Growing up, I always had this gut feeling. My Mum says that I’ve always been a healthy eater, but this was something different than hunger. That visceral drive would only be satisfied when I was out in the forest ducking and weaving through trees and vines or slashing through swaths of grass taller than I was. “Adventure!” is what seemed to be what my gut was craving.
In my home city, Mississauga, adventures in the woods were few and far between. After highschool, throughout which my alternative hunger was fed through sports and chivalrous fiction, I got accepted to the University of Guelph. During my second year in environmental toxicology I had learned about the intrinsic connections between us humans and the rest of our ecosystem, and the importance of keeping “the whole” healthy.
However, there wasn’t anything in my education, or my life, that was teaching me how to protect, how to advocate for, or how to, most importantly, understand all of the components. Then, budget cuts hit and the Organic Agriculture major was on the chopping block. Concerned faculty, alumni, undergrads, and community members hauled together an effort that was so great that the major was saved. During that time, Tarrah Young, a UofG graduate and farmer at Green Being Farm, talked about her transition from urban up-rising to small scale organic agriculture. This was ground breaking for me! Never before had a perspective like this been portrayed. My mind started to tick and tie, and right then, a different path appeared – an option that filled the hole left by my formal education with a solution. Agriculture! Agriculture was the one thing that tied together everyone in the world to our environment without exception. What a solution and such a simple one that I almost missed it.
Now, I am recently graduated with knowledge in alternative food systems, ecological agricultural practices, sustainable community development, and a plethora of other wonderful soil, plant, and food courses! With help from organizations like The Ecological Farmers of Ontario and the Guelph Center for Urban Organic Farming I was able to learn some of the tricks of the trade. I will be beginning a full season internship with Ignatius CSA farm this summer and then, eventually, I hope to head back to Mississauga and create forests of food that will not only produce food, but a source of medicine, aesthetic beauty, recreation, and a re-connection to our environment.
People have warned me that ecological agriculture has been romanticized by many and that the actual haul and grind of that life is not so pretty. After farming organically myself, listening to others’ stories, and working within this food system I still believe it to be quite romantic. I believe that it is this struggle, which in many urban areas is absent, that provides an opportunity to grow as an individual and make us able to contribute to the betterment of the whole system. This struggle to help my environment, my community, and therefore improve myself is what my gut is yearning for. Through my years of dreaming of knight-hood it was really agriculture that I sought after! I will be chivalrous in my practice.