Poem nets honour for retired Fruitvale teacher

"Hail to Our Farmers," by Debbie Korn, was the winner from the Kootenay Rockies in the 4th annual BCAFM poetry contest.

Fruitvale's Debbie Korn won first place for the Kootenay Rockies region with 'Hail to Our Farmers.'

Debbie Korn can now add “published poet” to her long list of achievements.

After 35 years of teaching, the Fruitvale educator retired this summer. And now, instead of reciting to a classroom full of elementary students, Korn has time to put pen to paper and write a line or two.

And first time out, she won first prize. “Hail to Our Farmers,” is a farm-themed piece she submitted to the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) 4th annual poetry contest under the Kootenay Rockies region.

Korn first heard about the contest on Facebook, the poetry contest is part of association’s celebration of Farmers Appreciation Week (Sept. 12 to Sept. 18) and thought it would be fun to write something up.

“We went hiking in Jasper during the first week of school, to keep my mind off (school) and make the transition,” she says. “So when we were driving home, it was a long drive, and I thought, ‘I’ll write this poem now.’

“So I wrote it in the car on the way back.”

At first she wanted to write with a political angle, but in the end, decided to keep it lighthearted.”

“I have a lifetime of reading children’s poetry so that’s probably why the (style) is the way it is.”

Winning first place garnered Korn $50 in gift certificates to the nearest Farmer’s Market, which she used to buy organic meat at the Rossland Mountain Market last weekend.

Writer and storyteller, Ronda Payne, was one of four accomplished B.C. writers to judge the contest. “I value the diverse views and perspectives the creative mind can take when asked to share a poem about farmers. It’s a pleasure to have my own mind stretched by the words and wisdom of people who also love and treasure our farmers,” said Payne.

The Ode To a Farmer poetry contest judging panel also included Renée Sarojini Saklikar, poet laureate for the City of Surrey and author of thecanadaproject; Trevor Hargreaves, BC Farm Writers’ Association president and Director of Producer Relations and Communications for the BC Dairy Association; and Fred Steele, BC Fruit Growers’ Association president, published poet and registered lyricist.

The BCAFM is a not-for-profit association that represents 135 farmers’ markets across the province and works to support, develop and promote farmers’ markets in all regions of B.C. For more information on the BCAFM or to find a farmers’ market near you, visit www.bcfarmersmarket.org.

Hail to Our Farmers

By Debbie Korn

Hail to our farmers!

Agricultural heroes,

Without whose travails

Our plates would hold ZERO!

No poutine for Yves,

No orgies for Nero,

What goes in our mouth

Is the work of our heroes!

No hot buttered popcorn

To munch at the movies.

No tofu for Hippies…

That wouldn’t be groovy!

No matzohs for Herschel,

No schnitzel for Hansi.

No flowers at weddings,

Not even a pansy!

No kale for the Hipsters

No pasta for Tony

School lunches are dull

Without, at least, SOME bologna!

No tea for Elizabeth,

Song Lee or Parm.

Without wooly sweaters

How would granny keep warm?

Hail to our farmers,

May they all thrive.

They support every culture

And keep us ALIVE!

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