Kwesi and Meghan of Akesi Farms are mentoring Phil (left) as their intern this year through the Young Agrarians Apprenticeship Program.
Meghan Vesey and Kwesi Haizel operate Akesi Farms, a diversified ecological farm that currently hosts chickens, geese, bees, and annual and perennial gardens. They farm in a very cold climate, and demonstrate the abundance that can be produced in a short season! They also welcome many visitors to their farm in the summer, involving them in whatever projects are happening at that time, and giving them a taste of the farming life.
Meghan also operates Fungi Akuafo with Tara Stephens, producing mushroom spawn for culinary, medicinal, and myco-remediation purposes. They host mushroom tours and workshops, and ship spawn across Canada.
Meghan, Kwesi, and Tara are mentors in our Young Agrarians Apprenticeship Program. In recognition of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, we caught up with Meghan and Kwesi to feature them in our series to highlight Canadian ecological Farmers of Colour. Here are some of their thoughts on farming and living as a mixed-ethnicity couple in a rural area. We are so grateful that they are willing to share part of their story here, and to have them as mentors in our network! ♥
“After living and growing up in the city, we purchased our farm in the fall of 2014. We have never looked back!
Running the farm feels more real, more tangible. The extremes are more evident: the sheer beauty of where we live, the thrill of completing jobs, the joy of selling something we have grown contrasted with bigger challenges, more frequent tears, and many sleepless nights. The stakes are big! The wins and the losses are felt deeply.
We live in a bit of a bubble from the outside world! We spend almost all our time at the farm working. We do leave occasionally but can go days without opening the front gate. We have fantastic neighbours that we interact with regularly and of course we communicate with people online, but we do not feel the weight of the news or other advertising that we used to get in the city. Our conversations are dominated by farm problems, farm planning and the odd headline we read in the news that day.
Then, sometimes, the outside world comes blasting in… We were asked if we wanted to be featured for a Young Agrarians shout-out to grow awareness around the challenges for People of Colour in farming. We were, of course, asked because Kwesi is black. Honestly, it feels strange to be asked based on this criteria. At first, Kwesi did not want to participate. Then we remembered – oh yeah, this is not about us! At least, not really.
Living as a mixed-ethnicity couple in a rural area, migrating from the city: we turn a few heads. After living in Calgary – a place with lots of diversity and time with friends from many cultural backgrounds, the “whiteness” of our farm area was a bit startling when we first arrived.
We believe the diversity of the land and the diversity of the people are related.
To quote Wade Davis:
“If diversity is a source of wonder, its opposite – the ubiquitous condensation to some blandly amorphous and singularly generic modern culture that takes for granted an impoverished environment – is a source of dismay. There is, indeed, a fire burning over the earth, taking with it plants and animals, cultures, languages, ancient skills and visionary wisdom. Quelling this flame, and re-inventing the poetry of diversity is perhaps the most important challenge of our times”.
We hope more new farmers move to communities like ours, from a variety of cultural groups. Please visit us or contact us if you are thinking of buying land or becoming farmers! We have a wonderful community of people who want to share their experience and build relationships.”