I interviewed Harold Steves in 2009.
Harold is an interesting man.
He and my father were both at U.B.C.
They both studied Agriculture.
Both men became teachers.
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Harold’s family history
Many people know about the Steves’ family.
The town of Stevenston in Richmond is named
after his grandparents.
His grandparents came to the area in 1877 from New Brunswick.
New Brunswick is in eastern Canada.
Harold remembers conversations at the dinner table
when he was young.
His father wanted a dairy farm in the 1950s.
The city did not agree.
Richmond wanted the land for houses, not for farms.
This news changed Harold’s life forever.
Harold decided to work to save farmland.
He started the first plan in the world to protect farmland.
The Agricultural Land Reserve is the name of the plan.
Harold helps Richmond
Harold still lives on his family farm with his wife, Kathy.
They raise cattle. They also try new ways to grow food.
But Harold does a lot more.
He has been a councillor in Richmond for a long time.
A councillor helps the city decide how to use people’s tax money.
Harold does not want farmland to disappear.
For 50 years Harold has fought to save farmland.
He says many families have sold their farms.
Land developers buy the land.
Then the developers build homes on the land.
Recently, Port Metro Vancouver bought 80 hectares
of farmland in Richmond.
The property is an old family farm.
The Gilmore family owned this farm.
The port wants the Gilmore Farm for business.
Farmland is also disappearing in cities such as Surrey, Delta,
Richmond, Burnaby and Vancouver.
An area seven times larger than Stanley Park is now gone.
No farms, no food
Harold says that no farms means no food.
This means we have to buy food from other countries.
Food will become more expensive.
Many people want to buy food from local farms.
We want to know where our food comes from.
We need to know that our food is safe to eat.
Harold also says other countries will need to keep their own food.
A quote for teachers from Harold Steves,
interviewed by The Georgia Straight:
“The fact that we are building this road, the fact that we are destroying this land—destroying our ability to feed ourselves—is a crime against humanity as great as any of the other ones that we have witnessed in the previous 100 years or so,” Steves told the crowd of about a hundred. “By not coming to grips with climate change, by not coming to grips with the loss of our farmlands and the loss of habitat, our politicians today are every bit as guilty as every one of the despots that has gone before.”