OPINION: Pandemic prompts many to embrace the idea of growing local

Thinking global and acting local has been a phrase and concept that has been around for a while but I do not recall it being as relevant as it is now.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shut borders, and that is something to seriously consider. Canada and the United States have agreed to continue the closure of our border to all non-essential travel, yet there are still anecdotal stories of United States travellers crossing the border telling customs officers they are travelling to Alaska.

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A caller to a radio show I was listening to the other day noted that he saw licence plates from Texas, Idaho, Washington and California at the Cypress Park parking lot this past weekend. He also rightly noted that if they were on their way to Alaska, they were lost.

Acting local is resonating in a subtle but substantive way. In the past week alone I have had two teachers and several sets of parents ask me questions on best practices for setting up a backyard farm. I have been happy to share tips and I must say that I am encouraged to see the interest in pursuing growing opportunities on a micro local scale.

Many of the kids I work with have also shared stories of helping their parents build backyard and patio growing spaces and some have even shared stories of how they have helped their parents make choices of what to grow and how to achieve best results. Can you see the smile on my face?

Ingenuity is alive and well and is likely a trait that will continue to evolve as a result of the pandemic. You only have to look at restaurant row in Tsawwassen and the parking lot patios to see adaptation in action. Kudos to Darren Gates and other operators who are affording us the opportunity to feel safe while dining and thanks to the City of Delta for allowing this to happen quickly.

We have all heard stories of logistics and supply chain dynamics being affected lately. I am sure everyone has a good toilet paper tale to tell but when it comes to our food supply, things need to be given appropriate consideration now so that we can best prepare for unforeseen circumstance.

The ability to grow, process and store locally grown food should be top of mind for all of us. Our hard-working farming community needs to have a sense of security in knowing that their products have an intact and economically viable life cycle. And we as consumers need to feel good in knowing that farmers are successful.

After years and years of controversy and local socio-political unrest, the Southlands community is close to becoming a reality. The first phase of homes will be ready in the fall and farming activities are well on their way. This community, built around food and farming, will surely be a model for others in the world. It’s an example of sustainability and food security right here. Local.

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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