The Gelowitz’s kept a garden on their farm where they grew several saskatoon bushes. Rick, who grew up in Calgary, but spent quite a few summer vacations on his uncle’s farms in Saskatchewan, has had a lifelong love for the native prairie berry. “It was my wife’s suggestion that we try to grow Saskatoon berries,” he recalls. “And that’s how it started.”
Norma Wolfchild, a member of the Blood Tribe, has spent nearly 20 years helping her community develop small business ventures, working with the Blood Tribe Economic Development as a small business development officer. After her husband was diagnosed with diabetes, she was determined to establish a healthier lifestyle with organic, nutrient-rich foods. She now has a thriving garden, a small horde of livestock and honey-producing bees.
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.
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.
Ryan Mason, owner of Reclaimed Organics, a certified organic vegetable and herb farm in Leduc County, spent most of his twenties traveling the world studying agriculture and food systems. He travelled across several continents, working alongside campesinos in Mexico and wakulimu (small farmers) in Tanzania.
But Ryan’s roots on the Canadian prairies travel even deeper. He spent the first eighteen years of his life on his family’s farm — a small-scale chicken operation — in Pigeon Lake, Alberta. Ryan has fond memories of growing up on the farm, helping feed the chickens, and picking raspberries with his brother. After graduating from high school, Ryan pursued an undergraduate degree in global development studies at Augustana University in Camrose. “It was there where I rediscovered my passion for food and food studies,” he says.