Work in Progress

As farmer Jeannette French notes, farming in Headwaters may always be a work in progress, but this community provides the motivation it takes to forge ahead.

June 22, 2021 | | Farming

One year into a global pandemic and the uncertainty of tomorrow still looms. For many of us, this carries a great deal of stress and anxiety. As a farmer, I keep reminding myself we can get through this – farmers are masters of coping with uncertainty as we are constantly at Mother Nature’s mercy. We must keep moving forward and do what we know for sure. Animals need to be fed, crops need to be harvested, machines need to be maintained – people need to eat. Ensuring food safety and keeping our communities fed are what we focus on.

The French family: Brian and Jeannette with their children Emmett (left), Charlie and Kayleigh. Photo by Kidlets Photography.

The French family: Brian and Jeannette with their children Emmett (left), Charlie and Kayleigh. Photo by Kidlets Photography.

Throughout the pandemic, farmers and food purveyors have struggled with labour shortages which have significantly affected the food supply chain and food security. When the initial 2020 lockdown took place we were unable to sell our produce through traditional means, so we also had to quickly adapt and learn new ways of doing business while implementing new health and safety regulations.

Even five generations in, our farm remains a work in progress, continually evolving to improve our farming practices so we can grow healthier food and build stronger communities.

In agriculture, when a machine breaks down, an animal becomes ill or a crop is under stress, farmers need to react fast. They reach out to their neighbours and use their creative problem-solving skills. This past year we moved our businesses online, delivered food directly to our customers, shared information with the community through social media, and connected with our neighbours to collaborate and strengthen our businesses. Working together throughout the pandemic made us all a little stronger.

Today, with the support of our local community we keep moving forward. We feel a movement back to the simple things in life – family, health, community. Consumers are committed to supporting local and making more educated food choices. Families are investing more time in preparing meals at home and reconnecting as they sit around the dinner table again. This movement has definitely strengthened our businesses. We are extremely grateful for the support of our local communities throughout this past year. The appreciation we have received for our efforts and commitment has provided us with the encouragement and motivation to work harder every day.

We can’t predict when the next rain will come or if an early frost will hit our crops, but we will continue to focus on what we can control and how we react to the unpredictable. We learn, collaborate and grow. With a cautious eye to the future, we look forward to celebrating – maybe even by fall harvest season – with friends, family, neighbours and customers. We’ll trade visible smiles about a booming local food system and the move toward simpler lives. We’ll pat each other on the back for innovating through another unprecedented season, and leave the masks in the rear view mirror. There is no looking back.

Welcome to Fresh Local Food

We hope this year’s Headwaters Farm Fresh guide will inspire you to get to know your local farmers, put fabulously fresh food on your table and, as a bonus, explore the beautiful countryside in our own backyard.

About the Author More by Jeannette French

Jeannette French and her husband, Brian, a fifth generation farmer, operate Lennox Farm in Melancthon where they grow 20 crops year-round, specializing in rhubarb, peas and Brussels sprouts.

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