Day 9 of Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan brings us a guest post from a good friend of mine, Adele Buettner. Adele is more than a friend, she is also an inspiration to me. She is a force to be reckoned with in an industry which hasn’t always embraced women in leadership roles. Through her company, Agribiz Communications, (see them here), she works with awesome organizations like Farm and Food Care Saskatchewan, helping farmers share their stories with the public. Read Adele’s food story, and I am sure you will be inspired as well.
Growing up on a family farm minutes from Saskatoon, I had the best of both worlds. While it was relatively effortless to make the five-minute drive to the city to take part in extracurricular activities, meet up with friends or go shopping, I was also very fortunate to live, learn, work and play on a family farm. I grew up fully integrated in the two worlds.
At the farm, the pivotal gathering point was our kitchen table. Since my grandparents farmed with us and lived in the same yard site, it was never a sure thing where our evening meal would be.
Regardless of which of the two kitchen tables we ate at or which meal of the day it was, we were fortunate to always enjoy an abundance of beautifully prepared homemade foods. We were taught that mealtime was family time. We all ate at the table together. Conversations, debates, storytelling, sibling rivalry, laughter and sometimes tears, all took place around the kitchen table.
Family gathered at my Grandparents table.
As farmers, much of what we ate came from the labour of our own hands. Going out for supper was a rare treat and we hardly ever ate food from a can or a package. Rather, the bulk of our vegetables came from our garden and our meat came from our barn or pasture. As with the foods grown on our farm today, the food on our table when I was growing up was produced with care and respect for both the land and animals.
Washing cattle for the regional 4H show.
The kitchen table also served as a focal point when neighbours would stop by. They would sit around the table visiting, drinking coffee and enjoying an endless selection of open-faced egg salad sandwiches on Mom’s freshly baked buns and an infinite selection of homemade sweets, which I always found delicious fresh or frozen! The kitchen table also provided untold hours of enjoyment for all the card games and board games we played with family and friends. And every evening, the kitchen transformed to a library, as after a day of hard work, my parents would have a coffee and read the daily paper while sitting around the kitchen table.
Our table was also the office. As computers were not yet a household must-have, a notebook and pencil were essential to planning for the next growing season. It was at the same table where we enjoyed the goodness of homegrown food that my parents would discuss what they were going to seed for the next year, what genetics they are going to introduce into their cattle herd, what equipment they should look at upgrading or what horse show we would attend the following weekend. The very place where the food was shared with family and friends is the same table where the cycle of what to grow was decided.
Adele and her daughter at Canadian Quarter Horse Nationals.
Growing up, I was expected to help with chores like cleaning barns (chicken and horse), gathering eggs, and feeding horses. My mom also taught me how to process cucumbers, make homemade soup and how to cook without relying on a can opener. My parents taught me the how to grow good food and to celebrate family and the blessings of good friends.
My mother pickling cucumbers.
Today when friends and family gather at my home, the kitchen table is also the gathering spot. I cook with good ingredients that come from farms in Saskatchewan, across the country and around the world. I was fortunate to learn my way around the kitchen from a mother and grandmother that could have given the Top Chef Canada winners a run for their title. Card games, board games, visiting, counseling, laughing, crying, storytelling and memory building—these are all regular occurrences around my kitchen table.
Saskatchewan is Canada’s only province that dedicates a whole month to agriculture, which is fitting because farming and ranching are so important to our economy, our people and our culture. I certainly relate to the tag line “Our Food Has a Story”. For me, the centre of my food story is the kitchen table where good food is shared, stories are told and memories are made.
Adele Buettner owns AgriBiz Communications, which for 25 years has helped ag related organizations, including Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan, with management, marketing and communications services. Adele is a passionate foodie, family supporter and volunteer. While she lives and works in Saskatoon, she maintains involvement in the family farm and remains to this day a farm girl at heart.