As we continue to explore the foodie scene and who is involved in bringing good food to the vulnerable in our community, let us introduce you to…
Jenn Cline is a former professional chef who also has a BA in International Development Studies (with a focus on food systems). She has always had a love for food, for people, and how the two intersect so beautifully. Jenn is now a farmer in some of the best farming land in bountiful and beautiful BC!
Planted: So, Jenn, what first got you interested in food and farming?
Jenn C: I think I’ve always had a yearning to grow food, yet never made the space or time for it growing up in an urban context. I spent many years in the food service industry making beautiful and delicious meals for people but became disillusioned with the way that [restaurants] and that part of the food system happens, before getting injured on the job, and needing a way to move forward. So I happened into farming, and it has been a marvelous world wind of an adventure thus far. Also, I thrive on feeding people, and always have. By farming I can feed people [with] healthy, delicious food, and be part of a community that is working to be responsible stewards of the land for future generations of creatures: human and non-human.
Planted: During your personal journey, has anything changed – in how you see food, food security and other issues around food justice and social equality?
Jenn C: I think food is currently understood primarily as a commodity – an entity that is separate from us, yet we depend so heavily on it. It is literally what keeps us alive! Yet there is this strange disconnect in our understanding of the production of food, based on a lack of experience and knowledge. Food waste is one outcome of this system of disconnect. I think as a society we lack the experience of the mystery of food – That every fruit and plant and grain that we eat is the miracle of a seed! A single seed! The fact that seeds are being manipulated [genetically] and patented is a blatant statement of how messed up our relationship to our food really is. Patents make sure that not everyone has access to food, which makes a lot of people food insecure – a sure sign of social inequality.
Planted: So what signs of hope encourage you to continue working to change the conversation about social responsibility and food?
Jenn C: One sign of hope to me is the place that I work – It is a farm that grows food for low-income folk and families in the lower mainland. People from different socio-economic backgrounds and experiences gather to serve one another by tending the land, tending the seeds, and joining in the mystery that is growing food. Food is grown in abundance, to be shared in abundance.
A sign of hope is a child digging in the dirt, knowing what vegetables are, that food comes from here [the dirt], and not just far away places or supermarkets.
A sign of hope is the farming community I am being welcomed into and seen as a companion in, not a competitor.
A sign of hope is a seed breaking through the soil and bringing life to its environment.
There are signs of despair all around us. So we must look for the signs of hope, of change, of a better future, and work wholeheartedly to be a bearer of that change and hope in the world.
– Jenn Cline, June 2016