OUR VIEW: Learning to think about our food

Growing Young Farmers teaches gardening skills, but it first teaches children about how to think about food

While it may not produce a generation of new farmers, a Growing Young Farmers program at Sidney Elementary School and elsewhere, has the benefit of working to shed ignorance when it comes to where our food comes from and our attitudes towards local farms.

Grade 4 and 5 students at the school learned first hand about growing garlic and then tasting it — as they would if they had purchased the bulbs from a local market or grocery store. Knowing the process of how food is grown, where it comes from and why all of this is important, are the first steps in creating people who are aware of the need for reliable supplies and safe food.

Proponents of issues such as the 100 Mile Diet, food security and more are always trying to educate adults on issues like these. On the Saanich Peninsula and Vancouver Island in general, food plays an even bigger role because of transportation costs and our potential isolation in the event of a disaster.

Food supply is at the root of many issues, such as agricultural land resources, animal welfare and even compost.

Growing and consuming food invariably leads to waste and discussions over how to handle that waste — namely composting of food scraps. While the issue has been front and centre in Central Saanich in recent weeks, it will spread throughout Greater Victoria when the Heartland landfill stops accepting food waste in 2015. There’s a balance that needs to be found between our food consumption and the creation of kitchen scraps and waste that must be dealt with by the communities from which it comes. There are solutions out there and education is the first step in finding solutions.

While growing garlic bulbs is a small step, it has the potential to ward off ignorance about where our food comes from. Growing Young Farmers teaches gardening skills, but it first teaches children about how to think about food.

That’s clearly where people must start in order to develop ways of keeping local farms alive, policies to ensure they thrive and methods of balancing consumption with waste generation.