The age of the farmer

The age of the farmer

My wonderfully talented friend Spencer Macdonald joined me for three weeks throughout the Pacific Northwest to make a short film on young farmers that would accompany my photo essay The Age of the farmer. We released the short film and as from today it reached over 50000 views and got staff picked. 

Have a look at Spencers work at www.halfmagicfilms.com

Zebroff's Organic Farm

Zebroff's Organic Farm

 

Here is what nervous looks like. Two people in a diner practicing a possible conversation they could be having in an hour over a side of hash browns and two cups of coffee at 6 am.

It was the only diner that was open in the Okanagan. As the people were opening their fruit and vegetable stalls, we sat down in the diner. We had been driving for a little bit in the morning. Mostly because I was paranoid of getting caught free camping by the side of the road. The waitress comes up and puts down two empty cups. “coffee?” Of course, always coffee.

We were going to stop at a farm well know in British Columbia, Canada. The Zebroff family has had an organic farm in the Okanagan since the 1970s. Everyone knows the family and talks about their apricots and peaches. Their methods of organic farming are legendary. We couldn’t reach them so we decided to just stop by and offer to help out. After a few pretend conversations I finished my cup of coffee, and we started driving to the farm.

When we got to the farm, it seemed quiet and no one was around. We started walking. These orchards were unlike all the ones we’ve seen before. The trees were old and more wild. Branches intertwine, the apricots were the perfect kind of orange and the peaches looked so incredibly tasty. The chickens were everywhere roaming around under the trees.

When we got to the main building, a tall man was standing in the door. His face was covered with a long grey beard and he had wrinkles that moved along with everything he said. He had kind eyes and a deep voice. I looked at Spencer, here we go, pretend conversation practice for real now.

“It’s so busy today. I’m sorry we have visitors this afternoon and we still have many things to do and I just don’t have time today”.

We had a feeling this would happen. So I looked back at Spencer while petting the farm dog and we got ready to leave. Mrs. Zebroff came out of the house at that exact moment, she starts explaining the situation. In the end we stayed for a while once we started talking. They told us stories about organic farming in the Okanagan. The difficulties they had this year with their cherry harvest, philosophy of farming and how they’ve been doing it all these years.

Thank you so much for doing this, she said. We need young farmers more than ever. We’re getting old and it’s that fresh flow of energy that we need. It’s such an important story to tell especially now. Farmers are getting older and older and we need young people to help us grow good food. Thank you so much for stopping here and telling our story. Food and family are so important and farming brings those two things together.

It felt so good to hear that. She gave us a box full of apricots, golden plums and two jars of honey for the road. It was such a special visit. We started driving to Nelson, on to the next farm with our bellies full of apricots and old blue grass blasting in our ears. 


The age of the farmer

The age of the farmer

After working all day, we had our plates filled with food. I looked up while everyone started eating. All of them were laughing, talking about their day and every single one of them had dirt under their nails. I had a big smile on my face and I started eating.

nelsonbc

 

The last 8 weeks I was living and working together with young farmers. Everyone opened their homes and hearts. I traveled through incredibly beautiful places and met the most admirable people. I felt so welcome and inspired every day. I learned so much more about growing food, gathering people and working together.

People often wonder why young people start farming. They don’t understand why someone who studied medicine, English literature, law or computer science would want to get their hands dirty every day, growing food on an organic farm.

In the next couple of weeks I would like to show you what it is that draws people to farming. It sure isn’t glamorous. Unless you consider peeling sweet onions before bedtime glamorous. But all the hard work, sleepless nights, hurting hands and feet bring together so many different people over a table full of amazing food.

saltspringbc
It is work that we want to do because it is being outside that gives us pleasure because it is fresh food that we crave. We want to grow healthy food for ourselves and the people that are close to us.