Honoured at Organic Connections 2014
I started farming with my Dad, Wilfred, in 1982. We came back to live and farm my Great-Grandfather’s 1907 homestead. In 1990, as a family, we decided that organic farming was the direction in which we wanted to take our farm. My son, Bryce, is now living on his Grandfather’s land, in hopes of being able to farm fulltime.
The first two years we were certified with OCIA Chapter #2, northwest of North Battleford. The third year we joined Chapter #8 because of the similarity of soil type and farming practices. We certified our livestock in the late 1990’s.
I served on the certification committee for 10 years; three of those as chairperson. At that time the certification committee did the actual certifying. We have since moved to third party certifiers. I also received Farmer of the Year Award from OCIA International in 2010.
Through the years we have seeded many types of crops. One year we grew 12 varieties. Some of the crops we have grown were fenugreek, hemp, lentils (green, red, brown, black), brown and golden flax, hard red spring, durum, CPS white, barley, oats, peas (forage, green and field), kamut, soybeans and chickpeas. We tried diverse crops and rotations to access niche markets. We used to have to hunt for markets but now the buyers come to us.
We also tried many biological soil amendments to boost microbial life in the soil. We took our turns hosting field days to share our results. This year I hired a certified agronomist who specializes in organic solutions. His enthusiasm has been motivating.
At first we decided that organic farming was a way of making small acres viable in supporting two families. As we got more involved, organic farming became our life choice. This was the way we chose to live and raise our family. Taking care of the environment and soil was our alternative to mining our farmland. I feel conventional farmers use soil as a medium to hold their plants up whereas we use our soil to grow our plants. Even if there were no organic markets I would still farm organically and then sell conventionally, if necessary. The driving force behind how we farm is sustainability.