On this week’s episode of The Rural Woman Podcast you’ll get to meet my follow Albertan Kristin Graves from Fifth Gen Gardens. Kristin’s family farm started in 1918 when her great-great grandfather purchased the land to pasture his cattle on. 100 years later, she is the fifth generation to farm on the land, making her own way by growing vegetables and running a CSA.
Kristin Graves | Bio
I was raised as the fifth generation on a farm just south of Wetaskiwin, and had the best childhood possible. I loved our farm and loved being out in the field, but I wasn’t actually an active part of the farm until just a few years ago. When I turned 18, I moved up to Edmonton to further my education and graduated in 2009 as an x-ray technologist. I worked at the U of A Hospital, Alberta’s number 1 trauma institute, and thought I had my dream job. I worked there for the better part of a decade, and truly loved my job until the day everything changed. I can remember every single detail of the trauma that rolled in that day, and soon after began suffering from night terrors. It seemed that working in emergency for so many years had finally caught up to me, and I could no longer handle it. I would go days without sleeping out of fear of what I might see when I closed my eyes again. Coincidentally, that was the same year that I took time off in the fall to help with harvest, and going home to the farm was what sparked the idea of being able to provide people with locally grown vegetables. It quickly became evident that I needed to change my life and the farm was where I would be able to heal. I worked for two more years after that point, constantly researching and trying to find a way to make that dream a reality. In the spring of 2018 I quit my job and put everything I had into my garden. It was simultaneously the most terrifying and rewarding thing I have ever done.
I have just finished my third successful season with Fifth Gen Gardens. My business provides a weekly subscription of vegetables to 75 people, and I have big plans for next year already. There always seems to be a huge learning curve, and I have learned that most lessons on the farm are learned the hard way. The weather has been especially challenging for me, but the support I have from my family and friends, and the world’s most patient boyfriend, are what see me through. I love to cook, I love to eat, and most importantly, I love to farm. My garden is what allows me to do all three. In my “spare” time, I also work for my parents, helping with the grain production and learning as much as I can from my dad. Agriculture is in my blood, with customs passed down from father to son for over a century and for the first time now – the knowledge is being passed from father to daughter. It makes me incredibly proud to be a part of Alberta’s ag-industry and my family’s legacy.
My parents started as cattle farmers, with a herd of 900 head, as well as grain. In more recent years, we sold the cattle and my dad started Northwinds Trout. Because of our proximity to the battle river, there is a fair amount of gravel underneath the soil and after careful excavation we have reclaimed the land into natural wetlands, allowing new ecosystems to flourish. The most consistent thing to be passed down through each generation, is the deep love and connection for our land. Our farm has seen many different types of agriculture, each farmer finding their own way, so it’s not so much about “what” we’re doing, but the “where”.
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