A high school student is interviewing and learning at the same time
By Diego Flammini
The deconstruction of a grain elevator in rural Saskatchewan and the community it once stood in is the topic of a high school documentary project.
Carmin Smith-Hanson’s project focuses on the last Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevator and the community of Meacham, Sask.
The last of the town’s five grain elevators came down on June 8.
Smith-Hanson’s mom Yvonne suggested the project for her daughter to incorporate into an online media and communications class.
So, the 17-year-old student from Saskatoon rented a camera and set out to interview family and community members about the elevator and how it tied into Meacham’s identity.
“I wanted to capture that community-based landmark of the town and what it means for the elevator to come down and history not being preserved as it maybe should,” she told Farms.com.
Conversations with her grandfather, mother and aunt, who all grew up in Meacham, and community residents revealed the elevator’s fate is more than just a construction crew working on a deteriorating building.
The elevator in Meacham, like in other parts of the country, was a beacon of rural Canada.
“When it came down, you could tell people’s hearts dropped,” she said. One woman broke down. She said you could see the elevator from miles away driving into town and now that’s gone. My grandpa talked about how farmers would go there. I think the elevator represented hard work in the community.”
Smith-Hanson found herself learning during the filmmaking process.
She didn’t know how grain elevators operated and was unfamiliar with how grain got to export destinations or became food products.
This experience has given her a new appreciation for agriculture, she said.
“I’d never been in an elevator before, so to learn about how it works was really interesting,” she said. “I knew farming is hard work, but I didn’t realize the process it takes to get a cup of flour to bake cookies. I definitely appreciate farmers more now.
Smith-Hanson’s documentary project is due near the end of the month and she’ll be sharing her final work with her classmates and online.
She hopes anyone who watches the documentary develop an appreciation for yesterday’s farmers.
“I hope people understand how hard farmers worked when we didn’t have such advanced technologies,” she said. “I hope they learn about what those grain elevators did and what they meant to those communities.”