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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
CANADA V9E 2B9
Tel (250) 881-1304
www.earthfuture.com

Executive director of The Solutions Project

 

 ECONEWS


Newsletter No. 76 - Serving Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - Oct. 1998


WHERE HAS ALL THE FARMLAND GONE ?

October brings the culmination of summer, and celebrations for the bounty of the harvest. Tomatoes, zucchinis, squash, carrots, peppers, potatoes, apples, pears overflow, as we give thanks for another season, get up off our knees, and dance!

At the same time, around the world, hundreds of millions of people go to bed hungry.In the Caribbean, at the end of September, Hurricane George ripped through Dominica and Haiti, destroying 97% of their crops. It flashes by in the newspapers for a day, then it was gone, while for them, the suffering has just begun.

The increased incidence of hurricanes in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico and of typhoons in the western Pacific is a direct consequence of the fossil fuels we burn in our homes, industries and cars. So is the increased flooding which has inundated Bangladesh, southern and northern China and the Chiapas region of Mexico this past summer, destroying yet more cropland. In terms of climate change, the cat is out of the bag - the carbon dioxide is out of the fossil fuels and into the atmosphere. There is little that we can do to stop continued climate chaos, droughts, storms, floods and cropland devastation for the next 100 years.

This year, the prairie farmers have landed a bumper crop, and the grain bins are bulging, but prices have fallen dramatically. Many farmers may go out of business, defeated by debts and bank loans, just when the global demand for food is at its highest.

Why ? Because the demand from Asia has collapsed, due to the financial crisis over there. Indonesia (with 120 million people) has seen the value of its rupiah fall by tenfold or more. Like almost every country in the world, they depend on imported grain - but when the price of imported grain increases ten-fold, who can afford to buy ? The rich will find a way, but the majority will see increased hunger - while here in North America, some farmers can't afford to grow. What's wrong with this picture ?

There are several underlying reasons, starting with the century old trend towards the control of the world's food supply by larger farms and corporations. That, in turn, has been driven by change to larger machinery, more use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and the introduction of genetically altered crops.

Here on Vancouver Island, we have many farms (19,266 acres of Agricultural Reserve Land and 639 farms in the CRD, 75% of which are legally in farm use), but we depend almost entirely on imported food shipped in by ferry. The word is that we have only enough food on the island for two days supply. If there was a major disruption of supply, whether from climate change, a ferry strike or the Y2K computer bug, we would soon be going hungry. (The CRD has 300,000 people. If we were all vegetarian, we would need 150,000 acres.)

Most people clearly aren't worried - local fruit trees go unpicked, gardens sit idle, empty lots grow scrub and brambles. And many hobby farms, those corners of agricultural paradise that give their owners a tax-break in exchange for a harvest of hay, the sale of a few trees or the lease of grazing to a few horses, are far more 'hobby' than 'farm'.

We need to be much more self-reliant, not just here, but everywhere. Our supermarkets are flush with exotic crops from Mexico and Central America, while the workers who grew them, who inhaled the pesticides and fungicides used to grow them, often can't afford to feed their own children. It's an old, old story, of the land not being controlled by the people who work it. In Ireland, during the worst of the 1848 potato famine (1 million dead), food was still being exported from Ireland to England at the orders of the absentee landowners. The same thing is happening today - we see the results on our supermarket shelves.

Locally, the demand for organically grown food far outstrips the supply, in spite of all that empty land. The larger Organic Brown Box distributors such as Freshpiks Organics have to ship in their food from California and the Fraser Valley. Why can't we grow more food locally ?

The answer is that we are starting to. There is a huge interest in more home-grown food, including winter vegetables (we can grow 40 varieties locally). We need more learning, more co-operation, more community allotments - and more customers, committed to locally grown food.

We need a change in the rules governing the Agricultural Land Reserve to allow the development of compact agricultural villages, on condition that 70% (for instance) of the residents' income came from agricultural activity. This would enable more people to live and work on a farm, instead of the current limit of one house plus one for a farm worker. Too much good ALR land is sitting empty, while too many people who want to grow food are unable to get their hands into the soil.

October 16th is World Food Day, and there are many events to witness it. So let's start getting back to basics, and growing more food !

- Guy Dauncey

 


Please note:  the Green Diary has moved, click here to view.


ECONEWS

Published as a monthly service, nourishing the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community, funded by your donations.AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)

July Sept Oct
Circulation: 2250 2250 2300 / 300 by email
Print & Post: $786 $812 $812
Editorial: $150 $150 $150
Donations: $335 $330 ? ? ?
Advertising: $95 $ ? ? ?
Balance: $1177 $545 EMPTY!!

Many thanks to Elly Roelofsen, Marlyn Horsdal, Michelle Popadynec, Dawne Burron, Ira Robinson, Alan Dolan, Patricia Lane, Martha Orr, Nicki Basuk, Anne Moon, Sid Tafler.  The bank will be empty after this issue.

* Donations can be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1.
* To receive EcoNews call (250) 881-1304.
* For email   - guydauncey@earthfuture.com
* If you don't want to receive EcoNews please let us know, to save the postage !


