Creation care as career: spotlight on alumni farmers (part 2 of 4)
A series engaging stories from alumni families building small-scale agriculture into their livelihoods, and why they chose to do it.
Farmsharing newlyweds: Marta and Kelsey Bunnet Wiebe, Havelock NB
How running a family CSA is teaching these alumni newlyweds about togetherness.
Marta and Kelsey Bunnett Wiebe, newly married, are both alumni of CMU. You could say they met in the middle. Kelsey, who hails originally from Brooks, AB, completed CMU's Outtatown program before studying two years of Physics at Shaftesbury campus (he later transferred to the University of Manitoba to complete his degree with honours). Marta came to CMU from Atlantic Canada, toting a leadership scholarship for a her award-winning high-school essay, "Responsibility for a More Equitable World." Four years later, she walked away with a self-created Interdisciplinary Studies degree in Theological Ecology.
"As an Interdisciplinary student at CMU, I got to explore the intersections of theology, environmental studies, sociology, and ecology," Marta explains. Lessons learned from other farming families and peers, from her studies at CMU, and from the land itself, have all given her what she calls "glimpses of what it means to love the world."
"Farming is important to me because it connects me to the land, to my family and my experience growing up on farm, to the communities of people who eat the food I grow, to my own humanity, and to my faith," she says.
Earlier this year, moved by their convictions and the uncertainties of a COVID-19 economy, the couple moved to New Brunswick pursuing work with a community shared agriculture (CSA) operating on Marta's family farm near Havelock:
"I began to use the phrase 'meaningful work' back at the end of March. COVID-19 was just starting to impact the country and we had no idea what the coming months would be like. There was no guarantee of any summer employment if we stayed, let alone meaningful work. We didn't even know then if there would be volunteer opportunities we could take up. In coming to New Brunswick, we knew we would have work to fill our time, and that it would be something we would both value and enjoy. It wouldn't pay us a lot, but we would get to spend the summer outdoors growing food for people."
Kelsey says, "In an age of technology and consumerism, there are few things we buy that we actually need, but food is not a luxury—it's something we will always need. Personally, I hold to a simple diet: 'eat whole foods and get exercise.' Farm work enables both of those things!"
The couple add that choosing farm work at this early stage in their marriage has created valuable overlaps in their fields of learning how to be together. Indoors or outdoors, cooperation is the name of the game:
"It's a bit difficult to imagine, at this point, one without the other—that is, marriage without farming," says Marta. "Our entire married life so far has been us working on the CSA together. Good communication is a lesson that first comes to mind. In working together on the CSA here on the farm, as in marriage, communicating thoughts, expectations, and concerns is essential." Kelsey adds that "it has taught us in very practical ways to acknowledge each other's strengths and weaknesses, and to let them compliment each other."
The Bunnett Wiebes do not yet know when they will return to Manitoba, or how exactly they will sow the seeds of learning they save from this season into the next. What they do know is that farm work is in their blood now, and blood binds.