Tending the Seeds of Change, One Photo at a Time

If a photograph is worth a thousand words, then Brian Harris’ slideshow, “Farm Folk/City Folk Heroes” speaks volumes. With a mellow soundtrack provided by Liona Boyd, the six minute homage to twenty-seven farm and city sustainable growers visually portrays a series of heartening stories from the frontlines of local food action: the small scale growers and producers.

For many years, Brian Harris worked in Tibet and the Himalayas for a Canadian NGO, where he used his camera as a tool to restore eyesight for the vision-impaired of those regions by raising funds for cataract operations. Once he returned to Canada, Brian partnered with Farm Folk/City Folk, fulfilling his desire to continue achieving social benefit through photography. Over the past three years, he has captured the images for the FF/CF calendars and note cards. To produce the slideshow, Brian estimates he visited close to twenty-five farms all over British Columbia, in addition to a large number of urban gardens. He has done a striking job of gathering pictures that offer a glimpse of the considerable effort and rewards involved in cultivating a local, sustainable food system.

Asked if any of the farms stood out in his memory, Brian answered unequivocally that each farm is special in its own way. This reminded me of the caption from one of the final images of the slideshow that reads “every garden and field expresses the personality of the grower.” Noticeably grateful to bear witness to this expression of beauty, Brian described some farmers, such as Gabi Fernandez of Sapo Bravo Farm near Lytton, as artists, remembering the clover, planted between the rows of vegetables “so the workers could go barefoot”, and the flowers that peppered their fields.

The images from the FF/CF slideshow will be combined with other photographs to create an exhibit on sustainable farming and urban agriculture to be held at the Museum of Vancouver from August 26th, 2010 to January 2nd, 2011. Brian is also working on two children’s books that aim to introduce these topics to a younger audience. He hopes that his photographs may serve as a springboard for further exploration of the issues surrounding sustainable farming and urban agriculture.

Farm Folk/City Folk is a non-profit society working towards a local, sustainable food system. The slideshow and calendar are two of their initiatives to raise awareness and appreciation of the issues mentioned above. The calendar includes twelve images from the FF/CF Heroes slideshow, as well as a seasonal recipe for each month. FF/CF is involved in numerous farm, city, joint farm and city, and education programs, including the Community Farms Program (a joint venture with the Land Conservancy of British Columbia), Feast of Fields, Incredible Edible Tours, and Sustenance: Feasting on Art and Culture Festival. For more information on Farm Folk/City Folk, or to view the slideshow, please visit www.ffcf.bc.ca. For more information on Brian Harris, visit his website.

Tapas readers will have an excusive chance to win one of three copies of Farm Folk/City Folk’s 2010 calendar later this week, so if you haven’t already signed up to receive our newsletter, click here.

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