The Farm Virgin Ep.11 Curds and Whey

Goat’s Pride Dairy is a certified organic farm near Abbotsford, BC where Jason turns organic goat’s milk into all kinds of popular dairy products like yogurt, feta and blue cheese. In this episode Ben learns from the cheese man himself what goes into the curds and whey.

The Farm Virgin – Episode 11: Curds and Whey

 

The Farm Virgin Ep.12 Big Rock Brewery

Something’s brewing at Big Rock in Calgary, Alberta. This unique brewery offers a wide range of tasty hand crafted beers made from local hops, malted barley and wheat. In this video, Karla takes the Farm Virgin on a private tour of the brew house, warehouse and tasting room to learn all about how quality beer is made.

The Farm Virgin – Episode 12: Big Rock Brewery

 

The Farm Virgin Ep.13 The Miracle of Birth

The Farm Virgin pays a visit to Miller Wilson Angus, in the middle of their calving season, to witness the miracle of birth. Check out this up close footage of a purebred black angus cow giving birth to a healthy little calf, with the usual questions and commentary from Ben.

The Farm Virgin – Episode 13: The Miracle of Birth

Dave Limpert’s Family Farm Story

Almost 15 years ago, Dave Limpert and his brother tossed a coin to see who would get to stay on the family farm.  We spoke to Dave at his farm near Okotoks, Alberta, and captured some of these powerful quotes that we pulled from his interview where Dave shares his incredible story, looking back on this and other defining moments for their family farm.

Make sure you scroll down to check out the full video of Dave’s story, where he reveals at 2:21 into the video why his mother ended up paying so much in taxes after her husband’s unexpected death, and at 9:32 he identifies something that is causing family farms in Canada to disappear.

Tell us about a pivotal moment for your family farm.

There was a couple of defining moments in the history of my family and ranching and farming, that could have changed things and went a different direction.  Probably the most impactful one was in 1981. My dad was farming with my grandfather and my brother and I at 18 and 16 – I’m the oldest of 6 kids.  We were just getting into the family farm, and my dad passed away, at age 46.  One day he was there, and the next day he just wasn’t there.  And the most unfortunate part of that whole story is that we had never had anyone drive into our yard and teach us anything about financial management on a business or a farm.
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What’s the biggest challenge facing young farmers?

A lot of the reason that the next generation, not even if they want to but can’t [take over the farm], is that we’ve paid for the exact same dirt four or five times over.  That has to be stopped, or everything we’re doing is for nothing.  That’s why the next generation can’t take over.  It’s not that they don’t want to.  They can’t.

 

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What’s one major lesson you’ve learned about farming?

Harvest is a funny time of year, because while you’re harvesting, what are you thinking?  Gotta get done, gotta get done.  But the moment you’re done, what are you thinking?  Wish I had more, wish I had more. Right?  And I remember the day we were down there and my brother came in with our brand new John Deere combine, and up in the quonset I was leaning on that same 65’ chev half tonne that I learned to drive when I was like 8 or 9 years old.  And I was just kicking rocks there and going “man I gotta put that combine to work”, you know?  I got a payment coming out, and combines are a funny machine because you use them about 150 hours a year, and then they sit in the quonset.  So I’m kicking stones, and as my brother’s walking down from the quonset and I was just kicking those stones, looking down like this, and I had a defining moment.  And I realized where all our money was.  I was standing on it.  I was an asset millionaire, but I didn’t have enough money in my pocket to go to town for a coffee.

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Dave Limpert’s Family Farm Story

Buy Locally Grown Food at a Pocket Market

by Charlotte Fesnoux

Recent trends in consumption indicate a growing demand for fresh and local food. This is particularly true in urban settings where access to local food is more difficult. Meanwhile, local farmers, bakers and other producers are feeling increased pressure to participate in the expanding number of farmers markets, while balancing the need to be on the farm and maintain their businesses. Pocket markets can help satisfy both the producer and the consumer by creating new avenues for distribution, and broadening access to fresh, local food within the community!

What is a Pocket Market?

Pocket Markets are temporary local food markets that sell directly to the pubic on behalf of local food vendors.

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They tend to be much smaller than traditional farmers’ markets – hence the “pocket”, allowing them to locate in high volume areas, such as workplaces and other institutions. This helps make fresh, local food more accessible to the consumer, and ultimately helps to nurture the local food movement!

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Advantages for the Vendor

This model is beneficial to the vendor as it allows them to sell a large quantity of product without having to incur the time and financial costs of being at a market.

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Products are purchased directly from the vendor at a wholesale price and then sold at the market at the same retail price the vendor would normally charge. This method guarantees the farmers (or baker) a sale, while reducing the burden on resources.

