Dirty Hands and the Love of the Land

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

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 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.

Read the full article published in Edmonton’s Vue Weekly.

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