Alex Boss is a new columnist with Black Press has a BA Hons in geography and is applying for her masters in landscape architecture. (Black Press file photo)

Column: Introducing urban agriculture

New columnist delves into growing in the city

Hello lovely Western readers, my name is Alex and I am so excited to be bringing you a new biweekly column on urban agriculture relevant to our Okanagan area.

I grew up here in Penticton. I have been growing fruit and vegetables in my own garden only for a few years but it has brought me such joy and is so easy that I wanted to share this with more of my community.

Each month I will interview a gardener in the Okanagan who also wants to share their tips and garden ideas with you. As well, there will be useful articles like how to make a self-catering pot, best veggies to grow in the Okanagan, and how to grow greens inside.

Urban agriculture is pretty much exactly what it sounds like; agricultural activities like growing fruits and vegetables, raising livestock, and food processing that occur within an urban environment. A lot of longtime Penticton residents might not think of Penticton as an urban environment but our little city is densifying more every year. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But when development occurs without proper planning for the future, then we are at risk of becoming a concrete island between two lakes.

READ MORE: Hergott: Working around pain from a car crash

In most areas of the Okanagan, we are lucky enough to have very good soil. This is likely due to the historic flooding, especially here in Penticton. The Okanagan has a continental climate moderated by Okanagan Lake, meaning hot summers, cold winters and minimal rainfall. We are in a rain shadow caused by the Cascade and Coast Mountains, and on average get just over a ruler’s length of precipitation a year. While it is arid here, it means we are fortunate to get enough heat and light in the summer to grow things like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Whether you live in a house, townhouse, or tiny apartment, if you have the desire to grow your own food it is possible. And likely easier than you think.

Still on the fence? Does it sound like too much effort? Maybe this will entice you, urban agriculture is a way to bring food production back to our communities and reduce our reliance on other countries’ produce. This then greatly minimizes our transportation emissions and costs. It is a way to not just reduce the urban heat island effect, but also utilize it. The urban heat island effect occurs due to concrete absorbing and radiating heat back out, making cities 5 to 10 degrees hotter than rural areas. This additional heat lengthens the growing season to increase harvests, and the plants help moderate the city temperatures. It’s a way for us to feed cities that are predicted to swell in population but not land size, a predicament specific to Penticton.

Growing your own food means you know exactly what chemicals it may have come into contact with, and how and where it was grown. Really the best reason, which you will only discover once you start, is how good it tastes. When I finally had local garlic, it was incomparable to the stuff from the store. I hope you join me to learn more so you can get out there and start playing in the dirt.

Alex Boss has a BA Hons in geography and is applying for her masters in landscape architecture. Join her at www.bossagritecture.com

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shoppers line up hours early for reopening of Penticton’s Care Closet Thrift Store

The not-for-profit thrift store supports several local organizations and charities

Summerland man rescued following ATV accident

Helicopters used to transport injured man to Kelowna for treatment

South Okanagan playgrounds now open

Once caution tape is removed, playgrounds are officially open for public use

Moog and Friends Hospice hopes to raise $30,000 this month

Donations give hospice a chance to win an additional cash prize of $20,000

Canada Day to go virtual in Penticton

City seeking videos of residents singing the national anthem to include in online celebration

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

High water levels on Shuswap Lake may close popular Canoe Beach

Rain forecast could flood entrance tunnel, city staff to evaluate

189 homes in Grand Forks area given evacuation orders

Homes are in the Nursery, Grand Forks Airport, Gilpin Rd., Johnson Flats and Granby Rd. areas

Mother bear and two cubs spotted in West Kelowna

Residents of Shannon Lake are urged to be on the look out for three bears in the area

Social justice advocate yells at Kelowna council, demands presence at Black Lives Matter rally

Heather Friesen has again taken to council chambers to make her opinion heard

Youth filmmakers tackle technology addiction, relationships, cyber-bullying

The Kelowna couple won a grant from Telus STORYHIVE

Significant flooding not expected in Summerland

Okanagan Lake now slightly higher than full pool level

Vernon videographer captures thunderstorm

See the ‘best bits’ of Saturday’s storm

Most Read