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 my mom’s garden, but I was never interested in growing food and definitely not for a living. And now I have seeds all over my house!”
Today Ellis, 30, has been managing the vegetable and greenhouse production for two years at Greens, Eggs and Ham Farm, a seven-acre mixed farm in Leduc.
Ellis’ journey to the farm didn’t follow a straight line; rather, a web of experiences that varied from volunteering on a farm in India to learning about permaculture on the Canadian prairies to taking coursework in urban agriculture to working with farmers in Cuba.
Her decision to become a farmer was both practical—wanting to get her hands dirty and see tangible results—and ideological—wanting to contribute to local and regional food security.
Today Ellis is a part of an emerging trend of young women living in Alberta who are trading in office and urban-based careers to don gloves, yield broad forks, drive tractors, grow food and raise livestock. And they’re doing it with the odds stacked against them.