Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Food sufficiency

Watching the pattern of global food riots evolving on the back of relatively poor harvests in Russia, Australia, and Canada, I'm reminded that Vancouver Island only has officially only five days food reserve if imports should fail. Events closer to home have also tweaked my thought processes in this direction.

Having grown up in places where the family always grew their own vegetables and fruit and traded the various surpluses with neighbours, I take a purely practical view of the matter. Grow your own, and keep a decent supply of dry and canned goods in stock. Some of my neighbours keep whole garages full of such items, mainly because of the threat of the 'big one' which we are supposedly overdue. Public policy is for each household to keep 72 hours of emergency supplies (Including water) available at all times.

The main problem with growing your own over here is that the soil locally isn't what I'd call wonderful. Compared with my rural English roots, it's comparatively thin and acidic. Lots of exposed rock. Great for stuff like Alpines and Lavenders, but not so wonderful if you're partial to spuds, peas and the like which grow best on deep alluvial soils.

Of course this is a sweeping generalisation, as there are pockets of decent soil not far away, but if the Island were ever to become half way self supporting, there would need to be significant investment in draining marshland and clearing forest. Not that the local Eco lobby would allow that. No, no my dears, never mind the humans, what about the Deer and Bears?

No, my partial solution is based on a 'grow your own' philosophy that would fit in with the mobile Canadian ethos. Planters. Those big decorative pots used for a dusty old Aspidestra, Yucca or Jade plant but used for growing Vegetables and fruit instead.

Suitably modified by drilling a few drainage holes, an old trash can can do good service for growing potatoes or stonking great root crops should you be that way inclined. Even the basest handyman amongst us could design and build small wooden troughs to plant whatever vegetables you prefer. It's not like there's a shortage of growing expertise around, judging from the wealth of Grow-ops locally. Not to mention BC's six (ten?) billion dollar export industry.

Stick a few planters out on the deck or balcony, possibly caged or netted to keep out the birds, Raccoons and Deer. Maybe make some cloche type arrangement out of empty plastic 2 litre fizzy pop bottles to protect delicate early (or late) crop against unwelcome grazers and inclement weather. The rest would require mere moments attention a day, for routine inspection and a little judicious watering. The result would be fresh 'organic' produce which is not only 'healthy' if you're worried about pesticide residues, but a useful hobby.

Short of natural disaster or outright neglect and the usual privations of gardening, there's not much to go wrong. I'm not saying that this is the solution, simply an adjunct to limited on-Island food supplies which could take the edge off privations should the worst come to the worst.


Angry Exile said...

No, no my dears, never mind the humans, what about the Deer and Bears?

Two problems with a simple common solution - something in 7.62mm or upwards in the head. Venison is tasty enough and I'd certainly try bear if the alternative was starvation.

Bill Sticker said...

Hence the Bows and arrows in 'easy grab' places. If it's within a hundred feet I can kill it.

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