Farm Solutions = Climate Solutions
Farmers and ranchers can play a pivotal role in building the low-carbon economy of the future. Especially in Alberta, home to one-third of Canada’s agricultural land and two important carbon sinks—grasslands and the boreal forest. The wildrose province also has some of the best solar and wind power resources in Canada.
Climate solutions are often viewed as being an inconvenience to our everyday lives. But farm solutions are climate solutions and many of them have multiple concrete benefits that go beyond stopping climate change: improving soil fertility; creating new economic opportunities; protecting biodiversity; energy independence and building resiliency against droughts and floods. It is a win-win strategy.
Rural Routes to Climate Solutions is working producers and other members of the rural community to put this win-win strategy into action. By providing learning opportunities to better understand climate solutions, we are empowering rural Albertans with the tools to reap the benefits of climate solutions for themselves and their communities.
What We Do
- Soil Carbon Sequestration;
- Perennial Cereal Grains;
- On-Farm Solar and Energy Efficiency;
- Protecting Biodiversity to Increase Yields and;
- Operating Passive Solar Greenhouses.
Who We Are
Derek - Project Director & Podcast Host
Derek was born and raised in a small town in southern Ontario called Brooklin. His only connection to agriculture as kid was growing pumpkins on his grandfather’s acreage and selling them out of a wheelbarrow on his street. He picked up a degree in history from Wilfrid Laurier University and hit the road shortly thereafter, spending the next seven years of his life working as a tour guide in Germany. It was a stint on a farm in Tasmania that plunged him down the path of pursuing farm work wherever he could find it. He returned to Canada in 2013 and moved to Alberta in 2017.
He has a decade of experience under his belt as an organizer and communicator on climate and food security issues. Derek has worked for national not-for-profit organizations like Food Secure Canada and his articles on climate change and clean energy have been published in The Narwhal and National Observer. His agricultural experience is all over the map (literally)—a wild boar and shiitake mushroom farm in Quebec, a CSA in Ontario and cattle farms in Alberta—and he was part of Young Agrarians Alberta’s first ‘graduating class’.
Derek is probably best described as part community organizer, part somewhat-skilled farmhand and part storyteller. He currently splits his time between Calgary and whatever farm in central Alberta he is working on during the growing season.
Marie - PROJECT COORDINATOR NORTH
Marie was born and raised in Athabasca, AB, on a traditional cattle and grain farm. She moved to Edmonton in 2003 to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Alberta. Sometime during her stay at the University of Alberta, she contracted the travel bug and spent several years travelling and living abroad after completing her studies.
It wasn’t until 2015 that she found herself back in her home town and starting a new adventure – helping her brother start a tree farm! It was during this time that her interests in farming, gardening, plants, and wildlife began to re-emerge. She and her husband now live on a 10-acre homestead surrounded by the Boreal Forest near Jackfish Lake with their two cats, who have refused their new roles as farm cats and are still living the (pampered) good life. They are currently living in and restoring the original homestead log cabin on the property and are in the process of converting it to a fully off-grid accommodation.
Marie currently sits as the President of the Athabasca Farmers Market Association and attends weekly markets where she sells eggs from her heritage flock of hens and handmade soaps infused with local herbs and plants. She is passionate about being an active and positive member of her community, and enjoys spending her summers at the lake and camping as much as possible.
Angie - PROJECT COORDINATOR SOUTH
Angie grew up on a mixed farm, first in Manitoba, and then in East Central Alberta outside of Castor. She believes this upbringing is what has blessed her with such an appreciation for the cycles and seasons of Nature. It also planted the seeds for her lifelong love of all things cow!
After graduating she spent a number of summers roughing it in an A-frame canvas tent in the backcountry of Banff National Park. This is almost the most exposed and enveloped a person can be in raw Nature in today’s world and was a very peaceful and eye opening experience. After Banff she spent some time travelling to Australia before coming back to Alberta. Never wanting to be far from the agriculture industry, Angie spent a handful of years working at a feedlot and expanding her knowledge of cows and the beef industry. She currently works within the grain industry where she still gets to learn new things pertaining to agriculture, like how to grade different grains, and gets to chat with farmers on a daily basis. One of her favourite parts of the job!
