I’m Edee, Hayes Farm Co-Creator and Co-Chair of NB Community Harvest Gardens. Hayes Farm is a teaching farm with history and roots and a mission to grow food, grow minds, and grow community. We have a commitment to honouring the Peace and Friendship Treaties, to developing a decolonized relationship to the land and each other.
After retiring, I knew I wanted to find something that was purposeful to me—Hayes Farm has proven to be just that and more. I’m getting to witness how important and powerful it is for people to reconnect to the land, to learn how to grow food, while also feeling a true sense of purpose by giving back to the land through permaculture/Indigenous foodways/agroecology.
Over its 7-year evolution as a community teaching farm we have heard time and time again from politicians, our community, individuals and farm organizations about how important and valued Hayes Farm’s responsive and accessible programming is—we see that too, especially during these volatile times! We are fortunate to have a supportive community of organizations and groups that uplift us; however, we need stronger backing that provides replicable models like ours financial stability and sustainability. I believe that in order to keep these models running and to see a new generation of growers enter the field, we need to see a greater push from government to invest in programs like ours that teach people how to grow food sustainably, for themselves and their communities.
I see that many of us are suffering from what I would call a “poverty of purpose”. I envision a future where our communities are built around community-led farms… that farming offers meaningful, purposeful work that needs to be recognized as an essential service, not just from our communities but at the policy level. Implementation of Universal Basic Income would be a good start, giving folks agency to choose to feed their communities while increasing their resilience in the face of climate change. The benefits reaped go well beyond food sovereignty —mental wellness, a sense of belonging, connection to the land and each other and so on.
I think that community farming using agroecological practices is our path forward to finding our connection to mother earth, each other and ultimately ourselves.