What is the future of food sustainability in the Peace?
By NorthEast News on January 11, 2016

Letters to the EditorThis past month, BC supermarkets saw prices of five dollars for broccoli and seven dollars for cauliflower and asparagus. Those prices are a part of a 3% rise, in the past month and 15% rise over the year. Expect to pay many times more for these items over the next decades, that is, if you can get them.

We import 67% of our market garden produce from at least 3000 km distance. Tomatoes, broccoli cucumbers and corn can be grown on only a fraction of BC’s 5% agricultural land base. We need to preserve what we have. The Frazer valley and the Peace valley are BC’s two major areas with the potential to produce commercial market garden food. The Okanogan does not have the land base or soil to support large market gardens.

Most crops grown in the Peace valley are hay or grains. Farmers will not take on the startup costs of market gardens as long as the threat of Site C dam exists. If Site C is built, it will eliminate forever, 7,500 acres of class 1&2 farmland (near 20% of the best land in BC). All of the class 1-3 soil in the Peace valley would be flooded, leaving a dead valley, forever.

Unlike our upper bench lands, which only produce grains, the Peace valley has an east-west orientation, deep, heat-retaining bottomland, increasing frost-free days, long summer light and access to water, making it ideal for vegetables. It is capable of supplying food for up to one million people, every year. Last summer, Bear Flats in the Peace valley, saw watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, cabbage and corn, in abundance, grown in the open, in class 1&2 soil.

Regardless of any ability to pay, importing food from California over the long term will be unlikely, if not impossible. Climate change’s, century-long forecast for the central valley is for a sustained and worsening mega-drought with little winter snow; a poor bet for future imports. Not helping is the fact that one third of the world’s cropland is degraded and more than nine billion people will be demanding food by 2050.

The 25 actual jobs created by Site C does not compare to the hundreds of jobs and the potential multi-million dollar local market garden agri-business for the valley. BC is currently in electrical power surplus. It has the capacity to create more energy and jobs from upcoming renewable sources. Spending $9 billion to flood farmland for a dam lasting only seventy-five years to power LNG plants is not conscionable. Rather, we will need our own food capacity.

Vote when you can, for long-term sustainable food security for our communities and kids.

Ken Forest, Charlie Lake Resident and Peace Valley Environment Association Director