By Jackie Skrypnek
Special to the Cochrane Eagle
There's nothing like spontaneous snow in March to really bring the message home: Cochrane is no California. We have no orange trees laden with fruit, or fields of greens producing all winter. Our growing season is fleeting, just over 100 days, and, even if we make a point of buying from local producers when we can, there are several months of the year when we have little choice but to turn to imported produce. We find ourselves shivering all the way to the grocery store to purchase a $6 plastic tub of lettuce from...you guessed it, California.
The case against importing a vast amount of our produce is piling up: the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables is expected to jump by up to 4 per cent yet again in 2020; water scarcity, floods, fires, changing climate, and political and economic uncertainty put our sources at risk; long transportation miles are environmentally unsustainable and may be increasingly fraught with blockades and other demonstrations; we're unaware of who produces our food and how.
Meanwhile, people are craving meaningful in-person connection within their community. Study after study points to our growing loneliness and the benefits of unplugging from our digital media and connecting to the earth through the act of growing food.
If only we had a place where we could connect with our fellow community members while developing the skills and knowledge we need to feed ourselves in this challenging climate. A passive solar greenhouse, functioning as one of Cochrane’s new and emerging community hubs, is one compelling vision we should consider. Rather than an energy-intensive conventional greenhouse, passive solar design demonstrates an efficient and sustainable way to extend the growing season. It would be a bright, plant-filled space with opportunities to learn and connect across all ages, abilities and backgrounds.
A community greenhouse hub would contribute to a forward-thinking and solutions-oriented town - a town that’s set up for resiliency and vibrancy. While providing residents long-rooted to the community a place to gather and grow, both personally and productively, it would also help our newest citizens set down their own roots. That’s a vision that stacks up well against California any day.
Jackie Skrypnek is the President of Cultivate Cochrane. Cultivate Cochrane welcomes citizens to help bring this vision to fruition by becoming a member, signing up for a workshop, or considering a position on the board. More information can be found at cultivatecochrane.com