Celebrating 2SLGBTQ+ Farmers in BC

Posted on Monday, 20 June 2022 under Stories Featured

Pride Month is an opportunity to celebrate and support the 2SLGBTQ+ community. In honour of Pride Month, we are highlighting a few of the amazing 2SLGBTQ+ farmers around BC. We are deeply thankful for the 2SLGBTQ+ farmers and community leaders in our province who are growing good food and contributing to their communities.

Please Note: This is in no way an exhaustive list. This blog post will continue to be updated. If you are a 2SLGBTQ+ farmer in BC, or know of someone who may want to be featured on this blog, please contact us at communications@farmfolkcityfolk.ca.

Mel & Hannah from Grounded Acres Organic Farm. Photos by Grounded Acres Organic Farm.

Grounded Acres Organic Farm

Mel and Hannah are co-owners of Grounded Acres Organic Farm, a queer family farm on unceded Sḵwx̱wú7mesh territory in Gibsons, on the Sunshine Coast of BC. Their farm family includes 100 laying hens, resident ravens, flocks of songbirds, and a dynamic ecosystem from trees to soil microbes who are tending this land alongside them. The produce they grow and livestock they raise are certified organic under the BC Organic Program, and they use agricultural practices that regenerate and contribute to the health of their ecosystem.

Mel and Hannah shared with us:

As life and business partners, it feels important to us to identify publicly as queer. The stereotype of the family farm has been very heteronormative and we want to share our story not only to show that queer folks and families exist in the world of agriculture, but that being queer is something that has helped us connect deeply to the land and the intersectional ways land stewardship and farming are and have been avenues for both oppression and for healing for many. This was especially clear to us when, only months after launching our social media accounts (without even a live website!) we got multiple queer-identified folks reaching out to ask if they could join our team for the season. We weren’t even hiring! They indicated explicitly that, like many young people, getting experience on a farm for a season was something they had wanted to do for a while but, being queer, they were concerned about how to do it in a way that would be safe for them. Imagine moving to a new, rural community, living on someone’s land and working in a power dynamic as their farm labourer, but being unclear of how your queer identity might impact your treatment or safety? Just by putting those three little words in our Instagram bio: “queer family farm,” they felt a door was open for them to get that learning opportunity. Since then, we’ve had queer folks join us to volunteer, travel to spend the week learning and working with us, and even want to help document and amplify our story. In our second year with a new team, we continue to be fully queer-owned and operated. It means so much to us to cultivate this queer farm family! We are so passionate about training new farmers and helping grow a local and sustainable food system – ensuring that queer folks feel they have those same opportunities, in ways that respect and celebrate their queerness, is important for us and something we want to dig more deeply into in the future.

Camille Flanjak. Photo by Camille Flanjak.

Camille Flanjak

Camille (she/her) was raised immersed in Deaf culture. Her parents are both Deaf, and she and her three siblings were raised bilingual. They spent their summers and holidays at Deaf World events, surrounded by other CODAs.

Camille grew up working the soil on the traditional Indigenous lands of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, Qayqayt, Kwikwetlem, and Semiahmoo peoples. Her start was at a humble hobby farm but she has grown and harvested foods in many places – wild and urban. She brings a perspective of wild, dynamic permaculture wherever she farms.

Camille shared with us:

This land I’m currently growing on, in what is now known as Vancouver, is so much more than space to grow the prettiest, most productive fields of cut greens to sell at high-end restaurants. We city-farmers access this impossibly valuable living space beside a huge number of stakeholders: from Indigenous Peoples whose land is occupied by us farmer/settlers; to ‘homeowners’, unhoused folks, dog walkers, and high school students; raccoons, hummingbirds, wasps & rats; and newcomers who have been torn from homelands.

As an urban farmer, up to 40% of my crops go missing. But this phenomenon reminds me how precious fresh, hand-picked food is and how privileged I am to be growing it where I am. Further, the incredibly human experience of harvesting food isn’t something many people have access to. So any losses I may experience become an opportunity to count my blessings. The intersection of many blessings –my ancestors, my history, my privileges, my queerness, my family culture, and my politics– with how I farm beside my neighbours is something I celebrate and ruminate on, daily. Life is hard, complex, beautiful, and delicious, especially when we share and work with others.

You can currently catch Camille working for Fresh Roots as their Good Food Farm Manager.

Patrick & Sean from Curlew Orchard. Photos by Curlew Orchard.

Curlew Orchard

Named after the endangered Long-Billed Curlew that once roamed these hillsides, Curlew Orchard is dedicated to growing delicious fruit in balance with nature. 10 acres of the property are planted with apple trees growing Gala, Ambrosia, Macintosh, Spartan and introducing a large assortment of older apple varieties. An acre is devoted to permaculture with a mix of fruit trees, berries, herbs, vegetables and diverse companion plants.

Patrick met Sean while pursuing grad studies and endeavouring to engage the public in environmental issues. Sean was dancing with the Toronto Dance Theatre, then Peggy Baker Dance Projects and the two set up home in Toronto. In 2015, with their young children, dog and cat, the family moved West to begin a new adventure on an apple orchard. Now close to family, friends and the organic community they have settled into farm life. Joining the vegetarian family are retired farm animals who now happily eat bugs and graze in pastures.

On taking over the orchard they began using organic practises to grow apples and became certified organic in 2020. Today they are a farm family, encompassed in growing food, practising regenerative agriculture and even using a permaculture approach in a portion of the orchard. Sean has restored the old apple packing house on the property and opened ‘Centred Pilates’ this past year.