“I grew up in Kitchener Ontario surrounded by agriculture but never really felt a part of it, it always seemed to be just something that happened around me. I have always had a love of nature, plants and all things living and spent a lot of time playing in the soil in the yard of my mums house growing up. I have had a connection with the land we stand, grow and build on since day one. Fittingly so, my first real job was at a flower shop working with plants, cut flowers, seeds and soils. As my love for plants and the environment grew, I started a degree at the University of Waterloo (UW) in a degree that had nothing to do with plants or the environment. I quickly realized that the program I was in at UW was not the program I needed to grow in the directions I wanted to. After a short visit to Vancouver in the fall of my first year at UW, something about British Columbia took my breath away. Once I started looking at the programs at UBC and found Land and Food Systems (LFS), I had made up my mind. By May of the following spring, I had applied and been accepted at UBC, packed my bags and moved to Vancouver.
Upon starting school at UBC, I never knew what LFS would teach me about how closely related and integrated environmental, political and social issues are in our local and global food systems. Going into LFS all I knew was that I loved plants and nature and had an interest in sustainable agriculture. I quickly came to discover a love for agroecology, agriculture research, agriculture education and policy. It all fascinated me, all the more because its a system that I have been a part of my whole life without realizing my own impacts, the impacts the current system has on me and the people around me. Our food production and distribution systems are filled with complex, inter-linked issues that need critical thinking and systems based solutions. LFS has given me the chance to practice and become comfortable with addressing complex issues in our agricultural systems and taking multiple different approaches and perspectives to find all-encompassing solutions.
My program of choice was sustainable agriculture and environment, because I have a firm belief that innovations in agriculture have the ability to change and improve the future lives of all living things on this planet. Agriculture is one of the top contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution and biodiversity loss globally. Creating agroecosystems that are more sustainable and productive IS possible!! But it will take a shift in the education and policy in agriculture as well as continuous research and learning, considering many ways of knowing. It will take the connection of farmers, scientists, economists, environmentalists, engineers and a real understanding of how to create holistic solutions to really complex problems in our current local and global food systems. Using land and resources to grow food is not something we can escape as humans, what we can do is minimize the impact we have, protecting our lands, social rights and economy long term.
In LFS I have had the chance to work and volunteer in leadership roles (café fincance manager/general manager, assistant floral manager), educational roles (Learning Outreach Coordinator in LFS Student Services), with community partners (such as the City of Vancouver), as an urban farmer and as a student. All of these experiences have contributed to the goals I have for my future.
As my career continues, I hope to work in many areas of the agriculture industry including education, policy, research and agri-business. With all of the knowledge I have gained through my experiences in and out of the classroom in Vancouver and home in Ontario, and all that I have left to gain for the rest of my career, I hope to make a lasting impact somewhere along the way in agriculture. Our future needs food; food produced without compromising the needs of others further down the line.
As much as Vancouver has become a home to me, it is not the agricultural centre of Canada and I believe the advancing women in agriculture conference will give me the chance to connect all that I have learnt to the heart of agriculture industry in Canada and better prepare me to work with farmers and industry leaders in the future to create better agroecosystems for all. I look forward to meeting and connecting with women from all areas of the industry to learn and share our experiences, beliefs and visions for the future of agriculture in Canada and around the world.”
Link to my student profile feature on the LFS website >
Here is a link to my LinkedIn page >
-Cara LeGault, 3rd Year, Applied Biology/Sustainable Agriculture and Environment, University of British Columbia – Faculty of Land and Food Systems