Climate Change, One Square Foot at a Time

The Co-op Connection
by Robin Ledrew

Three local producers of quality vegetables are making climate change their business by growing in greenhouses. Cedarstein, Your Local Farmacy and B&S Ranch are fresh vegetable suppliers to the Monashee Community Co-op. They have each invested in the infrastructure and the learning curve to bring vegetables to the market long before field crops are ready. This is a significant development in the North Okanagan farming scene.

I talked to Heidi of Cedarstein Farms located at 2041 Mabel Lake Road. Heidi and Helmut Lang can currently supply baby kale, spinach, lettuce mix, head lettuce and romaine as well as arugula and various herbs from their certified organic greenhouse.  They will be producing sugar peas by the end of May and green beans in June as well as long English cucumbers and Zuchinni. Tomatoes will be ready in July. Heidi says, “A lot can be done in the greenhouse given our climate. This makes us less dependent on imports and encourages to eat in tune with the seasons.”

Nevin and Shauna Gavigan of “Your Local Farmacy”, also on Mabel Lake Road, have a single layer greenhouse which they do not use during midwinter but they are out planting seeds by the middle of February. Their greenhouse has been producing spinach since the end of March and carrots will be coming soon.

As a certified organic producer, Nevin stresses the importance of building healthy soils to produce better crops. May 28th the Farmacy will be offering a day long course on building better soils by rotating crops, planting cover crops, fallowing and hot composting using local manure. “It is a misperception that you have to settle for less production while you build your soil”, says Nevin, “this workshop will be useful to everyone from the backyard gardener to orchardists and larger operations.”

Neven and Shauna keep detailed logs of everything they do and review them in winter before planning for the next year. Extensive research and reading complement these logs. Nevin recommends two books: “the New Organic Grower” by Coleman and “the Market Gardener” by Fortier.

B & S Ranch, the third greenhouse supplying The Monashee Community Co-op, is located on Albers Road. While her operation is not Certified Organic, Samantha says she does not use pesticides or herbicides in her greenhouse. Currently she has a tower of bedding plants for sale at the Co-op.

Remember, if you are a member of the Monashee Community Co-op you can volunteer as a cashier. Cashiers get a 10% discount when they shop. Drop in and find out how we are “nourishing a local economy”.