Tuesday, October 12, 2010

local garlic news

Protest with a bite

By Ken Peters, Hamilton Spectator

Westdale High School Grade [10] student Evelyna Kay chose a unique and demonstrative way to make the most of a glorious Thanksgiving Sunday morning.

She donned an orange costume, boarded a chartered Hamilton Street Railway bus and helped plant garlic in a farmer’s field across from Hamilton International Airport.

“I care about the environment and I don’t want to create a world that is not sustainable. That’s why I dress up as the Climate Carrot,” said the 14-year-old Hamilton environmentalist, who is a member of Students Bridging Borders, her school’s popular social justice group.

Evelyna was just one of about 50 Hamilton members of the city’s 350 Committee which boarded their “garlic bus” for the ride to the “aerotropolis lands” to plant garlic bulbs to protest the potential loss of some of Ontario’s best agricultural lands.

Local organizer Jennie Rubio said the Hamilton event was just one of some 7,000 activities promoting climate change action taking place in 188 countries.

The group’s 350 name refers to the target, in parts per million, of how much carbon dioxide needs to be in the air. Currently, she said, there is 390 with the threat the figure could hit 450.

So, what does this have to do with garlic and the Hamilton aerotropolis lands? Well, the Hamilton 350 Committee opted to protest the planned urban development of prime agricultural lands adjacent to the airport. The development is 662-hectares.

And the garlic?

“We know our food supply is becoming less and less secure. Instead of importing our food from around the world, we could be growing,” Rubio said.

“So as part of this protest movement we’re going to plant garlic because you can’t buy local garlic in the supermarket, it is all imported from China. Yet it grows perfectly here,” she said, as her work party waited to board the bus in front of the Sky Dragron Centre on King William Street.

“It’s to send a message to our local government that we need to be making better choices with what we’re doing with this wonderful land. The idea of paving it over, you can’t go back. Once it is paved over it’s gone. We need to be thinking about what kind of decisions we’re making,” she said.

Rubio, an editor with Oxford University Press, said she loves cooking and she particularly loves garlic.
“There are a lot of things we can be growing here instead of importing.”

And so the local garlic growers, armed with cloves and spades, boarded the bus.

Well-known Hamilton environmentalist Don McLean was among them. He acknowledged the group was trespassing on private land but was hopeful no arrests would be made.

“We’re not doing any significant damage here, it is fallow land. If we are approached on the subject of trespassing, the people who are doing it will decide whether they want to back off or if they are so determined to get arrested doing it. But it is a symbolic event,” he said.

Hamilton environmentalist Glenn Robinson was working the spade.

“I believe there are a lot of opinions about what is happening in the community and this is one voice that should be heard,” he said.

The city’s planning and economic development committee approved moving forward with the airport development and the issue will come before city council Wednesday for ratification.

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