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Moving across Canada to pursue a farming career

Moving across Canada to pursue a farming career

Jocelyn Durston moved from Maple Ridge, B.C., to Canning, N.S.

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Google Maps estimates the distance between Maple Ridge, B.C. and Canning, N.S. is 5,951 km and would take someone about 57 hours to complete that drive.

But that’s what Jocelyn Durston, the second vice president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, did to achieve her goal of having her own farm.

After living on a friend’s three-acre property for three years helping them start gardens and sell vegetables, Durston concluded she wanted her own land and her own business.

“It was about nine years ago that I decided to make the move,” she told “I was looking across Canada for farmland that I could afford. The land in Nova Scotia was more accessible pricewise than the land in B.C. that I was looking at, and I’d only ever been as far as Ontario, so I packed up and drove across the country. I think it was a full week of full days of driving.”

At Seven Acres Farm and Ferments, she and her partner Tim grow flowers and fresh vegetables, and prepare fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles.

The first-generation producer didn’t grow up on a farm, nor did she know anyone who did during her childhood.

But the idea of working outdoors and a passion for books helped lead Durston to consider agriculture as a career.

“Since I was a kid I’ve loved being outdoors and working on projects,” she said. “I also loved reading and grew up on Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie, books about homesteading and living off the land. So, there was always an internal interest. “And as I got older, I became aware of farming through an academic lens.”

Durston completed her undergraduate in international studies at Trinity Western University in B.C. She also earned a master’s degree in environmental and sustainable development economics with a focus in agriculture at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

The notion of taking a leap of faith to achieve goals you’ve set out for yourself is what Durston wants young women to take away from her story.

Let passion dictate where you end up, she says.

“Pursue what you’re passionate about and be confident in yourself and in your decisions,” she said. “There’s room for everyone and there’s so many opportunities to explore in this industry.”

When asked about who inspires her in ag, Durston came up with two people.

The first is Vandanna Shiva, an Indian scientist and activist.

“She’s really active around seed sovereignty, food sovereignty and food justice,” she said. “I read a book of hers during my undergad, and I had an opportunity to see her speak at a conference that was really exciting.”

On a more local level, Durston identified Patricia Bishop, co-owner of TapRoot Farms in Port Williams, N.S.

“I really admire the work she’s constantly doing to always do things better,” Durston said. “She’s so transparent and honest about what she’s doing and the challenges she’s facing.”

That’s not to say there aren’t other farmers Durston looks up to.

“I could probably name 60 if I had the time,” she said. “Women are doing great things here.”

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