My Views For Guernsey Tomorrow

January 12, 2011 at 7:10 pm. Growing.

I was asked by Environment to attend a meeting at Sir Frossard House and give my advice on growing and allotments.
It was a follow up to the two Guernsey Tomorrow’s I attended, which are to give the basic needs and  wants for the next 25 years.
The talk was about 156 redundant vinery sites, which are now classed as eyesores to most people and what could be a done with them. I must add here that I agree that a lot are eyesores, but there is also tendency to try to sanitize Guernsey too much. That is to say that green fields with cows seem okay, but not what goes with keeping those cows in those green fields. It is also sometimes the same with allotments, as long as it is green okay, but do not put bamboos, posts, netting, compost heaps or covering.
The words unsightly, rubbish and do they have to put it their, come to mind, but I would suggest that walking around these allotments can open eyes.
So what can be done with some of these sites?
If some are to be turned into allotments, larger semi commercial vegetables areas or smallholding?
I can make a few suggestions and ideas of how it could be done.
If some  are to be made into allotments it should be done in a commercial way and douzaines and states departments should be wary of using taxpayers money.

As it is very costly to clear these sites and the need for these allotments are met at present, but will increase. I believe as time go by and climate change will force us to produce more our self.
Certainly with the effects of less average rain, warmer weather and increasing cost of food miles, it is inevitable.

Larger Semi Commercial Areas
With the loss of 3,000 vergees of agricultural land and only 19 farmers and two large vegetable producers left. There will be a need to produce more, on this smaller part time scale for the public.
So, it may be that some of these sites could be used for this kind of operation and fill this gap. There could be several people on one site and operate like the French do, as a co operatives, sharing machinery, buying of seed and other things. with a manager who gives advice and help when necessary.

Suitable sites could be used for either vegetable production and animals or only animals. Of course when I say suitable it has to be born in mind, that some could not be used to close to residential areas.
You could have chickens (without a cockerel) and pigs, who do not make much noise, but Turkeys, geese and ducks would have to be well away from residential areas. Sheep and Steers are less of a problem than the previous three and could be closer to the public.

On some of the problems arising
Some of these would be explained in the Worth Reading Links, but for a brief summary.

1/You would need some outlets for the surplus produce, as 80% of the vegetables are sold in the Supermarkets and leaves only 20%. Some of the Supermarkets can only take 40% local supplies and Jersey produce is considered local, so the Genuine Guernsey is part of local not all. 
The local produce ( Guernsey) would need a permanent all year round market, that was available to local and visitors a like to get best prices.
They would need this as smaller growers could not meet the continuity, price and quality demanded of large scale growers by these large outlets.
2/ They would need a pack house, so as to process their vegetable.
The animals that are fattened would have to have an Abattoir, but also have a communal cutting area, that could be hired by individuals. This is so the meat could be cut and processed and be sold by the individual producers to get best price. If they can not get the best retail or nearest, there will be no production of local products.
At the moment there are a growing number small  producers, but if this Abattoir is not sorted out quickly, it will start to decease.
3/ Some people are trying to be more sustainable, but do come in conflict with States Departments, who perhaps have laws that are now not fit for purpose.
If all this is to happen there will have to be a meeting of minds, or it will be merely a waste of time and that is one thing that we do not have in a fast changing world.

Worth Reading Links
The Cost of Food Miles (365 menus)
Losing Agricultural Land (Growing)
Guernsey Tomorrow (Media)
Save the Planet (General News)
Burning the Beef and Still Burning the Beef (media)