An Open Heart Farming collection, compiled by Mary Ellen Sullivan.

Photo of sunlight coming into a barn through gaps in the walls.

Select the author’s name to see other works by that author, when the poem first appeared, and a biography, if supplied.

Food Bank

Haiku by Harry Garrison

Halifax NS

Beside the river,
necessary sustenance
grows from charity.

The Earth Says

Poem by Jaywant Patil

Eastern Passage, NS

You trampling me now.
Surely the day will come,
I will trample you.

Indignant Red Apples

Poem by Sylvia Mangalam

Bedford, NS

In the old orchard down the hill
Rosy apples hanging still
Wave their indignant red
Before my eyes
“Why are we left to rot
When people hunger, and have not
Fresh dainties such as we
Hanging sweetly from our tree?”
What flagrant wastrels we!
But even now
Waste creeps up quietly behind
To smother us. And we are blind
To all the dirt of cleanliness. And all the possibilities
Of good clean mess.

Life is a Bowl of Cherries: Welcoming Athena

Poem by Mary Ellen Sullivan

Halifax NS

For mom Rowena.

Little babe,
You’re the apple of my eye.
You’re the plum in my Christmas pie.
You’re peach fuzz to my cheek.
So sweet, my little baby, sleep.

Bees and Blossoms

Poem by Sandra Barry


In the news, reports of
the mysterious disappearance of
honey bees. Scientists speculate
the cause, but the puzzle
is unsolved. Bees are vanishing.
Our food is connected
to their imperatives.
Statistics address only limits.
Bees feed the world, and the soul.
Our art is connected
to their existence.
Bees are the reason flowers burst
abundance. Bees and blossoms,
beauty for no reason but honey.
Pollen, a language.
The way to survive cold barren winter
is to carry the translucence of petals
into the comb of the mind.
Think deeply of sleep and summer.
Is this collapse of essence
an aberration or an omen?
Are we in the flux or at the edge?
Bees tell us old stories
in their frenetic dances,
in their hum of hunger.
Our expressions mimic bees’ desire.
If bees disappear, flowers will soon follow,
and our voices will go silent.

Last Garden Crops

Poem by Irene Baros-Johnson

Halifax NS

Because they grow so fast,
Fifty-five years ago, I was
Given radish seeds to plant
In a plot of one of the last of
Manhattan’s Victory Gardens.
In the next rows, I planted the
Seeds for carrots, beets and
Much-less-liked swiss chard.
In shorts, pre-teen Yorkville
Children came two or thee
Times a week, to kneel down
To weed. Fill, heft & sprinkle
Watering pails. Thin just once.
In the shade, we played games
Of checkers, chess, red rover,
Jump rope, joked and talked
Stretch-i-n-g out our patience
As the sun mightily worked.
trying to see what they are made of.
Fear and sadness, terror.
I dig deeper, tearing out the horror
planting the energy.
I plan out in my mind
a tiny greenhouse made of glass.
A shell to keep growth alive

Holding Stories

Poem by Kimm Kent

Centre Burlington NS

In the crevices of every line
in the crease of every fold
beneath each nail
soiled hands
hold stories.
in the removal of every tree
in the contour of every hill
beneath each rock
calloused hands
hold stories.
in the struggle for survival
in the blood of settlement
beneath each harrowed row
lies a seed
with a story.
a seed
in hands holding stories.

How Would You Like Your Falafel?

Haiku by Jasmine Chater

Halifax NS

I’ll have some parsley,
tomatoes, tahini, &
pickled turnips please!

Haiku As Tapas

Haiku by Ella Dodson

Halifax NS

Haiku and tapas
Focus senses on small bites,
To taste and savor.

Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia

Poem by Jane Marshall

Wolfville, NS

In this valley, we are bounded by kind-hearted giants. The North Mountain nudges southward with his huge shoulders, arms outstretched toward the South Mountain, the Gaspereau, whom he loves. And she reaches back, her vast arms open to him, her heart an open valley. She knows she is loved. And down below, the slow river, comfortable in its muddy bed, flows calmly eastward, secure as a newborn in its parents’ arms.

A Tribute to Vandana Shiva

Poem by Roxanne Beavers


Seed saving guru
Global ecofem’nist
Montsanto fears her.

The Spirit of Life

Poem by Elzy Taramangalam

Green and spunky
Lean and funky
The shoot climbed
An upside down leg
With a deep soul knowing.

Up the spike the tendril wound
Through a dark tunnel
Speckled with four bright spots
Then straight for the sun
Evoking every pulse points.

No choppy Vincent or pointy Pablo
No tranquil Monet or turbulent

This perfervid bean reaching the sky
Thrives in the passage under
A toppled lab stool.

A silken sash on a sleek recorder
Puffed up by the promise of each day
Whistling a tune endued with joy
Dreaming of life’s grandeur.

The Earth of My Ancestors

Poem by Lois R. Brison Brown

Halifax, NS

Seeded in the earth of my ancestors
Nurtured in the soil of their fields

Waiting for the heat of their sun
Drinking in the waters of their rain
I grow upwards into their light.

Drinking in the waters of their rain