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Editor’s Note: How do we choose farms to profile?

Country Guide is built on the belief that the real energy driving the evolution of agriculture is the individual farm, making its decisions one decision at a time. It has a drama all its own.

I get asked sometimes how we choose the farms that we profile in Country Guide, but I haven’t addressed the question here, so let me go ahead with my explanation anyway.

We begin most stories in one of two ways. Either we have an idea that we want to examine, and we want to explore it in real life. That’s how the lead stories in this issue started out. I wanted to know how are our farms doing 10 years into their farming careers. How are they different from their parents? What are they doing that the rest of us probably misunderstand?

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Tom Button
Tom Button

And I also wanted us to look more closely at brother-and-sister farms. In a way, the Berglund story in our March 31 issue is typical for us. I’ll start making some noises about a topic among writers and our contacts, and we’ll get told, “There’s nothing new there. Of course brothers and sisters farm together. They just do it.”

Then we’ll interview real farmers doing the real thing, and once again our readers will see that when smart people invest themselves in making something work, we’re all in line to learn something, and we’re all going to emerge respecting agriculture even more.

The same goes with the Pethericks in “10 Years In.” We didn’t go to them because they’re the only farmers at that stage in their career. Obviously they aren’t. And we didn’t pull their name at random.

No, we approached them because we know they’re thoughtful, that they would take the process seriously. We aren’t saying that they’re the best. It isn’t that at all, and they know it. Instead, it’s that they will share.

To find such stories, we go to our contacts, we keep our ears open, we ask other farmers. We work harder at it than you probably realize.

But not every story begins with an idea from us. Very often too it begins with a lead, with someone saying, “You know, you should talk to so-and-so. I didn’t know you could do what they’re doing.”

The point I want to make is the same point I make in the intro to 10 Years In. If you want to understand agriculture, you can spend a fortune on analytical surveys. Or you can talk to farmers. And probably you should do both.

My bet is that if you read Stats Canada and FCC, and you also read the profiles in this issue of Country Guide, you’ll know a lot more about agriculture than if you only read one or the other.

But I also wanted to end with one other thought. I just want to say outright that we’d be absolutely nowhere without the farmers who let us ask our questions, and then answer them, knowing that their neighbours, their relatives, it seems like the whole world will read the answers.

They don’t do it for us, of course. They do it for the dialogue that has always made agriculture great. Good on them.

Are we getting it right? Let me know at [email protected].

About the author

Editor

Tom Button

Tom Button is editor of Country Guide magazine.

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