Introducing the 2017 EFAO Conference Art!

2017 brings the 4th annual Ecological Farmers of Ontario Conference, and we see growers in our network continue to create and innovate their way to building a strong future for themselves and their peers. This year’s conference theme, Rebuilding Rural Economies From the Ground Up, hones in on the work that goes into forming and transforming small farm economies, and relationships with food, the land, and our broader communities. The awakening woman is prominent in this year’s art, as are women in the ecological farming world. While the task is not without its challenges, this year’s image beautifully acknowledges the collaboration and connection that goes into this labour of love, which keeps local food systems surviving – and thriving.

Read artist Jenna Kessler’s bio and more about this piece below.

My name is Jenna Kessler and I am an illustrator and farmer. I feel so privileged to be able to wear both of these hats. I draw so much of my inspiration from the rich experiences I’ve had spent working with my hands on the land – it feels so good to take these experiences back to the drafting table at the end of the day. I’ve been nomadically farming all over Canada for the past 10 years and finally fell in love with the wild landscape of Mulmur, Ontario. I am currently hatching a new farming project on 25 acres in this incredible area.

This year I had the opportunity to create a piece for the 2017 EFAO conference. The theme of the conference is “Rebuilding Rural Economies From the Ground Up,” so the words resilience, vitality, and collaboration were at the centre of my thoughts while I was sketching up ideas. I wanted to showcase a vibrant community, working side by side in order to bring something to life. I thought that using the central image of a woman being woken from a deep sleep was an interesting way of depicting the idea of bolstering social and economic vitality. I wanted this painting to illustrate some of the elements that build rural economies: tender care for the land we inhabit and make our living off of, tender care for our hardworking bodies and for each other, collaboration with our neighbours, and the re-building of culture and intentional ceremony in our rural communities. I know there are so many pieces to the puzzle, but I hope this painting gives you some ideas in starting this conversation.

If you’re interested in seeing more of what I do, please follow up on my website.