With the devastating impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus, we might see thousands of people lose their jobs in each city. Thousands more might not be able to work because their kids are not in school, as the schools have closed indefinitely. By summer or fall we might have a serious issue with people being hungry if they can’t work, and there’s no money coming in. I’m talking soup lines like the 1930s. Federal ministers, on March 16, already warned about the security of the food supply for Canada.
We have lots of green grass that’s irrigated, as city park space, in every community. People can’t eat grass. If things don’t improve by early May we should consider plowing over and working up irrigated park space. Lots of it. Literally lots, as in city lots, for community gardens.
(Just be careful not to tear out the irrigation lines when tilling up the grass. The oilpatch line locators aren’t going to be busy anyhow, get them busy at line clearing.)
Plant potatoes, carrots, peas, beans, beats, onions.
Maybe get the province buys a bunch of seed potatoes, or does bulk buying of seeds for distribution. Maybe it gets Peavey Mart and Canadian Tire to put big orders in now, backed by the province.
It could then distribute packs of seeds for all who want – one package of carrots, peas, beans, cucumbers, beats, onions, potatoes, lettuce, etc. in a bag. Hand them out at food banks.
Open up these parks as community gardens and urge people to use it. Irrigate the heck out of it. Grow food, not flowers. Pay city workers to grow beats, not cut grass.
Get the provincial agrologists to put together instructions and best practices. How to blanch and freeze vegetables. How to can. How to pickle. The province sits on literal salt mines – salt should be plentiful. Compile useful gardening tutorial playlists on YouTube and put then on Saskatchewan.ca.
Get some idle facility somewhere to pump out mason jars.
SaskPower’s Shand greenhouse should forget planting trees. Trees can wait a year. Start tomatoes, and anything else that it can grow that is FOOD, not trees. But this would need to be done soon. Like, this week.
Legalized marijuana operations should switch to food production, not pot, so that we can have year-round fresh vegetables.
Call on farmers close to communities to open up a few acres for similar garden space. Ask them to do it all over the province.
With kids out of school, this would also give them something to do.
Leningrad did this while under siege. Every public space was put into potatoes. I’m not suggesting that far, but why the heck not? It’s a wartime idea and we are rapidly moving to a war footing. Hell, Conservative leadership hopeful Erin O’Toole has already suggested that.
This is a positive thing the cities, the province and SaskPower can do with its staff that could genuinely help and at little expense. Better to water potatoes then flowers. We can’t eat flowers. We can always replant the grass later. The forests can wait a year.
These are all proactive things the government can do, and should do, if things don’t turn around soon.
Brian Zinchuk is editor of Pipeline News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.