Neighbours deserve proper consideration

Urban farming is an urgent issue on Vancouver Island and we need to grow more than six per cent of our food here.

To the Editor,

Urban farming is an urgent issue on Vancouver Island and we need to grow more than six per cent of our food here. There is a two- to three-day inventory in the food stores, which is not obvious when walking the aisles.

Growing our own food for our own use is very different from growing it for sale.

The words ‘food security’ have different meanings for different people. When I buy food, I expect it to be free from parasites and fecal bacteria. Using fresh, untreated raw manure as fertilizer does not provide me with food security; it makes me wonder if the food is safe to eat.

Raw manure is loaded with bacteria, including coliforms. About 30 per cent of it is just that – bacteria. There have already been cases of coliform food poisonings in North America and people have died. The bacteria are not on the food, they are in it. I don’t call that food security.

I am more interested in what the Vancouver Island Health Authority has to say about that.

In addition to bacteria, feces contain parasites. Horse manure is not as bad as pig manure, which may contain tapeworm eggs, nor is it as bad as deer feces, which may contain deer flukes.

Before I eat vegetables, I would like to know that they are grown in a deer-proof garden.

The requirement that urban gardens be fertilized with digested manure is entirely reasonable and sound from a health perspective. Demonstrations and letters of support are no substitute for reasonable discussion.

If I lived next door, I would be concerned when the manure truck arrived. We need to be reasonable and considerate to our neighbours on Vancouver Island.

Using raw manure as fertilizer is not organic gardening; in my opinion, it is industrialized farming and it should not be allowed in a residential area.

Growing our own food is an urgent issue, but we need to do it right. We need to consider our neighbours and put them before profit.

There is a difference between the right to grow food and the right to create a stink.

Charles Thirkill

Nanaimo