Agriculture

Reducing Climate Risk in Okanagan Agriculture

The Canadian Government has recently released an economic action plan. It’s a bit exhaustive and exhausting, but worth a walk-by. Click here to have a look. Bring some friends along. Coyotes, maybe.

Everybody wants to check this thing out!

I especially urge you to have a look-see deep within the document. You will come to:

Recommendation 96

Create and fund a new AgriResilience program to help farmers transition to lower-carbon agriculture practices, thereby reducing the growing climate risk in this sector. An AgriResilience program would reward innovation and the adoption of new, more resilient farming practices, thereby helping to reduce climate risk.

Note that what is being reduced through agricultural change is “climate risk.” I think that means that if farmers use less diesel, then the Earth’s climate will be less at risk. That agriculture is at risk because of current and ongoing climate change is not the topic at hand. For that, one might have expected a civic lower-carbon strategy directly linked to agriculture. What we get is this:

Recommendation 66

As part of the economic recovery, accelerate investments in infrastructure for fighting climate change, particularly investments in public transportation.

I would have thought that agricultural support might have meant funding for research or development of new crops, new sales methods, transportation reductions, new crop areas, new water usage infrastructure, or new forms of civic government that would give space for non-industrial agriculture. No. The goal is about transportation — transportation of people in cities or transportation of chemicals and farm machinery on farms. Here’s some of that transportation, burning through the hydrocarbons while spraying toxins.

Pesticide regulations prohibit spraying when the trees are in blossom, to protect bees. The bees on those dandelions, though, appear to be fair game.

I think the Federal government’s plan here is electrification: electric busses and, what, electric tractors? This won’t help the bees, who come down off the mountain. They die in the orchards, which kills the grasslands, which then don’t store water, which then goes where it should not, with floods that are blamed on climate change. I don’t think busses in Winnipeg will help with this mountain bee desperately trying to survive in what has become the wrong place:

What a beauty!

As for climate risk in this valley, it is tied up with weather patterns over the Coast and Cascade Mountains hundreds of kilometres to the West, which is to say tied to the weather patterns of the Pacific Ocean. Have a look at what the US National Geographic Society has to say about that:

They have the gyre collecting garbage off of California.

Now, let’s go North to Cascadia and have a look closer to home. We’re looking inland here from the meeting point of the Alaska Gyre and the North Pacific Gyre scooting north up the Oregon, Washington and British Columbia Shores.

All this distressing plastic garbage aside, there are winds above the Pacific too, closely aligned with water movements, and linked to China. Climate risk for Okanagan Valley agriculture is thus more dependent on decisions to purchase electrical vehicle components from China than their implementation in the Okanagan Valley. So, seeing as the Federal Government is keen on transportation as a means to protect our farmers and our people from climate risk, the real work appears to be left up to us. So, in the spirit of keen-ness and climate care, let me suggest a few local things we can do, because it seems that the Federal Government hasn’t ever tried to grow a lettuce, or to let one grow itself “out of season” and cost no water, no tillage, and no transportation. Heck, the one below self-seeded itself three years ago, at the height of summer, when “climate change” is said to be making this valley too hot for life. Well, not yet.

Flashy Trout Back Lettuce Also Lasts Longer into the Heat than Almost All Others

So, I propose talking about low carbon agriculture and other reductions to climate risk in the Okanagan Valley: things that we can implement, some simply and some with great effort, but all of them with more potential positive impact than the entire government proposal that introduces this post. Look for posts on this topic all through the week. Today, let’s just look at the first:

1. Reduce Heat Risk

In a zone in which the effect of the mountains to the west makes for desiccating air in the summer, the season that the myths of Canadian culture say is a growing season for Nature’s bounty, let’s seed our tender sisters, our orachs, lettuces, spinaches, mustards, onions, cilantros, machas and some herbs in August, at the absolute drought maximum, so that they are watered into place with late August thunderstorms, created by that heat, and ready for harvest long before traditional Canadian planting times.

Self-herbing, self-sown lettuce before the last spring frost. Non-irrigated.

Previous Post: Self-Sown Gardens: https://okanaganokanogan.com/2019/05/15/self-sown-gardens-early-spring-gardens-and-beautiful-lettuce/

Climate Risk Reduction: Reduction of water use, reduction of water loss, reduction of water transportation.

Carbon Benefit: Reduction of tillage. Reduction of transportation of lettuce from California, Mexico, New Mexico or the Fraser Valley.

Health Benefit: Freedom from dependency on a foreign food supply; lack of virus transmission across borders.

Environmental Benefit: Food for song birds (leaves and seeds).

Cost: $0

~

Next: The Zero Carbon Farm.

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