A culmination of events, conversations, press articles and tasty local vegetables has inspired me to start writing this blog and really it’s a way of exploring this topic in further detail because it interests me and although I’m not overly informed in it (yet!) it’s something that I believe deserves a trial and I think there are other people out there who think the same thing.
Toward the end of August this year, after looking at their report on Guernsey’s agriculture, Island Analysis concluded that there was clearly ‘a need for more self-sustainability in the production of greater volumes of on-island meat, vegetables and fruits in addition to preserving local fish stocks’ 1. It went on to confirm an already apparent truth that we are incredibly reliant on importing food on to our island. With the ever growing demand the western world 2 (and increasingly the developing world) has for more and more food we should be prepared for upcoming food shortages and at the very least, price increases. (And I don’t know about you, but to me food prices over here are already pretty high?). This isn’t a new realisation either; two years ago in February 2010 Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, pretty much voiced all this already 3 though he concluded on an inspiring note that sustainable farming could cost less in the long term and “can be quality of life enhancing”.
But is it possible? Is it worth it? Do we really care enough? These are the things I want to look at, I want to see if it is possible to eat seasonally and locally and at the same time explore and take full advantage of the people that are already doing this in Guernsey and take inspiration from those doing it further afield.
Not a local, I see Guernsey as a unique place with real potential: a perfect size and unavoidably isolated it’s the ideal place to try and feed itself. Being heavily rooted in growing and with its pride in its detachment from the mainland and the EU there’s a lot of things going for it becoming more self sufficient and possible outcomes are exciting:
- More local food = more jobs
- More local growers = stronger community
- Stronger community and local skillset = stronger island identity and revival of cultural heritage
- Local/ seasonal food = fresher and possibly cheaper = happier/ healthier/ more knowledgeable locals/ an upcoming generation that knows where their food comes from!
- Rich food heritage and pride = opportunities in food tourism = more employment
- More food sourced on island = more independence and stability
I’m not alone in thinking it’s got to be worth having a serious attempt at this: over the last week alone there has been lots of support for the idea in the opinions page in the Press, similarly read the online comments under the articles. It almost feels like there is an underlying unrest; a desire for change and a keenness to move away from the reliance on the finance industry and advance in a different direction which acknowledges Guernsey’s past; its culture and heritage and its strength and capability to look after itself. To quote patrick Holden from his 2010 visit; the idea that Guernsey needs a strategic food plan is something that islanders can help force into being: “Each of us can make a difference and eventually politicians will have to act.” This blog is where i plan to start…
1 http://www.thisisguernsey.com/news/2012/08/20/guernsey-must-do-more-to-feed-itself-says-new-research/ also… I’d have liekd to haveread island analysis’ report myself, has it been published? You can down load it from their website for £275– which I can’t afford!
2 ‘With 70% of all available water being in agriculture, growing more food to feed an additional 2 billion people by 2050 will place greater pressure on available water and land’ http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/aug/26/food-shortages-world-vegetarianism