(Text edited by Michael Howell)
We’re delighted and honored that at the recent COABC conference Heather was awarded the Brad Reid Memorial Award for her outstanding contributions to the organic sector in British Columbia. Chris Bodnar, who presented the award, noted that, it seems odd that Heather would be getting what is, essentially, a lifetime achievement award. She’s one of those farmers who has packed so much into her life, yet has such a youthful energy that it seems difficult to guess her age! But she is a mentor and elder to many as well as a friend and colleague to us all.
Heather reminds me of classmates from times gone by who sit in class and suddenly look like they are going to explode — they have the answer or have made a connection and they just can’t hold it inside. That’s what collaborating with Heather is like — explosions of energy, ideas and excitement upon a continual realization of what is possible — recognition of potential.
Practically speaking, Heather has accomplished a lot. And she had a whole first life prior to 1985, when she and Herb Barbolet started the Glorious Garnish and Seasonal Salad Company. She taught school, directed plays, produced radio and TV, toured musicians around the North, worked for Oxfam, raised three children, co-founded the Yellowknife Folk on the Rocks music festival and developed Juniper housing co-operative in Kitsilano.
Around 1993 she helped establish Farm Folk City Folk, which transformed the way people in BC think about their food and farmland. Heather has served as the Executive Director of Farm Folk City Folk, and steered the organization through periods of financial difficulty and currently serves as Farm Folk City Folk’s Farm Program Manager.
In 2006, Heather helped dissolve the Glorious Company and incorporated as Glorious Organics Co-operative, a workers’ co-op. This move very much exemplifies Heather’s outlook toward cooperation and developing democratic organizations in the agricultural sector.
Heather has been an active participant in the BCFood Systems Network and is currently working on a “Foodland Trust” proposal to the BC Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural Land Commission… plus a gazillion other things:
Heather is a supporter of the Young Agrarians, the BC Eco Seed Co-op, and matriarchs her large, extended family, weaving all the strands into a brilliant web of complex relationships with complementary values and goals. This is certainly true of her commitment to Slow Food and her participation on the National Board of Slow Food in Canada.
Heather has been on the cutting edge of many initiatives. She was discussing seed security over a decade ago and couldn’t secure funding to develop programs around seed. She went out to make the case to funders and convince them of the need for work in the area.
Above all, Heather is a fierce proponent of AgriCULTURE. The farming is one thing — maybe even the easy part of it all. But she has a vision that includes culture, community and a way of life that enriches and feeds our souls as well as our bodies.