Like local farmers, you too can fight climate change

by | Feb 1, 2024 | Home and Living

Just like you might be fighting climate change by carrying a reusable water bottle, driving your car less often and cutting back on food waste, many of your local food producers are also stepping up.

Here are examples of steps some farmers are taking to ensure our food supply remains stable for generations to come. Look out for some tips for growing your own garden too.

Cover crops
Soil that is full of nutrients is important for successfully growing healthy crops and feeding livestock. Over time, soil nutrients can decrease and eventually make it hard to grow. To prevent this from happening, some farmers plant cover crops in the non-growing season to keep nutrients ready for the next year. Healthy soil management keeps our farmland in shape to produce the food we need for generations. Cover crops may also help sequester carbon or mitigate greenhouse gases.

Pro tip for home gardeners: Healthy soil should look like crumbly chocolate cake. If your soil is dark coloured, falls apart easily and smells fresh and alive, then you know you’re on the right track. If it’s not – maybe it seems musty or smells bad – then it’s time to add some compost or manure to the top 10 to 15 centimetres.

Careful tilling
Tilling soil means turning it over and breaking it up. This is common practice to loosen the soil to seed and get rid of weeds, but tilling too much can disrupt the activity of worms and microorganisms that keep the soil healthy for plants. Some farmers are doing their best to protect their soil’s health by doing no or minimal tilling, or even adapting their tools. Soil can take years or decades to revitalize, so the process makes a difference in the long term.

Pro tip for home gardeners: Only till in spots where you plan to plant directly or if you are mixing manure into the top of a new garden bed.

Rotational grazing
Rotational grazing is when vast farm fields are divided into smaller sections for animals to graze on a staggered basis. It allows time for plants to grow back and develop deeper roots into the soil, supporting the soil’s structure and water retention, thus protecting it from erosion. Rotational grazing also helps the soil to store more carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Pro tip for home gardeners: Did you know that you too can do some rotation in your garden? Rotating crops in your garden from one season to the next helps to prevent pest infestations and diseases. Also, consider planting specific types of crops side by side so they can benefit from each other. Think of how well the “three sisters” of beans, corn and squash grow well together.

Find more information about farming and fighting climate change at canada.ca/taste-the-commitment

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