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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Organic Farming for Ecosystem Biodiversity & Diversity – Larchgrove Farm, Barrhead County

Today, Jenna and Thomas are in the process of rebuilding the market vegetable and herb garden, while focusing on restoring health and vitality back into the compacted hayfield. Their goal is to expand into an heirloom flower farm to offer a CSA program to the community (with organic, unsprayed flowers), while providing food for their honeybees and the native bees. They also want to create access for community members to grow their own food and forage for wild foods. “Everything works together,” explains Jenna, “And we’re building on this already incredibly resilient ecosystem.”

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*BONUS* Bridging Echo Chambers Part Three

Feedlot manager Andrea Stroeve-Sawa shares low-stress livestock handling tips we can use to have constructive conversations on the livestock and the environment issue.

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*BONUS* Bridging Echo Chambers Part Two

Communications strategist Sarah Wray discusses communications techniques we can use to have constructive conversations on the livestock and the environment issue.

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*BONUS* Bridging Echo Chambers Part One

Author and leadership advisor David Irvine discusses the strategies we can use to have constructive conversations on the livestock and the environment issue.

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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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Transitioning to No-Till Organic Agriculture for Climate Resiliency—Sundog Organic Farm, Sturgeon County

Jenny Berkenbosch and James Vriend manage Sundog Organic Farm, a 14-acre certified organic vegetable and herb operation, located north of Edmonton in Sturgeon County. They grow a wide range of field and greenhouse vegetables and herbs, and sell their organic produce to customers through a summer and fall Farm Share program, and as well, at Edmonton’s Strathcona Farmer’s Market.

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From Urban to Rural Agriculture — Reclaim Organics, Leduc County

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.

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Stronger Plants, Family & Community – Peas on Earth – Sturgeon County

Eric and his wife Ruby, along with their extended family, have been growing mixed vegetables in northern Alberta for nearly 35 years. The Chen family has seen it all over the past several decades, dealing with weeds, pests, and extreme climactic events. They have a deep passion for growing organic food and feeding communities in the Edmonton and surrounding area.

“Farming was always a calling for us,” explains Eric. “It really helped us grow as a family.”

Eric was born in Laos and spent part of his childhood in Thailand. His grandmother, originally from China, had farming roots, but his parents only kept a hobby garden and a few livestock. In 1979, when Eric was thirteen years old, he and his family immigrated to Westlock, Alberta. Two years later, he took a summer job working on a vegetable farm in Westlock. “That’s how it all started,” he laughs. “The farmer said to me, ‘Maybe you should start a farm’ – and eventually – I did!”

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