Savour Life – My reflections on a day with @JoelSalatin – (Farmers I know – Chapter 1)

Joel Salatin (middle) with #UCanFarm workshop organizers Alex Judd and Rob Avis of Verge Permaculture
Joel Salatin (middle) with #UCanFarm workshop organizers Alex Judd and Rob Avis of Verge Permaculture

You can read my notes on the full day #UCanFarm workshop here.

Spending a day with Joel Salatin was profound. I think I’m a positive person but Salatin’s complete faith in abundance and solutions made me realize I still harbour hesitation and caution that are not serving me in my own small business, Calgary Food Tours Inc. I do believe in the great abundance of our universe in my life in general and in my relationships but somehow I’ve not had the kind of courage to take the leaps I need to take in business. Running a business is relatively new to me. I was a professional nurse for over 20 years and had the luxury of everyone who needed my services lining up in a never-ending queue. I can see now that I need to transfer my faith in life’s abundance and the good of all people to this next arena of my life – my business practices.

I forget to ask for the help I need. I am fearful of taking “the next step”. I wonder how I will find time to do everything I want to do. I am that person that groans when they think of contracts and lawyers and managing staff. My day with Salatin really made me look at all that and exam if any of my fears are justified.

I came away thinking they are not. I’m hard-working. I have a vision. I’m slow, deliberate and careful. I love people. I treat others with respect and have built a good reputation on my honesty and dedication. I can read and learn and apply principles. I may never be a farmer but I learned a lot about growing a business and about healing the “can’ts” out of my brain. I’ll stick to my baby steps approach and even with the tiny steps I can shake off fear and embrace my journey.

I can be successful, make a white-collar salary, empower the members of my team and grow my business in a way that will help expand our food system in a healthful way. I love my faithful customers and will recognize their loyalty. I’ll continue with my mission to provide food, fun and adventure to people who want to learn more about my city’s local food offerings. Alberta-wide I’ll continue to support my farming friends and food artisans and chefs who care so much about growing beautiful food that will keep us and our earth healthy. Nationally and globally, I’ll continue to guide, teach and write about the vital role of food in health and culture.

What a blessing to spend a day with such a great thinker, philosopher and practical business man and farmer. Virginia has given us Thomas Jefferson; it is the home of one of my all-time favourite writers, the great Barbara Kingsolver (who I had the pleasure to meet a few years ago) and this wonderful modern philosopher and role model, Joel Salatin. I’ll definitely be reading more of his books.

I leave you with a list of my favourite quotes that I captured during my day with Joel Salatin. I hope you’ll see the intelligence, humour and wisdom that he manifests shining through in these words. Joel Salatin is definitely someone who savours life -one earthworm at a time and drop of rain water at a time.


If you are well, you can’t get any weller.

There’s always more!

Old farmers can’t get out because young farmers can’t get in.

We are extremely good at shooting arrows at the wrong target.

If we keep going where we are going, we are going to get there.

I travel the whole world and people never cease to amaze me with their innovativeness.

Every place in this world is ready for healing and the biggest place that needs healing is the space between our ears.

If it stinks up the neighbourhood it’s not a farm (referring to huge hog operations and CAFOs).

Farms should have a romantic bouquet and be open and transparent.

I encourage farmers to read. Be like Jefferson. Be broad-minded and read everything.

Go out and get a blazer! Farmers get as much respect as they pay themselves. If you are going to Wall St. dress like the business person you are. Blow away the myth of the hokey guy in over-alls chewing straw.

It’d be okay to drive up to the farmer’s market in a Lexus or Mercedes. Don’t we want farmers that are successful?

We don’t have lights on our tractors at Polyface because we have some free time.

It’s hard to pick a man’s pocket if you aren’t hugging him. Folks who move into country for life on a hobby farm are a great market for what we are producing – embrace them.

The answer to local food system is a collaborative system where we duplicate what industrial system has done but in eco-friendly cohorts.

We don’t farm for biz reasons. We farm for emotional reasons but we need to utilize business principles to realize the farm that allows us to make a living realizing our dream life.


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