Family Fun Days at Aggie Days are April 12 & 13 at the BMO Center and they are FREE and fun for the whole family! Today guest posting on our blog is Alexis Kienlen, she grew up in Saskatoon and currently lives in Edmonton. She is the author of two books of poetry “She dreams in Red” and “13”. Alexis has a degree in International Studies from the University of Saskatchewan, a Graduate Diploma in Journalism from Concordia University and a Certificate in Food Security from Ryerson University. Alexis is currently a reporter with Alberta Farmer newspaper.   She spends a lot of time reading, writing, watching movies, and belly dancing. Check out her website and follow her on Twitter.

Alexis Kienlan

I didn’t grow up on a farm, or even in a small town. I grew up as a city girl, oblivious to the world of agriculture. My early experiences with farming involved visiting a horse-owning friend who lived on an acreage, attending riding camp when I was a teenager, and driving in the countryside around Saskatoon, my hometown.

Some days, I still find it strange that my livelihood is so directly tied to agriculture. I’ve been writing about agriculture for seven years now, ever since I came back to the prairies from the west coast. I studied journalism in Montreal, which seems as far from a prairie farm as a person can get. Since then, my journalism jobs have taken me all over Alberta, from Wainwright to Grande Prairie and now Edmonton, where I currently work for Alberta Farmer newspaper.  As part of my job, I read agricultural news, talk to people working in the industry, go to farm conferences and visit farms.

When I first started my job at Alberta Farmer, I couldn’t believe the amount of information a person needed to know in order to farm. Six years later, I’m still amazed by all the work needed to put food on the table. In order to do my job, I had to immerse myself in the world of agriculture and learn a whole new vocabulary. Since I cover all aspects of the industry, I had to learn about each sector. Years later, I’m still learning new things every day. But that’s part of the reason why I still enjoy what I’m doing.

I get to learn about things that I had never considered before I started working with farmers. Before starting this job, I had never considered the shortage of rural firefighters, how cold weather can directly affect a farmer with new calves, or how a big harvest, a grain backlog and problems with the railroad can affect the entire western Canadian economy.  As a city kid, I’ve never done half of the stuff I have written about.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from talking to farmers is the importance of listening and being open. Like everyone, I have preconceived notions about farming and food and there are still a lot of things I don’t know. The only way that I’ve been able to learn all about aspects of farming is by letting others teach me. In return, I am rewarded by their knowledge and their passion. Passion and people are the true heart of agriculture and they make the industry a great one to work in.

People outside the sector might think that agriculture is dull but this couldn’t be further from the truth. There is always something happening- new advancements, new science and threats from both environment and the markets. There are frequently high stakes issues in one sector or another. I think it’s impossible to work in agriculture and not become passionate about farming and farmers. Agriculture may not always make a person a lot of money, but there’s a different kind of wealth the industry, driven by people’s love of the land and the work that they do. My life has become richer since I started working in agriculture and I’ll always be grateful for all that I’ve learned.