Qualicum Beach town crier Leonard Mustard and wife Marie are pictured above at the grand opening of the Qualicum Beach Farmers’ Market earlier this year. If you have a way with words

THURSDAY SPOTLIGHT: Are you a poet and you know it?

Third annual Ode To A Farmer Poetry Contest is open until Sept. 13

Do you have a way with words?

The third annual Ode To A Farmer Poetry Contest is now accepting submissions — and writers of all ages and skill levels are encouraged to enter.

The contest is part of Farmers Appreciation Week held Sept. 12 to 19 by the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM).

“Whether it be a haiku, sonnet, or limerick, we are looking for people to use their creativity through words to show their appreciation of local farmers who contribute greatly to our communities, health and well being,” said Georgia Stanley, BCAFM’s communications manager.

Stanley told The NEWS Famers Appreciation Week started six years ago to recognize “the contributions farmers make to our communities, environment and food system.”

And the idea to host a poetry contest came through the annual appreciation week.

“We wanted to come up with an initiative that would encourage people to think about the value of farmers and really make that connection between farmers providing us with healthy foods and being stewards of that land,” Stanley explained.

Last year, they received 72 entries from all over British Columbia and Stanley said the poems were “incredibly inspiring to read.”

From illustrious poems written by children to pieces written by published professionals, Stanley said the contest receives an array of written talent each year.

The grand prizewinner will receive a $150 gift certificate to spend at the B.C. farmers’ market of their choice and regional winners from the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, Kootenay Rockies, Northern British Columbia, Thompson Okanagan, Vancouver, Coast and Mountains and Vancouver Island will also be chosen and awarded $50 gift certificates.

This year’s panel of judges includes three accomplished B.C. writers: Tamara Leigh is a freelance agriculture journalist, president of the B.C. Farm Writers Association and FarmHugger blogger based in the Cowichan Valley; Renée Sarojini Saklikar is author of the thecanadaproject. Her work appears in various literary journals, newspapers and anthologies, including Geist and Contemporary Verse 2: The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing (CV2); and Ronda Payne is an accomplished agricultural writer and reporter. She is a regular contributor to Country Life in B.C. and various other publications.

“There is a great tradition of writers finding inspiration from the land that is continued through the Ode To A Farmer Contest,” said Leigh, one of the judges.

“I look forward to seeing how people connect creatively with food and farming, and bring it to life in their poems.”

According to contest details, the contest criteria will be judged based on: relevance to theme (25 per cent), judge’s impression (25 per cent), poetic structure (20 per cent), spelling and grammar (15 per cent) and originality (15 per cent).

The BCAFM is a not-for-profit association that represents 125 farmers’ markets across the province and works to support, develop and promote farmers’ markets in all regions of BC. For more information on the BCAFM or to find a farmers’ market near you, visit www.bcfarmersmarket.org.

To enter the Ode To A Farmer Contest you must be a British Columbian resident, your entry must be 500 words or less and your submission must be unpublished. For more information or to enter visit www.fluidsurveys.com/s/fawpoetry. To mail in a submission, send entries to attn: Poetry Contest; B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets; 203–2642 Main St. Vancouver, B.C.; V5T 3E6. Submissions will be accepted until midnight on Sept. 13 and winners will be announced by Sept. 19.

 

Here’s the 2014 winning entry, by Ruth llyod:

 

Where Food Comes From

 

Food does not come from a fridge

Or a store.

It is not magically wrapped in cellophane

served on stryrofoam

or plastic

Placed into your cart with a bar code for easy

tracking

No

Food comes from the dirt

the blood.

From bawling cattle

clucking chickens

garden plots.

It comes through dirt

through death and blood

through hard work

And it comes through love.

A love for the connection

between Earth and

Human

A love of labour which produces something

of substance.

Something hard-won

Well-earned

Something to feed the body and the soul

Together.

by ruth llyod

(2014 winner)

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