Beyond the fact that I’ve had hair down to my shoulders for the majority of my adult life, I truly do think of myself as a hippy. I suppose it really got serious while I was in University and my awareness of global issues like food security, water crisis, poverty and human rights were just exploding. I attended a lot of activist events and awareness campaigns, went to screenings of environmentalist documentaries, preached the evils of Wal-Mart and signed petitions. And then after graduating from Carleton, my friends and I moved to different places all over the country, but still always tried to get together once a year if we could in the summer. These road trips, often to the maritimes, quickly became known as Hippy-Cons (Hippy Conventions), as we would drink beer around camp fires and contemplate solutions to the world’s problems, as engineers tend to do.
But I think my tendency to want to hug trees really started a lot earlier than even those formative years in University. Growing up on an acreage, some of my favourite memories are building forts in the woods, cutting up dead fall for winter firewood with my Dad and Grandpa, and helping out with the yard work in the summer and snow blowing in the winter. When I was about 12 or maybe 14, I bought my Dad a weed eater as a birthday present, mostly because I wanted to use it lol. His birthday is in December! Needless to say, I loved getting my hands dirty in the garden, helping my mom wash carrots, learning how our compost bin worked, riding my bike around the countryside. In fact the more I think about it, it’s really no surprise that I ended up marrying a farm girl and working for an organization that is committed to a sustainable future for the agriculture industry.
In less than a week the world will be celebrating Earth Day, on Tues April 22nd. Whether you’re a true hippy, losing sleep over that juice box that you threw in the garbage instead of the recycling bin, or whether you’re just a human being concerned for the state of the world your kids will grow up in, there is one very important thing you can do on Earth Day that I guarantee will make a difference. Sure, go ahead and walk or bike to work on Tuesday. Switch some old lightbulbs over to LEDs or compact fluorescent. You can remind your kids to turn off the tap while they brush their teeth, and you can plant a tree or start a worm composting bin. Those are all great ways to show the Earth that you’ve got her back. But the one thing I ask you to do that can have a truly global impact, is to learn about where your food comes from.
Food is the most universal language of all. It connects us as a human race, it is the centre of almost every gathering and important moment, and it literally keeps us alive. It’s not feasible for everyone to physically go out and thank a farmer, tour their operation and learn about the challenges and the passion that fill a farmer’s life. But one thing you can do, from anywhere, is join the #FarmVoices movement. We started #FarmVoices a year ago as a way for farmers to tell the real story of farming, without any corporate agenda or filter, by simply posting a photo from their farm along with a few words, and tagging it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hash tag #FarmVoices. Next week we expect thousands of stories and pictures to flood our website, and you can check out the live stream any time at http://farmon.com/pages/farmvoices.aspx
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