If I were a rich girl…

This article was originally posted on Cape Breton Local Food Adventure  and was written by Alicia Lake 


This blog post has been brew­ing in my mind since last fall. Now that we are in the clutches of win­ter it seems I am bet­ter able to re­flect and write, so fi­nally the time has come to post in this blog for the first time in months!

Late in the fall of 2013 I found my­self vis­it­ing a local veg­etable and egg farm on a Sat­ur­day morn­ing. I was there to buy my win­ter’s worth of pota­toes, but found my­self being given leeks, cel­ery and eggs. After the trans­ac­tion (which in­cluded me hag­gling UP the price from next to noth­ing, to some­thing that could be slightly prof­itable for the farmer) I was in­vited in for a visit.

The farm­ers I was vis­it­ing that day were a lovely and friendly cou­ple. They sell prod­ucts at the farm­ers mar­ket in my town so I know them from there, but this was my first visit to their home. I was struck by their en­thu­si­asm, the mul­ti­ple tal­ents the wife demon­strated in sewing and bak­ing, along with farm­ing, and by the chick­ens run­ning around the yard.


We  talked about farm­ing and pric­ing. I spent some time try­ing to con­vince them that they should be charg­ing more for their free-range eggs be­cause they have real value over other eggs and should pay for at least the up­keep of the chick­ens. The wife re­luc­tantly agreed, but the hus­band told me that, “the chick­ens are part of the fam­ily, and we never make fam­ily pay their own way.” 

So fit­tingly, in the next breath this gen­tle­men asked me how all my pro­jects were going and if I was still only vol­un­teer­ing at the mar­ket and at the var­i­ous other local food ini­tia­tives I’m doing. When I told him that I was in fact just vol­un­teer­ing be­cause it is my pas­sion and un­for­tu­nately there aren’t many jobs in local food around here, he said, “We’re lucky to have you, if you got paid for all the work you do, you would be a rich girl.”

Al­though we all laughed about it at the time, as I drove home I began to re­flect on what he said, and I have been think­ing about it ever since. Very sadly, this man died only a cou­ple of months after hav­ing this dis­cus­sion with me. Per­haps this is par­tially why I have come to think of that as such a pro­found mo­ment in my life, but I don’t think that’s just it.

I have come to the con­clu­sion that I am in fact a rich girl. No, I don’t have a high pay­ing job, and I don’t get to spend money on what­ever I like, or go on ex­pen­sive trips every win­ter, but I think that I have found some­thing much richer.

1267068_10201853154721001_1114214042_oSince be­com­ing so heav­ily in­volved with the local food move­ment, I have built up a whole com­mu­nity of won­der­ful farm­ers, chefs, ac­tivists, politi­cians, bu­reau­crats, food­ies and friends around my­self and my fam­ily.

I have been able to de­velop deep and mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ships with the peo­ple who pro­duce and pre­pare my food, and those who work on com­mon local food goals. I have learned a whole new level of trust and mu­tu­al­ity through these re­la­tion­ships. I have de­vel­oped new habits, like pay­ing for food with blank cheques and hav­ing all-lo­cal potlucks! I get to participate in to­tally cool ac­tiv­i­ties like plant­ing com­mu­nity gar­dens or slaugh­ter­ing chick­ens.


I also have peo­ple that give me food from their spe­cial stores of peaches, grapes, nuts or other ex­otic things in Cape Bre­ton. Peo­ple call me to give me recipes, or to tell me how much my food pro­mo­tion has in­spired them. I re­ceive emails and thank-you notes from farm­ers for the work I do. I am asked to come and speak at events and share my pas­sion about local food. I am con­stantly filled with feel­ings of joy and be­long­ing in my com­mu­nity. This is my pas­sion and it makes me richer than you can imag­ine!


 Dinner at Telegraph House, with the soon to be Premier of NS and his wife, along with Chef George Smith who specializes in local food, and Mark and Pam Eyking who were big supporters in September and brought me veggies and herbs all month.


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