Perhaps by now you’ve heard that we’re likely to pay 4-6% more for vegetables in Canada this year. And Alberta is one of the provinces expected to see the high end of that increase.
In part, the predicted rise is due to our increased veggie consumption, but climate is also to blame. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded in their latest report that climate change will play a significant yet unpredictable role in 2019 food prices, with North America likely to suffer from lack of moisture. The report emphasizes that agriculture needs to play a part in reducing world carbon emissions to reach the goal of an almost 50% reduction from 2017 levels by 2030. And clearly, if recent droughts in California are any indication, fresh water needs to be treated like the precious resource it is.
So, our reliance on produce from the US, Mexico, and even further abroad leaves us vulnerable to weather-related supply shortages and the high prices that come with that. Plus, the way we grow and consume food needs to become far more sustainable.
What seems to be the most intelligent response to all of this? Build our capacity to feed ourselves locally in the most water- and energy-responsible way we can! That’s exactly what Cultivate Cochrane aims to do with a greenhouse that greatly extends our growing season using passive solar design and rainwater capture. Growing food is one of Cultivate Cochrane’s pillars, or perhaps more aptly, its umbrella. How a people feeds itself is a huge part of resilience - the ability to adapt, bounce back, and thrive in the face of change. It’s around food that people come together and get to know each other and the land that supports them.
We don’t see our greenhouse as a production facility or a mere collection of rented plots. Rather, we want to leverage it as a place to learn, experiment, share, and connect so that, as a community, we build our knowledge, skills, and relationships. Then food growing can go beyond the greenhouse hub and permeate our homes and neighbourhoods, becoming a way of life and weaving a strong fabric of resiliency.
These are challenging but exciting times - let’s get started!