Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hmmm, maybe I spoke too fast

There was some unsettling news on tv tonight: the province of Quebec is seeking to modify zoning laws in order to facilitate turning agricultural land into residential territory. Current laws protect farmland, and make it really hard to sell it for non-agricultural purposes. However, sprawling suburbs like Brossard in Montreal's South Shore are greedily eyeing what little farmland is left to turn it into McMansions and condos.What was even more disturbing was when the journalist interviewed people in the street: many did not see the problem in paving over farmland.

I hate to say it, but sometimes it feels like the suburbs are on a different planet.

The issue over farmland ties into this morning's edition of the Current on CBC Radio 1. I've noticed that soil has been making the headlines in the past year. Although it might not have come to the attention of the general public, after global warming, soil erosion and deterioration is right up there on the list of big concerns. Conventional farming - and gardening- practices are very damaging to topsoil. Over-use of chemical fertilizers, stripping of topsoil and peat bogs, and mechanical irrigation can lead to the thinning of fertile ground. If we do not make every effort to protect our fertile lands, how can we insure food for future generations? Especially with growing climate uncertainty.

Some politicians are, luckily, not so short sighted. Increasing concern with food safety and supply has pushed the City of Vancouver to seriously consider changing laws to allow for urban chickens. Victoria has already legalised the city birds (lucky you R!). I'm so envious. Chickens are beautiful pets, and for gardeners they provide great fertilizer, are talented weed and pest managers. And they enjoy turning the compost pile for you. What more can you ask for from a pet? Oh, and did I mention they provide you with eggs?

2 comments:

  1. I did not know that. I am totally getting a chicken! I don't think the neighbours will notice a little more squawking. Thanks D!

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  2. I want chickens! My mum had one growing up in post-war Tokyo, and she says she was the best pet ever... aside from the cats. And even though chickens are most productive during 3-4years, they do lay eggs for most of their lives. Just much less frequently, but fresh eggs can keep for 6 weeks, so you can afford to wait for a whole dozen.
    I wish they would legalize urban chickens in Montreal: it would really help manage the whit grub infestation (another sign of global warming)

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