Local farmer hopes to bridge urban-rural divide through a podcast, interviewing food producers that will connect demand to supply and inspire circular food collaborations

 

Growing up, James Craig always wanted to contribute to solving global problems. While writing policy papers in university, he consistently gravitated to writing specifically about food policies for agriculture. Living on a farm, James noticed that he was the only one in his classes that knew anything about this topic first-hand. He recognized that he could address problems he saw in the world right on the fields of the Craig Family Farm in Arthur. Working as an account manager at a bank during the day and with his family on the farm during off-hours, James grew his passion for regenerative agriculture. He sees the farm as a launchpad for finding solutions to other challenges in his community. One challenge he wanted to address directly is understanding what the local demand is for certain products as a grower. In response, he started Grow Well Eat Well.  

Grow Well Eat Well is a platform to connect producers and consumers. It will allow producers to learn directly from their community about what they’re looking for, and let consumers know where to get their food locally. When James found out about Seeding Our Food Future (SOFF), he applied knowing that it would be the perfect opportunity to develop Grow Well Eat Well. He aims for this project to have social and economic benefit for his farm as well as other farm businesses and consumers in the community. Initially looking at building a website or app, involvement in Provision’s R-Purpose MICRO program encouraged James to create something more interactive. His purpose was to have people interact with each other in a meaningful way, and to connect demand with potential supply. Pivoting to a podcast, James envisions this as an effective way to speak with other innovative food producers while reaching a broader audience. Not only will it be directed at local growers and their consumers, but it will give the general population insights on what is happening in the agricultural sector in Guelph-Wellington. He hopes this podcast will increase awareness of the accessible produce available and build circular food collaborations by giving people a platform to share their stories – and hear others. 

For James, circularity means creating a system that works for itself. A system wherein the community puts in the effort and retains all the benefits. Grow Well Eat Well will be a platform that informs people of the environmental, social, and economic benefits of supporting growers in their own region, rather than taking their business elsewhere. To achieve circularity, James believes that we need to intentionally design our business practices and the way we consume products such that we don’t exceed our carrying capacity. At his family farm, James puts this philosophy in action using regenerative farming practices to enrich the fields while producing their beef (marketed as Blue Sky Beef). Implementing rotational grazing and a closed-loop system, James increases the farm’s overall biodiversity. On a farm, James notes that it is easy to feel disconnected from the rest of the community. Through Grow Well Eat Well, he plans to bridge the urban-rural divide while inspiring collaborations and building a strong network of consumers and growers that support one another.  

 

Photo courtesy of James Craig from Grow Well Eat Well.