A Sad Day for Farming in British Columbia

So, money for fruit farmers, right? $4.2 million dollars, even.

Yes, but what money, really? Why, according to Erin Wallace, manager for research and development at Summerland Varieties Corporation, the business given the mandate to privatize and market apple genomes in British Columbia:

“if an apple tree will deliver crisp fruit before it flowers for the first time, and will develop technology to quickly and accurately identify thousands of genotypes and identify which one or two tree fruits are promising.”

She promises more research than that. Thing is, what is an apple for?

Benvoulin, the Best-Tasting Apple

I discovered this beauty in 1981, by chance, or was it out of love? But she’s not crisp. Erin would hate her.

Why, to eat, to enjoy, to make into a pie, to make apple sauce with, to do all kinds of things, even to dream of a new future, even to delight in unexpected flavours and textures on the tongue. This is the fruit our horticultural ancestors have carried out of the wild apple orchards, cultivated by bears and wild boars in the mountains of Khazakstan, over 7,000 years ago. The mixture of 35 different species, selected for sweetness by bears, boars, horses and humans on the long journey from the ice age and over the Silk Road to Persia, the apple represents a huge swathe of our indigenous cultural inheritance. All of that, all the history, poetry, beauty, sensuousness and excitement, is now going to be reduced to a crisp apple that stands up in storage and can be marketed as a designer article overseas, using our precious, limited water resources.

As one of the people involved in the chance discovery of the Ambrosia apple, and the guy who used his poetic insight to create an apple tasting evening and put a few in his pocket on the way, I know what this is. This is theft. And here’s a primary rule of the new Canada many of us are trying to help come Ito the world: Indigenous and ancestral history is not for sale, and anyone who takes poetry out of the oldest art, agriculture, should be asked, politely at first, to stop. Erin, stop this. Join the future. We could use you.


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