by William J. Langenberg
Even though a lot of effort and money is spent on educating consumers to buy local, many are still shopping at the big box stores for vegetable and herb plants. Many local vendors are competitive to big box stores. Grenville Herb Farm’s tomato plants, for example, grown at home, in Merrickville, right in our community, sell for $5.00, which includes the HST. In addition, local vegetable and herb plants are grown according to season. Tomato plants come first at the end of May, followed by basil plants at the beginning of June. Cucumbers follow the basil during the second week of June. Perennials are available towards the end of June. The sale of plants is seasonal, related to the weather, which is specific to Eastern Ontario.
When I arrived in Kemptville in 1975, most plants and produce bought at our local stores were seasonal only. Today, they are available year round. We need to change that buying attitude and pattern.
Buying local reduces the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. Europeans, who signed the Kyoto and Paris Climate Accords, are dedicated to buy local produce only. Vegetable and herb plants bought at big box stores, which are grown commercially at farms in Southern Ontario, and transported by truck to your local big box stores, release on average 0.5 – 1.0 kg of CO2 per kg of product into the atmosphere. Produce grown locally, and sold at farmers’ markets, release 0 -0.5 kg of CO2 per kg of product into the atmosphere, depending how far our growing location is from the market.
Reducing climate change starts at home. A little effort, by buying seasonally and locally, will put a dent into the CO2 release, reduces the climate change potential, and will save our planet for future generations. Don’t forget that produce and fruit and vegetable transplants will become more expensive in the not-so-distant future, when bought at local stores, as our Governments slowly increase the carbon tax on fossil fuels. The Federal Government is expected to increase carbon tax from the current 2.3 cents per litre to well over 11 cents by 2022.
Many prospective or new home gardeners were commenting over the past few weeks, since our local farmers’ market opened: “I wish that Kemptville College was still open and we could get some basic training in growing fruits, vegetables and herbs at home”. A prospective new Council may be on the horizon and, perhaps, would be able to fulfill that request. Kemptville, after all, has always been the agricultural hub in Eastern Ontario, helping local growers and farmers to bring the best quality and nutritious crops to market, at the lowest possible price and CO2 release.
We all need to put our priorities into buying local as much as possible for the sustainability of North Grenville and surrounding regions.