Featuring Local Farmers who go the Extra Mile for Spray-Free, Pasture-Raised and Regenerative Agriculture
In our modern diet culture, we often think black or white: Meat or vegetarian? Dairy or vegan? Grains or paleo? I get these questions all the time. Better questions to ask would be: How clean is our food? Where does it come from? How have the animals been raised? What have they been fed? How has the food been processed? How many additives, chemicals, hormones etc. does it have?
We haven’t only lost a certain level connection to where our food comes from and how it’s been created, but also a good amount of common sense when it comes to how we treat our food and what we put into our body. Our relationship with food shows how we nurture ourselves, what we value, and what we become - and it reflects our relationship with everything.
Here is a (non conclusive) list of small local family farms located a couple of hours northwest of Edmonton, who go the extra mile for spray-free, pasture-raised, regenerative agriculture, and their connection with their customers, animals and land.
Foto: Blueridge Farms
Blue Ridge Farms is a beautiful little ranch located 1.5 hours North West of Edmonton, Alberta. Brett and Jillian Byers, and their 4 young kids spend their days raising pastured animals, tending to their veggie garden, and running their Farm Store which sells their homegrown meat & eggs.
The Byers run over 450 mother cows that they calve out each spring. Select calves are then chosen to enter their feeder program and finished for selling through their Farm Store, or as bulk beef: quarters, halves, or whole beef sales. Come spring, they raise over 1000 meat chickens, and over 200 turkeys on pasture using poultry tractors. These birds are moved onto fresh grass every day, resulting in fantastic flavour and a nutrient dense bird. Brett and Jill also run pasture pork - from Spring to Fall their piglets are raised in a big grassy field, you can go out and see the pigs laying about in the sun or running about through the tall grass.
Brett and Jillian believe in providing the greatest integrity and respect for all their animals, land, and customers. This family focuses their farming efforts on regenerative agriculture by building up soil structure, storing water, and using the animals to effectively manage the grasses to sequester mass amounts of carbon. Managing their ranch this way benefits the land, the animals, and the community of customers being nourished by their delicious proteins.
To pick up some of their farm fresh goodies, come out to their ranch on Sundays 1 pm – 4 pm and shop their very own Farm Store - or order online for delivery. The Byers’ Farm Store carries homegrown meat and eggs, with an impressive variety of products from local companies within a couple of hours radius of their ranch. The store is also geared towards children with a farm-themed swing set, playhouse, and toys.
Check out Blue Ridge Farms online at www.blueridgefarms.ca and make sure to subscribe to their bimonthly farm email.
The Doherty’s, moved out to the Wildwood area in the spring of 2016, and established Stonepost Farms. Their vision for the farm was to have a farm that could support their family which is why Stonepost Farms carries such a diverse line of products. They share a passion for the outdoors, the ability to produce their own food in a natural and healthy fashion, and sustainability of the land. They hope to pass these values down to the next generation of farmers, which includes their kids.
Stonepost Farms’ mission is to farm ethically, to produce nutrient dense food using ethical and regenerative farming practices that are both economically viable and sustainable for future generations.
As a small family farm they pride themselves in constantly striving to produce the best products possible while improving the land in the process. As small producers, every dollar you spend has an impact. They want to provide their customers with quality products at a fair price that they can feel good about.
They focus on regenerative farming techniques, going beyond sustainability. Regenerative farming is a holistic approach to farming which allows them to better their land, and, the soils on which everything on the farm revolves around. Maintaining and increasing biodiversity across their farm is also critical. Their farm already has diverse populations of birds, bees and insects which benefit the farm as a whole and makes it a healthier landscape.
They continually seek new opportunities to learn and adopt new best management practices, techniques and technologies. This allows them to better operate their farm and return the land and environment to a more natural state.
More info at: www.stonepostfarms.ca
Homesteader Farms is a 3rd generation farm located in Shiningbank Lake, which is approximately half way between Edson and Whitecourt. Trevor & Kristy’s grandparents were among the first settlers and homesteaders in the area. They raised cows, sheep, chickens, and had a very large garden. These roots are where their market garden, Homesteader Farms, was born. They started a small-scale CSA in 2014 and have evolved since then. Currently their farm includes a small farm store, a CSA delivery, an Edson pop-up market, and the Hinton outdoor market.
