Sarah Simpson Column: Happy to live in a pizza-loving agricultural region

Being a reporter allows me to do some pretty cool things, too.

The conversation with my eldest went like this.

“Hey, do you want to come with me to a farm sanctuary tomorrow? I need to take some photos for a story I’m working on.”

(Of course he had no option. He was coming. But he didn’t know that. Sometimes I like to give my kids the illusion of autonomy.)

“Nah, Mom,” he replied. “I want to stay home and play.”

That’s what he does. I could tell him we’re going out to drive real firetrucks and he’d tell me he’d rather stay home and build them out of Lego.



“What’s a farm sanctuary anyway?”

“Well, it’s a safe place animals go to live a happy life after living in a not so good place,” I replied.

He’s four. I didn’t really want to get into the details.

“Oh. That’s lucky for them,” he said.

“It sure is. Do you wanna check it out?” I replied. “… they have a one-legged turkey.”

With those six simple words, he was in.

Being reporters’ children, my kids get to do some neat stuff.

Being a reporter allows me to do some pretty cool things, too.

I’m sure it’s hard to believe because there seems to be no trace of it online anymore, but I once wrote an entire series on canning and food preservation.

That was many years ago and I wish I could find links to share with you but they must have been lost in the website moves due to the changes in Citizen ownership over the years. But it was like a six or seven-part series and I called it “Yes, I can!”

Clever right? (I was so enthusiastic and full of energy back then. It was long before I had children…)

It was my second such series after the ever-popular nine-part Island Grains Sowing the Seeds epic that earned me an industry award in 2009 for environmental initiative.

In that one I documented growing my own grains at Makaria Farm with my favourite farmers Heather and Brock McLeod and the entire process from planting little seeds right through to baking the ugliest loaf of bread I’ve ever seen. I’ll post links to those stories at the bottom of this story.

That series led to a book published in 2013, co-written with the ever-wonderful Heather McLeod. (It’s called Uprisings: A Hands-On Guide to the Community Grain Revolution if you’re wondering.)

I’ve also written about the Vancouver Island Salt Company (I got an award for that one, too!) and a Christmas tree farm and the plight of bees. I’ve written about dairy farming and asparagus farming and the success of the Downtown Duncan Farmers Market and, sadly, last year I wrote about the untimely death of Brock McLeod. I won an award for that one, too, but I’d happily give it back to have Brock still with us.

Anyway, all this to say, I get to write about a lot of interesting things, but it seems I have deep roots in writing about food and farming. (Deep roots! I crack myself up sometimes.) Each year for as long as I remember, we’ve dedicated an entire edition of the Citizen to telling those types of stories and this year, the Oct. 26 edition is that paper. This year I’ve written about A Home for Hooves, a farm sanctuary run by a woman who kind of fell into the role of animal saviour and about a Facebook page called The Real Farmers of Vancouver Island. I hope you like those stories, and our special agriculture and food edition as much as my kids liked Gertie, the one-legged turkey.

Sowing the Seeds Series

“Growing Grain in Cowichan” by Sarah Simpson (Island Grains member), Cowichan Valley Citizen, January 7, 2009

“Following an Historic Path” by Sarah Simpson, Cowichan Valley Citizen, February 13, 2009

“Choosing Your Crop” by Sarah Simpson, Cowichan Valley Citizen, March 25, 2009

“Local Seed vs. Big Guns” by Sarah Simpson, Cowichan Valley Citizen, May 20, 2009

“Growing a Crop Heritage” by Sarah Simpson, Cowichan Valley Citizen, June 5, 2009

“Preparing the Harvest for the Plate” by Sarah Simpson, Cowichan Valley Citizen, July 24, 2009

“Getting My Hands Dirty” by Sarah Simpson, Cowichan Valley Citizen, August 5, 2009

“The Harvest: What’s the Shoe For?” by Sarah Simpson, Cowichan Valley Citizen, October 2, 2009

“Last Stop: The Stomach” by Sarah Simpson, Cowichan Valley Citizen, December 11, 2009

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