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GUEST OPINION: In response to 'The Meddler'

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I am writing in response to Alan Holman’s column (High capacity wells; strange hill to die on, Feb. 8) in which he wrote dismissively about the concern of those Islanders alarmed about the connection between high-capacity wells and the continuation and expansion of industrial farming on the Island. 

At one point he referred to “industrial agriculture” as though it were a term we just made-up because we don’t like potato farmers when actually it is a very accurate, straight-forward description of what has happened across the Island for decades. 

What do you call it, Alan? 

What do you call that "get-big-or-get-out" process that has contributed to the elimination of 10,000 farms on the Island over our lifetime? 

And what do you call a process that has increased dramatically the amount of commercial/industrial fertilizer pesticide used, and decreased dramatically the amount of organic matter in the soil, to the point where some biologists have declared that much of the earth on the Island is approaching a state where it cannot be accurately identified by the word "soil"? 

What term might you employ to describe that process? Some crass individuals call it “progress.” Don’t tell me you are one of those. Unfortunately, it rather sounds that way. At the very best you came across as a fatalist, resigned to the Irving domination over the Island countryside.  

You have spoken disparagingly of the deep concern of many Islanders for the health of the soil and the well-being of rural culture. Indeed, you attempted to make it sound as if such concerns were a tad silly, or overly dramatic.  

But I have a question for you, Alan. What do you care about? Where is the line in the sand for you, where inaction seems unthinkable and resistance essential?  

I think perhaps it is a question you should answer for otherwise many will be left with the niggling suspicion that you care more about the monoculture of the Irvings than about the need for a diversified, more sustainable agriculture; and more about length of french fries than the shortness of the time we have to clean up our ecological act in this province. 

And perhaps I am over-reacting! After all, you do call yourself "the Meddler” and perhaps that’s all you were doing; having a little fun meddling, and the worst I should say is, “Go meddle someplace else,” where the stakes are not so high. 

David Weale, who lives in Charlottetown, is co-founder of Vision P.E.I.


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