Blog Category: Essays and Opinions

Letters to An Elder Farmer: Takota Coen

Posted by Dana Penrice on April 05, 2018 1 Comment

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The Thistle and the Forest Dear Elder Agrarian, Ten years ago this spring, the neighbours cleared some land. What was once a vibrant forest of beautiful complexity gave way to a barren soil and smoking piles. I played in these woods as a child and was struck by the sudden change. While some saw progress, I saw a terrible loss. For reasons still unknown to me, the owners walked away almost as soon as the smoke cleared. For a decade I watched a transformation I will never forget. First came the weeds. By the end of that first summer, thistles … Continue reading Letters to An Elder Farmer: Takota Coen

Letters to An Elder Farmer: Keely Wohlgemuth

Posted by Dana Penrice on April 05, 2018

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Dear Elder Farmer, We see you work: Building callus upon callus on your tan hands while you prep the air seeder for spring. We see your worry: The wrinkled brow; the scratch of your head; the antacid pills; the scraps of paper with calculations and a plan to make ends meet. We see your frustration: Mumbled curse words and the forceful pounding of a hammer as you try to straighten a bent swather knife. We see you hurry: Meals forgotten; tools left out; the scamper up the ladder to close the grain bin before the rain. We see your exhaustion: … Continue reading Letters to An Elder Farmer: Keely Wohlgemuth

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

Food For Thought | Remembering our Roots & Committing to Change!

Posted by Kristen Nammour on January 12, 2018

Sweet Digz Farmer Field Work

By Kareno Hawbolt & Kimi Hendess, Sweet Digz Farm What a year!  As for all farmers around us, the wet cold spring played a huge roll in the timing of our crops, the speed at which we tried to catch up all season long, and the bumper crops of weeds that tried to take over the farm!  Luckily, we had the moral support of our awesome mentors at Sea Bluff Farm – Robin Tunnicliffe and Sasha Kubicek with their combined extensive expertise in farming and financial management (respectively).  Being in constant communication with them helped us realize we weren’t alone in the challenges … Continue reading Food For Thought | Remembering our Roots & Committing to Change!

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

BC Wildfire at Riparian Ranch

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

Ecological Farm Internships

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!