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Farming For Joy

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The city never felt like home. I felt disconnected even though connections were abundant,” says Kathryn Laframboise, as she recounts her lifelong desire to live rurally. Laframboise grew up from childhood with a passion to live on the land and raise animals. It has become a reality in the last few years. Laframboise, a fibre farmer, lives with her husband on Treaty One Territory, about 20 minutes north east of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Here on their farm, The Raspberry Roost, she tends to rescue horses, sheep, alpacas, llamas, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits. Her love of animals and the land are woven into her ultimate goal to create and nourish “community”, which to her means a sense of belonging, support and kinship.

Close-up of a person's hands holding two skeins of wool yarn labeled "The Raspberry Roost" with a houseplant in the background.

The Raspberry Roost: A Dream Realized

Laframboise credits her enterprising spirit to her ability to thrive and build the internal flexibility and empowerment that is required to run a farm business in these changing times. Although still in their early years of farming, she loves thinking about marketing, and envisions supplying more local artists with fibre for their felting and spinning projects. Wool is an eco-insulator, and Laframboise sees it as an environmental choice and a way to incorporate more sustainability and slow fashion into the marketplace. There is a growing movement of fibre farmers who are passionately investing their time and energy into enlivening the fibre industry. For Laframboise, this means there are many women and mentors in the fibre market who support and advise her, and she counts many as good friends. It is another way that a community brings groundedness to her rural life and nurtures her soul.

Beyond Farming: Education and Therapy

Laframboise holds many roles in addition to farmer. Along with being a full-time middle school teacher, working towards her Masters of Education, Laframboise is also in the process of completing her certification in Child-Centred Animal Assisted Therapy, (the first of its kind offered in Canada). A self-described BIG dreamer and planner, she sees a future where her skills and knowledge will knit together into a cohesive offering, with her farm being a safe space for people to join the community she envisions growing in the years ahead.

“I want people to recognize their worth. I want them to realize they are confident and capable beings. I want people to feel empowered over the choices they make, whether that’s regarding wellness for themselves, the food they have access to, or the materials and fibres close to their bodies. I think when people are kinder to themselves, they are kinder with others,” explains Laframboise.

“My love of animals and the land brought me here, with the ultimate goal of fostering and serving the community. Community is my anchor,” says the multi-passionate Laframboise, a modern-day caretaker with a worldly vision.

A woman in a teal sweater smiles while feeding a group of alpacas and llamas near a red barn in winter.

Challenges of Rural Living and Multifaceted Roles

When asked about the challenges that come with living a rural life, Laframboise is quick to name her major one – delivering product. Managing all her roles – full-time teacher, graduate student, and farmer/business owner – and then finding additional time to access the facilities she needs to connect with, (as well as delivering orders in nearby cities), puts extra strain on an already full schedule. Laframboise has come to see her lifestyle as being seasonally driven. She says there is no way to balance it all… as all her roles are not equal. Asking for help and practising kindness towards herself and staying true to her values keeps her grounded.

And because rural living often means isolation, Laframboise also finds that maintaining connections and relationships with the friends and family she left behind when she exited the city lifestyle a few years ago, takes a concerted effort and planning. There are no impromptu coffee dates. While knowing that she can’t be everything for everyone, she shows up for herself, and tries to stay mindful of that.

“When you’re in this wonderful and wild season of big creation, there isn’t a lot of stillness. So sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on enjoying simple moments because I’m mid-stride towards something else,” Laframboise explains.

A horse with a frosty mane looks directly at the camera through a wire fence, with a wintry farm landscape behind it.

Mindfulness and Joy in Creation

Because her intentions are centered on living her life with joy, Laframboise checks in with herself often to see where she is on the continuum. Her intentions add up to helping others gain access to joy, and this helps her stay mindful of where her energies are at as she moves forward in her life. #farmingforjoy is a hashtag she uses often on social media as she shares her personal intentions with others.

Advice for Aspiring Rural Entrepreneurs

Raised by a single mom, who encouraged her to seek out her dreams, Laframboise is proud of the many challenges she has overcome. And she is accepting of the mistakes she has made along the way. Her advice to other women who want to venture down the path she has chosen is to “do the thing”.

Laframboise details it this way, “Stop just thinking about it. What do you have to do to get you to your goal? Break it down. What are the logistics? What’s your timeline like? What are your living values? Are the changes you’re going to make worth it for you in the sacrifices you’ll have to make? Are you looking for an escape or change of monetary pace? Or is this truly the life you want to embody? Will these changes also help others?”

She adds further advice here too, “Find a support system! Not everyone will understand your vision and that’s okay. You will need some supports to call on. You will find these people as you grow on your journey as well.”

As a woman who has her hands and her feet planted in both farm life and the academic world, Laframboise is optimistic that the big vision and purpose she carries within will flourish over time. At the heart of her endeavors she reminds herself that her worth isn’t tied to what she does or doesn’t do. Goals and intentions are what move her forward, yet at the same time Laframboise knows that we are all so much more than that. Such worldly advice!

About Kathryn

Kathryn Laframboise, a rookie fibre farmer from Treaty One Territory, Manitoba, tends to 20 acres and nearly one hundred lives varying from ducks and geese to horses and alpacas. Her favourite saying is that she is “farming for joy”. Laframboise is wildly passionate about community and embodies that as a middle school teacher and graduate student. She is constantly learning how to be an advocate for equity through education, sustainable environmental stewardship, and supporting community members in a variety of ways. Laframboise is in the middle of her Child-Centred Animal-Assisted Therapy Certification and is excitedly planning workshops for 2022. 

3 Things Kathryn Can’t Live Without

  1. Fresh air
  2. Water
  3. Creature/humans I love

 “My love of animals and the land brought me here, with the ultimate goal of fostering and serving the community. Community is my anchor.”

Article From: Spring 2022 Issue #6

Photography Credit: Kristine Sarah Photography

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