• Barj Dhahan organic farming in Ladner

    Land is Life: Thoughts on Organic Farming

    Loving the land is not just important for me; sustainable, local agriculture is an issue of great importance for all Canadians.

    I was born on a small farm in rural Punjab, India and grew up watching my grandfather work the land. He would take me for walks around our property and explain to me how important it is to know the land. He reminded me that even if you can’t see it with your eyes, there is always life beneath the soil and in the plants. He taught me that the land is life.

    My grandparents and my mother instilled an interest in gardening and farming which has always stuck with me. My family now has a certified organic farm in Ladner BC, in an area that is part of the Agricultural Land Reserve and that has one of the best micro-climates for growing cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage) and potatoes. I love to plant seeds and watch how they grow into healthy food throughout the year. I try to share this love for the land with my children and grandson.

    Last year, Ab Dhaliwal, whose family has a long and rich history of farming in Ladner since 1952, planted green bush beans on our land. We welcomed a bumper crop of deliciously sweet beans which we enjoyed over many family meals. This year Ab will grow barley on our land and potatoes and bush beans on his own acreage. Barley will be used for organic dairy feed for two dairy farms in Cloverdale and Abbotsford. Potatoes and bush beans will be supplied to Fraserland Organics, Delta and Trader Joes in Washington, USA. My family and I hope to develop our farm into an integrated year-round organic farm and yoga wellness centre.

    Loving the land is not just important for me and my family; the importance of sustainable, local agriculture is an issue of great importance for all Canadians. We are at a critical moment where one of the greatest needs of all of humanity is to find a balance between economic growth and environmental protection. It is important that we think consciously about our choices and their long-term effects. Growing local food means a reduction in carbon emissions caused by transporting fruits and vegetables over long distances, and growing organically ensures the healthiness of local citizens as well as the local environment. I have seen that my farm provides a habitat for many forms of wildlife including eagles, herons, rabbits, ducks, geese and frogs. When I see these creatures thriving, I understand that preserving green spaces and organic farming practices is about protecting entire ecosystems. Pesticides and other non-organic materials are not only harmful for human consumption, but can do serious damage to plants, animals, and water systems.

    I believe in the importance of finding sustainable, local solutions that ensure each country, region, and family’s longevity, and an important aspect of this is providing healthy, local food for local people. I am proud of my organic farm and my farmer friends like Ab Dhaliwal. I know my farm is one amongst many which contribute to the health of Canadian families. It is also a wonderful place for me to escape, to go back to the land and remember that the land is life.