The following piece is part of a regular column in the local newspaper that Brenda writes, often inspired by our farm journey and adventures. It first appeared in The Chautauqua in 2012.
It’s grade nine and I’m lying on a bunch of gym mats with the other girls from my class. We are talking about what we want to do after high school. I said I could see myself becoming a teacher, marrying a farm boy and living in the country. I thought growing food and teaching kids would be a pretty big contribution and a good life. There was a general feeling in the group that this would be a waste of my potential and I was encouraged to ‘dream bigger.’
Last week was the Food Secure Canada Assembly in Edmonton – a biennial event that brings together community activists, health workers, policy makers, entrepreneurs and more together to share, connect and build solidarity around the initiatives from across Canada related to food security and sovereignty.
After four days of panels and workshops and conversations in the hallway – I sat down to reflect on all I heard and all the people I met. Despite all of the amazing projects and initiatives, the speaker that motivated me the most was my dear friend and mentor Kathleen. She and her husband farm in central Alberta and she shared their personal journey and passion. We’ve been blessed to have them in our lives as friends, mentors, elders and as role models.
Growing up I thought a role model was someone famous everyone has heard about. Today all my role models are farmers who are known only by their family, friends, and (maybe) the ecological agriculture community. After Kathleen spoke I felt great pride in the path we’ve chosen to take and great encouragement that our work matters as much as those with longer titles, in bigger organizations.
Funny how life turns out – I didn’t become a teacher but after a few countries and more jobs, I have married that farm boy and settled in the country. I’ve also found out what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a farmer. I still feel unsure when I call myself a farmer – am I allowed to use that title yet? Have I put enough time in; raised enough animals; carried out enough sales? Yet I know that I have people who count on us for their meat and they see me as a producer of food that brings nourishment to them and their family and who count me as a friend and a steward of the land.
Maybe I was a pretty smart kid after all – it seems like the ambition I had then wasn’t misplaced, it just needed time to develop and mature so that I now understand that when I am standing knee deep in snow and carrying water to the pigs – I am working in solidarity with all those who are fighting for just policies and the right for all people to have the choice of healthy, appropriate food.