On the farm – a project by Chanel Irvine


All around the world, the environment has been suffering. We recently saw the Amazon rainforest and Australia go up in flames, following countless other natural catastrophes that increasingly confirm our societies’ greatest fear and reinforce our biggest challenge: things need to change.

One of the most common suggestions is to lower the impacts of the farming industry. More specifically, beef, sheep and dairy farming, or livestock farming, which contributes to land degradation, a large percentage of global water usage and increasing pressure for deforestation.

Of course, there are counterarguments that claim that farming for a ‘vegan world’ would be almost equally as damaging.  Like it has always done, the debate continues…

For her project, ‘On the Farm,’ Chanel spent time with small farming families and communities in the northern parts of Iceland, whose practices make a strong case against the intensive and unsustainable present-day industrial model.

Their stories, like many others from around the world, reassert the importance of farming for regional communities who depend on it to preserve their heritage, identity and livelihood.

The people in these photographs shared with her their daily lives on the farm. They shared their stories and their passion, and a hope that there will always be a need for the work that they do.

Through the passing generations they have been forced to adapt to the changing demands for their products and the volatile economic and environmental climate they’re working in, ensuring their work is increasingly sustainable.

As these families and communities continue to adapt to our ever-changing socio-political environment, constantly adjusting what’s necessary to survive in their industry, we continue to rely on their products.

The spread of COVID-19 across the globe saw an increased demand for food, especially fresh produce from farms, reinforcing the need for farming communities like these.

Though change for our planet is both inevitable and necessary, and though we may not yet know what that change is going to look like, Chanel feels obliged to create a collective portrait of farmers today.

The story of the human race can be defined and categorized by its different ‘ages.’ Today, it is important to recognise those that have dedicated their lives to providing food for our current age, as we are likely to soon transition into the next.

About the author:

Chanel is a documentary photographer (born 1995) based in London and has recently completed an MA at the Spéos Photographic Institute following a Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

Her work has been published in Ain’t Bad, British Journal of Photography, WUNDER Journal, Musée Magazine, SUITCASE Magazine, Analog Magazine and Dodho among many others. Her work has been exhibited in Australia, Paris, Haarlem, New York, Amsterdam and Tel Aviv.

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