Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Who speaks for me?

I've been feeling a bit exasperated lately.

Is it because there is a municipal election coming up, and living as I do in Wainfleet, it seems all the candidates are eager to impress with their sympathy towards, and ties to agriculture?

The current mayor, it appears, is a farmer. (Personally, I'd love to see if there is any dirt under her nails).

I have found this administration and the staff less than supportive of farming. Or at least farming the way I do it.

When I approached them several years ago about building a heated greenhouse, which would help me expand my transplant business in the spring, and allow me to do early season heirloom tomatoes, I was shut down hard and fast.

We're not talking any sort of giant structure. A small structure with access where I needed it for a propane truck was all I was proposing.

After being stood up initially for my meeting with the town planner, I waited for him to arrive.
Only to be shot down fast. On 9 acres it appears there is nowhere that the township and conservation authority deem I can do such a thing. Or build a barn, without jumping through fiery hoops.

So I am a little bit cynical when the current council professes their love and support for farmers. Builders will tell you, as they have told me, that planning staff in my township is excessively difficult to work with. Council is not embracing all farmers here.

Who else in Niagara speaks for me?

I'm not a BIG farmer. As in BIG machinery, BIG acreage and BIG chemicals. The local farm associations, growers associations and agritourism organizations do not speak for me.

I'm not big enough, don't embrace technology and don't want to pay to be promoted if it is someone's whim to do that.

Organic organizations-nope. The national and provincial ones don't speak for me. I'm like the Prince of the organic world...you know "the grower formerly known as organic." If I choose not to certify (and pay again), then that is my moniker.

Provincial and federal governments pay lip service to the role that farmers play. But really. The Greenbelt? The HST? Now- CETA? Governments are not farmer friendly. If they were more people would not be working off farm to survive.

I like the National Farmer's Union though (NFU) with their focus on support of the small scale sustainable family farm. I'm a proud member of this organization-one that is not afraid to take a stand on the important issues. I find (with relief) that I usually agree with them.

I love the purity of what the seed saving organizations do. Despite the turmoil that seems to exist in Seed Savers Exchange, I find the support of fellow seed savers so wonderful.

I think sometimes the only thing to do is keep your head down, and keep on planting. Listen to the right voices and align yourself with something beyond the turmoil. Farming may be my business, but it is also the most basic thing in the world to me. It is unadulterated seed and the miracles they produce. I'm grateful for that.

I guess the seed speaks for me.


Dallas said...

My oh My...that really saddens me. It's just like the grocery stores. It's all talk and no action! In the end it's about popularity or about making money. So sad!

Linda said...

Thanks for reading and for your comment. And you are right in your comments as well. I am extremely grateful for the people and businesses that are loyal to me and put true value on what I do. This is my livelihood, not just a hobby or interest. I know you are a big support to folks where you live who are just like me- we small guys appreciate it!