In this behind the scenes look at farming in the face of COVID-19 we hear from BC seed grower Jolene Swain from WoodGrain Farm, located within the unceded traditional territories of the Gitxsan Nation in northwest BC. Jolene touches on the link between food security and seed security, encouraging the community to consider not only where their food comes from, but also where the seed for that crop comes from, too.
What is a significant change you've faced on your farm over the past few weeks?
Adjusting to pre-ordering and online sales. We have been selling vegetables in pre-picked bags, rather than as individual items for the most part, which takes some fine-tuning. There have been positives in this - people commit in advance to purchasing their weekly order (like a CSA), and we have the assurance of a baseline amount of product sold. On the downside, it has meant more time in front of a computer developing our online store, a bit of extra packing on the farm, and stressing over how many bags we'll be able to pack each week!
While it's easy to self-isolate and practice social distancing on the farm, now that markets have started, we're having to put COVID protocols into practice, which also means confronting the very different approaches and attitudes towards the pandemic. We most recently faced much quieter than typical markets, without the music, all the vendors, and the general atmosphere, traffic through the market has slowed. We feel fortunate to have advanced ordering set-up, but also a bit worried about moving product when we have an abundance. Already have crops for seed in the ground - but we’re considering more!
What is one thing you need the community to understand right now?
That everyone needs to support local and regional producers of vegetables, livestock and seed. Not just now, but ongoing in the post-pandemic world. The less we rely on agricultural products coming from outside the country, the stronger and more resilient our communities become. And importantly, while we're thinking about where our food comes from, take a minute and consider where the seed for that crop came from. Food security and seed security are intertwined.
What is some good news or small joy to tell us about?
It makes me happy to see so many people sourcing seeds and transplants, building garden beds and getting serious about growing their own food. I am also happy to see more people cooking at home and preparing meals from scratch. It's something that has become less common as we go about our busy work lives. And while I know these times are not without their challenges, I hope some positive societal changes will come from the space in our lives and shift in priorities that have resulted from this pandemic.