Learning the Importance of Collaboration through Agriculture

Celebrating Earth Week 2021, we’re cognizant of the challenges in adopting and expanding sustainable practices, not just this year, but always. Despite this, at Cleanfarms, we’re consistently reminded of the power of many people making small changes, taking that one extra action that makes each day just a little bit more sustainable than the last. We’re also privileged to work with students who share with us their vision of the future and remind us with their vision, and passions and skills that the future is in good hands. With that, we’re pleased to introduce you to Bailey Pryce, who’s contributing to our team as a Business Assistant on a work term from University of Waterloo.

Author, Bailey Pryce, Cleanfarms Business Assistant

Bailey-PryceOne of the main reasons I chose to enrol in a coop program like the one at the University of Waterloo is because I wanted to experience different working environments before graduation. I’ve had the opportunity to work for the provincial government and at an academic institution before I joined the Cleanfarms team for an eight-month term in January 2021.

When I joined Cleanfarms I quickly realized that my learning curve was going to be steeper than my previous co-op terms. I had to quickly learn new subject matter related to plastics and recycling. I also had a lot to learn about agriculture, and the key stakeholders, farmers, that make up this important sector.

Prior to my experience here, I thought farming was a rather isolating industry made up of independently-run farms that did not communicate regularly with one another. I quickly learned that Canadian farmers are very collaborative and connected. I see this through the many grower groups where farmers work together to ensure best practices are developed, share accurate information about their work and set industry-wide goals. While each organization focuses on different topics or regions, they draw on the combined expertise of Canadian farmers who might be physically separated but come together regularly to collaborate on issues that impact their farms. The fact that farmers have time to contribute to these groups, on top of the work they do on their farms, just amazes me.

Further, I’m seeing other stakeholders joining forces on projects that are closer to my day-to-day duties as well. I’m impressed with the cooperation that exists amongst Cleanfarms’ collection networks. Again, despite being separated by huge geography and tasked with countless other responsibilities, 1,000 collection sites worked together to help farmers, and industry, achieve a 70% collection rate for small (23L and under) containers last year. I’m seeing similar collaboration as I work closely on Cleanfarms’ Building a Zero-Plastic-Waste Strategy for Agriculture where communities and farmers are experimenting with new pilot projects.

When I head back to school for my final two terms I’m going to think more about how I can contribute to community groups on topics that I am passionate about. Farmers and others within agriculture are joining together to create positive change and I can do the same.

Bailey Pryce is a fourth-year University of Waterloo Environment and Business student who is halfway through her co-op term with Cleanfarms in the role of Business Assistant.