If you’re a gardener, you probably noticed that some of your plants up and died during the recent heat wave in BC. Other plants might be struggling still due to drought, plant disease, or heat-loving pests. You’re not alone. High temperatures have been impacting farmers across BC and other parts of the country (including Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba).
Warmer temperatures and an earlier growing season may initially sound attractive, but heat waves, chronic drought, and extreme weather events can be incredibly detrimental to farmers. Poor harvests, oppressive working conditions, pest and disease outbreaks, and even total crop failure are all possibilities farmers today must grapple with.
It’s possible to adapt to these new growing conditions, but it can be challenging and costly to do so. Replanting a blueberry farm with a more heat-tolerant variety could cost between $15,000 to $20,000 per acre, with a three-year gap before the first harvest. A new irrigation system might be upwards of $300,000.
Canada is one of the largest agricultural producers and exporters in the world, and farming remains a critical part of our food system today. A healthy, thriving farming sector can help lessen our own reliance on food imports and bolster national food security while also allowing us to support local farmers and producers. Finding effective strategies to tackle climate change and adapt to changing growing conditions is just one part of protecting our food system.
It can be challenging to find ways to engage with issues like this, but there are ways that you can get involved: buy local or support farmers directly (when possible), learn about Canada’s national food policy, support community food organizations, and more.