Quitting my job:
Having taken a job in Saskatchewan in order to satisfy my emotional dependency on being independent, I was living two provinces away from my husband, my potential farm, my animals--essentially everything I hold dear to me. After 9 months of this, I finally had a meltdown one morning in front of my closet while trying to decide what to wear to work. With scintillating clarity it came to me: I don't want to wear proper clothes, I want to be in my gumboots, on my farm, with my husband. I'd rather scoop poop than figure out which shirt to iron this morning.
And there is was: my emotional trajectory launched itself at the foot of my bed in front of my closet. At last I was ready to accept my husband’s offer to support me through his teaching job; this was my chance to indulge myself in the farm. I would attempt food sovereignty—and maybe write a book about it, too. I was apprehensive about this decision, because I didn’t grow up on a family farm and had always thought that this accident of heredity precluded me from being a farmer. But if I could study to get a PhD, surely that same diligence would help me become a farmer, especially with the resources available to me through neighbour farmers in the valley and the now voluminous resources of the Internet.
Personal Food Sovereignty:
This year I will take up the challenge of providing all my family's food needs. My aim is to have 'Food Sovereignty' for me and my family. What that means to me is that I will grow, gather, raise, fish, and hunt for all my own food needs. To accomplish this, I will have to learn to fish and hunt, learn how to make cheese and gather from the wild, and learn how to preserve food in a variety of ways--many of which I have never tried before. I will have to gain a bunch of skills that I don't presently have in order to realize this goal. Along the way, I will write up my experiences, describe some of the trials and tribulations I encounter along the way.
I fancy myself a farmer rather than a gardener. What I'm doing is more than gardening, I am provisioning for my family. In fact, that's why I moved to Bella Coola: to grow vegetables and raise animals for as much of the year as possible. I moved here to feast. After living in New Zealand for six years I became used to the year-round growing conditions and temperate climate and this is one of the few locations in Canada which approximate those Edenic conditions. A hundred years ago, the valley was a major producer of potatoes. Forestry, fishing and supermarkets disrupted that way of life, but like the Norwegian pioneers of the 1870s, I too, am establishing a market garden on these rich river flats. However, I won't be in business as a market gardener.
Originally, I moved here because I had wanted develop a nice small CSA farm of mixed production to support the community’s needs. This has been my dream for years but because I did not grow up on a farm, I wasn’t sure where to start. I knew I liked chickens so I began there. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have picked a more difficult starting place as far as how much red tape one has to wade through in order to ﬁgure out how to legally sell a few dozen eggs per week to locals who want them. Between the Poultry Producers Quotas and the legal requirements for packaging and inspection and the number crunching to stay below the need for quota and the ridiculous hoop-jumping to be legal...by the time the dust settled I realized it would be far too much paperwork for far too little proﬁt or joy. In fact, just wading through all the requirements and legalese took a lot of the joy out of the idea. In light of all this legislative craziness, I have decided not to bother with trying to become a legitimate or ‘legislated’ farmer and do my own thing.
So instead of developing capacity in this community, instead of building a farming business, instead of feeding people wholesome, ethically raised local foods, instead of helping our community to develop the food security that a CSA farm would bring, I sit here doing what I can to satisfy the 'Farmer' in me. It is one small way that I can extract myself from 'The System'. It is a way that I can live lighter on the earth and live less dependent upon an unsustainable, totally crazy, un-supportive system. My life has become an artistic expression of my politics: my garden, my palette.
Causes Kristeva Dowling Supports
BC Food Action Network, Beyond Factory Farming Org., BC Wildlife Federation.