A letter to our “Soil Sisters” (can I call you that?)

To the Women – Farmers, Food System Educators and Advocates:

Hi! I know some of you well and some I am just getting to know through Land to Table and during chats at farmers markets (yes, I am still sneaking conversation in as a walk through the taped off lines of the Covid conscious markets). I am not a farmer but have budding dreams of growing food for my community. For now, I am happy to help make connections and promote cross-sector collaboration as an important piece of building a more resilient regional food system.

I wanted to take a moment to share an article that comes from rural Wisconsin. It’s called Rhubarb and Resilience – Women Share Inspiration. I was moved by the community-building-through-food that this group of women in Wisconsin is doing/sharing, and reminded (again and during a time when the positive reinforcement for local food systems work is plenty) that we are on the right path. What they have accomplished in Wisconsin is reminiscent of what we are working toward through Land to Table (and what you are contributing to). And while we are not exclusive (obviously men are a part of this good work), our roots stem from the desire of a group of local women (all from local farming families if not farmers themselves) to learn and create together because they see the future that is possible for our local food system.

Like the Soil Sisters of Wisconsin, we also aspire to incorporate a triple bottom approach in building a stronger, more resilient food system. Like them we are promoting an agricultural system that stewards land, water and air for future generations. Like them we are prioritizing system level change that benefits the community as a whole. And like them we have a foundation of super dedicated, very smart women, many of whom are growing our food whilst educating community and customers and also giving a heck of a lot of time to share experience, insight and knowledge, forwarding the work of re-localizing our food system.

This work takes time, and we have really only just begun, in a more formalized, coordinated and funded manner (not to diminish the work that has been going on for much longer than L2T has been on the scene). In this article Lisa Kivirist shares what many of us are experiencing: “Research supports that women learn best from each other and together we share a passionate commitment to building healthy communities, local food systems, sustainability, conservation and stewarding our landscape”. Encouraging nonetheless!

As Land to Table works to develop a food system network, built on relationships and a shared understanding of the change we want to cultivate to create a strong, vibrant regional food system, we look to draw inspiration from how others are doing the same. The lessons shared in this article are a great example: “embrace diversity, recraft business as usual, share the knowledge and abundance”.

If this stirs something in you – an idea, a thought, something to share – please do, share. Share your story of how you started in this work (to grow or process food, educate or advocate for a better food system), what you are working toward, what do you want others to know. Often the ability to move the dial simply requires a story of what is possible. At L2T we endeavour to share the opportunities and challenges that reflect the experiences of our North Okanagan food system folks. Today is just a brief pause, to recognize our own Soil Sisters (can I call you that?) and acknowledge the women who have started us on this path.

Thanks to you all! Much gratitude!