Angela Brecka: Farmer and Foodie
By Sarah Siska, Coordinator, Thunder Bay + Area Food Strategy
Angela Brecka: Farmer and Foodie The 2023 Community Food System Report Card is full of local food data, but creating resilient food systems requires ongoing community discussion. I spoke with Angela Brecka, a farmer and foodie who has worked at many local farms over the past decade, on the importance of supporting community resilience through local food. A condensed version of our conversation is below. Sarah Siska: How did you get involved with our local food system? Angela Brecka: I’ve always had a connection to local food. My mom always supported local, so I grew up at the Thunder Bay Country Market and started working there at 14 years old. Ever since my first summer growing vegetables at 18, I’ve always wanted to do that. I felt like I was doing something really good, productive, hard, and beneficial. I felt a connection to not only the food, but my roots. My grandparents grew up farming all their food—they couldn’t eat otherwise—so I felt a deep connection to the whole process. SS: What do you mean when you say that growing and sharing local food feels good? AB: Good for our community, for the land, and good for me too. I get so much joy out of being outside and weeding. [It’s] that satisfaction of putting a small seed into the ground, seeing it blossom, and then harvesting something that can feed you and your family from it. Being a part of the whole process is really special, and good also for community, because it’s what we need to live. If people didn’t do it, we wouldn’t have food, we wouldn’t have community, we wouldn’t have anything. SS: Can you expand on the connection between food and community? AB: During the pandemic, food scarcity was an issue. People were scared that grocery stores would be empty. So where do you turn to? Your garden or local farms. But beyond a global pandemic, they’re always there, and I think reminding people of that is important. Farming here is hard, but the people who do it know that it’s worth it. That's why we keep doing it. Growing food to make it accessible for people to eat things from our region is how I’ve thought of food as a community builder. Honestly, I’m a 27-year-old woman now, I’ve got a full-time job, and I still work at the market on Saturdays. It’s just something I believe in— community and supporting local people. SS: What would your ideal food future look like? AB: Seeing less food waste happen and making it so that everybody can access and eat fresh vegetables. Accessibility is more than just growing food to sell it, it’s making sure that everybody can access it, and teaching people the appropriate skills to be able to do that. [It’s] making it so that everybody can learn about how to grow food, what grows where, and how you don’t need tonnes of space to grow a lot of food. We have enough land to grow enough food so that nobody goes hungry. In terms of an ideal food future, it’s being able to feed everybody equally and having people involved in the growing process. SS: What’s your favourite thing to eat that’s grown here? AB: Golden beets are the best. They’re so sweet and delicious. Beets are an underrated vegetable because they’re easy to grow here—you just let them be, and then they’re ready to harvest. And they’re so delicious. Head to tbfoodstrategy.com for local food access data in the 2023 Report Card, and to access tbayinseason for a list of local producers growing delicious beets.