Trevor and Kristy grow all their fruits and veggies to organic standards by not using chemicals, pesticides, and sprays. Homesteading is a way of life that includes growing and producing everything they eat. They have had the privilege of living this way for their entire life. One of the joys of operating Homesteader Farms, is bringing that same great quality produce to the kitchens of their many customers.
Trevor and Kristy have always known what good quality food tasted like. One of their favourite customers said “These carrots actually taste real!”
Come check them out at: www.homesteaderfarms.com
Foto: Freeman Valley Ranch
The Freeman Valley Ranch is located 15 minutes west of Fort Assiniboine. Brian and Peggy Cockell are offering hormone and antibiotic free bison bison and beef. All animals are raised in a natural environment, rotating through grassland and bush pastures. Processing of animals is done at a government inspected facility. Bison has a sweet rich taste and tends to be leaner than beef. “If you like beef, you’ll love bison!" Brian and Peggy have been born and raised on the farm, so farm life has been their passion for many years. Ever since 46 years of marriage they have raised cattle, elk, bison and horses. They grow a big garden so their deep freeze and root cellar have full winter supply of food. Their chicken and milk cow supply them with eggs, fresh milk which she makes into yogurt, cottage cheese, butter and ice cream. Their whey and butter milk are used for baking and in smoothies. Some will say they are lucky to have all this, however they say “The harder we work… The luckier we get”. In the evening as they sit on their deck, they enjoy “Their Bit of Heaven”. I’d say people who know them are the lucky ones, since Brian and Peggy truly have a heart of gold, generously sharing with others what they’ve worked for passionately.
Come check out their yummy variety bundles or team up with family or friends and get a half or full animal to stock your freezer.
Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 780-584-3903
The Backwoods Buffalo Ranch is an organically minded ranch and homestead situated on 320 stunning acres of natural Alberta prairie grasses, striking woods, rolling hills and scenic river views, located SW of Mayerthorpe, AB, Canada. They raise a variety of proteins with the utmost care possible loving and respecting their animals from birth to harvest including: Pastured Pure Plains Bison, Pastured Pork, Pastured Chicken and Free-Range Egg.
Chad and Laurie Trigg, a Metis Family from rural Alberta, are striving to create a community based around whole foods, while bridging the gap between consumers and the farmers. Through education, surrounding honest conversations on how they raise their animals, in hopes of bringing the consumer, feelings of ease when enjoying the taste of a Backwoods food experience on the end of the fork.
Their meats are never treated with hormones or anti-biotics. Raised outdoors year round you can taste the difference in the sunshine. They believe in using the whole animal and in a world where we are accustomed to choosing everything that ends up on our plate, a lot of great cuts get left behind, which doesn't fit into their values. For this reason they’re proud to offer their Ranch Boxes and when you choose to purchase one, you are not only honouring the animal as a whole but gaining an opportunity to experience delicious cuts that may not have been on your radar before. Check out their on site farm store which is a pleasurable family friendly experience enjoyed by all: www.backwoodsbuffalo.com
Grandpa Carson's Farm is supplying the community of Parkland County, Alberta, Canada and the surrounding area with quality products at a fair market price. Whether you are in the market for flour, microgreens, or other farm products, they strive to have a quality, fresh product for you to enjoy.
Jenna from the Hobbs Farm is their partner in the poultry operation. Grandpa Carson originally started growing wheatgrass microgreens to supplement the ration for his laying hens in the winter. He was also fermenting wheat to add to the layer ration. He works hard to keep the pasture flavour in his eggs year round. Since he added two Jersey milk cows to the farm he uses kefir milk to supplement the layers rations year.
The cows provide milk which he skims the cream from for butter, yogurt, ricotta, mozzarella and cream cheese. He’s a firm believer in raw milk and the health benefits associated with its use. They also raise broilers and turkeys on pasture during the summer months.
Grandpa Carson grows a wide variety of microgreens and sells at farmers markets in the summer and offer local home delivery in winter. He also grinds his own whole wheat flour for sale. Nothing taken away; nothing added to the flour.
Jenna from the Hobbs Farm offers lots of her own products to the mix. They’re usually available for on farm sales, alternatively their meat and produce can be found at some of the local markets.
