Little girl: YOU CAN’T be a farmer. You have to marry one!

theloveoffood ann slater

From a farmer to you – a series of real stories about real people.

Deb Cripps the love of food 5

theloveoffood ann slaterStrolling through ‘Organic Ann’s’ vegetable garden is like stepping into a gigantic salad of greens. The aroma of lettuce, radishes and onions permeates the air. Filtered sunlight dances through the field of oversized spinach, baby bok choy, and other jewel-like emerald vegetables.

Gardeners from novice to pro, and a loyal following of discriminating buyers seek out Ann’s knowledge and her produce. The attraction is obvious. She has the giggle of a young girl, the wisdom of a master gardener, and is passionate about growing vegetables – organically.

Ann Slater was raised on a farm in southern Ontario by parents who instilled a sense of environmentalism.

“I took over the family garden when I was only 15, and even then my produce was organic, just not certified. I don’t know how to grow with chemicals – I never learned. My dad stopped using pesticides on the farm in the mid 1970’s. When I realized there was a demand for great-tasting fresh vegetables, I set up a card table on a main street in town, and sold whatever I had grown that week.”

As a young girl in the early 90’s, Ann’s aspiration to farm was not met with enthusiasm. Public perception of the average farmer at that time just didn’t include an energetic, forward-thinking young female.

“My biggest challenge wasn’t being the ‘rebel organic market gardener’; it was gaining acceptance as a female in farming,” she says. “People would tell me, ‘You can’t be a farmer. You have to marry a farmer.’”  [Read more...]