16 Going On Farmer
When it comes to young agrarians, I’m one of the younger ones. Sixteen, going on seventeen in the depths of winter, dreaming about summer harvests: vivacious ruby streaks and bursting blueberries, gentle butter lettuces and glowing golden peaches.
Farming is my passion. I got my start at the UBC Farm & Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, a gorgeous twenty-four hectare farm nestled away in old coastal hemlock forest. Many Vancouverites don’t know it exists. I didn’t, before I started volunteering there last summer.
While the generations before me are considered digital ‘immigrants’, needing translation in their interactions with technology, I’m supposed to be a digital citizen. It seems strange then, contradictory even, that I’d find myself touching back down to earth, and loving it so much.
Growing food and eating seasonally has helped me live naturally. Knowing my food, its makers and the earth it comes from has helped me discover mindfulness to simplify, balance, and focus.
I already have a store of mementos from my adventures in agrarianism that delight me when there’s a chill in the air and snow on the ground. Like in August, when we bought twenty pounds of peaches from Jobst-Hof Orchards. That one week glowed with the gold of impossibly sweet peaches, drizzled with local Mellifera Bees lemon-infused honey, eaten in late summer sun. Only one week.
Or the massive haul of carrots we shook from the ground one Friday Harvest Shift at UBC Farm. Eschewing totes, we filled up the harvest cart with the carrots. We washed and bunched them up. Buying them the next day at the market, I realized that I’d had a hand in getting these carrots from the fields to me. That was one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt, warming my face up with a glowing smile that I wore the rest of the day. It was fuel for the fire to learn more, grow more, experience more.
I’m currently planting the early seeds for an urban farm at my school. Meeting with inspiring folk involved with the VSB, food, farming and health. Exploring what’s possible – which ideas would grow great in our situation’s climate and which ideas would be better left to go to seed. Learning how to write grant applications. Planning and researching. Planning and researching again. Getting ready to move things forward with a proposal.
This journey is just beginning for me with my feet starting out on the trail. It’s a path that’s already led me to unimaginable places. A year ago, before all this began, speaking at a TEDx event would have seemed unattainable. This October, I gave a talk at TEDxKids@BC, called ‘Don’t Eat Your Farmer’, on urban farming and sustainable agriculture, two punch phrases that are fuelling my passion for food like nothing else.
I have an abundance of adventures growing in my head in a riotous garden of flavour and fragrance. I’ve discovered a whole new life of unquenchable passion and curiosity, through being a young agrarian. There are so many farms to visit and projects to grow, gardens to plant, peaches to treasure each year, and carrots to yank up.
Follow Sophia on Twitter @SophiaVartanian