More info on their website: www.grandpacarsonsfarm.com
Foto: Jenna Hobbs
Jenna and Travis moved to this property, in Parkland County, Alberta, Canada in 2012. They fell in love with the house, the possibilities of starting a farm, and sharing the land with Grandma and Grandpa Hobbs. Travis grew up on a PMU farm in Manitoba, and if you know him, you can see, being outside and farming - is truly in his blood. At the Hobbs farm they’ve raised goats since they bought their first 12 bred nannies, back in 2015. They take pride in raising an exceptionally hardy herd with bloodlines from Canada and the USA. The goats are processed for meat, or used for vegetation management - goats can replace lawnmowers, soil aerators, weed-eaters, and fertilizer! Their core breed group is boer/kiko and spanish.
Happy hens live here. A beautiful collection of barnyard mixes, Amerucanas, Orpingtons, Cochins, Barred Plymouth rocks and Rhode Island Reds that lay a beautiful array of farm fresh eggs with golden yolks. Their poultry is grown slowly from one day old here on the farm, with no use of growth hormones or antibiotics. Everyday they have full access to fresh green pasture with lots of fresh air and sunshine. They are processed in a government inspected facility and ready for pick up at our farm, multiple times through out the summer.
Contact them to start your own goat herd or to rent a herd of 2-200, for vegetation management. Want to start your own flock? They sell hatching eggs as well.
By the way, Jenna is also an exceptional photographer. More info on their website: www.thehobbsfarm.com
Chatsworth Farm is a traditional/modern mixed family farm in east central Alberta, about two hours east of Edmonton. Rick, whose grandparents farmed but whose parents did not, started the farm in 1993 and married Johanna the following year. They named the farm after the old Chatsworth school district in which it's located, and we can see the pioneer one-room schoolhouse from our front porch.
They’re a family of five with three adult kids. They grow grain and legume crops, alfalfa, and raise beef cattle, sheep, turkeys, ducks, and chickens for eggs and meat, on more than 2,000 acres of beautiful rolling parkland.
They're a certified Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) producer, which means that between strict program requirements and a third-party audit process, they adhere to the highest standards of food safety, animal care, and environmental stewardship. They're also part of the Canadian Program for Certifying Freedom from Growth Enhancing Products (GEPs) for Export of Beef to the European Union.
They believe in sustainable farming practices, extended dry-aging, and working closely with their butchers for the most amazing flavour and tenderness. Above all, constant and dedicated care is required every single day of an animal's life to achieve a premium cut of meat or a dozen eggs. Their mission is to bring you the highest quality of food with the comfort of knowing where it comes from and how it was cared for.
Check them out at: www.chatsworthfarm.ca
Foto: Lake Isle Alpaca Homestead
Lake Isle Alpaca Homestead is a beautiful urban farm located a couple of hours west of Edmonton. Uwe and Liane raise alpacas for their amazing fibre and offer raw fibre and rovings for spinning or felting. Their retail products include socks and yarn.
Alpaca is a naturally breathable, hypo-allergenic and moisture wicking fibre. It adjust to the changing body temperature and it’s great for extreme weather conditions.
Contact them at 780 484 7657 or www.facebook.com/liahomestead
I don’t know about you, but knowing how these small family farms operate, touches my heart deeply and makes me want to support their cause as much as possible - so that they can keep on doing what they do and support you and me. I feel like they're heroes and I feel a lot of gratitude for what they offer us.
And to reconnect to the beginning of this article: When it comes to homegrown natural food versus store bought processed food, we don’t have to be all black and white either: We can go to the farmers market, grow a few veggies ourselves and we don’t have to go all homestead - or nothing. We can try our best to eat wholesome food most days, and still enjoy a frozen pizza here and there. We can make our own yogurt and pesto from scratch, and, buy ready made bread and salsa. We can try to live as spray free as possible, but purchase certain items non-organic - because these particular foods don’t get sprayed a lot. And, by the way, many small farmers don’t go through the certification to be “certified organic” although their products are spray free, hormone free, antibiotic free etc., because to get the official certification is often not feasible for them.
So how can you find out? Talk to your farmers. Ask them. They will be happy to share about their farm, their land, their animals, their philosophy. This kind of dialogue is not only enjoyable, it’s a step towards reconnecting with where our food comes from, and, ultimately nurtures what's nurturing us. Feel free to make a trip to some of these local farms with your kids. They will love it!
And now, go check out the farm websites mentioned above and make sure to follow them on social media and subscribe to their email lists. Happy farm shopping!