Letters to the Editor

Urban gardening issue framed in wrong context

To the Editor,

The matter of Compassion Farm has been framed as Dirk Becker against the District of Lantzville. It is crucial that this issue be properly reframed.

Dirk Becker and Nicole Shaw are fighting for us all. They are on the front line, paying with their physical and emotional well-being so that each member of our society – from those who purchase their beautiful wholesome food at the weekly Bowen Road Farmers Market in Nanaimo, to their neighbour Jim Brash and Mayor Haime – can continue to feed ourselves now and in our potentially turbulent future.

Becker has for the past 10 years taken a stand for what we all need to stand for, for the very essence of what allows us to stand up and function – the ability to nourish our bodies.

This is not a quaint topic, not an issue of hipsters and yuppies buying trendy foods at expensive grocery stores. This is about our ever decreasing ability to control the quality and quantity of foods that we put into our bodies, and into the mouths of our children.

He is a leader and an example of what we can do, what we should do. He is growing food, mountains of incredible food on the most beautiful and biologically diverse piece of property I have seen.

Yes, they have been in violation of district bylaws, but these are bylaws that need to be changed. Their fight is parallel to those of the bright visionaries of our past – visionaries such as Rosa Parks, whose act of civil disobedience in refusing to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger in 1955 made her an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.

If it were not for brave and bold, idealistic individuals such as Rosa Parks, Dirk Becker and Nicole Shaw our society would fail to progress. But they cannot take on this struggle alone, nor should they have to. This is not their fight. This is the fight for every one of us who wants to ensure our current and future food supply.

It has been said that it takes less energy to condemn that it does to think. We all need to take some time to recognize that the current bylaws are no longer serving us and it is time they be changed. We need to encourage real thought, deep awareness of the very bleak reality of our current food supply.

It is easy to feel insulated from the global food crisis as we continue to walk into our local grocery stores and see the shelves constantly stocked with goods.

We need to see that what increasingly lines those shelves and aisles is not food, but products. Manufactured goods being packaged up and sold to us as nourishment. Our food choices are more and more being dictated not by seasons and regions, but by a corporation’s bottom line.

Martin Luther King famously stated that, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Some of you may not know Dirk and Nicole, but trust me, they are friends. They work tirelessly not just for those members of the community who may benefit from consuming their wholesome produce, but for every person in every community who is faced with an insecure food supply. And that is every one of us.

This is not an issue we can remain silent on. I am sorry it took me so long to add my own voice.

Wrenna Robertson

Nanaimo

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