posted by Celia Brogan
I realized a few years ago that I like what I have decided to call “Farm Literature.” There may be an industry name for this but I’m happy with mine. Farm Lit is, for me, a book about someone’s experience living on a farm–hobby or sustenance–or other intimate experience with the food we eat. That’s not a exhaustively vetted definition, and has been developed as I read books I holistically add to the category.
When a local angle is added to the farm/food aspect, I feel even more fulfilled. Here are three titles from my bookshelf you may want to check out:
Home: tales of a heritage farm by Anny Scoones is a collection of stories about the ten years she spent living on and restoring Glamorgan Farm. The farm is on the Saanich Peninsula, on the South end of Vancouver Island and was threatened by development when Anny bought it. She restored it and made a point of raising heritage breeds and growing heirloom vegetables, opening the workings of the farm to the community.
Wise Acres: Free-Range Reflections on the Rural Route by Michael Kluckner. Kluckner, a notable watercolourist and Vancouver historian, moved with his wife from a house in Vancouver to a hobby farm in the Fraser Valley. The book is a darkly funny chronicle of the couple’s experience adjusting to farm life, including animal husbandry.
The third title I’ll share today is a bit different. You may have heard of The 100-Mile Diet: a year of local eating by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon. The authors generated a huge amount of press when they spent a year eating only food that was grown or produced within 100 miles of their homes in Vancouver. Whereas the first two titles are a microcosm of BC food-life, sharing the day-to-day at the production end of the chain, The 100-Mile Diet shows us a broad view of the myriad aspects of the food industry in BC (and not even all of BC–how might this story differ if it was based in Smithers, or Kelowna, or Nelson?) from the consumer’s end.
Looking at local sources of food can be an inspiring way to get to know the land where we live. The people who feed us from our land are often unknown to us in the lower mainland. It’s not as anonymous in smaller communities, but time spent with our students on this topic can’t help but enrich their literacies of place.