THE ECO-PERSONALS !

  • Raincoast Conservation Society looking to rent 2-3 bedroom house in James Bay, Fairfield or Saanich peninsula, for a   living/working space. Asap. Under $1,000 pm ? Chris 370-9902 Misty 655-9490

  • Volunteers needed for the Community Gypsy Moth Project, to recover the pheromone traps & avoid the need for pesticides in the future. 592-4293

  • Volunteers needed to collect data for the Victoria Green Pages in these categories : First Nations; Marine & Fisheries; Salt Spring; outer Gulf Islands. Guy 881-1304


SIERRA CLUB COMMUNITY NIGHT

Lawns & Pesticides : Alternatives
Wed October 14th, 7:15 - 10pm
Fairfield Community Place 1335 Thurlow
Together, Building Community !


WALBRAN PEACE CAMP

Following the Rainbow Gathering and the Rave in the Walbran forest, a peace camp has been established to publicize the planned new clearcuts. The campers are looking for ways to stay the winter and need donations of woolen socks (need not match), rubber boots, rain gear, blankets, sleeping bags, foamies, rolls of plastic or tarps, camp tools, propane bottles, camp stoves, rope & food. The Carmanah Forestry Society is discouraging people from interrupting logging, since there is an injunction still on the valley left over from 1991. Maps are available by fax (250) 389-1848 or phone 381-1141.


EARTHSONG

Facilitating creative  and gentle personal change
Affordable sliding scale
(Ms) Robbie Andersen 391-0067


CHANGING THE WORLD ONE BITE AT A TIME

In honour of World Food Day (Oct 16th), EcoNews offers these selected statistics from a forthcoming book by Joseph Pace:

Amount of land needed to feed average Canadian for 1 year: 4 acres
Amount of land needed to feed Canadian on plant-based diet for 1 year:1/2 acre
Kg apples that can be produced on 1 acre of prime land: 10,000kg
Kg potatoes that can be produced on 1 acre of prime land: 20,000kg
Kg of beef that can be produced on 1 acre of prime land: 250kg
% of Atlantic coastal marshes that have been converted to agriculture: 65%
% of southern Ontario wetlands  that have been converted  to agriculture:70%
% of Prairie grasslands converted: 90%
% of Central American rainforest cleared for cattle ranching: 25 - 50%
% of Amazon rainforest cleared for cattle ranching: 50 - 85%
Amount of rainforest destroyed for each 1/4 pound of rainforest beef: 55 sq ft
Kg of rainforest beef consumed by Canadians each year: 20 - 40 million kg
% Canadians eating plant-based diet: 3-4%
% of world's grain harvest that is fed to livestock: 40%
% of Canada's net cereal crops that is fed to livestock: 77%
Years longer the average person eating a plant-based diet will live: 7-15 years


SEA-TO-SEA GREENBELT

Remember the vision ? A greenbelt of wilderness and parkland from Goldstream Park to the Sooke Basin. One of the links is a small property between Ayum Creek and the Galloping Goose trail. On Sept 10th the Sea-to-Sea Green/Blue Belt Alliance (a new coalition of seven local conservation organizations) appealed for $50,000 to complete the purchase of the property. Within 5 days, a donor pledged $25,000, another $6,000 was given in donations, and then Pacific Coast Savings kicked in with a mortgage. Wow ! Tax-deductible donations can be sent to The Land Conservancy of BC, 5793 Old West Saanich Rd, Victoria V8X 3X3 (361-7963). The Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) has also opened a new Land Stewardship Office above the Field Naturalist at 1126 Blanshard St, Victoria, open to the public Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays (12 - 4pm) as a one-stop-shop for information on land stewardship initiatives. Do you own land where you want to protect a piece of valuable habitat? Or can you volunteer time, to help the new office ?  If so, call Andrew MacDonald, (250) 995-2428.


BC GOVERNMENT CENSORS GRIZZLY BEAR REPORT

"There is no ecological, biological, ethical or social justification for continuing to hunt Grizzly bears." This is the conclusion of a 30-page paper written by BC government biologist A. Dionys de Leeuw, and distributed to key government personnel including regional directors, wildlife/habitat managers and other biologists. The document spells out why de Leeuw felt the Grizzly bear hunt in BC should be stopped, including a proposal to scale the hunt down to a more sustainable level. The government's reaction ? Every one of the 80 copies was confiscated by the Ministry of Environment, and distribution was prohibited. The paper reveals that the Grizzly hunt quota is set by 3 bodies - the BC Ministry of Environment, the BC Wildlife Federation (a hunters' lobby group) and the BC Hunting Guide-Outfitters Association. This is a clear conflict of interest - BC's bear hunting policy is being designed for hunters by hunters. The paper also explains that the number of licenses issued is set according to the previous year's kill-rate - the lower the kill, the higher the number of licenses issued. For more information, call Anthony Marr, WCWC, 1-800-661-WILD (9453).


