Posts Tagged ‘farming’

Growing up Organically

August 1, 2014

My family moved onto a small-ish farm in Southern Ontario the year I entered kindergarten. We are now certified Organic, and mainly produce spelt and grass-fed beef. At different points we’ve had pigs, chickens, sheep, and a small army of barn cats.

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Some of the animals in my family

On the one hand, I have always been proud of what we do. We don’t look or farm like our neighbours. We have more weeds–thistles as big as me, sometimes. Instead of pesticides and fertilizer, we practice forms of crop rotation I’ve always believed to be kinder to the earth. Our practices are more labour intensive, and a bit less dependent on fossil fuels. I know that some of our neighbours don’t even consider what we do ‘real farming.’ Usually, however, comments like that only reinforce that we are doing something different, and that we–and farms like ours–represent something more sustainable and just, a method I’ll call agro-ecological farming.

The face of grass fed beef.

The face of grass fed beef

On the other hand, aren’t these ‘real farmers’ making an important point? Couldn’t we be farming more efficiently? Shouldn’t we? It’s easy to pick on these neighbours: they are farming more conventionally and industrially, and thus responsible for so many environmental evils. Right? Unfortunately, it’s often hard to find room for nuance on my moral high-horse. In reality, my family makes a sort-of living–my parents both work off farm–by selling a niche product to upper-middle class consumers. From this perspective, our farm looks less like a real alternative to our factory farming neighbours, and more, perhaps, like an irresponsible use of resources in a hungry world. (more…)

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BSW Guest Blog: Who do the food hampers help?

November 3, 2011

One day last week, late afternoon, a young girl and her daughter came in for a food hamper for herself and her family of three. Obviously uncomfortable, shifting her weight from foot to foot, constantly looking down, and speaking in whispers so others would not hear her. She was clearly upset with having to ask a stranger for food.

While the intake worker sensitively guided her through intake, I observed some striking similarities between my own circumstances in life and this humble young woman who was at her wits end.  She was the same age as my wife and her husband was the same age as me. She was short and had long, straight, black hair, similar to my wife. I couldn’t help but imagine what it would feel like if I was on the other side of the counter asking a stranger for food. A myriad of question flew through my head and continued long after I left for the day. Would I be able to bring myself to ask for the food? Why would I be unable to provide for my family? Could I handle having to ask for food on multiple occasions?

Hello, my name is Mike,  and I am a student at Renison University College at the University of Waterloo working towards a BSW degree. For the last five weeks, I have been helping out at House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper Program (EFHP). Between attending classes at a new university and getting used to a new city, I have been very lucky to work with House of Friendship for my school practicum. At the Food Hamper Program, I have experienced a number of startling realities that most people do not see on a daily basis. Realities which many live with each day, and that revolve around food insecurity issues. Before explaining one of these experiences, a little background information about me is in order. (more…)