Trauma Farm is a book about some of the biggest issues facing us in a world of increasing globalization and corporatization. Written by a poet, who also happens to be a rural farmer, it discusses the struggles that are being faced by small-scale, non-corporate farmers throughout North America as they see their livelihoods threatened by the corporate behemoths with whom they simply cannot compete. It also discusses the frustration Brett feels at the regulations that are being instituted by governments that favour agri-business while making things increasingly more difficult for small-scale farmers. Aside from the subsistence issues, agri-business means worse living environments for animals, more chemicals in our food, and the loss of valuable local knowledge that has historically been passed on from one generation to the next.
For many of us who live in the city, it’s easy to forget that for every meal we eat, there are people out there who have toiled in fields, under hot sun or in the rain to bring us the fresh fruit, vegetables and even meat that we consume. We have seen an increasing awareness in recent years of the need to consider the impact that we, as consumers, have on the economic environment, and in turn on the environment and the livelihoods of smaller farms. People have even come up with a name for those who make the effort to support smaller farmers in their own geographical areas: locavores.
This book takes this issue down to the level of one household and humanizes it in a way that the news rarely does. Brett’s farm, affectionately dubbed “Trauma Farm,” is on a small island just off the west coast of British Columbia called Salt Spring Island. This also happens to be where I grew up. It is an idyllic place in many ways. It has a population of around 10,000 people, but when you live there it feels like you know everyone. It is a haven for artists, musicians and others with a creative bent, as well as for those who enjoy living a quieter, slower pace of life closer to the land. You will rarely find a more varied, more socially conscientious, more informed or interesting community.