Straight From The Farmer's Mouth

(Well, from the Farmer's laptop technically.) Here's what agricultural producers around Alberta are doing with climate solutions to build successful and resilient farms and ranches.

Farmer's Blog

Low-Carbon Market Gardening – Northern Lights Fruits & Vegetable Co.

Part of Dan and Louise’s vision for Northern Lights was minimizing their impact on the environment and producing good, nutritious food as sustainably as possible. “We wanted to minimize our carbon footprint to the greatest extent possible,” says Dan. “Solar was a very natural path, or direction to move in.”

Before leaving Edmonton, the couple took a course in Solar Energy to learn some of the basics in order to familiarize themselves with considerations and different technologies. When designing their farm, they identified different energy needs on the land. Dan says he spent a great deal of time researching different solar technologies for specific tasks, say, running water pumps, or running electric fences, when he had an important realization.

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Farmer's Blog

Farming as though the Earth Matters – Brenlea Farms

Brenda Bohmer, a grain farmer at Brenlea Farm in central Alberta, realized she’d been draining sloughs for years in an attempt to farm more acres. She would seed around duck nests, but in order to deal with weeds, she’d farm right up to the edges of the wetland. “It’s a mindset you get locked into,” she admits. Bohmer’s goal? Create a year-round wetland and invite nature to help rehabilitate the natural wetland ecosystem and water cycle.

Several years ago, Bohmer partnered with Cows and Fish – Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society. Within a year, nature took over the wetland and Bohmer was amazed to see the transformation of the riparian habitat. “I can still grow crops between the wetlands,” explains Bohmer. “But now I have a buffer which provides a separation between farming operations and the natural habitat. Bohmer points out that 80 percent of all types of wildlife in Alberta spend all, or part of their lives in a riparian area. “We can co-exist,” she says. “I like to think of this as farming as though the earth really matters.”

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Farmer's Blog

In Conversation with Rachel Herbert – Trail’s End Beef

‘Sustainability’ is what drives the Herbert family, owners of Trail’s End Beef, a grass-fed and finished beef ranch, nestled outside of the town of Nanton, in the Porcupine Hills of southern Alberta. Rachel and Tyler, with the help of their two children, practice rotational grazing management and steward the native grasslands, rolling hills, abundant springs, and sheltering poplar and willow groves. They raise calves entirely on pasture (and stored forage through the winter) until they’re 26 to 29 months-old, and direct market the beef to a diverse customer-base in southern Alberta.

The Herbert family ranches with an ethic for animal care, and environmental stewardship and regeneration, protecting watersheds, planting cover crops, and allowing the land to rest between grazing. They share the native grassland with a variety of wild ‘neighbours’, including geese, songbirds, coyotes, muskrat, cougars and grizzly bears.

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Farmer's Blog

Passive Solar Greenhouses Without Borders – Freshpals Farms

What makes Jianyi’s vegetables at Freshpal Farms so unique isn’t only a matter of taste: it’s how he grows what he loves. Jianyi cultivates vegetables 12-months of the year in a passive solar greenhouse – a greenhouse powered 100 per cent by the energy of the sun. Whereas conventional greenhouses rely on fossil fuels and artificial heat to warm through the winter, a passive greenhouse relies only on the sun. Jianyi runs the largest commercial passive solar greenhouse in Alberta.

Passive solar technology works to trap and store solar energy. Solar energy is released slowly to heat up the greenhouse, which creates optimal growing conditions so Jianyi’s thin-skinned tomatoes can thrive year-round – even in one of the most bitterly cold growing zones on the planet.

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Farmer's Blog

Experimenting with No-Till Regenerative Agriculture – Steel Pony Farms

With no knowledge about food production prior to these experiences, my learning curve was exponential. I became familiar with field crops, beef, dairy, goat, sheep, pig, broiler, egg, honey, vegetable, and fruit production. By engaging in a diversity of production methods, I observed the impact these methods had on the plants and animals being produced. In general, I saw that when farmers prioritized soil biology, as opposed to short term yield increases through the use of synthetic chemicals, they created healthier farming systems, healthier plants, healthier animals, and more successful farms – in terms of a triple bottom line.

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Farmer's Blog

Intercropping: Experimenting for Diversity – Andy Kirschenman

Intercropping is something that I was first drawn to after reading articles about Colin Rosengren, a grain farmer who practices intercropping on his farm, Rosengren Farm, in southern Saskatchewan. Fifteen years ago, I first experimented with managing 20 acres of peas and canola, and have since tried different combinations almost every year. I have managed as much as 600 acres, and as little as zero in the years after that first try. I have experimented with different crops together and different seeding rates.

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