA and instrumental in developing the British Columbia Agriculture Plan with the former Liberal government.

Current Delta South MLA Ian Paton still lives on the family farm. He is also a three-term councillor in Delta and is currently chair of the Delta Agricultural Advisory Committee and is the official Opposition critic for agriculture in the legislature. Ian Paton Sr. was a dairy and forage farmer and was chairman of the Agricultural Land Commission.

Our farming community is a strong and closely knit group of people who care deeply about their livelihoods and where they live. They understand a myriad of local issues that many of us simply overlook or take for granted. They are the hard working, loyal and dedicated people who have helped to build the foundation of our great city and I feel privileged to know many of them.

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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