The awkward question often arises when meeting people: “What do you do?”
While in any given day I could list at least a half a dozen of the different things I have accomplished, I’m always hesitant to call myself a farmer. How did this happen to me? I certainly didn’t foresee this while in University studying Landscape Architecture. Problem is I couldn’t sit still at a desk. I needed to be in the dirt with a shovel in my hand rather than a pencil.
I do come by it honestly having spent my entire adult life landscape gardening. It’s in my blood. I started mowing lawns and gardening at 15. My company was called “Shovels and Rakes.” Researching 400 years of homesteading history in Canada, almost all my ancestors’ occupations are listed as “cultivator”. I’m programmed to grow and nurture plants and be a steward of my little piece of this earth – my attempt at some form of authentic sustainability. It’s my happy place, my spirituality.
But farmer as occupation is just not glamorous (except at the Farmers Market). As a business model, it rates as one of the lowest paying, highest labour and riskiest endeavours. Unless you are part of the mega-agribusiness, (no thank you), the odds are against you and the competition is fierce. There is no salary, no pension, no paid holidays, no insurance, no benefits or any security whatsoever. You are at the mercy of nature’s elements.
So why? I know I could use my skills elsewhere, make good money set myself up. The reality is that I have to accept that this life chose me. I am set up! I breathe clean air , access the best water, have a family that is awesome and involved. We eat the freshest food, and spend our days just making a living in the purest sense. It is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. Oh, and by the way in the winter months, I’m a snowcat groomer. 27 years as a snow farmer as well.