Gardening isn’t just a hobby

Nothing beats the taste and satisfaction of fresh local produce.

I love tomatoes, but it wasn’t always so.

Reading Esther Darlington MacDonald’s article this week on the old tomato cannery reminded me how important agriculture is to our towns, and to the entire country.

Isn’t it interesting that a a time in our country’s history when drought was causing farms to fail, that Ashcroft could keep itself – and others – going by growing tomatoes?

Unlike most of the tomatoes you buy in stores these days, I bet those Ashcoft tomatoes were spectacular!

Doesn’t locally-grown food always taste better? Is that because it isn’t forced in greenhouses or flooded by pesticides and herbicides and fertilizer? Or is it because it’s made up of the same earth, sunshine and fresh air that we love so much?

I grew up in a very fertile part of the country. Lots of rain, lots of heat. I’d never seen an irrigation pipe before visiting BC. My parents grew their own vegetables every year. We had friends who were farmers. Fruit stands dotted every mile along Hwy 2 and all of the rural routes during the growing season.

Fresh corn on the cob, a dollar a dozen. In those days, we bought corn by the garbage bag for family gatherings. There were so many tomatoes and cucumbers, they were practically giving them away.

Leamington was not far from where we lived was known for its big H.J. Heinz cannery. Since 1908, Leamington has called itself The Tomato Capital of Canada. They even have a giant tomato-shaped visitor information centre. And if you’re in the neighbourhood on Aug. 17-19, you can attend the 29th annual Leamington Tomato Festival!

Whether it’s for personal consumption or for shipping overseas, the food that we produce keeps us alive. It also gives both residents and visitors an immediate identification with the area. And it doesn’t have to be just tomatoes.

When I think about barren countries where drought is perpetual, I give thanks once again that I live in a country where growing food is so easy.

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