WHAT THE MEL !?!

WHAT THE MEL !?!

Maybe some of you are wondering who the heck is this girl, disturbing the awesomeness that is Ontario agriculture?

Well, I grew up on an amazing farm north of Guelph and thanks to the hard work and, frankly, the good luck of my parents we’re still farming!  My parents didn’t have time to take us to 4-H, but we spent our childhoods doing chores in the barn or in the vegetable garden, building tree forts and trampling my dad’s crops by making mazes in the fields.  Today, the farm has expanded and we grow cash crops and do custom farming and grain handling for other farmers in our township and beyond.  We run those big John Deeres that never cease to inspire the dropped jaws and middle-fingers of drivers on our roads.

And I probably would be the same as the rest of the aggies out there, except that I went to York University and not Guelph.  I studied International Development because I was hell-bent on replicating our agricultural progress in the Third World.  It really wasn’t until my very last semester that everything changed. 

I can distinctly recall the terror of how, over the course of a three hour lecture, a professor logically deconstructed my worldview and turned it on its head.  I remember the door of the classroom as I left and how it swung open to a world I was seeing with new eyes.

Everything changed then.  I didn’t go on to ‘save’ the Third World, I went to South Korea (for three years) and found teaching work on a small island in the south.  For a time, I was sheltered from the Western world, from TV and newspapers, from the culture.   But soon enough I realized how connected the world really is and I saw firsthand the impact of Western agricultural policy on this tiny peninsula.

I’ve also spent months in India and South Africa and seen heart-wrenching poverty amidst fertile and idle land.  I firmly believe that hunger is not an issue of yields, weather or lack of technology, but of global politics and that the problem is completely related to the way we do things here… to our subsidy systems and trade laws. 

So, when I came back to Ontario, I dove into a Master’s program in Sociology (at Guelph!) and spent two years researching a thesis on Ontario agriculture.  The ridiculous amount of books that I read and the many interviews I conducted left me, in a word, alarmed.  But as the 200-page thesis gathers dust on a bookshelf, I’m ‘translating’ it into this website that is accessible to all and open to others’ contribution. Really, this isn’t about me, it is about the ideas.  (but now you know about both!)

Ultimately, I am positive that we can turn agriculture around and make it work in the best interests of farmers and consumers and the environment, both here and around the world.  But we can’t just keep ‘agvocating’ for the status quo. Things need to change so let’s kick around some new ideas!

 

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