Fork in the Rowed Farms: The Journey of a Small-Scale Market Garden

Posted by Michelle Lam on April 11, 2021

Fork in the Rowed Farms is based on Treaty 7 territory, a traditional gathering place, travelling route and home for many Indigenous Peoples including the Niitsítpiis-stahkoii ᖹᐟᒧᐧᐨᑯᐧ ᓴᐦᖾᐟ (Blackfoot / Niitsítapi ᖹᐟᒧᐧᒣᑯ), Ktunaxa ɁamakɁis, Tsuu T’ina, Michif Piyii (Métis), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ.

The land is also known in Canadian geography as Lethbridge, AB.

This case study is a part of Young Agrarians Alberta Land Access Guide, a toolkit for farmers seeking land opportunities.

Jodi and Moira didn’t want to start farming when they did. They had a five year plan to get into market gardening but things sped up when a piece of land became available that they had their eye on. It had really good soil, the right kind of zoning and was close to potential customers.

To come up with a down payment, Jodi used every penny she had and her father contributed a portion. Moira refinanced her house. Through Farm Credit Canada (FCC), they secured a land and equipment loan with the help of Jodi’s father who guaranteed it. He farmed nearby. Jodi and Moira also accessed equipment loans through the provincial government.

With 17 acres of land, they felt they needed to increase their skills and participated in the Alberta Farm Fresh School. This also helped them build their network of support. They also decided to transition the land to organic right away and found a community of mentors.

In the first season, they launched their CSA while both working off farm. Jodi focused on production and managing the farm while Moira started marketing through Farmer’s Markets in Lethbridge and Calgary. To help access markets, Moira worked part-time for a BC Fruit Company and also sold their products alongside their vegetables. After 2 years of CSA, they switched to a voucher system when customers could pick up their veggies at the market.

They currently have a growing market in Calgary and have been continually tweaking their production and marketing for that urban audience. Eventually, they bought the fruit business which helped them pay for a truck and a cooler.

They recommend not to specialize but find complimentary business opportunities. They also say to learn what the communities needs are, where the shortfalls may be, and find opportunities to partner up with others to fill those gaps for your client base. For example, they work closely with YYC Growers to supply fruit which helps make what the grow and sell from their farm more viable.

Farming is their passion. Purchasing the land and a fruit business brought risk and stress but they have more land than they need and room to grow.

Interested in exploring a career in regenerative farming in Alberta? Here are some helpful places to start:
  • The Young Agrarians Apprenticeship Program is a full immersion program that puts you into the heart of running a farm business, day in and day out.
  • The Business Bootcamp is a pay-what-you-can online, community-based program that will give you the space and skills to write a stellar business plan for the farm of your dreams.
  • The YA U-MAP is an online tool that can link you to nearby educational, land, and job opportunities!
  • Sign-Up for the YA Newsletter to receive the latest updates on news, events, and jobs.
  • Join the Young Agrarians Alberta Facebook group, an online community of regenerative farmers in Alberta.

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