I was city born and raised and still call downtown home. I graduated from the University of Guelph’s Ontario Agriculture College and have worked for farmers ever since. Why?
Because I like farmers, admire them in some ways, and appreciate them always. That’s because I know I couldn’t do what they do to put food on our tables and clothes on our backs.
I also like, but don’t “love”, animals. I have two cats and two goldfish at the moment. I greatly enjoy having them around and I do my best to be a good and responsible pet owner. No different than the hundreds of farmers and others I know who work with and care for farm animals.
Yes there are a few bad apples out there too. Farmers aren’t a class of angels any more than any other profession. But for every one “bad actor” there are probably 1000 people or more in agriculture who live up to their responsibilities.
I’ve also come to notice that farmers and ranchers tend to have a different kind of understanding and respect for the quirks of nature and her processes than many non-farmers. Their view-point may be different but they still share the same values as the rest of us. And in my mind, their view-point is important too.
Farming isn’t a Norman Rockwell painting. It is a business. It has to be. A lot of today’s farmers are well educated, well travelled, and well informed. Unfortunately they are often not well understood.
The reason that I have agreed to do this blog for Canada’s provincial farm animal councils is because as a “city kid” with one foot on the pavement and one foot in the barnyard I see a real need to connect these two worlds. A blog can help do that by sharing thoughts, opinions and stories.
You can help make that connection happen too by sharing your thoughtful and polite comments in our comments section that follows each blog posting.
Just remember this is about animal farming or its connections. If you want to talk about ginseng or Christmas tree farming you’ll need to go elsewhere.
And if I get it wrong, kindly set me (and the readers) straight. I’ve been in this business a long time so I know a lot, but I am still learning too.
I was born on a crop farm and, as a kid, complained about all of the usual things that farm kids complain about – picking stones, the long walk down our farm lane to the bus in the morning, mandatory morning chores and the fact that it was so much more difficult for me to participate in the same extra curricular activities that my friends did – because of the distance I lived from the school.
When I finished high school, I couldn’t get away from the farm fast enough, leaving to pursue an English degree at university. I proudly started my dream career as a junior reporter at a small town newspaper immediately after graduation.
It was there that I learned there was a lot of truth in the saying “You can take the girl off the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the girl!”
As that career progressed, I found myself being assigned more and more of the farm stories (likely because I complained loud and long when others didn’t understand the issues as well as I thought they should.)
More than a decade ago, I came back to the farm, so to speak, when I made the decision to become an agricultural communicator. With less than two percent of the Canadian population now farming, the communications challenge can often be daunting and I never know when I’ll be called upon to answer questions and dispel myths about Canadian food and farming . It has happened at a family reunions, at dinner parties, in the grocery store and even while waiting to board a plane!
I’m proud to work for Canadian farmers and I never tire of hearing (or sharing) their stories. They’re a modest bunch who aren’t used to the limelight. Yet, when you take the time to ask the questions, you hear of their passion for the land, their animals and their farm families. We look forward to sharing some of their stories – as well as delving deeper into some of the issues they face – in this blog.
I was born and raised on a dairy farm that was actually within the boundaries of a large nearby city. Our farm was also home to beef cattle, sheep, goats, horses and rabbits at one time or another. Today, my husband and I live on a dairy farm with our two young boys.
Growing up as a “city farmer”, I learned early how important agricultural education is, and how much we need to bridge the gap between urban and rural. I took every opportunity I was given to answer questions about agriculture, whether it was at school, from a friend, as a 4-H member, as a fair ambassador or as queen of the furrow.
I attended the University of Guelph, where I graduated with a bachelor of science in agriculture. After graduation I returned for a diploma in agricultural communications, because of my love for writing. I have now combined my passion for writing and for agricultural education into a career, and am in the enviable position of doing what I love every day.
I have always loved animal agriculture, and knew from a young age I belonged on a farm, working in the agricultural industry.
Farming is a business, but is also a lifestyle, and it is that unique combination that drives farmers everywhere to produce high quality food for consumers.
I hope you enjoy reading my posts. Please comment on them and share some thoughts of your own.
Growing up on my family’s dairy farm, I learned early on in life to appreciate the hard work and endless hours that farmers dedicate to producing great quality Canadian food.
I was the typical farm kid in many ways, always being in the barn feeding calves, playing with the kittens in the haymow and begging my parents to buy me my very own horse. While I never got my horse, working on the farm gave me the opportunity to have a very strong relationship with my parents and my three sisters and one brother.
When it came time to venture off the farm to attend university, three hours away from home, I was quite distraught. I wanted nothing to do with living in ‘the big city’ and leaving behind my early morning routine of doing chores. But the big city quickly grew on me and so did sleeping in! For the first time I realized all the opportunities that agriculture had to offer and that this was an innovative and fast paced industry.
Four years later it is hard to believe that I am now a recent graduate and in the working world. If you had of asked me years ago where I would be today, I would have never imagined that shy little farm girl perusing a career in agricultural communications and animal productions. I loved my time in undergrad and have made many memories and friendships that will last for a lifetime. But looking into the future, I think that the excitement had just begun!
My passion for agriculture started early on, but through my experiences and interactions with farmers, industry professionals and academics it has continued to grow. They are an exceptional group of people who inspire young people like myself to achieve their dreams and know that nothing is out of reach. I could not be more ecstatic to be able to share their stories, thoughts and experiences in this blog and to give them the gratitude they deserve.
Before I started working with farmers in 2004, I never considered establishing a career in this industry. I studied English and drama at University, and found part-time work in journalism. I learned to ask hard questions, and I had heard the rumblings about how “industrial food systems” were destroying the world.
Then I wrote some articles about agriculture, and I found that, when I took the time to ask the right questions, farming is a pretty awesome industry. Farmers do what they do because they love it. And although they’re really good at caring for the animals and land on their farms, they’re not always as skilled at explaining it to city people like me.
I’ve had the chance to get to know many farmers over the years, and I’ve developed a deep respect for the way they work. Farmers are steeped in generations of tradition, but the nature of their job also requires them to be forward thinking, adapt to new challenges, adopt new technologies, and earn a living along the way.
As a mom of three young children, I’m a fan of multitasking. I have a lot to learn from my farming friends, who can deliver a calf, muck out a barn, discuss grain prices on the world markets, fix a tractor, and tweet or blog about it – all in a day’s work.
I have a particular passion for helping to expose misinformation about food and farming, and I like to challenge people to tell the real story in a way that others will listen. I’m honoured to have that opportunity in agriculture.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved and wanted to work in agriculture. I was raised on a farm in the Maritimes, studied agriculture at the University of Guelph and am now the proud owner of a dairy farm where my significant other and I share a lot of our quality time with the cows in our barn.
In my day-to-day life I wear two hats: farm writer and dairy farmer. The combination gives me two different lenses with which to view food and farming. On one hand, I have a vested interest in news affecting Canadian farmers. On the other, I have the passion, drive and responsibility to communicate news accurately about the industry I’m so proud of.
I’ve been writing about agricultural stories and working with farm organizations for more than 10 years. I look forward to sharing stories from our farm and interacting with you on matters that resonate.
Posted by kmaw on January 30th, 2011 :: Filed under