Women powering the movement | Gillian Flies

Thursday, March 8, 2018

“There’s nobody who doesn’t love a good meal with people they care about.”

Gillian Flies
Farmer and CFCC Donor, Creemore, ON


Gillian Flies has been running the New Farm, a sprawling organic farm in Creemore, Ontario, with her partner for eleven years, and still they get visitors who don’t know that potatoes grow underground or who’ve never seen a carrot with dirt on it. In fact, Gil says, this is exactly why those people are visiting the farm—“They crave access to the outside, where food is grown. So many people come to the farm just to get that connection to food, and their eyes are opened when they do.”

Opening people’s eyes to food—how it’s grown, how it tastes, and who gets to eat it—has been Gil’s mission since the farm started. While she and her partner, Brent Preston, don’t spend that much time doing the physical planting and harvesting themselves anymore, they are still intimately involved in every other aspect of the work. While both take care of quality control (washing, packing and shipping), Brent tends to handle the fields (soil management, crop rotation) and Gil coordinates sales and events. That’s a very simplified way of saying she’s in charge of an exhausting and inspiring amount of food-related activism: getting their crop to market (they now sell out before the end of every season), programming the New Farm kitchen (which hosts, among other things, corporate retreats, canning workshops, various dinners), speaking at farming conferences, and organizing their Farms for Change fundraising series, an enormous celebration of food, music and farming that’s featured the likes of Sloan and the Tragically Hip. The New Farm now raises about $150,000 a year for Community Food Centres, money that’s used to increase the availability of fresh, organic produce in several Toronto communities. “We see organic, local food, the kind of food we all want to feed our kids,” says Gil, “as a human right for everyone. We do these fundraisers in an effort to help make that happen.”

Those fundraisers are great parties, for sure, but they also provide yet more lessons. “The light goes on,” Gil says. “The big grocery stores really work to convince people that it doesn’t really matter what brand food is, what farm grew it. Like a tomato is a tomato. But a tomato is not just a tomato. It really matters.”

Throughout March, International Women's History Month, we are highlighting some of the amazing women who power the movement for good food. Our movement, our organizations, and our communities are so often lead by women and we want to celebrate their stories and contributions.
Sign up for The Feed, our newsletter, to hear more about how communities are powering up through food. 
Check out some of the other amazing women powering the food movement

Renée MacKillop in Calgary, Alberta
Amanda Nickerson in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Rebecca Sylvestre in Birch Narrows Dene Nation, Saskatchewan
Barb Wong in Vancouver, British Columbia

Back to Press Room