This is the first in a series of articles on sustainability. Going forward, there is a space for discussion of all things sustainable: local food, sustainable agriculture, food security, sustainable development, heritage animals and grains, heirloom food, how to support local food community, how to support and grow local community in general, local market gardening, permaculture, regenerative farming…. You get the idea. I’m open to suggestions, and to learning. I would like to visit some small local farms and businesses. It seems unbelievable that, despite the fact that we are surrounded on all sides by farmland, many in our community exist in a food desert or are food insecure.
North Dundas is growing. The pandemic has fueled a desire, for those who are able, to upgrade their living situation. For some that means a bigger house in the city. For others it means selling in the city and heading to smaller townships like North Dundas. We have a chance to help shape what kind of place North Dundas is in five years, fifteen years, twenty five years. Do we want to be a bedroom community for Ottawa, or do we want to encourage a local, vibrant, and sustainable community.
I have lots of ideas to explore in this section going forward. I’d love to hear what you are interested in learning about. Gardeners are starting plants this week: peppers are being planted in tiny pots right now. Market gardeners and home gardeners are using greenhouses to extend the season, but also to see if it is possible to grow your own green food in your backyard all winter. Or on your windowsill. Maybe there’s enough interest in gardening to start a column dedicated to heirloom tomatoes and no-til backyard plots. I saw a woman get laughed off an online gardening group one night because she asked how many carrots she could get from one carrot seed. Fair question if you’ve never grown anything before, or never seen anything grown. Many of us left that online encounter with a bad taste in our mouths, but also a determination to form communities that supported questions. There are so many amazing gardeners in this area who are willing to answer questions online, and in person. I count on them and value them dearly as I learn.
There are many people right now leaving cities, looking for a life where they can connect a bit more with the earth, and the things that sustain us. Some have been scared by the pandemic. Others were seeking a connection prior.
Sustainability, in short, is the ability to exist constantly. It sounds self-evident, but as a society, we are struggling. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) defines sustainable agriculture as “the efficient production of safe, high-quality agricultural product, in a way that protects and improves the natural environment, the social and economic conditions of the farmers, their employees and local communities, and safeguards the health and welfare of all farmed species.”
I look forward to exploring and learning in this column, with you!