Pocket market staff works with the vendor to determine the most efficient means of receiving their product, either by coordinating with the vendors regular delivery route schedule, picking up at the farm, or connecting with the farmer at a market.

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Although pocket markets lack the direct connection between producer and consumer, they strive to emulate that connection by displaying information about each vendor at market. This can be done through vendor profiles, which show where the food comes from, how it is grown (or made) and who produced it. Education and building consumer awareness are integral parts of pocket markets, so in addition to vendor profiles, information posters and pamphlets litter the tables, and pocket market staff are always at hand to answer questions. Education is essential as it can help create informed consumers, at the pocket market and outside of it.

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How can farmers partner with pocket markets?

Each pocket market may have different requirements for membership. For the Coquitlam Farmers Market Society of Coquitlam, B.C., the overarching prerequisites are fairly simple – the product must be made, baked, or grown locally.

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If your product fits into one of those categories, it is likely you can take part, but the suitability of your product will ultimately be at the absolute discretion of the pocket market and must meet various health and food safe guidelines. Lastly, farmers are encouraged to explain to the pocket market staff exactly what agricultural practices they follow to ensure the most accurate information is relayed to the consumer.

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Pocket markets play an important role in supporting the production and distribution of local food. The markets help bridge the gap for local farmers, urban backyard growers and local food eaters by providing an alternative market format that adds to the current make-up of the farmer’s market world.

Strengthening Rural Communities with Green Hectares

Today at FarmOn we talked with Lesley Pohl of Red Deer, AB who is a Community Connector working with Green Hectares.

A non-profit organization established in 2008, Green Hectares is a leader in bringing sustainability to the agriculture community, and fostering dynamic rural communities. Founded by a group of young leaders who are passionate about agriculture, Green Hectares works to create an environment where anyone with an interest in agriculture and food can thrive & prosper, no matter where they live. At Green Hectares we help develop opportunities for people to connect, collaborate & learn so they can be a thriving part of the agriculture industry, or a contributing force in their community.

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Jen: Hi Lesley, thanks for taking the time to chat with us.Currently we know you are working in rural communities, but I am wondering what your background is as it relates to rural living or agriculture?

Lesley: Hi Jen, thanks very much for inviting me! I grew up & was actively involved with the herd health at our family feedlot located outside of Ponoka; as far back as I can remember I was riding barrel & cow horses & checking calves! I was actively involved in processing every fall from running the hydraulic squeeze to tagging, vaccinating, castrating & de-horning. I’ve been training horses since I was about 12 years old, primarily focusing on horses with specific emotional problems; for example a barrel horse that refuses to go up an alley into an arena; I got involved in Natural Horsemanship in 2003 & enjoy working with clinicians & learning new techniques & tips! This winter I started participating in cowboy challenge obstacle courses & my dad has jumped right on board & has an obstacle course set up at the feedlot!

Jen: Your role at Green Hectares is defined as a “Community Connector”, can you tell us a bit more about this role?

Lesley: Our motto is “Where people & opportunity meet” The Green Hectares Community Connector develops & taps into a network of existing educational programs, training & business services & brings them to people living in rural communities. Delivered online & in-person, I provide timely & easy access to programs & services for entrepreneurs, farmers & producers, families & community members. I am to ensure that people do not have to travel very far to get the resources, support & training they want.

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Jen: Obviously you are spending a lot of time in rural communities. What challenges do you see in these communities?

Lesley: I guess specifically more in the remote communities distance is a great challenge; the personalized support provided in urban areas isn’t available in remote rural areas. This is why The Community Connector Programming is so amazing because we provide personalized support for entrepreneurs, small business owners, farmers & producers, families, young people & other rural community members.

Green Hectares takes training to the people regardless of location. We believe people should be able to learn in their own community & not have to travel far to get the support & information they need. Our services & support will be provided in community halls & meeting venues in every community, both big & small. The Connector ensures that people do not have to travel very far to get the resources, support & training they need.

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Jen: What do you think the future looks like for our rural communities?

Lesley: Oh I think with all the great programs such as FarmOn & Green Hectares to name a couple, the future is bright, innovative & creative. The SKY is the limit!

Jen: Any thoughts on how we might best support these communities?

Lesley: I think organizations such as ours are supporting them in the most dynamic & creative ways. Green Hectares creates opportunities for people to connect, collaborate & learn so they can be a thriving part of the agriculture industry, or a contributing force in their community. It is our aim to support & build vibrant & sustainable communities in any way we can.

Jen: Again, thank you for chatting with us today Lesley. Can you tell us what events you will be attending or where people can meet you in the coming months?

Lesley: I’ll have a booth set up during the FCA Rodeo Finals Oct 5,6,7 in Red Deer at the Westerner Grounds; Also our booth will be set up at the Creating Rural Connections Conference at Olds College on October 11, 12 & 13th. Later on in October I’ll be attending the Agri-trade show in Red Deer as well as numerous community functions around the province! The common joke is that I am a gypsy so it’s best to email me or give me a quick call to find out what corner of the province I might be in!

There is no doubt that with individuals such as Lesley & the Green Hectares Organization, the future of our rural communities will be in good hands. If you wish to connect with Lesley or find out more about the Green Hectares programs please visit the Green Hectares website or contact Lesley at: lesley.pohl@greenhectaresonline.com

A ‘FUN’ Way to Farm

Almost a year ago I moved to the middle of the Corn Belt aka Northeastern Iowa. I grew up in agriculture, but my family had cattle and we bought all of our feed. Which meant I knew very little about farming other than what I had picked up on in my college classes and from inquisitively asking questions.

 

Surrounded by corn I began asking my then fiancé lots of questions about corn. Farming intrigues me. I find that it more business-minded compared to raising cattle. We make a lot of emotional decisions with our cattle, where as farmers use facts and research to make theirs.

 

I also learned that the way my family was farming was unique. They call their farming group the Farmers United Network – the FUN group.  We stay away from the word cooperative but there are 12 farming entities in the group all work ing together to achieve three goals 1. Be able to spend more time with their families, 2. Be more profitable, and 3. Have fun.

 

The people in the group span an age range of 24-72, with the average age being 42 years old. We are some of the younger people in the group. And currently with new John Deere combines costing xx there is no way we would be able to farm without the group.

 

Basics of how it is set up:

  • Two families own all the equipment. The others pay rental on that equipment when it is in their fields. On a side note I have never seen equipment so well taken care of. They actually put white carpets in the tractors and combines as a reminder to keep them clean.
  • The group has a wide range of expertise from a crop insurance guy, an agronomist, a loan officer, a seed salesman, a mechanic, a legal adviser and the list goes on. With wide range of expertise we can pull knowledge from within the group.
  • The group works together to plant and harvest each other’s fields. Decisions are made as a group of when planting, harvest, tillage, etc. will take place. When we were on our honeymoon someone else was helping plant our family’s fields. However, when we got back my husband spent time in another person’s field so they could attend a son’s basketball game.
  • We each sell our crops individually. However, when we have a contract hits or go through a mass text message is sent out to the group so they can try and take advantage of that same price.
  • Transparency is very important to the group. We are continually sharing insight on our own businesses, crop history and what did and didn’t in our fields. The value of our network is invaluable.

 

Why the group works:

  • It allows small guys like us to get into farming, and also learn from others with years of experience. We have top of the line equipment in our fields which allows us to be more profitable in the long run.
  • With the variation in age in the group it allows the more seasoned farmers to have a transition from farming to retirement. It also allows the younger people in the group to have better access to future rental opportunities when group members are ready to retire.
  • The group allows us to be more profitable. Currently, between the 12 farms we are farming about 8,000 acres. For us it is not about trying to have as many acres as possible, but rather making the acres we do have as profitable as possible. We can be more profitable because of the transparency I mentioned and the amount of knowledge being shared, something that many other farmers don’t have access to.
  • We are like to have fun. We all love farming, but we love our families more. The ability of the group to give us more time with our families makes the time spent in the tractor that much more enjoyable.

 

It’s been a fun journey learning more about this side of agriculture. I think this group of mostly men sometimes thinks that I am a bit of a nerd, but at the same time I am pretty sure they love being able to sit down and share their passion and knowledge with me. And it is even more exciting to know that we are ensuring generations of farmers to come will be able to continue doing what they love.

Screamin Brothers Interview

Healthy and helpful – ice cream without the guilt, and for a good cause! The amazing story of four brothers aged 3 to 13 who have created their own business of dairy-free, naturally sweetened ice cream, and contribute 5% of their profits towards children in need. Check out the Screamin’ Brothers interview above!

Viabar Interview

Viabar interview with founder Christiane.

No More Off Farm Employment

According to the 2011 Canadian Census of Agriculture:

  • Most farm operators continued to work more than 40 hours a week on the farm;
  • In 2010, 46.9% of operators worked off the farm

Now maybe 46.9% doesn’t sound so bad, but if you consider that these farmers may still be putting in a 40 hour work week on the farm that is a heavy load to carry for those juggling both on and off farm responsibilities.

Often we look toward off the farm work as a way to supplement our income, but have you thought about different on farm businesses you might develop to make your farm business more sustainable?

Here are some on farm business ideas from Small Farm Canada to get you thinking about how you might expand or diversify your farm to include a new business enterprise:

11 Great On Farm Businesses

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