STRAIGHT FROM THE FARMER'S MOUTH
‘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.
By Trina Moyles Dong Jianyi prefers to grow heritage varieties of tomatoes, the kind of tomatoes you wouldn’t find in grocery stores. Tomatoes so sweet they make your taste buds sing. So sweet they remind you of the tomatoes your grandparents used to grow thirty, forty, fifty years ago. Tomatoes with fine, thin skins, not ideal for transporting over long distances, but rather, cultivated for maximum sweetness, pleasure, and nourishing communities in central and southern Alberta. At Freshpal Farms in Olds, Alberta, Jianyi and his family grow tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, spinach, corn, and sunflowers. They experiment with planting rare, niche varieties of radishes – “green and long – like a small arm!” – and big, thick leafed spinach, along with a type of hardy Chinese cabbage that’s well suited to survive winter’s harsh bite on the Canadian prairies. “The vegetables I grow are very natural, they’re organic, clean, and healthy,”
I started my vegetable farm on a rented piece of land in the Red Deer River valley in the fall of 2010. I was a city kid who caught the farming bug. I traveled across Canada and abroad to learn hands-on about agriculture. I spent a summer in a tiny rural village in Kenya fascinated by traditional food production methods, spent two summers traveling to over two dozen farms in British Columbia, Alberta, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario, and participated in a full-season internship on a small family vegetable farm in Quebec. 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,
My farm is located in the brown soil zone of southeastern Alberta, near the hamlet of Hilda. It has been in my family since the early 1950s when my grandfather first purchased the land. It was formerly a mixed farm—grain and cattle. Today, my father and I manage a grain farm together, though we will probably consider integrating cattle back onto the land in the future. We are driven by a desire to correctly and effectively steward what we have been given by the Creator for however short a time we may have with the land, crops, equipment, buildings, families, and community. The five principles of soil health are a guide for us. We believe that it’s important to stay connected with these principles to keep on the path towards improved soil health and functionality. We run stripper headers and disc drills to try to keep as much soil armor
My in-laws began Vaudet Dairy in Limoges, France in 1985. Their dream of expanding the dairy farm inspired them to move to Canada. In 1996, they came to Ferintosh, Alberta to make that dream a reality. After graduating from the Livestock Production course at Lakeland College, my husband, Thomas, came home to work on his family’s farm full-time. When we began dating 10 years ago, Thomas was already in discussion with his parents about taking over the farm, and it wasn’t long till we began to take on the adventure together. On average, we milk 90 cows with around 150 young stock, in addition to raising a small beef herd. We harvest four quarter-sections of land for feed. Thomas and I have four young children – who are ever so eager to help, but aren’t quite old enough to do so. Balancing family and farm can sometimes be problematic. With
In Conversation with Steve Kenyon: Climate Change and Regenerative Agriculture Steve Kenyon is a regenerative rancher, farmer, and advocate for “growing soil”. He runs Greener Pastures Ranching, a diverse family farm, with his wife, Amber, in Busby, Alberta. For part of his childhood, Steve grew up on a grain and cattle farm in Saskatchewan, just south of Lloydminster. He studied agriculture in college. After attending his first Allan Savory conference, focusing on holistic land management, he was inspired to apply sustainable principles to the way he farmed, and began practicing rotational grazing management. Early on, Steve also studied with the Ranching for Profit program, which helped him create a farm plan for environmental and economic sustainability. Steve and Amber focus mainly on custom grazing cattle on leased land using intensive rotational grazing management. In the summer, he manages 3000 acres for 1200 yearlings. In the winter, a reduced number of