Lifelong teacher, impressive combine driver, mom to Brent and Alisha, Dwayne’s partner on the farm, spreading unbridled enthusiasm in pearls and bedazzled jeans.
Jeannette Andrashewski’s job hasn’t been easy this year. With unprecedented rainfall, Alberta’s harvest has been delayed, to put it mildly. “I’m driving the combine past homes that have their Christmas lights on!” she said. “That’s a first.” But despite the overwhelming challenges that farming often brings, Jeannette’s cheery disposition remains intact.
“We get up in the morning. We love what we do,” she said. “Sure we have our trials, but we always get through it and do it all over again next spring.”
And it’s that cheery disposition—among other things—that makes her the perfect candidate to carry the farm-to-food message to a new audience as an ambassador for Canola Eat Well.
“When I talk to bloggers, chefs and writers, I realize that many of them don’t have a great understanding of what canola is, where it’s grown, its health benefits,” she says. “So my role is really to teach, to share my farm story.”
Teaching isn’t new for Jeannette. Before joining her husband Dwayne as a full-time partner of the farm, she spent 22 years as an early childhood educator. “ I wore dress pants and heels every day!”
A little bit of history
The Andrashewski farm near Two Hills, Alberta is a family affair that includes Dwayne’s parents as well as Jeannette and Dwayne’s son Brent, 22, who’s also working on his millwright ticket. On 3,500 acres, they grow peas, canola, barley and wheat. Daughter Alisha, 24, is studying dentistry in New York.
You gather your family around the dinner table , mine is gathered around a tailgate tonight while harvesting safe and healthy food for you. pic.twitter.com/RvUaazTAUY
— J Andrashewski (@farminginpearls) September 9, 2017
In 2007, Jeannette quit her off-farm job to join Dwayne in a full-time capacity. “He came to me one day and said he can’t do it alone, that he needed me to be part of this,” she said. “Before that, I was really immersed in my own career. Sure I helped out a bit, but it was different. I really had to get my hands dirty to understand what my husband—and all other farmers—really go through. It’s become a real partnership.”
With son Brent joining the farm, sustainability becomes even more important for the longevity of the farm.
“It’s a buzzword these days, but for our family, it’s an everyday reality,” Jeannette said. “We’re interested in doing as little as possible to disrupt the land, that including using technology, zero till methods and educating ourselves. Dwayne goes to conferences all winter long, comes home and says, ‘hey, we should give this a try’.”
Making the connection
As a canola ambassador, Jeannette is encouraged by what she hears.
“People are really starting to ask questions of farmers,” she said. “They are looking at us as the trusted source of information. They want to hear from the people who are growing their food.”
— Jennifer Dyck (@jeniferdyck) September 20, 2017
She’s also happy to see a young generation engaged in the conversation.
“Millennials, perhaps more than any other age group, are really concerned about food safety and where their food comes from. There’s a huge opportunity for education there.”
Eat Well…Shel Zolkewich