Monday, July 16, 2012
All Aboard the Veggie Train!
reclamation marketing and transport
Submitted by Myrtle Macdonald, Chilliwack
to emphasize two major points that seem to have missed by many people.
First, Although the world is becoming overpopulated there is a massive
amount of potentially arable land.
Now is the time to urge governments, businessmen and philanthropists to
invest money to develop marginal land. They need to set up programs that
will hire unemployed people at a good wage and with benefits, so that their
dignity and future will benefit. There are many underemployed city folk who
have warm memories of their grandfather's farm, but there is no way to buy
it back or even get a job on it. However, unlike the hippies they could
succeed, if hired as part of a well supervised program to reclaim a clear
cut hillside or a sliding, eroding riverbank, to develop it into terraced
market gardens or orchards.
As in China and Vietnam, the rubble in mountain valleys can be used to
terrace hillsides. Some clear cut forests can be planted with indigenous
trees and shrubs and others can become orchards. Little fields can be
stabilized with rock walls and sloped for streams and springs to run through
them evenly. Newcomers from SE Asia would more easily understand the skills
needed, even if they don't think so, than US or Canadian born people.
Workmen could be rewarded with a good wage and benefits, plus land titles
for a half acre of land, after it has been producing legumes, fruit and
vegetables for three years. This is development work that would require the
joint effort of a group of people.
Second, It is Marketing Skills and Transportation that are needed to enable
farmers to make a good living. Farmers are too short of income and too
short-staffed to have time for the development of marketing and
transportation programs. All look back with nostalgia at the days of having
nearby rail service several times a day. There was a railway station at
least every 10 miles. Now their luscious berries rot in the fields and their
cherries and plums drop on the ground, while mammoth refrigerator trucks
bring expensive strawberries and cantaloupe that look ripe, but are hard and
tasteless and apples and cucumbers that are coated with wax, from thousands
of miles away. The government spends unnecessary tax dollars on road
widening, bridges and maintenance. Tourists stay away because of highway
congestion and smog hiding the mountain scenery.
Holland and Switzerland have reclaimed much land. Why can't we? They have a
network of light railways/trams. Why can't we? That would cost far less and
pollute far less than trucks and SUV's. Some of our mayors and city councils
want tax dollars to go to a network of light rail/tram service rather than
to sky trains and undergrounds. The cost is far less.
Small refrigerated rail cars or container cars, owned by a visionary
businessman or philanthropist could make a short stop every 10 miles for a
scheduled weekly market, to buy and sell fresh fruit and vegetables. What is
not sold could be refrigerated for sale at the next stop, or frozen in the
car for sale in the winter. This could quickly become a self-supporting
Some people believe that it is up to farmers themselves to develop better
methods of marketing and transportation. My response is that the economy is
such that the few farmers there are are overworked, understaffed and not
making enough profit to finance better marketing methods for vegetables and
fruit. Because Pillsbury bought out the Fraser Vale vegetable freezing
industry, farmers could no longer make a living growing vegetables. Since
then much fertile land is not used to grow such produce.
Help is needed from government and business to get fruit and vegetables to
markets nearby and far away. Light rail transportation could help save the
family farm. That could result in young families staying in farming.
Continuing to live near cousins and aging relatives, results in a sense of
belonging and community.
Did you see the Genie winning documentary "Last Train Home" filmed in China?
(My grandson Mila Aung-Thwin was Producer.) It shows how the family is no
longer bonded when children are left with grandma on the farm, while parents
go to the city to work in a clothing factory. They send enough money home to
keep their children in high school, but they get home only once a year for
the New Year, and when they do, there no longer is any family cohesiveness,
and daughter drops out of school to serve drinks at a night club.
Extended families do work together, but unfortunately because of low incomes
on the farm, most sons, daughters, cousins, nieces and nephews have
scattered to cities or industries in other provinces. Most are not making
enough money to send any home. I have grandsons living in Regina. That is
425 km south of Saskatoon where their father and sister live. They have't
been able to visit each other for years because of underemployment. Grand
children and great grand children have never met their cousins. The extended
family has fallen apart. Friends are lovely to have but when they have to
move away they seldom continue a close relationship. Family relationships
are more likely to be lifelong.
To feed the overpopulated world the extended families of farmers will need
an adequate income so that they can have prosperous farms near one another,
and not have to scatter to make a living. That means dividing acreages, but
tiny farms can produce a lot of fruit and vegetables. Active District
Agriculturists, Home Economists, Experimental Farms, 4H Clubs and
Agricultural and School Fairs keep methods up-to-date and exciting. Marginal
lands can be brought up in fertility and hillsides and valleys terraced to
provide for new farming opportunities and ownership nearby.
Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice