Farming is often romanticized, and while it has an innate beauty, the job is not for the faint of heart. The long hours, manual labour, and an inherent reliance on factors outside farmers’ control, like weather and market conditions, can lead to mental and physical health challenges. When compared to the general population, farmers are experiencing much higher rates of stress, anxiety, and depression that have been more recently amplified by the climate crisis, the pandemic, and economic uncertainty.
With this webinar, we explored how agriculture impacts farmers’ health and how we, as consumers, can better understand the root causes and the solutions that can address these concerns. We heard different perspectives about mental and physical health in the agriculture industry from farmers Aaron and Carly Godard of Snowy Mountain Farm in BC, and researcher Zsofia Mendly-Zambo from York University. The conversation was facilitated by Angel Beyde, of the EFAO. Watch the recording below.
About the farmers:
Aaron Godard comes from a culinary background. Working in several kitchens and mastering complex flavour profiles motivated him to look closer into his ingredient sources—eventually leading him into the farming lifestyle. After working in several vineyards in the Similkameen Valley, he co-founded Scout Vineyard as a winemaker with his wife, Carly Godard, and friends Murray and Maggie Fonteyne.
Learning about regenerative agriculture and soil health sparked dreams about owning land, and in 2019, Aaron and Carly made those dreams come true when they acquired Snowy Mountain Farm. While Aaron applies his regenerative farming expertise to the trees, Carly dedicates special attention to the farm animals. Together, the Godard family focuses on boosting biodiversity and enriching the soil, making their farm more resilient to harsh weather conditions while producing nutritious varieties of apples, pears and stone fruits for their family and the southern BC community.
About the speaker:
Zsofia Mendly-Zambo is a researcher and PhD Candidate in Health Policy and Equity at the school of Health Policy and Management at York University. Her areas of research include health equity, social inequality, farmer mental health, and food security.
About the moderator:
Angel Beyde’s love for the natural world and growing food is equalled only by her joy in feeding people and community-building. Over the past two decades, Angel’s work has spanned the for-profit and non-profit sectors in education, urban agriculture, regenerative landscaping, social enterprise and mental health.
As a Director at Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario, Angel’s work focuses on building strategic partnerships and supporting organizational governance and transformation through an anti-oppression and equity lens. This includes founding and leading the Land Access Coalition as well as the EFAO Farmers Network for Black, Indigenous and People of colour, which has over 150 members.
Through Angel’s work as Peace Garden Consulting, she offers organizations support in strategic visioning & planning, leadership coaching and team-building, as well as board and stakeholder training in equity, diversity and belonging. Angel has had the honour to consult with dozens of farming and environmental organizations across the country and has served in an advisory capacity for Farmers for Climate Solutions, Fair Finance Fund, Regeneration Canada, Project Swallowtail, Toronto Metropolitan University, Pollinator Partnership and Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council, among others.
Angel is the grateful steward of a small farm in Eastern Ontario, in Crawford purchase territory.
About the campaign:
This webinar is the fourth in a 6-part webinar series, and is part of our Stories of Regeneration campaign. The campaign aims to enhance public awareness around regenerative agriculture practices and how farmers contribute to combating climate change and food systems issues.
The webinar series will run from November 2023 – March 2024. All sessions are free to attend live, and free to watch later. We encourage you to register for as many sessions as you’d like!
Keep an eye out for our podcasts, short films, and blog posts that will be released throughout the coming months too.