Letters to An Elder Farmer: Keely Wohlgemuth

Posted by Dana Penrice on April 05, 2018

Dear Elder Farmer,

We see you work: Building callus upon callus on your tan hands while you prep the air seeder for spring.

We see your worry: The wrinkled brow; the scratch of your head; the antacid pills; the scraps of paper with calculations and a plan to make ends meet.

We see your frustration: Mumbled curse words and the forceful pounding of a hammer as you try to straighten a bent swather knife.

We see you hurry: Meals forgotten; tools left out; the scamper up the ladder to close the grain bin before the rain.

We see your exhaustion: Collapsing in your chair after you pulled an all-nighter trying to finish the combining before the snow.

We see your disappointment: A hanging head and quiet tears. The snow came too early and your harvest is trapped under a cold, white blanket.

My dear old farmer, please help us also see the good.

Help us see your anticipation: A dimpled grin when the wheat begins popping up in the spring, eventually turning the brown hills a vivid green.

Help us see your peace: A day of rest and a face free of worry when the rain comes, because you know your crops are getting the moisture they need.

Help us see your determination: A quiet and deliberate focus as you figure out plans “B” and “C” when a breakdown makes plan “A” impossible.

Help us see your appreciation: A pause when checking fields to watch a baby fawn wobble awkwardly through the alfalfa.

Help us see your satisfaction: A smile creeping around the edges of your mouth when you blow chaff out of your hands and examine the fat, smooth flax seeds in your palm.

Help us see your love: A deep, appreciative breath of evening air as the sun sets over your freshly disced field.

Help us see that it’s worth it.


Keely Wohlgemuth

Keely-Wohlgemuth-Letters-to-An-Elder-FarmerKeely Wohlgemuth has been farming full-time on her family’s organic grain farm, the Z Spread Ltd., for four years, but she’s been sitting behind the wheel of a combine on and off since she was eight. Before moving to Wanham, Alta., the 28-year-old worked as a Registered Massage Therapist. Farming, she says, gives her a sense of purpose. “It makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger, growing healthy food for people.” You can find out more about Keely and her farming journey on her blog: barefootonthefurrows.com

Inspired by Stone Barns Centre for Food & Agriculture’s recently published book Letter to a Young Farmer: On Food, Farming and Our Future, we invited young farmers to write Letters to an Elder Farmer. As young farmers, we walk in the footsteps of those that have come before us caring for the land and cultivating a community that values organic and ecological farming. You may have noticed too, that as young farmers have also been blazing new trails to adapt to our changing society and changing planet. We hope, like Letters to a Young Farmers, that the stories in Letters to an Elder Farmer provide some food for thought and create conversations across the generations. We hope you enjoy the first one.