MEET OUR GROWERS
Grassy Lake, Alberta
3rd Generation Farmers
James & Andrea & Family
1. How did you get into farming?
After high school, I entered post-secondary thinking I would work in the ag industry in some capacity but possibly not farm. It was around this time that our family farm diversified into potatoes. Potatoes are very labor intensive and require a lot of skilled management. It was exciting to be involved and it definitely rooted me on the farm. I also farm with my brother Neil and his family.
2. What do you love about farming?
I love when fall comes and you can smell the fresh dirt in the crisp air. I love that we live where we work and everyone can pitch in to get the job done.
3. What other activities are you involved in (outside the farm or association work)?
My wife and I are 4H leaders in our local beef club. Life apparently is better with some cows around. It has been a great program for our kids and it’s so great to see all the kids grow throughout the year. We also help out with school in whatever way we can and volunteer at church camp.
4. What types of on-farm sustainability practices do you employ?
We’ve really come to realize that our soil is a very delicate resource. We do a lot of cover cropping to protect against southern Alberta’s powerful winds. We’ve really limited tillage as much as possible, especially in our rotational years outside of potatoes. We’ve also introduced a perennial crop into our rotation to help build soil. Lastly, we practice 4R nutrition to make sure that we are maximizing the efficiency of the fertilizer we are using.
5. What excites you about the future of farming?
I think there’s something new to learn every day. There is so much we have yet to learn about our soils. I think the big gains to be made in farming will be through unlocking those secrets.
6. What concerns you?
a. Two things concern me. First there is quite a disconnect between the producers of food and the consumers. I think social media has been an interesting tool for farmers to bridge this divide. I do believe that this disconnect is also leading to bad government policy.
b. My second concern is how tight the margins are getting. The price of our commodities seems to rise at a much slower pace than our inputs. On top of that, we also have to compete for land with large, non-farming entities. I really think that this is having a negative effect on Alberta’s rural heritage.