Agriculture

Standing Still

A long time ago, orcharding started in the Okanagan when Lord Aberdeen and Lady Aberdeen planted the Coldstream Ranch with fruit so they could make jam and compete with these folks from the old country. Here’s an old entrance to the farm:

A European Allée in the Okanagan

In Britain, oaks were popular for lining roads, because you could eventually turn them into ships. In Germany, it was often fruit trees, which shaded travellers and provided food, at no cost, especially during times of famine. Here, it became decorative.

Here’s what that looks like, up close and personal:

Lord Aberdeen, Governor General of Canada, 1893

And Lady Aberdeen, of course …

Lady Aberdeen 

Time passes. A generation later, the Summerland Agricultural Research Station was founded to set the new industry on firm modern industrial principles. Other industrial principals being introduced that year included:

The Battle of the Somme

24000 Canadian Casualties

Two generations after that, to quell unrest in a horticultural industry crippled by nationally-subsidized and supported competition from other parts in Canada, the United States, and Australia, money was shipped in from Ottawa … but for a fancy new building that transformed “The Farm” into the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre. That integration of the valley into nationalist priorities was seen as the way forward.

Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, Summerland

Originally, established in 1914 as a Dominion Experimental Farm to find out which crops, crop varieties and breeds of livestock were best suited to the area and to find solutions to production problems, the facility is now a sight [the government’s word] for national agricultural priorities, including the development of genetically modified crops.

How things have changed. Here’s a fence below one of the old experimental orchards, planted during the First World War:

No Man’s Land, The Farm, Summerland

The botanical gardens planted in 1916 are farther back, along Trout Creek Canyon. They are largely a tourist site now.

The scientific tradition here has led to a genetically-modified apple that will not turn brown, which hopes to reduce the cost of produce pre-sliced, pre-packaged apples for childrens’ lunch boxes across North America. You see, they sell for about $5 an apple, instead of 50 cents. For its part, due to increasing costs for plants and labour, as well as the desire for no-maintenance yards, the botanical tradition has led to landscaping like this:

Landscaping by Excavator, The Rise, Vernon

With a little weed leakage, darn it.

So, here’s the deal. We who live in the valley are those weeds. It’s time that we put scientific exploration to use solving our very real problems — such as how to use the natural abilities of dryland slopes to move and concentrate water to grow crops without irrigation. As the earth heats up, we are going to need knowledge of how that works. For too long, the valley’s scientific and industrial managers have been tasked with transforming the valley into an image of Europe or of Canada, to meet distant political needs. To make that happen, for too long they have relied on natural processes and have squeezed them farther and farther back into the hills. If we go any further along that road, the hills will be dead. It’s much the same south of the line:

Packing House, Omak, Washington

Once used for shipping red delicious apples to the United States; now used for importing and exporting packages to and from the United States. It is also for sale. Great location, right next to the Stampede Grounds.

Here’s a thought:

Road to Nowhere, The Rise

Enough!

Now is the time for real innovation.

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