About the environment, food, trees



“So bleak is the picture … that the bulldozer and not the atomic bomb may turn out to be the most destructive invention of the 20th century.”

– Philip Shabecoff


“Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.”

– Bill Vaughn


I thought I’d leave you today with a few random thoughts on the state of the environment, our local food supply and a new sure-fire way to protect trees:


<h4>The 30-foot diet</h4>

A few million people in Asia start eating more meat, floods devastate Australian grain crops, the majority of corn becomes biofuel rather than Kellogg’s flakes, and suddenly food becomes the darling of market speculators, driving prices sky high.

Then comes the well-intentioned 100-mile diet, along with the crushing guilt one feels when trying to decide what’s local and what’s not (while still trying to enjoy that morning coffee).

One solution to this edible dilemma is to seek out urban farmers such as Ken and Elke Knechtel of Red Barn Plants and Produce, who sell their B.C. grown fruits and vegetables at farmer’s markets and right from the front gate.

Your other option is something I like to call the 30-foot diet, which is essentially attempting your own crop of easy-to-grow edibles in backyard plots or even containers.

Some good vegetables for novices include green onions (multiplier bulbs), leaf lettuce (‘Red Sails’, ‘Salad Bowl’), cherry tomatoes (‘Sweet Million’, ‘Sungold’), bush beans (‘Venture Blue Lake’) and carrots (‘Little Fingers’, ‘Scarlet Nantes’).

For small fruits, consider strawberries (‘Albion’, ‘Ozark Beauty’), half-high blueberries (‘Polaris’, ‘Northsky’) and raspberries (‘Tulameen’ or the newer ‘Prelude’).


<h4>If you build it</h4>

I was disappointed to hear Pitt Meadows Mayor Don MacLean’s reasons for not providing some initial financial support for the Pitt Meadows Farmers Market – citing outside vendors and competition with local business.

These markets are much more than a “commercial venture” – they are community events that provide fresh-grown produce (often organic) and products sold by local families, who get to earn a living wage and spend those dollars in their respective towns, be it Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows or one of our neighbours. Isn’t that better than buying fruits and vegetables trucked in from who-knows-where, purchased from farmers struggling to survive, sold by people making minimum wage, with all proceeds being funneled into the already burgeoning corporate coffers.

I don’t know about you, but $6,890 sounds like a bargain, and I suspect that eventually you would have more than enough local farmers to fill those market stands, and even if there were a few foreigners (you know, those Fraser Valley guys), they’d still be welcome.


<h4>A modest proposal</h4>

My eldest daughter Nicole recently returned from a working vacation (medical mission) in Vietnam and Thailand, and was quite alarmed by the deforestation (logging) that has devastated much of the Thai countryside.

The few remaining trees in affected areas were often adorned with orange scarves tied around the trunks, which she found out later were blessed by Buddhist monks.

With more than 90 per cent of the local population being devout Buddhists, these trees are generally left alone because it’s considered bad luck to tamper with them.

So I was pondering how we might adapt this system to deter individual acts of tree vandalism in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. It’s a little more difficult to create the same effect here because we are more secular and multicultural than Thailand, but I think I’ve found a suitable substitute protective charm, one that any true-blooded British Columbian would respect.

We just need to replace the blessed scarves with Vancouver Canuck’s playoff towels – with the inference being that if we cut down, overly prune or otherwise maim a towel-protected tree, something bad happens to the Canucks during the playoff season.

By way of example: hack a maple and Sami Salo fractures a finger; cut a Katsura and Ryan Kesler snaps a stick on a breakaway; top a tulip tree and Roberto Luongo pulls a groin muscle.

Now if we can only get our hands on a Gary Bettman voodoo doll and some big pins, then we could really show him what a pain in the butt is.


Mike Lascelle is a local nursery

manager and gardening author