Blog Category: Essays and Opinions

Number of female farmers has risen in Canada since 2011

Posted by Dana Penrice on January 19, 2018

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Despite an increase in their numbers, women are still having trouble being taken seriously on the farm. | Getty Images Originally published January 18, 2018 in The Western Producer by Nikki Wiart At Lazy T Farm, a holistic cattle ranch near Halkirk, Alta., and a short drive from my own family farm, the future really is female. Jenna Hauck and her mother, Clara Nibourg, represent the fourth and fifth generations of women in Nibourg’s family to take over the farm. With that kind of history — a farm being passed down through five generations of females where duties are equally shared, … Continue reading Number of female farmers has risen in Canada since 2011

Chasing the Ghost of Richard Griebel: reflections by Derek Leahy, Redtail Farms Apprentice

Posted by Dana Penrice on December 12, 2017

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On the first week of my farm apprenticeship I was already cursing my farm mentor’s dead father. Why? Page wire. My nemesis. Sort of. At the beginning of April, that time of year in Alberta when Old Man Winter cannot make up his mind if he is ready to pack it in or not, I began a seven-month apprenticeship at Redtail Farms in Castor, Alberta. The first thing my mentors—third generation farmers Ian Griebel and Dana Blume—had me do was dismantle a few miles of fencing. The fencing had been put up presumably by their predecessor Richard Griebel, Ian’s father, … Continue reading Chasing the Ghost of Richard Griebel: reflections by Derek Leahy, Redtail Farms Apprentice

CALL FOR DONATIONS: Food for Unist’ot’en

Posted by Moss Dance on September 26, 2017

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Note: This blog post comes to us from Chelsea Tims, a Vancouver Island farmer who is supporting the Unist’ot’en Camp in Wet’suwet’en by gathering food donations for the volunteer work camp in October. Click here to learn more about Unist’ot’en. And please contact Chelsea (chelseatims@gmail.com) to donate! Dear Farmers, I hope this email is finding you well as we begin to enter the fall season. My name is Chelsea Tims and I am a fellow farmer on Vancouver Island in my third season of growing at various farms. I am emailing you today to make a request for food donations on behalf of the Unist’ot’en Camp located in northern … Continue reading CALL FOR DONATIONS: Food for Unist’ot’en

From the Chilcotin B.C. Wildfire Front: A Rotational Grazer’s Story

Posted by Darcy Smith on September 13, 2017 1 Comment

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Farmers and ranchers are facing a summer of the fiercest B.C. wildfires on record. Many were forced to evacuate, and have lost animals, homes, and their livelihoods. Amongst the loss and devastation, we wanted to share an inspiring story from an off-the-grid rancher who managed to make it through. Thanks to Shanti Heywood for telling her story. Protecting my home was just something I had to do. People keep commenting on how brave I was – but I like to think everyone has some grit inside of them somewhere to fight when they have to. My heart goes out to … Continue reading From the Chilcotin B.C. Wildfire Front: A Rotational Grazer’s Story

Ecological Farm Internships: Modes, Experiences, and Justice

Posted by Moss Dance on August 15, 2017

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We are excited to share this report on ecological farm internships edited by Charles Z. Levkoe and Michael Ekers. Contributors to the report are farmers, past interns, non-profit organizations, and lawyers. The goal of the report is to “assess the implications and trajectories of the non-monetary exchanges of labour and education, among other things, taking place on ecological farms.” Read the report here: Ecological Farm Internships – Models, Experiences and Justice – Levkoe and Ekers (Interactive) The report takes a broad view of ecological farm internships—accounting for the need for labour on small farms, the educational benefits, as well as the risks and drawbacks … Continue reading Ecological Farm Internships: Modes, Experiences, and Justice

Tamara Ranch Tour Recap & Announcement of the Winners of the Grazing Olympics!

Posted by Dana Penrice on June 20, 2017

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Tamara Ranch is an amazing hub for those wanting to nerd out on gardening and grazing! Home to Prairie Pastured Gold Meats, Field to Fork Pasture Poultry and Steel Pony Farms we had a jam-packed tour with these amazing farmers. “I like to describe a garden tour like coming to a party. If you come and tour it in the late fall, its a bit like coming to the party at 2am when things are winding down and you’re crawling over sleepy people to find a place to sit and can scarcely find a beer around. When you come in June, its like coming … Continue reading Tamara Ranch Tour Recap & Announcement of the Winners of the Grazing Olympics!

2016 Census of Agriculture Results Are In!

Posted by Darcy Smith on May 10, 2017

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Farm data nerds, the day is finally here! Canada’s 2016 Census of Agriculture results have arrived—along with some interesting shifts in the sector. Here are some highlights of the good, the bad, and the promising: Farmers are getting older—and younger Farmers 55+ is the fastest growing age group, with the average national age of operators edging up from 54 in 2011 to 55. This trend parallels the general population. On the other hand, this year we saw an increase in the number of farm operators under 35. This is the first time there has been an increase in farmers under 35 since … Continue reading 2016 Census of Agriculture Results Are In!

Agroecology in Canada: Food Sovereignty in Action—National Farmers Union

Posted by Moss Dance on April 25, 2017 1 Comment

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The following article consists of excerpts from Agroecology in Canada: Food Sovereignty in Action published by the National Farmers’ Union. “Agroecology is much more than a set of technologies; it is a political and social system, a way of life, a form of resistance against corporate control of the food system, and quite simply the best means of achieving food sovereignty.” — Ayla Fenton, NFU Youth Vice President “Agroecology is the answer to how to transform and repair our material reality in a food system and rural world that has been devastated by industrial food production and its so-called Green and … Continue reading Agroecology in Canada: Food Sovereignty in Action—National Farmers Union

Soil Testing for New Farmers: a Step by Step Guide

Posted by Darcy Smith on March 22, 2017

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‘Feed the soil, not the plants’ is a great way of looking at the importance of managing soils for food production. Soils vary in diversity from one location to another, and require comprehensive management strategies for on-site nutrient recycling and long-term land stewardship. Healthy soils will grow healthy crops, and knowing what types of soils you are working with will help you figure out what will grow best on your land. For a farmer on a new piece of land, there are a few methods that will reveal what type of soil and nutrient content you are working with. Soil testing, on … Continue reading Soil Testing for New Farmers: a Step by Step Guide

Ideas & Inspiration from the 2016 Holistic Management Gathering at Paicines Ranch, California!

Posted by Dana Penrice on January 10, 2017

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At the generous invitation of Sally Calhoun, owner of the Paicines Ranch, Sara Dent, BC Coordinator of Young Agrarians, Kelly Sidoryk of Holistic Management Canada and I (Young Agrarians Alberta Coordinator) were invited to participate in the Holistic Management International conference in California in October 2016. Representing both Young Agrarians and Holistic Management Canada, the experience provided an opportunity to “cross-pollinate” with international Holistic Management networks, sharing ideas, learning new skills and supporting the regenerative agriculture movement. As an outsider, it was fascinating to step into the Paicines Ranch community and get a sense for the agrarian, regenerative ideals they are living by … Continue reading Ideas & Inspiration from the 2016 Holistic Management Gathering at Paicines Ranch, California!