Working with the earth is beautiful, and no one captures this better than photo-blogger Sara Dent. Her blog Farm Love documents the stories of young Canadian farmers and the challenges they face, along with encouraging readers to get involved in permaculture (which Sara explains below). An active community leader, permaculture teacher and workshop facilitator, Sara is the co-founder of Young Agrarians. We talked to her about how she weaves all of these interests together to create her stunning photo essays, and why she’s passionate about farming.
We Heart Local: We know this is a hard one to boil down to a few words, but can you explain what permaculture is?
Sara Dent: Permaculture is using how nature gardens in order to design ecologically resilient and regenerative environments. Permaculture principles and theory can be applied from the urban environment to the rural farm. If we apply the intelligence nature has evolved over millennia to manage resources like water, food, and energy – we can live in balance with our ecosystems.
WHL: Your Farm Love blog is so beautiful! Why is it important to you to tell these stories, and why through photo-essays?
SD: I have been taking photos for half of my life. I’ve always understood the world best visually. As an urbanite who was very disconnected from my food supply, when I began learning how to grow food, especially harvesting it – I found something deeply meaningful that I wanted to capture and share. Farm Love is my vision for this earth; and it brings me hope that the idea that people choose to live closer to the land and reduce their footprints can inspire others to follow suit, in all of the myriad of ways that are practical to the places we live.
WHL: Can you tell us a little about Young Agrarians and why you got involved in the project?
SD: Young Agrarians was co-founded by Seann Dory (Director Sole Food Street Farms) and me. We want a vibrant, networked, national group of new farmers who win support for the hard work they do. I am involved because I believe that permaculture and agrarian pursuits are the way of the future. The reality is that new farmers have major challenges. I want to support farmers to network, share strategies, innovate together and become visible to a more mainstream audience. Really though, at the very beginning, when Young Agrarians was just a registered domain name and Twitter handle yet to be put into action – I just wanted to make farming sexy for the next generation. It’s the photo work I was doing, along with the farm training and permaculture practicum, that slowly but surely led me to build Young Agrarians. The network now is growing and thriving: farmers from across BC are hosting events on their farms, bringing the community together and supporting each other. To date, we’ve
had over 70 events, gathering over 3800 people. Farmers are
excited to overcome isolation, talk farm and collaborate. The most amazing thing is that the network is slowly but surely going national.
WHL: Can you tell us about one of the photo-essays you’ve created that’s really stuck with you, and why?
SD: This is a great question. Every photo-essay I have online has wonderful memories for me. But this recent blog post brings me much joy because it shows how our work in BC is beginning to grow across Canada too. In April of this year, I went to Alberta for the first Young Agrarians Mixer in that province. We were in a small town and around 70 people showed up for a farm tour, which was way more people than we could’ve hoped for. Prairie Gold Meats, the farm we were on, practices Holistic Land Management. The way they rotate the animals through the pastures improves the grassland and means that the animals have higher quality feed and increased food supply over time. It’s being practiced all over the world – most importantly in desertified areas to regenerate land. Its potential is enormous and more people need to know about it. It’s easy to see a photo of a good-looking young farmer holding a terribly cute little spotted pig and not understand the bigger picture – the why behind the image. Hopefully, at least, I can inspire people to see the farmer, and then feel inspired to learn more.
If you’re hungry to learn more, Sara’s written a great article about permaculture here. And if you’d like to see more of her farming stories, visit Farm Love.