I grew up on my family farm in Muskoka, Ontario (about 2 hours north of Toronto). There was definitely a social stigma against farming in the community. I even had a teacher ask me, “Why would you want to be an uneducated farmer when you could go to college, get a real career and buy your food?” I moved away from the farm to go to college and university to become a teacher in 2004.
In 2012, I was offered the opportunity to go to the National Farmers Union meeting in Saskatoon as a Youth delegate for Northern Ontario. The experience opened my eyes to a new world of activism and lifted the ‘farming’ stigma from my mind. I left feeling “the NFU is the agricultural intelligentsia in Canada.” From there I attended meetings of Via Campesina in Florida, Peru and Brazil. These encounters shook the roots of my soul and reignited my dream to have an outdoor education centre, agroecology school, and forest school on the farm. It eventually led me to a teaching job in China in 2017 where I began saving money for this dream.
I grew up on an organic farm where my mom and grandmother instilled in me the value of cooking from scratch. I have also learned so much about food from other cultures: from migrant farm workers in Florida, from living with people from 20 different countries in Brazil, and from living in China for three years. These experiences have all heightened my appreciation for how different communities and cultures cultivate, produce and create food.
I used to be on the food sovereignty band wagon. Sadly now I think that the term has been co-opted by corporations to gain further control of the food system from peasants. Unless we have nutritionally dense food produced in sustainable ways, there will be no way to achieve what the founders of the term were hoping for. It will take a monumental societal shift until the masses want ecologically sound food disconnected from the corporate food system. People love their Mc Donald’s and KFC.
My connection to the Legacies project comes through my mom. I have been immersed in farming and food for most of my life. I would have never been exposed to as many new people, new ideas, and amazing stores if it were not for The Legacies Project. I am forever grateful to Elizabeth, John and now Deborah for the Saturday night dinners at the cottage, the amazing food prepared and the multitude of different people I had the privilege of meeting.