Written by Maya Atallah, University of Alberta Sociology Student
Located three kilometers south of Castor, Alberta is RedTail Farm, home of Luing cattle, Berkshire pigs, Berg Grazers chicken, and owners Ian Griebel and Dana Blume. They take pride in their 2000-acre farm where animals are raised on a healthy grass fed, hormone and antibiotic-free diet.
There are so many ways to approach agriculture, but it is the natural and holistic methods that Ian finds to be the most sustainable and efficient. Using his favorite farm tool, the electric fence, he manages the animals in a way that mimics a bison’s way of grazing to regenerate the land extensively. This technique helps to rebuild topsoil and promotes biodiversity.
The vision of healing both the land and the people through food is something Ian carries on from his late father, Richard Griebel. Another farm hero that also inspires Ian is Joel Salatin. It is through these agricultural pioneers’ ambition that Ian is motivated to continue moving forward with the dream of regenerating the land in order to provide nutrient dense products for their community.
This passion was further strengthened after the birth of Ian’s son, Cohen. “You begin to realize that it is no longer about you”, he explained. “Society needs to stop pushing the planet the way we do because, one day, there will be nothing left for our future generation. Another reason I do what I do is for him. RedTail Farm is a farm of three generations, looking seven generations forward.”
Being the third generation farmer, Ian admits there is always something new to learn. There are things you learn today that if you knew yesterday may have made you hesitate to take a certain plan of action. Ian sees this as a benefit in that it gives him a somewhat false confidence to take initiative on that he may not otherwise take. This helps him in discovering things he wouldn’t otherwise discover.
The most exciting time for Ian is Springtime. Spring brings with it new life, new animals and a chance to implement new ideas. This year Ian is looking forward to implementing a new watering system for his cattle.
Spring is also a time where RedTail Farm hosts field days, including the upcoming Agrarian Arts on the Prairie. Inviting the community into the farm is the best way to create relationships and share ideas. RedTail Farm prides itself on being transparent and authentic. Ian encourages everyone to come out and experience firsthand how the animals are being raised while receiving a sense of the land.
It is the relationship that people should have with the land and the food that Ian hopes to restore. Only then will we have a chance of sustaining and healing our planet. We are running out of time and need to stop simply talking about change but instead, be proactive in making change. Ian stresses the importance of the food system needing to be locally and community-based, supported by hard-working, creative, and innovative people coming together. It is such like-minded people that will empower change that will heal the planet and protect our future generations.