Biodiversity—an invitation to see firsthand

Remember the Pave Garden City councillor who ranted in a national newspaper about imaginary opponents? “I will be damned,” he said of the Garden City Lands, “if we are going to use it just for growing cranberries.” Unfortunately, whether that councillor was misleading the readers on purpose or through genuine ignorance, the media-saturation efforts typified by that quote must have been harmful to informed public opinion.

Of course, a recurring aspect in Save Garden City visions is actually respect for biodiversity. We understand why a great deal of Richmond’s farmland is devoted to cranberries these days, but the economic value is at the expense of diversity. The respect that we champion applies to the biodivesity that already exists on the lands and also to the biodiversity that will be added if a large part of the property is used for urban agriculture.

We can combat misinformation in words, but there’s a better way: people seeing for themselves. To enable that, the Garden City Lands sponsors eco-tours and agri-tours. There’s one of each kind of tour coming up, and both of them feature biodiversity. Besides being appropriate for our current needs, that fits with supporting the efforts of the United Nations, which is promoting 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity.

First there’s an eco-tour of the Garden City Lands on a fitting occasion. It’s on International Biodiversity Day, which is Saturday, May 22. As usual, Michael Wolfe will be leading the tour, no doubt pointing out some of the eleven food plants that grow naturally on the Garden City Lands and sharing conservation biology in plain English.

Please read about it on the coalition website’s eco-tours page, join Michael at 10 a.m. on May 22, and bring your family and friends with you to the lands. Michael, by the way, took the Garden City Land photo at right and another one at the end of this post.

Later there’s an agri-tour of Cherry Lane Farm, one of only two Richmond farms that are not in the Agricultural Land Reserve. (The other is the Steves farm.) Cherry Lane uses organic farming practices, and its commitment to biodiverstity goes back to the 1950s. The agri-tour is at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, July 6. The host is young urban farmer Miles Smart. Please read about it on the agri-tours page and mark it on your calendar.

To be fair to the bog cranberries of the Garden City Lands, in a setting of diversity they are especially beautiful, as this blushing cranberry shows.

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