Inspired by Stone Barns Centre for Food & Agriculture’s recently published book Letter to a Young Farmer: On Food, Farming and Our Future, Young Agrarians 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 young farmers have also been blazing new trails to adapt to our changing society and changing planet.
We hope, like the book Letters to a Young Farmers, that the stories in these letters provide some food for thought and create conversations across the generations.
Takota Coen’s favourite thing about farming is watching the sun set after a long day’s work. The 25-year-old works alongside his parents on their Ferintosh-area farm, Grass Roots Family Farm, where together they market beef, dairy, pork, chicken, eggs, vegetables, grains, hay, fruits, and nuts. On top of being a farmer, Takota is a journeyman carpenter and farm educator.
Britt Embry, 32, and Justin Girard, 33, have been operating Hearts & Roots, a small organic vegetable farm near Elie, Manitoba, for three years. Before heading back to Justin’s family farm, Britt worked as a copyeditor and library assistant, and Justin was pursuing a career in academia. Britt says her favourite thing about farming is: “Firing up the greenhouse in March and starting all over again.” Justin? “The seasons, the hope, the drama and the food.”
Ian Griebel runs RedTail Farms with his wife Dana, his two sons, Cohen and Fynn, and his mother, Kathleen, under the motto: “Three generations. Looking seven generations forward.” Located in east-central Alberta, the 34-year-old raises grass-finished beef and pastured pork, and says one of the main reasons he farms is “the ability to express creativity and try new things.”
Keely 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.”
Lisa Lundgard runs The Homestead with her partner Donovan Kitt near Goodfare, AB where they have a market garden, cattle, sheep and chickens. Lisa grew up on an organic farm and started her farming career with a market garden CSA called the Veggie Patch. You could often find her delivering veggies in her yellow school bus around the Peace River area.
If you are interested in contributing a letter to this collection, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.