31 Oct The Halloween Harvest
I asked my kids this weekend where they think our food comes from, and they said, “Cookies come from Linda and Neil, but you get chocolate bars from Ita and Joe’s.”
Okay, maybe Halloween isn’t quite the right time for this conversation.
It’s been on my mind of late, because last Friday night I asked these two kids (pictured above) about food, and although they were big fans of Sour Worms, they had a few different answers.
That night I was lucky enough to host the Ag for Life’s Harvest Gala. Ag for Life is a not-for-profit organization that does two things: Educate Albertans (and the world) about the value of agriculture in our lives, and educate those working in agriculture to stay safe.
Every year, around the end of harvest season, they have a gala evening to raise funds for their education and safety programs – and to celebrate another harvest.
It’s an event I love, because on that night when we say, “Let’s be thankful for our food” we don’t have to look far. The room is full of people who actually plant the crop, watch it grow and harvest it.
Every year I’m surprised by how moving it is to sit in a room with people who take that much pride in growing our food. Every year, I say, “Would the farmers in the room stand up so we can say thank you.” Half the room stands up, and then the other half stands up to applaud them.
And every year the dinner is sold out, but every year there are empty seats. Those are the farmers who are still out on their combines, getting the crop off.
I usually have a conversation on stage with Luree Williamson, who runs Ag for Life, and I think we put on a pretty good show.
Until this year.
This year the aforementioned Caleb and Sam stole the show. Caleb is in Grade 5, Sam is in Grade 3. Michelle and Rob, their mom and dad, are third generation farmers on a farm near Wetaskiwin. That makes Caleb and Sam fourth generation.
They got to be junior reporters this year and were tasked with creating a video around agriculture in Alberta, so I had them come on stage for a conversation. I expected them to be, well, kids. And they were. They were funny, smart, and their belt buckles shone.
“Caleb,” I asked, “Why do you feel farming is important work?”
Without missing a beat, he said, “My mom and dad are farmers and it’s our responsibility to feed the world. I think it’s pretty cool that our grain is shipped all over the world.”
“Ok Sam,” I said, “Why do you feel it’s important to teach people about farming and where their food comes from?”
“I think Canadian producers do a great job of producing a healthy and safe product,” he said, and then looked right at me to emphasize the point, “and I want everyone to know that.”
The audience roared. These were some special kids.
Yesterday, I sent a note to their folks asking about their harvest. I knew the early drought followed by snow and rain this fall wasn’t easy. Michelle said “it was a trying year, but we are thankful that we were given a beautiful stretch of weather in late October. Our harvest was finished the day before the gala and we just put our equipment away today after helping friends and neighbours finish theirs.”
Halloween is a fun time for kids. John and Tess are pretty excited about the candy harvest. And maybe Caleb and Sam are pretty excited about candy, too.
But mostly, I’m thankful that their mom and dad are out there working at making the food that John and Tess will eat for the rest of the year.
Thanks Michelle and Rob. And thanks Caleb and Sam – even if you did steal the show.