One man shar­ing his love for farm­ing

Ottawa Business Journal - Ottawa at Home - - CONTENTS - Cather­ine Clark, COM­MU­NITY VOICE

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.

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY MARK HOLLERON

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