Joy Hall says her love for farming started when she was learning about traditional medicines — now it’s her career. Hall is an organic vegetable farmer and owns a quarter acre vegetable farm on T’Sou-ke First Nation, and is actually on her family land behind her house.
She started becoming interested in farming when she was working in a workshop with the chief and other leadership, and they were talking about departments they were going to take over and start running on their own.
Hall says someone mentioned agriculture and growing their own food, and it sparked her interest. She went on to research what kind of schooling she would need for that, and applied for the agriculture program at UFB.
“When I was supposed to register for the program, I got an email saying that my funding fell through. I wasn’t able to register for school that year. I was very disappointed about that,” said Hall.
She was scrolling through Facebook and an ad popped up for Tsawwassen farm school through Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
“I clicked on that and everything just sort of fell into place,” said Hall.
She didn’t have funding, so she contacted the farm school coordinator who suggested she contact the Sto:lo Nation and she went for it.
“I called, went to an interview, they told me the next week that they were going to pay for school. I went and applied for it, got accepted,” said Hall.
She also went to her work supervisor and asked if she could move to part-time due to her new venture. Her supervisor originally denied her, until Hall said she was going to have to leave her job and was then approved.
Hall then started school at Tsawwassen farm school where she was commuting back and forth to from Chilliwack, which she says is about a 45-minute drive but on bad days could take an hour and a half to two hours.
Farm school is only one season, and after that Hall had a knee surgery so she wasn’t able to farm. But the institute for sustainable foods systems at Kwantlen contacted her and asked if she could work on a project with them.
They named the project the Sto:lo Nation Farm to Healthy Communities project, where they recruited community members that have diseases related to food like diabetes, obesity, heart problems, etc., to give them free organic vegetable boxes every week.
They wanted to see if access to those organic vegetables would help them with their health problems, and Hall came on as a liaison to help with it.
They also wanted her to be the farmer, but she had to have a year of farming under her belt on her own. So she had to get out there right after knee surgery.
“With the help of my sister, my mom and my nephew we got out there and we just started farming, started making the beds and planting everything. That was the first year that I farmed,” said Hall.
The next year, she started a CSA box program (community supported agriculture), which had 10 boxes the first year, and quickly grew to 40 in the next couple years.
“This is my third year. The project went really well. It helped a lot of people with their issues like weight loss and stuff like that, with their health and food security, giving them access to the organic vegetables,” said Hall.
And for anybody thinking of following a similar career path as her, she says to just do it.
“I think everybody should be growing their own food, it’s fun when you’re out there, you feel grounded. It connects you back to the land.”
Special thanks to Jasmine Kabatay for authoring this blog post.
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