Hello and Welcome to my blog!
From 2010 until 2018, this blog was called farmviability – Reclaiming the Miracle of Food and Farming. Now it is called lifevialibity – Reclaiming the Miracle of Life. I have broadened my scope, but farming will always be a big piece of what I consider the miracle of life. Why this change? And what’s gumbootgourmet?
Gumboots are what the Aussies and Kiwis call their Wellies or rubber boots! And so gumbootgourmet reflects from field to fork. I have an expertise in field to fork entrepreneurship, direct-to-market, artisanal food, farmer-chef paired culinary events and farm tours, local food distribution, and regenerative farming because this is where I made an income for 15 years. But as a result of my experience with loss, I now weave that expertise into my specialty: I guide women who have experienced a big loss to shift from stuck to activating what they are meant for, and finding again the drive to thrive and “feel the rapture of being alive” (as Joseph Campbell would say – and yes, it’s about playing with archetypes and stories, and being in Nature).
Here is my Story
In my most recent study (I graduated with an MA at a rather mature age a couple of years ago), which was driven by a need to understand the generative force behind what feels to me like a “don’t care” attitude in Big Ag or industrial agriculture, I discovered a bigger issue. Our collective and cultural narratives were defining our mindset, and this needs to change.
In my research, I became witness to a silenced collection of stories of human dignity, primarily those of women and, at the time, children survivors of war. How many of these have you heard? We hear mostly the stories that build up a “hero” culture that I believe is coming to an end, despite how much society holds on to it. But we have much to learn from the “other” paradigm beginning to surface.
A humbling journey into the legacy of who we are: … We must explore “the depth of the “lake” of collective trauma in which we all exist without realizing it. When symptoms constantly arise, and yet go unrecognized as trauma symptoms, they will continue to reoccur.” (Thomas Hübl of the PocketProject https://pocketproject.org/)
With Regards to Agriculture: Canada is recognized internationally for being ‘green’, and is being branded as such with ‘Quality is in our Nature.’ Known for being “environmentally savvy, competent, credible, and reliable, offering safe, high quality products from a natural, pristine environment” (source: Agri-Food Trade Service), other countries are looking to Canada for solutions. Are we living up to this?
Globally, we are realizing that “Business as usual is not an option.” But there is hope – the IAASTD (initiated by the World Bank and the FAO) states that “we believe that by combining local and traditional knowledge [Ag1.0] with formal knowledge [Ag2.0] these challenges can be met,” in a New Paradigm for Agriculture: Agriculture 3.0 (Creutzberg, 2015).
How will we do this? What models and practices are out there that demonstrate that today’s farm can be viable? What kind of farming will ensure that the future supply of food nourishes our bodies? Our communities? Our rural economies? Our land? Our soils, And our souls?
For over 15 years, Kaytlyn Creutzberg collaborated on food and farming initiatives including as a direct-to-market farmer, delivering farmer training, and coordinating regional local food branding initiatives in Midwestern Ontario, including the counties of Grey, Bruce, Wellington and Huron. She is driven by a passion for nourishment of every kind, but especially of ‘real food.’ Since 2006, after farming sheep on land that was certified organic, she researched models for accessing and distributing local food, and owned and operated a local food deli.
In 2012, she launched an online farmers’ market pilot, where farmers could market themselves online to a consumer base looking for nutrient dense food direct from the farmer. In 2013, she brought together municipal staff and local food stakeholders from five counties to conceive the idea of the 5 Star Regional Collaborative Food Hub Project. Unfortunately, she discovered that despite consumers supporting and being excited by the idea of knowing their farmer and ‘the story behind your food,’ as a society, the tipping point has not been reached where enough consumers open their wallets to pay for local food (despite the endless number of university studies and market research surveys saying otherwise). In Europe, with their centuries of traditional food practices, it is very different.
Awarded a Nuffield Agricultural Scholarship in 2013, Kaytlyn travelled through Europe to study whether community agriculture (and the local food movement) was a viable option for the future of Canadian agriculture, which she calls Ag3.0 (details in this post). In her report (2015), she concludes that a farmer’s mission statement for their enterprise should not be about feeding 9 billion but about nourishing communities.
North American agriculture in particular, is too focused on the big impossible picture of “saving the world,” rather than looking at (and saving) the soil beneath their feet. This is where it all begins. This is ‘terroir.’ This is Soul of Place, along with the rivers and an abundance of fresh water. Canadian and American soil has a different story. It is not tied to heritage food practices as in Europe, like Roquefort cheese for example, but to the Indigenous Story that Europeans almost completely eradicated when so many of them immigrated.
Feed the Soil to Feed the World: “For Canadian agriculture to contribute to a healthy world, we need to go ‘back to basics’, with a revised farm enterprise mission statement of ‘Nourishing Communities’, instead of feeding the world.” – Kaytlyn Creutzberg (2015)
Since the publication of her Nuffield study report in 2015, Kaytlyn helped establish the Farming For A Future project to hold space for dialogue about these issues. Events and discussions were hosted (details in this post), but once again, Kaytlyn found little support for this initiative. She continued to ask what it was that resulted in such poor connection and care for the land, and the decreasing nutritional value of food. Was it lack of relationship “skills”?
As a result of this inquiry, Kaytlyn returned to university in 2016 to study this possibility. Indeed, from a psychological perspective, there is a lot that can be said about our relationship to the land we occupy where generally, we have lost that connection to that place, or our sense of ‘Soul of Place.’ She argues that if we had that sense, we would care more. Spiritual care therapeutic principles was a fitting way to approach this study. But why did so many care so little such that the Earth is facing so much destruction? This question called for an exploration into culture, and the religions so closely tied to its expression. It is also an issue of global justice, especially as it relates to women, subsistence farming (Ag1.0) and land ownership (Ag1.0 is still the reality on over 97% of farms worldwide, Creutzberg, 2015,1).
In 2018, Kaytlyn received her Master of Arts in Spiritual Care, Culture and Global Justice from Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada. Her research project explored how a hero culture built upon Christian values and supremacy (war, superciliousness and colonialism) has resulted in a culture defined by diaspora, displaced persons (lack of belonging and cultural identify) and trauma narratives. Kaytlyn uncovered that embedded in these narratives lies a new (old) paradigm repressed in the untold stories in testimony, primarily those that, in their day, were not consider “heroic.” We need to advocate for a trauma-informed world to proceed. And here, we are making progress. Because the experience of trauma unifies us as human beings, it is the common link between cultures that has gone unrecognized and that we have been looking for. It’s about speaking up #SayItLikeItIs. These stories need to be heard. Suffering is a shared human characteristic. Cultural trauma narratives can also guide a change in our moral behaviours towards the earth, our home, and each other, living together in a global society.
Please feel free to share your explorations and discoveries about the miracle of life and to contact me at gumbootgourmet(at)gmail(dot)com.