TOP TOXIC TOFFS IN TOWN

Isn't that an appalling heading ? But if you read the Green Diary, you'll see that there are four world class speakers in Victoria this month as part of the 'What on Earth are Toxic Chemicals Doing to Us ?' series put on by the UVic Law School, the Skies Above Foundation and the BC Environmental Network. Anita Roy (Oct 1st) is living proof that we can reverse the toxic tide - she sought election to her municipality in Quebec solely to pass a successful by-law restricting community pesticide use. Mary O'Brien (Oct 8th) goes inside the breast cancer scandal, to look at toxic environmental causes; Khosrow Adeli (Oct 15th) has done ground-breaking research to produce a one-day test which allows scientists to determine if specific chemicals cause DNA damage; and Paul Johnson (Oct 22nd) is Greenpeace's principal scientist, part of a team which has been exposing the chemical industry for doing things like manufacturing toxic plastic toys that children chew on. The series is followed by the BC Environment Network's Fall Conference, at UVic (see Diary). This is an unprecedented opportunity to become informed of this insidious threat to our health, including our children and wildlife, and to start to turn the tide.


COHOUSING HOMES FOR SALE

Now is your chance to live in a place
where everyone knows your name,
where it is safe, and where
neighbours look out for each other.

Cardiff Place Cohousing Community
has several condominium units for sale
in an ideal Fairfield location.

1246 Fairfield Rd, near Moss St.
Call 920-7488 for more information.


GREEN HOUSEHOLDS

We've just had the world's hottest summer on record - and according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, stabilizing Earth's climate requires at least a 60% reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions.   The average American household produces 23,380 pounds of CO2 per year. Could solar and efficiency technologies reduce this by 60%?  To answer this question Randy Udall, director of the Community Office for Resource Efficiency in Colorado, added a solar hot water system to his home, installed a 1.8 kilowatt photovoltaic system and replaced an old fridge with a more efficient one. The retrofit cost $15,800. Before the retrofit, the home's yearly electricity consumption was 7,900 kilowatt-hours. Today, the house uses 2,100 KwH. Annual energy savings: 5,800 KwH. Daily CO2 emissions were lowered from 43 to 11.5 pounds, a 73% reduction. During the next 20 years the retrofit will keep 229,950 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.(Details from Atmopsphere Alliance). A mortgage for $15,800 at 6% costs maybe $100 per month; his fuel bills have fallen by maybe $50 per month ? That's the difference, where subsidies are needed to be transferred from coal and oil to solar. Here in BC, BC Hydro offers loans of up to $12,000, repayable through your hydro bill, for a free energy assessment and energy upgrades that include draft proofing, ventilation, insulation, thermostats, windows and doors.  Details, 1-800-663-0431  www.bchydro.com


MAI RETURNS !

Far from dead, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment returns this month at the Paris meeting of the OECD, when high-level talks will either seal the deal, set a formal deadline, or shift the talks to the World Trade Organization. According to the OECD, the text is 90% complete - but according to the 565 non-profit organizations which led the charge that derailed the MAI last April, it is still as outrageous as ever. This is the time to call your MP, and urge Canada to reject the proposed treaty. For MP's numbers, see the  'Blue Pages' of your phone book. David Anderson 363-3600; Keith Martin 474-6505; Gary Lunn 656-2320.


FRUIT TREE PROJECT

Do you have a fruit tree in your yard ? The Victoria Fruit Tree Project wants to start a registry of fruit trees, and to arrange for the harvesting of unwanted fruit, pruning, care of the trees, the development of fruit-based micro-businesses, etc. Call Lee Herrin & Matt Strand, 480-1413.


ACTION OF THE MONTH : SILVER SPRAY, SOOKE

The 164 acre Silver Spray Ranch Lands are on the west side of East Sooke Park, in an area of incredible ecological value and marine habitat, which the CRD originally intended to purchase as park, but couldn't afford to. The land is zoned for 10 acre rural lots, but the owner, Home Equity, wants to build a 96 home subdivision, resort lodge, marina basin, ferry terminal, ball park and 100 car parking lot. This has been the subject of tremendous controversy, and is really an inappropriate place for such a development. On October 14th, the Sooke Regional Director, Diane Bernard, will make a final decision on the rezoning proposal.

ACTION : Write to Diane Bernard, 2205 Otter Point Rd, Sooke V0S 1No Fax 642-5274, urging protection of the land in its existing 10-acre rural status.


Deadline for November: Oct 25th


The Green Diary has moved!  Click HERE to see whats happening!

 


NOTICE

EcoNews provides this electronic version of the newsletter free of charge even though it costs time and money to produce. Please feel free to repost. You can help by making a donation, whether $5 or $100, to:

EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria, B.C. V8X 3X1, Canada. Thanks !

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Click here for previous issues of EcoNews.


EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Sustainable Communities Consultancy

Author of 'After the Crash : The Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)

Forthcoming  'Journey into the Future : 2000 - 2015'
An ecofictional novel

EcoNews is printed on Tree-Free paper from Ecosource

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