Culture of Farming

Agriculture in Canada is one of the founding industries of the country, and one of the few that is represented in every province. Farming in Canada began with First Nations: the Iroquois and Huron cultivated beans, maize and squash, among other crops. Original settlement in agriculturally rich areas in Canada was determined by the geographic characteristics of each region, leading to different settlement patterns and infrastructure. The evolution of the industry and the parallel evolution of cultural heritage are also unique in each region.

The growth of agriculture as an industry in Canada was largely state-supported: early east coast British colonies needed supplies to defend against the French, which spurred a strong agricultural tradition.  Similar motivation was seen in Quebec against the English. In western Canada, a history of cooperative and pool farming was seen strongly in the creation of the wheat board. Those active in crop pools, the grain growers' associations and farm political parties were also influential in Prairie culture, society and politics. Communities were shaped by these individuals, and the structure and values of the agricultural industry.

Periods of decline in the industry were dictated by natural factors – the Dirty Thirties dust bowl may be the most extreme example – as well as economic realities. Recently, complex trade within international markets has changed the role of government, with supply management programs coming under pressure and the end of the wheat board, while large-scale commercial farms have replaced many smaller family operations. The infrastructure of farming communities has come under strain with increased mechanization, suburban spread, and market concentration of these larger-scale farms, with the traditional buildings, equipment and land area of family farms often unable to compete.

Agricultural regions are rich in tradition, skills and opportunities, and many are finding ways to revitalize and reuse their resources. Increasing backyard, rooftop and balcony gardens as well as growing popularity of field-to-table and organic markets are among small-scale opportunities drawing on regional agricultural heritage. Adaptive reuse of farm buildings and equipment is also increasingly common.

Pommies Cider Co.
Girls Can Too
Railcar Brewing
The Drake Devonshire
Community Prospecting
Vicki’s Veggies
Storytelling and Silo Singing
Honey Pie Hives and Herbals
Foraging New Markets