Member Letter to SCRD re: Stage 4 Water Restrictions

August 12, 2021

Dear SCRD Board of Directors, 

I am writing today to express my concerns over the SCRD stage 4 water restrictions.

My family has lived in Gibsons since the 1950s, and we started Henry Reed Farm selling certified organic vegetables on Henry Road 30 years ago. Our primary goal has always been to produce as much local food for our community as possible, as well as to employ and teach young people how to farm food sustainably. We currently employ ten locals, as well as our two daughters and son.

Throughout the season we grow 30-40 varieties of vegetables that we sell through our farm stand and most grocery stores on the coast. Currently, we are producing 4000 units of veg (a unit is a bag of salad, bunch of beets, pint of cherry tomatoes for example, enough for serving two people) distributed and sold throughout the Sunshine Coast.

We are aware of the current situation with potable water shortage on the coast, as has happened in the past, and understand how precious our water is. But we feel that “commercial farms” are being singled out unfairly, when legal marijuana grow shows, distilleries, and breweries are exempt from the current stage 4 water restrictions.

By not watering for 2 weeks or more, we will not only be unable to continue planting succession crops, so important to our continuity, but we will start losing crops already in production, some started in early spring. Our tomatoes will soon die, though we typically harvest them up to the end of October. We have about a quarter acre of tomatoes planted in tunnels. To me, all this is more than a financial loss. This is a terrible waste of healthy food that would otherwise be destined for the tables of local folks.

Is regional food not important during these times? Should we abandon local farming and purchase food from off-coast sources with transportation and environmental costs, as well as harming our local employment and economy?

I believe the amount of irrigated commercial farm land on the coast is relatively small, and can be accommodated by the SCRD during these difficult times. We ask you to give us enough water to keep our crops growing, to keep our farmhands working, and to continue to feed our community through this season and the many seasons to follow.

Martin and Tracey Kiewitz

Henry Reed Produce

Gibsons, BC