Saturday, 15 June 2013

Elusive strawberries

I've come across some unsettling news as of late.  It appears that strawberries aren't doing well on the local farms and I haven't found a u-pick that will be offering strawberries this year.  At least not yet anyway.  Strawberries bring just a wee bit of sweetness in a kissed-by-summer kind of way (think fruit smoothies, strawberry crumble, dried strawberries in your cereal), and help us to remember that spring will return again on those dark winter mornings.  So I'm calling around to literally every potential strawberry grower in the province to see if any will be offering strawberries this year. 

I'm also a little unnerved by the whole thing.  I don't know why the strawberries haven't come through in this particular part of the world, and I'm holding my breath as I wait to find out about what's going on in the other corners of the province.  I hope the reason the strawberries didn't thrive was our cool, and I hope it wasn't because of something more sinister...such as collapsing bee populations, increasing toxins in the soil, water and atmosphere, the broader and little known effects of GMO's...And I wonder what crop be next to fold and simply refuse to grow - wheat, corn, tomatoes? 

Then I wonder about how successful our garden would be in the face of all these threats.  How well would we be able to nourish ourselves when one seemingly tiny organism in the web of life disappears and causes the whole web to fall apart?  While I cling to the utopian hope that indeed one person, or a small group of committed people, can change the world (thank you, Margaret Mead), I wonder how one can avoid such a devastating tsunami as a global food collapse...where edible plants will simply refuse to grow.  Because we are all interconnected - the Monsantos, the organic and biodynamic farmers, the beekeepers and the city slickers...what one does has an impact on the rest.

The best I can come up with is holistic and integrated gardening, where the garden is not just the plot of land or raised garden beds, but all the helpers that go along with it.  Chickens to eat the nasty bugs.  Raising bees (and doing what I can to provide them a safe place to thrive) to help pollinate.  Animals to cut the grass and provide nutrient-rich manure to feed the soil.  And what to do when all of this is illegal in a city?  Ah, that's where I get stuck.

While I ponder the fate of the world, I'll again take some time out for gratitude.  I'm thankful for a husband that is willing to travel to the far reaches of our province simply to pick strawberries.  I'm thankful for children who are excited to join us on this excursion.  I'm thankful for the farmers who honour the Earth and put their souls into the food they grow.  I'm thankful for the community we've found who might know of some secret strawberry patch, or perhaps some guidance for those more daunting fears and questions.

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