Mike Dewar is writing his Masters Degree on farmers in Northern BC through UNBC. We’re excited to have him blog with YA.
I am a lucky man! As an aspiring farmer (someday!), appreciator and researcher of farmers, I was lucky enough to travel across northern BC’s Highway 16 corridor to spend time with new and young farmers this past fall. The main purpose of this journey was to complete research for my graduate studies thesis, however the rewards of this journey extended far beyond the work.
For my research, I helped out on 12 regional farms operated by new and young farmers. My farm visits lasted one to two days each, although the connections I experienced on this journey made me feel like I had known these farmers for years. Each farm I visited and farmer I met were research participants, and yet- I left each farm with new friends, a sense of purpose, happiness and a renewed belief in the goodness in people!
I am currently studying the motivations of new and young farmers along northern BC’s highway 16 corridor, extending from Valemount to Terrace. I entered this research project expecting to learn a few new reasons about why these farmers have chosen the profession they have, and expecting to meet a few new interesting farmers. Little did I know this would be such an extreme understatement of my experience.
The farmers that I had the opportunity to meet invited me into their lives and treated me like I was an old friend. They shared their thoughts, experiences, emotions, homes and food with me. I got the sense that these farmers would do this for anyone who showed up at their door. All of them were kind and open; I can only hope to be this gracious of a person someday.
The farmers I met produce a variety of products for a variety of communities, however they all have one thing in common: they are dedicated to creating a better world for themselves and for those around them. These new and young farmers have made tremendous sacrifices in order to pursue a common passion of producing good, delicious, healthy food for their communities. They have left the comfort of high paying jobs. They have let the comfort of having spare time. They have left the comfort of not having to worry about how the next weather pattern may devastate an entire season’s worth of energy, effort, blood, sweat and tears. All of them had wisdom on how one must give in order to receive, yet none of them expected much in return. Giving seemed to be their reward. All of them have a strength and benevolence that to me – makes this world a better place.
These new and young farmers decided to become farmers in northern BC for a variety of reasons and come from a diverse range of backgrounds, yet they all share a common bond. They want to connect with the land through working with it, and connect with people through providing their communities with good food. I don’t know if I can think of a more noble life pursuit. Seeing this passion in new and young farmers makes me want to develop greater connections in my own life. Spending time with these new and young farmers has made me a better person!