The theme for this year’s BC Organic conference is “work-life balance.” I am in a position to add plenty to the discussion as I am writing this from sunny Hawaii. Oh yes, I am. I cannot lie about that because, between the lines, you might be able to make out the grains of sand that seem to collect in everything once there is a 15-month-old to manage at the beach.
Here’s something I bet you didn’t know: The seed growers in Pemberton who sell seed potatoes into the United States send potatoes over here for planting and testing. Right this minute, Pemberton potatoes are growing on the North Shore of Oahu. They will be tested for certain diseases and subsequently the Pemberton growers will be able to assure their American buyers that the seed is clean.
Returning to this conference, and “work-life balance,” I notice that there is only one presentation on the topic — the rest of the sessions are about interesting, useful and business-like things: managing apprentices, scaling up/managing aspects of the farm business, and four-season harvest techniques. I think the big draw will be the workshops delivered by the daughters of the great Eliot Coleman, who literally has written the book(s) on farming organically for profit during all seasons. The daughters appear to be agriculturally accomplished, too.
So we’ll put that on the agenda for February. Usually, this conference is a total farmer un-wind session where the workshops are merely support systems for the party every night, but this might be a different sort of affair — these workshops have a certain substance. I think there is an irony in this somewhere but I am befuddled by sunshine, so I must leave it to you to sort through.
Truth be told, I have barely been thinking about farming at all lately. The winter markets in Vancouver have been busy but as I can do those in my sleep. They don’t provide much challenge and certainly nothing noteworthy really happens. Thankfully.
The critical mechanical repairs awaiting our attentions continue to await our attentions. As part of our efforts to redress the grossly unequal summer season focus and motivation, I savour procrastination at this time of year. No harm done, as long as it doesn’t go on for too long.
I notice that there is breathless reporting on the discovery that some organic products are tainted with pesticide. Anticipating that this will be announced to me at first opportunity upon my return (although I may move to Hawaii), I thought I would share my impressions on this.
First of all, the news serves to underline our collective vulnerability when it comes to our food. Poor sods, we have no way of knowing if things are what they say they are because we are miles and continents removed from its production. Also, we have no time to check everything out.
Second of all, if the product tested really was grown using organic methods, and I assume it was (see above), then we might conclude that agricultural chemicals are on everything. Imagine how much must be found on product actually grown with the stuff.
Rather than stop eating, might I suggest a little work-life balance and a judicious scaling back on demand for daily, fresh, leafy greens when they are not in season, which is not a very long time at all, judging from the Vancouver market. Insistence on that point renders us very vulnerable to other people’s ideas on how to farm.