Four inquisitive looking pigs in a pasture

Election candidate for Area C explains why food security is important

Food security is very important to Marc Doll, a candidate for Regional Director in Area C during the upcoming election.

“Climate change is here. Its effects are here and they’re getting worse. When it comes to our food production, the things that we’ve depended on for the last 40, 50, 60 years are just not there anymore,” he explained.

Marc Doll with one of the lambs from his farm – courtesy Empoer Community website

“We’re in a world of climate crisis. We’re in a world where the food systems that we have relied on for at least since the end of the Second World War are in big trouble. Look at Lake Mead and the irrigation that supplies the California Central Valley. If you follow the news at all, you’re realizing how in jeopardy that particular water source is, and that’s not just limited to that. We can go to  the groundwater that feeds and irrigates most of the Great Plains. That’s where our food comes from.”

Prior to the Second World War, Vancouver Island grew about half of its food. Now Doll believes this statistic is  closer to 4%-5%.

“We need to really focus on getting ourselves together. We have the ability to do that and we definitely have the people here with the knowledge to do that,” he said. 

“The change can come very, very quickly. The culture of gardening, self sufficiency and independence is present in our [Discovery Island] communities. That’s what we can draw on. The percentage of the people here that have started gardens or have had gardens for years is well above what would be the average of a major urban center? Our desire to pay for the value of food isn’t there yet, but that is changing.”

Doll and his family are the stewards of a 40-acre parcel of Quadra Island called the ‘Foot Forward Forest Farm.’  

According to the description on his website, “Every animal and garden system is designed to add more life to the soil:

  • Animals are carefully managed through a holistic intensive grazing system that emulates the patterns of bison and thereby sequesters atmospheric carbon and adds life to the pastures.  
  • A young food forest of nut and fruit trees, growing above berry bushes, herbs, and low growing edible and medicinal plants, models a natural forest and produces food without needing any irrigation. 
  • The Farm practices the principles of no-till gardening, and lots of homemade compost and Actively Aerated Compost tea add life to the soil and fertility to the gardens.  These are practices that Marc learned through his extensive studies with and visits to the farm of renowned social biologist Dr. Elaine Ingham.”

“I produce sheep, goats, chicken, ducks and pigs on this farm. So we have quite a lot that we offer and our prices are going to be higher than what you have  in the grocery store because we raise them with a regenerative model. We raise them without genetic modified organisms and that raises the price. There is enough demand just on this island that I can’t keep up with it,” said Doll. 

Free range chickens and ducks – from the Foot Forward Forest Farm Facebook page

“As inflation is creeping into the grocery stores on our islands, people are seeing the value of food and are starting to be not just willing, but actually having to pay a closer percentage of their income towards what food actually costs to produce in a responsible way.”

British Columbia may be the only province, or jurisdiction, in North America that gives farmers the ability to legally process meat and sell it directly to restaurants.

There is also a movement to allow raw milk sales. 

“We need to look at how onerous VIHA [Island Health] regulations are to food production,” said Doll. “There are a lot of policy changes that need to be made to help us move forward. We need politicians that understand what those policy changes are and who will go to the table and push for them.”

Top photo credit: Some of the pigs at Foot Forward Forest Farm – from the Foot Forward Forest Farm Facebook page

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