Respecting food and farmer

There was a news story this summer about a farm in Ontario that had opened its gates for people to come and see their sunflowers, only to have the situation turn into what the farmer said looked like a zombie apocalypse.

How can this happen? Read on, and I’ll explain.

The farming family grows other grain and legume crops, but the sunflowers attracted the attention of people wanting to take selfies. So they charged $7.50 per adult and set up a parking area. Sounds like a “win win,” right?

The first year the profits helped pay for parking attendants and offset some general farming costs. So far so good. But they forgot to account for the social trends of the 21st century.

This year, the family expected more visitors; they expanded the parking area and hired more staff. They made signs to direct people. It all started out well. Then someone’s selfie went viral on Instagram.

Before the family knew what was happening, crowds were arriving at their farm. Hundreds of cars were there, starting at 5:30 a.m. People parked along the roadside and then even across the highway.

The family called the RCMP to help. Still there were tales of families with strollers crossing four lanes of highway traffic, just to get a picture of a sunflower. 

The farmer tried to turn people away, saying they were full, but people just yelled at him and drove in anyway. (I think this when the “zombie apocalypse” stage started.)

One thing to remember is this was a working farm, an active crop. Sunflowers are fragile plants, not meant to handle the jostling from crowds. Broken stalks means dead flowers and no seeds to sell, and even broken leaves compromise the plant in its ability to survive the season.

The only thing left to do was close the site, so that’s what the family did. They put up signs and told people they couldn’t come in — no trespassing. They were sworn at, glared at and told they had ruined people’s vacations. How could something so well-intentioned go so wrong?

As I read the article, I just kept shaking my head. Why couldn’t these people see that it wasn’t the farmer’s fault things got out of hand?

In today’s world, we seem to have developed a sense of entitlement about all things. We all deserve to enjoy everything that we see anyone enjoy, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple. If we all end up enjoying it at the same time, then it’s a crowded moment.

If we all want mini donuts, the line up gets long. If we all want sunflower selfies and there aren’t enough sunflowers to go around, then there needs to be a line up for that too.

We can’t just trample over the flowers to find a great shot. Not even if we pay. It’s not sustainable, as a business or a society.

I have seen the same disregard for crops here in the Okanagan. People who enjoy u-pick fruit so often pick far more than they take home, simply because they didn’t pay attention to the instructions on how to choose the right, ripe fruit.

Not only does this waste fruit, it also damages the trees and compromises their growth for the following season.

My message to pass along as we enter the season of thanksgiving is this:

  • Let’s not only give thanks for our food, but also respect the food we are eating. Value its importance not just as sustenance for your family but also for the farmers and their families.

We are all in this world together. Let’s all be responsible for keeping it a happy place, and avoiding the zombie apocalypse.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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