Spotlight on farmers: part 2

Can the food on your plate help the planet? Here's how farmers—and home gardeners—are working to make our food more sustainable.

This month, we’ve been looking at where our food comes from, and talking about farmers and farming. In BC, we’re lucky enough to have an incredible range of farmland and family farms to support. Plus, our climate makes it easy for you and your kids to learn a little about growing food by starting a kitchen garden (here’s how!). So how does a farmer—or a home gardener like you—make sure that the food they produce is sustainable? 

Some of the ways farmers help are by being thoughtful about what they plant, where they plant, and how they take care of the wild spaces in their farmland. In BC, hobby farms and professional farms alike have to follow the Code of Practice for Agricultural Environmental Management (the AEM code) which ensures all sorts of environmental protections, including protecting waterways and wild areas. You can help support your local waterways in your kitchen garden too! Xeriscaping is a way of gardening that conserves water -- by using raised beds and rain collectors, and by growing food plants that have a short growing cycle (think radishes, cherry tomatoes or nasturtiums), you can make your kitchen garden much more water-efficient.  

Other ways farmers support a healthier environment include devoting green space on their lands to support pollinators like birds and insects. You can try this in your home gardens as well -- it’s as easy as planting pollinator-friendly flowers, and by leaving things a little messy. A messy garden has lots of places for bees to hide, nectar for butterflies, and space for birds to hunt insects. You can also make your home garden more environmentally-friendly by using natural materials (and less plastic) wherever you can. Small changes can have a big impact! Even a micro-garden that uses eggshells instead of plastic pots to hold seeds is doing something to reduce the use of plastic.

For foods that are harder to produce at home, find a farmer! BC poultry farmers use lots of different kinds of green technology to make their chicken farms more energy-efficient and healthier for everyone. And BC greenhouses produce gorgeous cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers with no pesticides: in fact greenhouses manage energy and water so efficiently that they can produce 160 cucumbers in a space the size of your bathtub. To find these foods you don’t have to go any further than your local grocery store. 

Ready to fill your plate with food that’s easy on the planet? Get your family together in the kitchen and check out our community-contributed recipes. Or, join us on Facebook and Instagram for more summertime inspiration—we’ve got ideas for beach picnics, campfire recipes, and outdoor cooking, plus the best lemonade and popsicle recipes. 

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