Canada Day wore me out so it's appropriate that I feel like talking about vegetables. When the Canadian government was trying to attract settlers to this area — and most of Canada for that matter — they lured them with land. In theory, it was farm land. They wanted all those settlers to clear the land, cultivate it, tame the forest and make the land "productive." A lot of the times they had to stretch the truth. Here a little white lie the Department of Lands wrote in 1914 for hopeful pre-empters:
The favourable climatic influences, combined with the comparatively level lie of the country ... and the general excellence of the soil, which, when the covering of decayed vegetation is removed, the sunlight let in, and the ground has been worked a little, is capable of producing the finest of garden and field products ...
In truth, much of the area is bog and clay, and the rain (remember, up to 4 metres A YEAR), leaches away any goodness that veggies might like. And then there's the sun (or lack thereof). Oh, we get some (the last few days have been stellar) but once it heats up enough, the long days of Fogust will arrive. (It is a very rare (very, very rare) evening that we can sit out after dinner without fleece jackets and blankets. All heat-loving plants much be coddled.) This is all to say that people can and do have vegetable gardens here, but it takes work to build up the soil and encourage your veggies to do their stuff. You have to be pretty committed. Although many settlers did try to farm, their efforts were soon abandoned in favour of fishing or logging. Everyone had a veggie garden of course and a few people did have market gardens, but farming was never a reality.
This isn't the case in Port Alberni and the other side of the island, which is rich in farmland. At this time of year we take full advantage of that gardening goodness and participate in a local CSA (Community Support Agriculture) program with the organic farm, Nanoose Edibles. Each week we get a box of veggies from the farm. This is what arrived on our doorstep tonight:
Nanoose Edibles not only provides produce to about 50 or so residents of the west coast, they also supply many of the restaurants. It's not quite a 100 Mile Diet, but it's closer than California. The farm has a stand, which is en route to Tofino if you're coming our way. Why don't you stop in?
I would like to point out that the farm is a retirement "venture" for the Ebells. Here they are. I hope I have half as much energy as they when I retire. Thanks for the veggies, Barbara and Lorne.