"On the island, we have an opportunity to grow more of our food whether it is vegetables, fruit, herbs, poultry or meat. Already, we have great produce, dairy products, poultry and meat in addition to world class shellfish and fin fish but not enough to feed all of us and not year round. Unfortunately, land for farming -- unless permanently protected -- is very expensive and taxed at standard rates; farming -- like fishing -- is an occupation with unremitting hard work, long hours and numerous disappointments -- whether crop failure, animals who fail to thrive, or lack of rain (or too much) and a long list of other problems. In addition, farmers work day in, day out for little or no return except the satisfaction of knowing that you are doing something sustainable and positive for your family and for the island, while eating the very best of food.
Currently we have a wonderful shellfish hatchery and Rick Karney -- the guru of shellfish -- and several active groups working to assist the fishermen. The results of their efforts in some of our ponds are very encouraging and demonstrate what we can do if we work at it. Best of all these programs are relatively low cost with virtually no negative impact. Now we need to do everything possible to assist our existing farmers while encouraging young islanders to start farming. We need to make it possible for all farmers to earn a decent living, and to farm sustainably. This means that farming must be as chemical and fertilizer-free as possible. One must remember that the fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides that get spread in a field will end up in the ground water and in the larger water bodies to the detriment of all life in those water bodies (and us).
The Agricultural Society is an important part of this effort and we encourage them to broaden their role to provide additional services, educational opportunities, and funding to island farmers. Remember that when we live "truly local" we live better, and we reduce our impact while helping to reduce the effects of climate change."
Virginia Crowell Jones