Wednesday, June 20, 2012

 

Commentary

The Real Potential of Chilliwack

Corn and dairy markets not enough to sustain all farm types, better food infrastructure needed

Submitted by Myrtle Macdonald, M.Sc. Applied, Retired RN

 

armers' markets once a week in the summer are a Godsend, but they should be central in Chilliwack, Sardis and Yarrow, not only far northwest at Minters' Greenhouses.

 

Several years ago the market was on Mill street, but there wasn't room for farmers' trucks behind the stalls, to keep produce from wilting.

Regarding food distribution locally, our local governments should subsidize entrepreneurs to build and manage refrigerated storage sheds and a freezer section, for local vegetables and fruit. There could be shelters/tents for private farmers to market their produce beside it. Perhaps farmers should be able to leave their left over produce in the refrigerated shed, and be able to sell it the following week(s).

SKT, Kin's and Hofstedes carry some local produce, but it is lost/unnoticed when mixed with imported fruit and vegetables. Local farmers should always be featured, not overshadowed. Having a middle man probably is not encouraging market gardening. These commercial markets could make the local products more prominent all year round.

There should be provision for locally grown produce to be stored all year round, for the convenience of Vedder, Yarrow and Greendale farmers, in sheds beside the Southern Railway (old Interurban). At Sumas/Huntingdon the Southern Rlwy transfers CN/CP cars to and from the Santa Fe and Union Pacific Railways. Did you know they have refrigerator cars? Looking ahead, I have a vision for selling our vegetables and fruit far and wide in America and China.

If any of you have experience along this line please share it.

We had Fraser Vale Frozen Foods in Chilliwack. Excellent frozen vegetables and fruits grown locally, were packaged and sold across Canada and perhaps in the USA. In the late 60's when I was studying at McGill University in Montreal, I bought FraserVale frozen peas, etc. It was a successful thriving industry. About 15 years ago Pillsbury bought it, but they closed the plant. That put market gardeners and strawberry and raspberry growers out of business. Blueberry farmers also are suffering and need help marketing their produce. So do hazelnut/filbert farmers and walnut growers.

At one time Chilliwack was Cherry Capital and could be again if marketing were supported properly.

Peaches can be grown here and thrive. My father Chris and his brother August Schneider, had large peach and plum orchards between Williams Street and CCSecondary School. When they were over 80 years old, they sold out and Rotary Street was built. Houses took over that wonderful peach orchard.

Now small farmers have a hard time making a living. They get by through enlarging their dairies (agribusiness size) and growing corn, cedar hedging and nursery shrubs, or building green houses for roses and perennial flowers. Some have greatly enlarged their mushroom sheds and their chicken barns. None of these agribusinesses need the fertile soil in this valley. ARL land is misused.

What can be done to motivate return to proper use of our arable land? I think the answer is for visionary people to establish a refrigerated and frozen food business, with or without encouragement by municipal, regional district and provincial governments' help.

Support by CEPCO could help bring prosperity back to family farming, market gardening and orchards.
 

Please tell compatible experienced industries about this great opportunity for them to invest in storage and marketing of fresh produce, and quickly make profits.
 

 

About Myrtle Macdonald M.Sc. Applied (in Nursing Research and Education), McGill University.

Myrtle is a retired registered nurse now working with the local chapter of the BC Schizophrenia Association. She's 91 and one of the Voice's most popular contributors and we're very fortunate to have her share her knowledge wisdom with us.

 

Myrtle was a street nurse for many years in places like India and Montreal.

 

 

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