Wed. Dec. 9, 2020 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EST (UTC -5:00) | REGISTRATION REQUIRED via EventBrite  How have farmers responded to unprecedented challenges and opportunities throughout the pandemic? How has COVID-19 highlighted long-term changes that are needed in agriculture and food distribution in Canada? Join us for an interactive roundtable featuring three women ecological farmers: Sarah Bakker – Sarah is a livestock farmer and co-owner of Field Sparrow Farms, located near Bobcaygeon, Ontario. They deliver pasture-raised meats to the local community of Kawartha Lakes and to Toronto. Sarah is also the General Manager of the National Farmers Union—Ontario, an organization at the forefront of local struggles for food system change. Liz Beesley – Liz is the co-owner of Joyfully Organic Farm, which offers organic vegetables to communities in the Greater Toronto Area through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and through farmers markets. She and her partner have overcome the significant challenges that young farmers face, such as land access, in order to grow a successful business. Jenn Pfenning – Jenn is the co-owner of Pfenning’s Organic Farm, a company that grows, packs, and distributes organic produce from their farm near Waterloo, Ontario. Jenn has been a vocal advocate for the rights of migrant agricultural workers, as workers in this program have contributed significantly to the labour that her family performs on their farm. Jointly moderated by: Jayeeta (Jo) Sharma, Associate Professor of History and Food Studies at the Culinaria Research Centre of the University of Toronto, and Project Lead for Feeding the City; Sarah Elton, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Ryerson University and the award-winning author of several popular books on food systems; and Bryan Dale, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies, University of Toronto Scarborough and Project Manager for Feeding the City. Supported by the Culinaria Research Centre, University of Toronto Scarborough. | Register here  

Webinar Summary

In this roundtable, three women ecological farmers located across Ontario discuss their experiences working in the agri-food sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the panelists found that the pandemic induced unprecedented need within their communities, which prompted an increased demand for the products and services offered by their respective farms. However, consensus held that such increased demand not only manifested as a result of the pandemic, but as a result of the long-standing vulnerabilities in the Canadian food system. One such vulnerability identified by the panelists is the treatment of migrant agricultural workers, the majority of whom are exploited across Canada. Additionally, the panelists considered the role of women in farming to be a form of essential work. They agreed that farming is an act of nurturing, through which women ecological farmers are able to nurture their communities by providing continued access to food. In doing so, they are able to nurture the soil by engaging in holistic, ecological growing methods. Ultimately, this discussion serves as an enduring reminder that there will always be gender dimensions to our individual and collective food sovereignty struggles. For detailed notes on this webinar, click here.