One man sharing his love for farming
Like most people of his generation, Wally Parsons’ early years were defined by the Second World War. His father left for war when Wally was very young, and didn’t return until his son was seven, so Wally spent most of these formative years at his grandfather’s farm near Belleville, Ontario. It was an experience that would define his life’s path.
“I loved the farm,” Wally recalls. “The animals, the fields, the creek, the gardening – it wasn’t a fancy farm, but it was heaven for me.”
Wally’s life on that farm influenced his decision to work in the dairy industry, where he served in senior management positions for over three decades. And when Wally needed a bit of respite from his busy life, which included raising three children on his own, he would head to another farm he had grown to love, the one at the Canada Agriculture Museum in the heart of Ottawa.
“When I had a tough day, I would go to the farm and walk around and everything would feel right again,” he remembers. “It became a haven for me.”
Wally’s experiences confirmed his belief that every child should be able to experience life on a farm, but it wasn’t until one night shortly after he retired that he figured out how to make that happen.
“I woke up from a dream that I was at a fundraising event at the Agriculture Museum,” he says with a laugh. “I got up and wrote it down because I knew I’d forget, and sure enough when I woke up in the morning I looked over and saw all these pages of notes,” he continues. Thus was born the delightful annual June fundraising event known as Baskets with Panache.
Now in its seventh year, Baskets with Panache has raised enough money to bring 15,000 financially and physically challenged children to the Agriculture Museum. It even provides the buses to get them there.
“Besides my thrill at the fact that the kids are there in the first place, I take great delight in knowing that they are seeing a working farm, learning more about the world, about agriculture and about where their food comes from,” says Wally, for whom Baskets with Panache is a dream come true. “I don’t ask a lot out of life, but watching those kids arriving at the Farm brings me real joy.”
Baskets with Panache takes place at the Canada Agriculture Museum on June 19. For more information or for tickets visit: www.agriculture. technomuses.ca or call 613-998-9245.