Angie is a volunteer with the Classroom Agriculture Program as well as a member of various online forums. There she gets to follow the trials of, and learn from, farmers around the world and right here in Alberta. Global agriculture is a fascinating thing! When not at work she can usually be found on her small acreage where she raises beef for herself and friends, as well as chickens for meat and eggs. She enjoys reading a good book, going for quiet walks and taking photos of her animal menagerie. The cows are her favourite subject of course, even if she’s earned the moniker of Crazy Chicken Lady.
Evelyn - SOLAR LAB COORDINATOR
Evelyn Tanaka is a lifelong Calgarian and lives in an eco-friendly solar-powered home with her family. She has an MA in Anthropology (2006) and a BSc in Ecology (2003) from the University of Calgary. Her professional work at ECO Canada helped to build the green economy by working with transitioning auto workers in Ontario and developing programs to help newcomers to Canada find work in their environmental field of expertise. In her professional career Evelyn has worked with many diverse groups from healthcare to the environment to construction.
Evelyn is a staunch supporter of local farmers and has assisted Eagle Creek Farms in Bowden and YYC Growers in Calgary with reaching new CSA customers in the suburbs of Calgary. She has volunteered for many organizations both locally (her children’s school, her son’s hockey association, David Suzuki Foundation) and internationally (Canadian Director for an HIV/AIDS nonprofit organization True Vision Ghana).
In her free time Evelyn enjoys learning more about permaculture and off-grid living and hosting potlucks for her neighbours. She is also an avid guitarist, an okay-ish second on a beer league curling team, and an enthusiastic beginner knitter.
Trina - Farmer's Blog CoordinatoR
Trina’s rural roots stem from Peace River, Alberta, where she grew up as a “wannabe farm kid” passing many hours on the land: hiking, horseback riding, gardening, hunting and fishing. She eventually moved south to the big city and pursued a BA in Cultural Anthropology at MacEwan University.
Trina’s passion for rural communities led her to work with various grassroots development organizations in Edmonton, including Change for Children Association, The Urban Farmer, Child Family Health, and Alberta Council for Global Cooperation. She spent nearly a decade working to support food security, permaculture, human rights, and gender equality projects in rural communities in Canada, Latin America, and East Africa.
In 2013, from Kabale, Uganda, Trina began to document and write about the experiences of female food producers. Five years later, Trina was thrilled to publish Women Who Dig: Farming, Feminism, and the Fight to Feed the World (University of Regina Press, 2018), a book that captures her research with over 140 women farmers from three different continents and eight different countries. The book focuses on many of the challenges facing women farmers, while celebrating the ways they’re overcoming challenges – climate change, gender-based violence, access to farmland – and feeding their local communities. Women Who Dig has received critical praise and was recently nominated for a 2019 High Plains Book Award.
Today, Trina is a freelance writer and author. She’s currently working on her MFA in Creative Writing through University of British Columbia’s distance program. She spends her summers working at a boreal fire tower in northwestern Alberta, where she tends a huge vegetable and herb garden, and her winters in Peace River with an adventurous mutt named Holly.
She remains a “wannabe farm kid” at heart.
Dana - Project Adviser
Dana is also the Young Agrarians Prairie Program Manager and is working to grow the next generation of regenerative farmers.Young agrarians is a program of Organic Alberta and the Agrarians Foundation. Dana strives to support inspired thinking and action in agriculture and rural communities. Dana’s formal education was in Animal Science, earning a B. Sc. from the U of A. Her and her partner recently moved back to the family farm near Shoal Lake, Manitoba. Through their farm they want to demonstrate how holistic planned grazing livestock can heal our planet.