It is exciting to say that the first gathering of FARMERS AND GROWERS happened last week. Since the Conference on agriculture and food security last spring it has been apparent that opening up a conversation amongst growers could benefit us all.

Topics of interest included: Connecting people without land to available land; Labour, woofing, apprenticeship, subletting, cooperatives; Marketing local organic produce on island ; Cold Storage and processing facilities; Soil and Bylaws.

Another important issue on the table is whether Galiano should form a Farmer’s Institute. It would certainly give us a voice in a world where the small mixed farm faces extinction due to governments favouring the factory farm scale of production through subsidies while introducing debilitating regulations to our traditional more earth-centred growers. The thought of another board on Galiano is a bit daunting but when it comes to feeding ourselves this may be one of the more important places to put energy. Salt Spring and Pender still have their original Institutes. We will connect with them for ideas and advice on this before our next meeting.

Reviving our farming community and having regular gatherings and important topics of discussion would mean that newcomers can join in on the work and the conversation. We know of two pieces of good farmland here that have sold recently and that the buyers are very keen to farm. If we have willing and able farmers and growers of organic food we’ll need to step up to the plate and support them as they attempt to juggle the obstacles to making a go of it. Start-up and equipment costs are an issue as are acquiring skills around soil and livestock management. Let’s face it, we’re reinventing the farming wheel !!!

Shifting our cultural attitude to food to include evaluations of the hidden costs of mass-production such as environmental, humanitarian and health costs seems to be something that we are ready to embark on. Are we as an island ready to embrace our growers and pay them what their hard work and wonderful local, organic produce is worth? Yes yes yes.

The next meeting of Farmers and Growers is on TUESDAY, APRIL 5, at 7 pm in the Activity Centre meeting room at the school. All are welcome.

To give us feedback, please contact Martine or Janice at galianofoodprograms@gmail.com, or phone 250-539-2175, option 2. The Galiano Food program is an offspring of the Galiano Club, funded by the Victoria Foundation and the Vancouver Foundation.