Monday, Oct. 20, 2014
Preserving Local Agriculture
Reversing the trend to destroy the family farm
Submitted by Myrtle Macdonald, Chilliwack
have picked out two new candidates I plan to vote for, and I want also to vote for a family farmer, but I don't see one among the candidates. If you like farming don't hide your talents or experience. I might decide to vote for you.
Firstly, I want emphasis on growing and marketing of vegetables and fruit.
Chilliwack was once Cherry Capital. It also was home for Fraser Valley Frozen foods.
Will any of the candidates focus on the need to regain lost success in these areas? Pillsbury bought and closed a thriving industry that sold Chilliwack frozen food across Canada. I even bought some when I lived in Montreal 1968-74.
I am not pleased that to make a living, family farmers grow cedar hedging and nursery bushes instead of strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, peas and beans.
Farm youth have to get a second job although they love farming.
Between Williams street and CSSS my father and uncle grew the most luscious peaches I have ever eaten. Why was Rotary Street allowed to be filled with urban housing?
Will anyone on council head up or at least promote a marketing program for sale of local produce. Farmers are too busy to organize and lead this vital service. They are carrying the whole expensive, time-consuming burden of farming with little or no help. I also am too old and busy at 93 to contact the most influential people. I delegate that to readers. Please share this message far and wide.
Farmers' Marketing 12 months of the year is needed. This includes; refrigerating, storing, freezing and distribution. Refrigerated containers, mobile on the Interurban - Southern Railway, might stop weekly at six different stations.
Subsidies and/or supports are needed so that farmers can afford to sell at less than supermarket prices. Competing with California and Mexico prices is next to impossible, even though local fruit and vegetables are more tasty and nutritious.
Chilliwack municipality could become Capital for peaches, cherries, blueberries, hazelnuts and farm fresh vegetables, free range eggs and chickens.
Secondly, I am not pleased with Agribusiness Dairies using fertile land for indoor feeding of cows and chickens.
My mother had long fields used in rotation by the young chickens. They always could roam freely to eat greens in one field while the other revived.
Even on supposed state-of-the-art dairy farms, cows are standing and lying in wet straw mixed with manure, unsanitary for milk and hard on their hoofs.
In Chilliwack dairies there are so many cement gutters, that scraping and washing down their individual stalls leaves them damp, or even wet. Why not a large loafing parlor and a ramp at one side for cows to line up freely at a milking station? That worked beautifully on my father's farm. There were no individual stalls. The floor was flat and slightly sloped, so cleaning was easy. The cows could roam free range. In all seasons they went outdoors to a green pasture. There were two or more used in rotation.
In Chilliwack there used to be thriving calf, lamb, pig and chicken 4 H Clubs, but now only horse and dog clubs. Farm youth are missing the joy of a personal educational experience. They are missing the fellowship of neighbor boys and girls also engaged in animal husbandry.
I want to hear from candidates who will work for reversal of this trend to destroy the family farm.
Is there an experimental farm? Is there a District Agriculturist and a Home Economist? Is there a farm women's club?
What has happened to school gardens and fairs?
Myrtle Macdonald, M.Sc. Applied (in Nursing Research and Education), McGill University. She is a retired registered nurse living in Chilliwack and now working with the local chapter of the BC Schizophrenia Association. She worked as a street nurse for many years in places like India and Montreal. She turned 93 in June and is one of the Voice's most popular contributors.
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