Pickles and Policy

NFU Youth 2015

Check out this group of rockstar farmers (and rockstar farm allies)!

This “family photo” is from the 2015 NFU Youth Retreat, held in Wakefield,QC that I just returned from. This is a yearly event, you can read my blog post from last year’s Retreat in BC.

It was beyond amazing and definitely a highlight of my year. I have come away feeling refreshed, ready for this farming season, and inspired to make sure I’m always keeping myself informed about the larger picture in agriculture (larger than my farm…this includes my regional farming community, our national farming community, as well as our global farm and food system) and not just sit back and let rules (regulations, policy…) affect our farm from the top-down. I want to help create change from the bottom-up!

Before it began, a group of us headed to Parliament to meet with 5 MPs and attend Question Period.

Young Farmers at Parliament

For the sake of brevity, I’m not going to go into all of the highlights of this retreat for me. Every moment and conversation and person was a highlight. But I will list a few resources I think are interesting and you can delve as deeply as you want.

Check out:

When the NFU Youth get together, it doesn’t feel like the typical “agriculture industry event.” All of us bunk together in a great space with character (this year at The Barn). We create a schedule for cooking and cleaning up together. Between amazing meals and great conversations, we co-create workshops that help us understand issues deeply and clearly (because we’re all intimidated to understand CETA and UPOV ’91.).

We had a great session to help us feel more comfortable using Robert’s Rules of Order (useful for all groups….check out this scene from the TV show The Wire where the drug dealers are using Robert’s Rules in their meeting).

NFU Youth Retreat

And we talked a lot about building the National New Farmer Coalition (inspired by the American National Young Farmers Coalition. Note the difference…where they say Young, we’ve used the word New).

The Coalition created a New Farmer survey this year and it just closed. Our goal had been 1000 respondents and we received over 1500!

The work to compile results has begun and we’re looking for new farmer-lovin’ graphic designers to help out with the work of making the results look clear and interesting for the public. You’re welcome to contact me if you want to help out with this and I’ll put you in touch with the rest of the Coalition.

We also hosted a Barn Mixer (aka party) on Friday night with the Young Agrarians and invited other farmers and people who love farmers (or farmer addicts as one person referred to herself) from the area. It was a lot of fun and was so great to connect with even more amazing farmers.

You may be wondering about the headline for this blog post? It was a term thought up by Jordan from PEI while we were talking about the future direction of NFU Youth Retreats. There had been discussion about including hands-on activities (such as pickling) with the skills-building policy change activities already happening. Pickles and Policy!

Personal moment of pride: Back home, after the Retreat, I found out my parents had just signed up as Associate members of the NFU. Associate members of the NFU are not farmers but they are citizens (or organizations) who have decided to stand in solidarity with family farmers from across the country. They can’t vote but they can learn about and share information relevant to farmers. I couldn’t be more pleased and proud of my parents for joining! If you or an organization you’re involved with want to learn more about Associate membership, check out the link here.

Young Farmers

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