Steele: Support farmers: Buy local

Support our farmers: Buy from our cornucopia of Okanagan grown produce

  • Oct. 6, 2016 5:00 a.m.

Cornucopia of locally grown produce.

Last Tuesday I took my 95-year-old dad, Art Hughes-Games, on a delightful drive through East Kelowna orchards.

He came to Kelowna in 1926 and is full of the history of the area.

Listening to his stories and remembering my own childhood, I am filled with gratitude to have lived here most of my life.

The valley is beautiful and filled with abundance. The climate is great for growing most of our food.

Gwen SteeleOur family had a quarter acre vegetable garden. Canned and frozen produce lasted us until the garden began producing the next year.

All four children helped. We all grew up to be gardeners.

Kelowna was small and mostly an agricultural community. Capri Mall was a pear orchard. There was a pig farm at Sutherland and Burtch. Rutland was a separate community of orchards and farms.

The fascinating pictures of fruit box labels on electrical boxes around town gives a sample of the names of many old packing houses.

The present Cultural District was filled with packing houses including the Rowcliffe Cannery. They canned tomatoes among other things.

As well as fruit, lots of vegetables were grown to be shipped to other places.

Produce was loaded into freight cars that were barged down the lake to Penticton to link up with the railway.

Things have changed dramatically since the 1950’s. Much good farmland has been covered with houses, roads, parking lots, shopping malls and industrial buildings.

With cheap transportation we have come to expect to eat fresh produce, like strawberries, all year round. Most of our food is imported.

Public and government support for local agriculture has diminished.

Fortunately the Agricultural Land Reserve was created in the 1970s. Without this all the arable land would likely have been sold and built on.

As transportation costs increase and water becomes scarcer for growing crops in places like California, imported produce will become very expensive or unavailable just as it was when I was a child.

Now is the time to make sure our farmland is preserved, programs are created to help young farmers get started, and older farmers get support to make their farms more efficient. We need to prepare for the future by creating and supporting strong local food production now.

I am grateful to see signs of change.

Our large Farmer’s Market makes fresh local produce more readily available and connects buyers to farmers.

Some schools have gardens. Children love to grow their own food.

Recently I’ve been excited to see a substantial increase in vegetable gardening, especially among younger people.

From a xeriscaping perspective, a vegetable garden is an excellent alternative to lawn and water-thirsty ornamentals. It does need water but with good soil, drip irrigation and a layer of mulch to hold in the moisture, the water is used efficiently and it provides the gardener with healthy, ‘free’ food.

This Saturday, Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Kelowna Veggies at 2570 Old Vernon Rd., is offering the remainder of their crops to anyone who wants to come and harvest. Gleaners can take home half of what they collect. The other half will be donated to the Okanagan Food Bank. Produce available includes various squash varieties, tomatoes, peppers, jalapeños, and eggplant.

Just Posted

Kelowna’s annual Breastfeeding Challenge aims to end stigma

In Canada, we recognize Oct. 1-7 as World Breastfeeding Week.

Lake Country recognized for climate change initiatives

The district has been working to reduce corporate greenhouse gas emissions

Tempering the Okanagan cannabis legalization ‘gold rush’

Retail selling of marijuana offers potential business opportunities and pitfalls

You can own this firetruck for only $31,888

A West Kelowna dealership has an unusual vehicle for sale

Former Rockets vying for place in NHL

Twarynski and Dube are turning heads during NHL preseason

VIDEO: Rare close encounter with whale pod spotted off B.C. waters

Pod of southern resident orca whales breach within arms length of whale watchers

B.C. cancer patient’s case exposes gaps in care for homeless people: advocates

Terry Willis says he’s praying for a clean, safe place to live to undergo the cancer treatments he needs after he was denied chemotherapy because he lives in a Victoria homeless shelter.

Trump boasts of America’s might, gets laugh at UN

President Donald Trump received an unexpected laugh at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

Campers causing a mess along Okanagan River Channel

Homeless people frequently camp along the pathway next to the channel in Penticton

Federal use of A.I. in visa applications could breach human rights, report says

Impacts of automated decision-making involving immigration applications and how errors and assumptions could lead to “life-and-death ramifications”

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

Most Read