Women play a vital role in agriculture worldwide, yet they are often not represented in the collective social image of farmers.
Over the past few months I’ve been working with my friends Barbara Brown and Jess Weatherhead on an exciting creative arts project featuring seven amazing women who are farming sustainably on the traditional Algonquin Anishinaabe lands of the Ottawa / Outaouais Region. Each woman is farming in a way that is mindful of the environment, restores and builds soil quality, sequesters carbon and protects local biodiversity. Among them they are providing nourishing local food to thousands of people in the community.
We are creating an arts exhibit which will tell the story of these dedicated farmers by presenting vibrant painted portraits, photos of their farming practice and poetic reflections about their experiences. This exhibit will be held at Roots and Shoots Farm September 30 – October 2, 2022.
This project owes its existence to a series of portraits painted by the artist Jess Weatherhead who is also a farmer herself. At the exhibition, these portraits will be accompanied by photos by Barbara Brown and poetry written by me.
The exhibition will consist of seven different stations each with Jess’ portrait of the farmer, Barbara’s photos that portray the farm and each women’s interaction with the land and one short poem that I have written based on my conversations with the farmers.
We will be displaying each farmer in a series that follows nature’s seasonal cycles and the cycles of work on the farm. The first poem begins in the late winter and the final poem takes place in the fall.
My goal in writing the poems is to try to express the beauty, the magic, the fluidity and the simple truth of each woman’s connection with the land. Each poem will portray a moment in time when she is interacting with the land and experiences a flash of insight, or a moment of joy and gratitude. Here is a sample from one of the poems:
the greenhouse A breath of frost still lingers on this sun-kissed April morning. Within this cathedral of light, The tiny seedlings, are reaching green and bright. They are luminescent and ravenous for radiance.
For more information and to be added to the mailing list check out our project website.
Cover image: Jess Weatherhead