Avia Eek understands the true importance of clean, accessible water. In addition to her position as a Councillor with the Township of King, Avia and her husband Bill operate Eek Farms in the Holland Marsh. The 2016 growing season has been the driest in 20 years; without irrigation, their 85 acres of vegetables might fail, with very real implications.
“Having access to the water from Lake Simcoe equates to our ability to feed people,” says Avia. “Considering that 2% of the population feeds the other 98% it is crucial that our farmers can rely on clean, safe secure supplies of water now, and for generations to come.” Protecting water is of particular importance as Ontario’s population swells by 4 million residents in the next 25 years.
Along with the Niagara Peninsula, the Holland Marsh is one of two speciality crop areas in the province, and it’s protected by the Greenbelt. Growing this protection to include vital headwaters and other water resources is crucial to mitigating the impacts of climate change, including flooding and increased instances of extreme weather. Just this summer, in addition to drought, crops in the Holland Marsh were hit with severe rain and hail.
“Our farmers have been working 19 hours a day irrigating for weeks now trying to keep what was seeded growing, in order to have a marketable crop,” Avia told Yorkregion.com. After the storm, some farmers were ankle-deep in water.
Eek Farms is one of 5,500 Greenbelt farms. With over 855,000 acres of farmland, agriculture is the most significant use of land in the Greenbelt. Permanently protecting this land has fostered economic growth and healthy communities for the last decade. In fact, Greenbelt farms are smaller but more productive than the average Ontario farm, as the Greenbelt’s rich soils and hospitable climate support more intensive farming practices.
See a larger Simcoe County map.
Avia believes that creating a Bluebelt to protect headwaters, groundwater, moraines, wetlands, rivers, and streams will support Ontario farmers’ ability to grow the fresh, local food that sustains us. It will help, she says, to “find the balance where the environment flourishes, our farmers continue to feed people, the economy grows, and we have access to safe and secure supplies of water.” Follow Avia Eek on Twitter @EekFarms.
Now is the time to show your support for growing the Greenbelt to include protection for vital water resources!
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