Dirty Hands and the Love of the Land

Young women farmers in Alberta are challenging the odds against them.

A decade ago, Heidi Ellis never would have dreamed of becoming a farmer. She grew up in the city of Strathmore, ON, only an hour’s drive from Toronto. “Farming is the last thing I thought I’d ever do,” Ellis says with a laugh. “Growing up, I remember picking peas from …

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Permaculture vs. Gold Mining in Guatemala

Indigenous seed saving in Tuixcajchis (Photo by KJ Dakin)

In the arid mountain village of Tuixcajchis, Aurelia Jimenez Zacories is always growing something on her small but productive tract of land. She spends her days coaxing vegetables and the staples of corn, wheat and potatoes from the soil, raising livestock, building organic soil, planting trees and saving her seeds …

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On the Road, In the Air, Across the Ocean Again – Uganda, Round Two

Tofino, BC, Canada

Well, Americas – it’s been a wildly wonderful couple of months. From Uganda to Edmonton, Canada to Comitancillo, Guatemala to Nicaragua – back to Edmonton, up to the frozen valley of Peace River, Edmonton and all things Edmonton, again, over to Canada’s warmer coastline to the west, Victoria to Tofino …

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West Coast Women – Down on the Farms

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past couple of weeks spent doing research on Canada’s west coast it’s that women and agriculture are growing together hand-in-hand. West coast women are, very much so, down with getting their hands dirty, trading in desk jobs for rural and urban plots …

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Local Author to Focus on Women Farmers

Comitancillo, Guatemala (Photo by KJ Dakin)

While resting in the frozen hills of the Peace Country a couple of weeks back, I was happy to digest my travel and research experiences and share more about my story with local reporter, Kristjanna Grimmelt. Here’s a link to a story Kristjanna wrote and published in the Peace River …

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Her Worth, Her Work on International Women’s Day

Women digging, Uganda.

She may not seem significant to you because she’s holding the hand-hoe, feeding the pigs, or hauling broken laundry basket filled with carrots still clinging to the soil. But her work is the definition of work in the truest sense. She puts her intellectual, physical, emotional and according to some …

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La Reina del Norte – Queen of the North

Mural at Su Casa Cafe in Peace River, AB

For nearly five months every year, Peace River’s landscape is winter-locked in shades of white, grey and brown — save for Su Casa Café, a Mexican restaurant that’s painted the shade of a pregnant 5 o’clock sun, a hanging orange in the sky, and trimmed with the colour of the Pacific …

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Forget ‘Farmer Joe’ – Who Are the Young Women Farmers of Canada?

Jess standing in front of her future chicken coop.

The cluster of white poplar trees stood static as the raised fur on the back of a dog’s neck, and the sun beamed blinding light off the crusted snow banks. I squinted my eyes against the glare and looked down at the metallic snowshoes – light as a feather – …

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For the Love of the Beehive

Respect.

Bees are pretty inspiring little creatures. Let’s all take a moment to agree on that. In the last couple of years I have become instinctively curious about, and inspired by the humble little bumblebee. Now I could sit here with my mug of honey-enriched tea and discuss the impressive capabilities …

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Got ‘Underdeveloped’ Milk? – Part III

Nutrition assessment at KIHEFO. (Photo - Nikki Janzen)

There’s a queue of thirty-some people who are hoping to bring home milk for dinner at the corner store dairy, and only four employees behind the counter who are busy grabbing weathered notes and heavy coins from hands whilst filling plastic bags with what let’s call ‘white gold” in Uganda. …

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Got ‘Underdeveloped’ Milk? – Part II

Milk - 32 flavours and then some.

I’m growing fat and nourished on unprocessed milk these days whilst living in Uganda.  I don’t have much of a choice, at least, not like I do in Canada when I go to the grocery store, and see shelves stacked with yellow, purple, blue and red plastic-capped jugs of milk, representing homogenized, 1%, …

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Got ‘Underdeveloped’ Milk? – Part I

My cornerstone dairy in Kabale, Uganda.

One of my culturally-absorbed addictions in Uganda would be considered a highly contraband substance in Canada. It’s white, creamy, and delicious – and I “take it” straight from the cow’s teat. Raw, unpasteurized milk. Three boiled cupfuls a day. What’s illegal in Canada – to sell or buy raw milk – …

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On Wildness, Saskatoon Berries and Prairie Identity

Photo - Kay Niedermeyer

This summer, in an effort to “permaculture-out” my mom’s yard and build a fruit forest at the back of her property, we planted saskatoon bushes. This is really neat for many reasons – not only does it pays homage to the prairies surrounding her home, but it also provides her with one …

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My Three Sisters – Outliers Against Conventional Agriculture

Mural in Managua, Nicaragua.

My good luck last week came with the rain. It had been bone dry in Kabale for over three weeks. The sun had baked the clay soil hard as a hockey puck. My garden was thirsty. And I was thirsty (and exhausted) from hauling water up the steep concrete steps that led …

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I Dreamed of [Death By Mangoes] in Cuba

cuba2

Two summers ago, on the map maker’s spec of a Caribbean island called Cuba, I dreamt of bicycles, turkeys, death by mangoes and murals (and not necessarily in that order) – amongst other magical symbols and sensations. I close my eyes and move through memory… …coasting backwards…pedaling my bicycle along the skinny …

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Shoots & Sprouts (A Revolution in My Salad Bowl)

Radish shoots contain 18% Vitamin C

My relationship with salad will never be the same. That’s my favourite one-liner for the early morning market goers at the Edmonton Strathcona Farmer’s Market every Saturday. Popping up from behind the Sunrise Gardens stall, I unabashedly share my ‘born-again-sprouts’ story with a steady stream of people whose eyes are …

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