What in the world has the drought in California and the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) got to do with the groceries you buy in a North Vancouver grocery store? Plenty, it seems, if you look deep enough into the value of edible plants.  You need to know about the Edible Garden Project.

A block east of Lonsdale, the sharp-eyed observer will note a riot of plants officially known as the North Vancouver Community Garden.  When the idea for the gardens was first floated, local residents were aghast and completely opposed. Why, it would attract poor people, people to poor to feed themselves. Who else needed to grow their own food?

As it turns out, the community gardens have been a rave success, a gathering place for gardeners and locals alike, all of whom like to sit there and chat or poke in the ground with a stick. It is the first component in the Edible Garden Project. Community gardens are starting to sprout all over the world, and here in North Vancouver too, as foodies and friends support the “hundred mile diet.”  Why import food from a thousand kilometres away when you can grow it at home?  Especially when Vancouver enjoys one of the best growing climates in the world?

The so-called “California drought” continues to roll on inexorably, negatively affecting the gigantic agriculture industry in that state. Many people are beginning to realize that the “drought” is actually normal, and the state is reverting to its traditional weather patterns established over the past 10,000 years.  Records kept from the Gold Rush of 1849 until recently show that rainfall during that hundred-year period was an anomaly. Most of California except for the north coast has historically received very little rain, which is why few people lived there.

Water from glacial melt has nurtured the state’s vast agricultural industry since William Mulholland built an aqueduct in the 1920s to bring water to Los Angeles. Canals with glacial melt water crisscross the state, but the glaciers are rapidly melting and shrinking due to global warming. Some of the glaciers are already 80 percent gone. What 37 million people will do for water in upcoming years remains to be seen. But what has this got to do with your backyard garden, you ask? The answer is coming….

The San Joaquin Valley, in the centre of the state, supplies much of the world with fruit and vegetables. You can buy grapes in Iceland now, flown in. Farmers in the San Joaquin are now drilling as deep as 300 metres to find water. The future is cloudy as to whether the valley has a farming future. You only need to look back to last year when the cauliflower crop failed and prices rose to exceed that of beef to understand how fragile the food importation system can become.

As you water your home-grown zucchini and harvest it before it turns to furniture, you ask what the TPP has to do with you? The facts are simple. If Canada agrees to the deal, the Canadian dairy industry as we know it will likely disappear, unable to compete against our American neighbours. Milk and cheese will be imported, just like the fruits and vegetables on which we have become so dependent. If there is any break in the importation system, whether for disease or politics or weather, we won’t have any dairy products.

At the present time, the provincial government is hastening to drown the most valuable agricultural land in BC, in the Peace River District. Global warming will soon turn that region into a very valuable agricultural zone, but it will be 100 metres under water at that time and unable to ever grow any crops of any nature.  Does your backyard garden suddenly look better and better? The time to plant the seed is now.

By Staff Writer

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