Farm and Family Life with Tara Sawyer
Forks Up to Canadian Agriculture
Each February we celebrate all the farmers across Canada who have committed their lives to producing food for Canadians. Our home and native land offers incredible soil and conditions to grow high-quality food to share with people across the world, including our favourite, wheat.
In celebration of Canada’s Agriculture Day, we caught up Alberta wheat farmer Tara Sawyer to talk with her about farming, family life and why she loves growing food in and for Canada.
Why did you decide to become a farmer?
It wasn’t really a decision for me—it was more of an unexpected bonus from a classic story… Girl meets boy and they fall in love. Boy is a fourth-generation farmer. Girl becomes a farmer wife. And here we are 22 years later!
Although it wasn’t my intended career path when I was young—I love it and wouldn’t change what I do for anything.
What do you like about growing wheat in Alberta?
Being outdoors and working with the land we call home is so rewarding. Alberta has some of the best land for growing wheat. We are fortunate to live in a region with some great soil and conditions that are ideal for growing a specific type of wheat known that’s high in protein and great for bagels, hearty breads and pizza crust.
When Mother Nature cooperates with us, we can produce high-quality food for so many people, in Canada and beyond.
What’s something you wish other people knew about farming?
Farming isn’t how it’s depicted in movies and TV shows. Every day there is work to be done, and while it is family run it is still a business. You need to understand how to work with the land and produce good crops, but you also need to understand economics, accounting, technology, human resources and more. As a farmer you are the grower, the manager, the bookkeeper, the agronomist and the market analyst. It can be a lot!
How do you balance taking care of a family and farming?
One of the benefits of having our work be our home is that we are always near each other and connected and can build our family around the farm. On the flip side it’s much more difficult for us to get away from work—it’s always staring at us.
We try and take time off from the farm and spend time together outside of our work duties. Taking those mental breaks is key. It can be something small like grabbing lunch together after running errands or a weekend away, or something bigger like a family holiday. We are big believers in taking family vacations.
It’s so important to find a work/life balance on the farm, just like all working parents. It’s a mom’s life, we just do it.
Before we go…what’s your favourite dish to make using Canadian wheat?
Speaking of work/life balance and fun outside of the farm. Every Friday our family has pizza and movie night. While we sometimes get takeout, more often I am making homemade pizza dough and pizza sauce from scratch. It took a few years to find a dough recipe we like, and then some more time to perfect the preparation but we’ve got it down now.
My favourite part of this tradition is that my two kids who have moved out for university have started pizza and movie nights with their roommates, so our family recipe and tradition of connecting over food is continuing through them.