Agriculture education would fill void

Young, would-be farmers are crying out for training opportunities which the people who would employ them cannot afford.

We talk about wanting more local food but does that show up in how we spend our food budget?

We need an Island agriculture economy if we want to replace the failing industrial food systems supplying supermarkets crammed with only two or three days supplies.

The new agriculture would provide a steady supply of nutritious food and support farm families.

I am drawn to the Transition movement which is sweeping the world because of its commonsense approach: we can’t wait for government, we can’t make change as individuals, so we need to get some practical community actions going and see where they lead.

One such action is being taken by the College of the Rockies in Creston in opening Kootenay Farm School “to bring people together to discover, teach, and support agriculture on a human scale.”

There is a faculty of trades and applied technology at Vancouver Island University which was a respected vocational school before the college, which became the university, moved in up the hill. At VIU a horticulture course is taught which concentrates on ornamental plants, which about sums up the commitment of VIU to agriculture.

The long and honourable history of education in applied studies seems to have disappeared.

When I was at university many of my contemporaries were already at work earning and learning to be accountants, primary teachers, nurses, engineers, physical educators and domestic scientists at specialized training institutes.

They were well established in their careers by the time university graduates emerged.

Then the fashion of turning certifications into degrees arrived.

There were lengthy apprenticeships ending in coveted journeyman status, which guaranteed reliable tradespeople.

People in Canada used to refer to “getting a ticket” but the closest I can get to that is the Red Seal program which I think was developed to overcome barriers between provinces.

B.C. has never trained enough apprentices but today fewer immigrants have trade skills.

More immigrants today are university educated.

Why can’t someone “get a ticket” in agricultural technology in Nanaimo?

Maybe it’s because we won’t pay local farmers enough for our produce to support even apprenticeship wage rates.

Maybe it’s because the $8 billions of our tax dollars devoted annually to agriculture all go to “trade first” industrial agriculture, the kind we definitely don’t want next door to us.

Young, would-be farmers are crying out for training opportunities which the people who would employ them cannot afford.

Why can the College of the Rockies provide such training but not VIU?

The seventh Vancouver Island Economic Alliance Summit coming up in October lists one panel, participants unannounced, on growing food. Registration costs over $300.

What does “summit” imply, anyway? Is there a whiff of exclusivity there?

Marjorie Stewart is board chairwoman of the Nanaimo Foodshare Society. She can be reached at marjorieandalstewart@shaw.ca.

Just Posted

Young people graduating in COVID-19 times have shown resilience. (Stock photo)
Editorial: Class of 2021 has shown smarts and resilience

Congratulations and good luck to Grade 12s who have persevered during the pandemic

The Nanaimo Business Awards are accepting nominations now. (Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce image)
Nanaimo Business Awards accepting nominations of worthy winners

This year’s awards aren’t until the fall, but the nomination period ends June 28

Retailers say they’re ready for the ban on single-use plastic checkout bags in Nanaimo when it takes effect July 1. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Retailers report they’re ready for Nanaimo’s single-use checkout bag ban

Business operators say there’s been plenty of time to plan and prepare for bylaw that kicks in July 1

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews on scene at a boat fire near the boat ramp at Long Lake on Sunday, June 20. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Boat burns up on Nanaimo’s Long Lake, man and child unhurt

Jet skiers attempt to put out fire by circling around to spray water on burning boat

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

John A. Read, who was inspired to leave his former career to become a professional astronomer by the purchase of a $13 telescope, will give beginning astronomers key pointers on how to set up and get the best performance from their instruments at Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s meeting June 24. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Read)
Astrophysicist will talk about getting the most out of a telescope at Nanaimo astronomy meeting

John Read’s purchase of a $13 telescope led to a degree in astrophysics and a career in astronomy

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Most Read