Dig a little deeper

Mon, Mar 13 2017


Farmer. Freelancer. Groundbreaker.

As the sun slowly creeps above the horizon, Nikki Wiart gets ready to start her day. But instead of preparing to fight traffic on the way to a chaotic newsroom, the journalism grad is deciding which ancient grains she’ll be sowing and which stories she’ll be pitching come spring.

Combining farming with freelance writing is a career twist she never saw coming.

“I moved away on my 18th birthday thinking I was never going back to the farm,” she says. “But it didn’t take long for me to realize that I wanted to return to my tiny hometown in central Alberta eventually—I just thought it would be 10 or 15 years down the road, after I’d had a full career as a journalist.”

“ I want to use the resources and skills I have to feed people—and to tell stories about issues that often go untold.

CEI_Nikki_Wiart_farmNikki was well on her way to doing exactly that. Only a year after finishing her Bachelor of Communication Studies in Journalism, her resumé was already stacked with TV newsroom experience, an Emerge Media Award, her byline on stories for publications including The Walrus and Maclean’s, and a master’s degree in journalism.

It was during the months she spent researching and writing her master’s project that the idea of returning to the farm sooner rather than later began to take root.

“I was looking at the changing demographics of agriculture in Canada and touring farms across the Prairies, Ontario and the Maritimes listening to first-generation farmers tell me about their struggles to buy land, equipment and animals—and find mentors—in a world that is dominated by industrial agriculture,” says Nikki. “It made me realize just how fortunate I was to have a family farm waiting for me.”

So Nikki decided to combine her interest in organic, human-intensive farming with her love of writing.

“I feel like this is a socially responsible thing for me to do,” she says. “I'm not a day-to-day newsperson, and I never had any ambition to be a famous journalist or have my stories go viral. I want to use the resources and skills I have to feed people—and to tell stories about issues that often go untold.”

Today when Nikki isn’t caring for the herd or researching what it takes to raise bees, you might find her feeding her creative side in “the badlands”—a special place on her family’s property where flat fields transform into rolling hills, creeks, trees and sandstone cliffs.

“I feel inspired here. It’s kind of a sacred spot. And it’s where my heart is.”

Nikki Wiart is an alumna of the Bachelor of Communication Studies program. Learn more at MacEwan.ca/CommunicationDegree.