Prairie Gold Meats & Meadow Farm Florals: The Perfect Pairing

Posted by Michelle Lam on May 14, 2021

Photo Credit: Ashlea Kooman Location: Tamara Ranch, Red Deer , AB

Prairie Gold Meats & Meadow Farm Florals is based on Treaty 6 and 7 territory, a traditional gathering place, travelling route and home for many Indigenous Peoples including the Blackfoot, Tsuu T’ina, Stoney Nakoda, traditional Métis, Cree and Saulteaux.

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

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

Blake Hall grew up in the City of Red Deer, Alberta and got into farming through the CRAFT Apprenticeship program in Southern Ontario.

Having caught a bug for grazing, pasture management and soil health, Blake volunteered on holistically-managed grazing farms in the U.S. and Canada to build his skill set. Wanting to start his own business, Blake created a herd-share program to develop a direct-to-consumer business model.

Blake spent some time as a “nomadic herdsman of the 21st century”, owning nothing more than the cattle and using his social capital to access land here and there. Tired of short-term, hand-shake deals, Blake started looking for secure land tenure. He eventually connected with Tom and Margaret Towers who were ready to retire but wanted to maintain the grassland and not see it go into commodity grain production. Blake and his wife Ang moved onto the 400-acre ranch just outside of Red Deer and brought their land and business management skills. They hired Kelly Sidoryk, a Holistic Management Certified Educator, to lead a visioning process with all parties to talk about where they saw the ranch in the next 5-10 years.

Ang eventually caught the farming bug too and started Meadow Farm Florals. Each enterprise had a separate Farm Service Agreement, which outlined terms of their five-year rolling lease. They also had a Scope of Work Agreement because Blake was providing ranch management services.

After 6 years on the ranch, Blake and Ang wanted to prioritize more stable land access through a 25 year lease. When that didn’t pan out, Blake and Ang fell into a new opportunity. Initially, ownership was not in the cards. They had accepted the fact that their business was viable with land rental rates in Central Alberta but never would be profitable with a mortgaged land payment. In their early years, they had approached banks to buy property but didn’t qualify without off-farm jobs.

In 2019, a farm came up for sale through a friend. Having built up Prairie Gold Meats over 10 years and Meadow Farm Florals over 2, they had proven business records and the bank looked at them differently. Blake and Ang are now on 40 acres of their own land and are renting pasture in the area.

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.

Have any additional questions? Send us a message to alberta@youngagrarians.org

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.