While regenerative agriculture can (and should) look different for every operation, the business case and value proposition for replicating and growing its adoption is increasingly garnering interest from a diversity of groups within and beyond the food system. Many now acknowledge its potential to help address several sustainability crises by sequestering carbon, supporting climatic, environmental and economic health and creating employment and business opportunities. However, scaling the practice continues to face many obstacles. Phase 2 of our Regenerative Agriculture Lab (RAL) aims to convene ~35 committed producers, industry leaders, food distributors and retailers, academics, policymakers and innovative thinkers in general to work together to learn and take action on initiatives that respond to the question:

How might we grow Alberta's regenerative agriculture system in a way that preserves its integrity, while maximizing the positive social, environmental, and economic impacts for communities?

In Alberta, regenerative agriculture is primarily a grassroots movement of small-to-medium operations trying to grow their foothold in a sector where just the economics can keep many from transitioning to regenerative practices as well as diminish the attractiveness for younger generations. Even as new levels of collaboration with large-scale food companies and companies in other industries present new opportunities to mainstream the field, skepticism remains about potential greenwashing and fragmentation persists across the sector about what must define “good” as regenerative scales and what will ultimately define “value”. With so many economic and environmental benefits at stake, this is the right time and place to forge a collective path forward.

Phase 1 of the Regenerative Agriculture Lab (RAL) focused on bringing together a diverse set of Alberta agricultural producers into a forum for innovation and collaboration through a series of workshops, interactive tools and peer-to-peer learning moments. The broad aim was to collectively identify the desired future they wanted to help create for regenerative agriculture in the province and solutions that participants could advance to make this future a reality.
The ideas Phase 1 participants shared in 2021 became the basis of this visual (left).
Phase 1 also identified projects and initiatives that could garner early wins, particularly focused on supporting new entrants into the field, attracting investors and building the network and connections across the system.
Read this two-pager to learn more about what happened in Phase 1.

The Regenerative Agriculture Lab aims to respond to the timely opportunity to…

  • Create a forum for innovation and collaboration for a network of committed regenerative agriculture ‘actors’ in Alberta
  • Celebrate, learn from, and widely share the stories of Albertans who have been putting regenerative solutions into action on farms and ranches
  • Work on collaborative initiatives that enable regenerative agriculture to accelerate its awareness and impact across all players in the agriculture system
  • Co-create a shared vision of a regenerative agriculture system that the future requires of us
  • Generate and exemplify narratives of regenerative agriculture that bridge the polarization on the topic and invites interest from other agriculture players

RAL is working with ~35 individuals that are committed to both learning and acting to advance regenerative agriculture in different ways and with different parts of the agriculture system

For more information, please contact Shiana at syounger @ stettlerlearning.com.


Farming With Nature — Redtail Farms, Castor, Alberta

While Ian Griebel grew up on his family’s mixed farm south of Castor, Alberta, he never thought he’d one day become a farmer. Griebel studied carpentry and pursued his journeyman certificate, and envisioned a life away from the farm. But in his late twenties, he and his wife, Dana, realized they wanted “to get back to the land”, and that his family’s farm in Castor presented an opportunity.

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Evolving Sustainable Practices on a Fifth Generation Ranch — Valley View Ranch & Flying Heart Meats, Strathmore, Alberta

Sustainability is a shared family value at Valley View Ranch and Flying Heart Meats, a fifth generation family ranch located east of the town of Strathmore, a short drive from Calgary, Alberta.

Rod and Beth Vergouwen’s agricultural roots in Strathmore stem back to the early 1900s when Beth’s great-grandfather emigrated from Illinois with the vision to farm and ranch in southern Alberta. In 1909, he named the land “Valley View Ranch” — a name that Rod and Beth, along with their children, who represent the next generation of farmers on the family ranch, have preserved and continued to date. “We have a long, deep rooted connection with agriculture on both sides of the family farm,” explains Rod, whose own grandfather emigrated to southern Alberta from Holland in the 1920s.

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Producing the Perfect Potato and Soil Health to Handle Environmental Stress—The Perry Farm—Chin, Alberta

If you’re enjoying a bag of potato chips in Western Canada, there’s a 1 in 5 chance the potatoes were grown by Harold Perry and his family at the Perry Family Farm, a fourth-generation operation located in Lethbridge County in southern Alberta.

Together, Harold and his brother, Chris, and his father, Gerald, work collaboratively as partners to manage 5000 acres of irrigated land producing potatoes—varieties of chippers, russets, and red Mozart potatoes—along with other field crops, including hard red spring wheat, winter wheat, barley, sunflowers, green peas, seed canola. The Perry family prioritizes environmental stewardship through their approach to soil management and a number of exciting renewable energy projects that they’re implementing on the farm.

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