My upbringing is in no way steeped in the tradition of agriculture. I was raised in the centres of several large cities connected to the North American oil industry.
I began my reporting career working at the Brooks Bulletin, making the transition from journalism school in Toronto to a far smaller southern Alberta town and centre of one of the largest irrigation districts in the world.
The shift opened up a larger world after being fairly limited to where a subway, bus or bicycle could take me. I had never needed a car.
It also introduced me to the ingenuity, spirit, hard work and dedication it takes for so few to provide so much food for those who grew up like I did. It’s an upbringing in which the meat, vegetables and bread come from a grocery store and not much thought is given to how food gets to a supermarket.
For the first decade of my journalism career, I learned just how much more is involved.
From Brooks, I moved down the road and began a decade of reporting for the Medicine Hat News.
I continued to learn to appreciate the system of what it takes to put a steak on a table. From managing forage, calving, transport and processing while trying to navigate both market and environmental forces outside the control of producers, it’s amazing to see the devotion involved.
Resilient is a term that is used frequently to describe those who choose agriculture as an occupation. Having entered the journalism business at the tail end of the BSE crisis and seeing the fallout to beef producers, that word may be an understatement.
As I reported on the flooding that rolled off the Cypress Hills in 2010, swamping both southwestern Saskatchewan and southeastern Alberta, agricultural producers also introduced me to the community spirit of those in the industry.
Arriving early at the scene of large grass fires and watching farmers and ranchers show up in minutes, not hesitating for a second in trying to beat down flames has only served to solidify that view.
As well, I quickly learned that the natural beauty of the prairie landscape is underappreciated.
I have long understood the reputation The Western Producer enjoys within the agricultural community and it’s one that I hope to live up to as I begin my tenure with the organization.