Op-ed

Gardening critical for the new post-pandemic, climate change economy

The good thing about growing our own food is that it can be done organically.

People have been taking up gardening in droves during the pandemic, probably to keep busy and ensure food availability. It may be a trend that may need to continue even after we have emancipated ourselves from our masks and hand sanitizers!

We’ve been dealt quite a blow! We’ve learned that our world is not as stable as we thought. This crisis has certainly made us more sensitive to the consequences of climate change. It seems to have taken the air out of the oil and gas industry balloon and brought forth a flurry of new initiatives for sustainable development.

I seem to be seeing and reading stories about environmental innovation more often these days. It seems our old oil and gas ways have brought a shiver to our collective psyche. We’ve learned a hard lesson: our world is not impervious.

I think switching to a more sustainable world will get a boost from a multi-facetted approach, which can include converting our nicely manicured lawns to food-producing gardens. When I look around your average small town or city in Canada, I can’t help but see a whole lot of space for agricultural development without the processing centres, big-box stores, boats, planes and trucks! It can also make our country more self-sustaining, not as dependent on foreign investment which could have an adverse effect on our political autonomy. It can lead to more locally based commerce, as people sell their garden surplus to their neighbours without producing a whole of lot of emissions.

Rather than have a fleet of cars to get everyone to work, one family member might opt to stay at home or work less to be able to tend the garden. I am surprised how time-consuming my garden is, and it is only a 15 by 20-foot condo space! When I incorporate vertical gardening, seasonal gardening, some pots on my balcony and a couple of plots at the community garden, I can end up with enough in one season to fulfill most of my fruit and vegetable needs for a year, and even part of a second! A much larger garden could feed a whole family for a year easily. Some people have enough yard space to feed two or more families! A garden is a lot of work, not just in the cultivation, but also in the harvesting, preserving and even the coordination of it all. Instead of paying others to grow our food from afar, why not grow more of our own as a “job” to reduce the need for the expensive, climate-destroying middleman?

The good thing about growing our own food is that it can be done organically, without the additional harmful additives, pesticides, and sugar. Working outside the home less will also reduce our exposure to potential viruses, the COVID-19 virus of which, according to experts, will probably not be the last one to bring our society to a halt. We will also learn skills and develop resources that can make us more resilient during an infrastructure break-down.

Diverting some resources from polluting industry to home-based agriculture would have to happen before the seas dry up and our average winter temperature is 50 degrees Celsius! It will be too late to switch to a more environmentally friendly home-based growing economy if nothing can grow anymore.

Debra Lynn has a BFA in art and design from the University of Alberta and an MA in art education from Concordia University in Montreal. She is the instructor and coordinator of the “Little Picassos,” “Paint Club” and “Adventures in Art” art programs for kids in Port McNeill

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