Heritage home could serve as agricultural interpetive centre

Thousands drive by it every day and over the years we have watched it proudly stand as vanguard at one of the busiest highway interchanges in southern British Columbia.

As noted in this paper last week, and in a couple of stories over the past couple of years, the once majestic Kittson house is dangerously close to becoming a pile of rubble.

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Built in 1907, this fine heritage farmhouse was home to a pioneering farm family in the early 1900s. The family grew hay, raised livestock and ran a small dairy operation.

When you drive by it today, it is truly a study in contrast when you consider the innovations in farming techniques that have evolved over the years.

Sunny Bay Greenhouses, the new owners of the land, operate a successful and sustainable greenhouse operation on the same homestead land. The large yellow house framed on a background of glass from Sunny Bay's operations instantly gives cause to reflect on the importance of farming in Delta, whether from field or greenhouse.

Greenhouse production in B.C. accounts for 23 per cent of Canada's greenhouse sales. Some $240 million is generated from greenhouse grown vegetables in B.C., which is $40 million more than is grown from field crops.

Greenhouses in Delta occupy about 400 acres or about two per cent of our ALR lands (Ministry of Agriculture). These highly efficient operations are expensive to build but produce more revenue and food per square foot than any other farming technique.

In Delta, these agricultural paradoxes and contrasts are all around us. When you drive through South Delta in particular you can see heritage buildings sitting beside greenhouses and modern outbuildings all over the place.

It is important that we understand our farming heritage in Delta and elsewhere and it is equally important that youngsters and future generations comprehend what farming is so that a better appreciation of food and the food economy can be realized.

The Corporation of Delta's Heritage Advisory Committee has been looking at ways to save the Kittson house from becoming a pile of scrap. It has been diligent in attempting to save this important piece of our local history.

The owners of Sunny Bay have thankfully been very patient while a new home for the building is found. They can't wait for much longer though as they need to use the Kittson footprint for their business.

I think this fine piece of architecture would make a suitable interpretive centre for the greenhouse association and for farming in general. It could also be used as an educational facility.

I am hoping the community can rally around the Kittson house and offer its support of the Heritage Advisory Committee to come up with ideas and the money needed to save the building.

Perhaps a combination of community, corporate and government support can work together right away to save this home and keep it is a reminder of our past so that we can prepare for the future.

A Google search for Kittson house will give you plenty of links to photos and other information.

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