Grazing Days is owned and operated by Paul Slomp and Josée Cyr-Charlebois.
We believe that local food plays a central role in the relationships we have with our planet, with our communities and with ourselves. We believe that our role in our food system (and political system) is as farmers and as people who can bring urban and rural perspectives, global and local experiences to conversations around our food and food system.
Paul was born and raised on a family dairy farm first in the Netherlands and later in Rimbey, Alberta. Working alongside his parents and siblings, he learned the intricate art of managing soil, pastures and livestock. At the dinner table, family conversations often meandered between topics like family history, international current events, social justice, global farm politics, politics and religion.
Paul enjoyed mathematics and sciences and decided to study Civil Engineering at the University of Alberta. While at university, he became involved in an organization called Engineers Without Borders and started to think about issues related to community development and what role people from Canada can play in helping to address issues of global poverty. From 2003 until 2007, Engineers Without Borders seconded Paul a to work with rice farmers in Ghana, West Africa, to refurbish a rice mill that would allow farmers to sell rice that is ready to cook to the people in their communities, to work with small holder vegetable growers in Zambia to establish local markets for their vegetables and to the Government of Rwanda to develop their smallholder agriculture development policy in the Eastern Province of Rwanda.
In 2009 Paul moved to Ottawa to join Just Food to coordinate a municipal food policy project called Food For All that explored how Ottawa farmers can make a living farming and how all people in Ottawa can get access to food that is fresh, nutritious and delicious.
Since 2010, Paul has focused his energy on starting Grazing Days. Simultaneously from 2010 until the end of 2013, Paul held a number of positions on the National Farmers Union board advocating for family farms and a thriving Canadian food system.
Josée Madéia (Cyr-Charlebois) was born and raised in Ottawa as an urban child who loved the outdoors and loved hearing her grandmother’s stories of growing up on a farm in Eastern Ontario. Having shared many happy and formative moments talking politics and social policy with her mother, Josée went on to study sociology and to work in social service and social justice organisations. She’s worked in community development, anti-poverty and environmental policy organizations and is looking forward to bringing those skills to the farm. As an avid writer, crafter and a green thumbed enthusiast, she’s eager to try her hand at alt-homesteading and co-farming.
If you’d like to follow her journey as an urban dweller on her way to becoming a rural co-farmer, Josée is writing for the (French) blog Néorurale.ca here.