#OurFoodHasAStory Angela Jones:

It’s day 7 of Agriculture Month, and my fellow blogger, Angela Jones has written this excellent guest post. Angela is a kindred soul, as she loves talking about agriculture and food as much as I do. I love so much about this post – be sure to give it a read!! 

Give Angela a follow on FaceBook or give her blog, Agriculture Today, a read here

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After discussing how to promote the #OurFoodHasAStory campaign with Adrienne, I decided to send her a short write up of my involvement with food to celebrate agriculture month in Saskatchewan. We have connected with one another through our shared passion of talking to consumers and telling the story of AG and I loved her idea!  

 I live in North East Saskatchewan with my husband Michael and two children; Brayden age 15 and Crandall age 11. My family has been farming Canadian soil for 105 years and although I actively farm on my husband’s family farm, I still feel the century long commitment of caring for the land and protecting what generations before me have worked so hard to build. 

My great grandfather Nycolai Stasiek who came from Ukraine and founded the family farm in 1912


 The 80’s were a tough economic time in rural Saskatchewan and the future didn’t look all that bright. As my parents sustained the operation by driving over 20 miles to work, the narrative I continually heard from them was to ‘get off the farm and get a good job’. I heeded their advice and went away to school for a time but the gravel roads and freshly tilled dirt lured me back (the lure also may have been influenced by a handsome young man whom I would later call my husband). Now that I am here, I can’t imagine any place I would rather be. 


My connection to food is two-fold. I not only love growing it, but I also have a robust fondness for cooking. Many rainy days are spent experimenting with new ingredients or preparing recipes of old that have traveled with my grandmothers from Sweden and Ukraine. When I was younger this interest in cooking exposed me to some very strong suggestions that farmers were not properly taking care of our environment or always selling a safe product. I was shocked, angry, and I couldn’t believe the hard-working people that I grew up around would put profit over people or safety. It didn’t make sense to me but I believed a lot of the fear surrounding food production anyway, especially as I became a mother and wanted the very best and safest options for my baby. As I spent more time on my husband’s farm learning, asking questions, and eventually actually being involved in the work, I realized how wrong many of the food bloggers and marketing campaigns were. Canada has one of the strictest regulatory systems in the world, we have the safest food supply in the world, marketing is usually just marketing and not based on fact, and farmers care. They really do care about the environment, the soil, their animals, and the product they sell. 


On our operation we grow wheat, barley, oats, lentils, canola and raise bison. We grow these crops because they are well suited to our climate and short growing season. Canola tends to bring in one of the highest returns and often other cereals and pulse crops are grown to maintain a healthy rotation to best care for our soil. The varieties of canola we grow are genetically engineered and they have helped our farm lower its environmental footprint by reducing tillage which increases soil health, sequesters carbon, and decreases fuel usage. On average GE technology has reduced pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22% and increased farmer profits by 68%. Yield and profit gain are larger in developing countries but we have noticed improvements here in Saskatchewan and that is why so many farmers choose to grow them and why canola has become one of Saskatchewan’s largest agri-food exports. 


Bison have only been part of our operation for a few years and although they are a small part, we find that they are a good compliment to our grain farm because any grains that are inadequate for human consumption or to sell can be fed to the animals (often these crops would otherwise have no market and would be wasted). Also, land that can not be used to grow crops can be baled or grazed. Bison are more difficult to handle than cattle, they can be unpredictable and stress very easily. Because of this, veterinarians sometimes hesitate to work with them or to administer antibiotics and we do not treat our animals with growth promotants. Although this is the case on our farm we do not market our products as hormone or antibiotic free because we know that all Canadian meat is absent of added hormones or antibiotics and we also know that antibiotics are sometimes required in compassionate animal care. I prefer not be part of deceptive marketing even if it means increased profits. 


Our farm is constantly working on improving its sustainability and I am very passionate about producing a quality product. Couple this with my affection for cooking and I am a true advocate for loving Saskatchewan food. I have all the faith that we really do have some of the best in the world.

#OurFoodHasAStory Post 6 Avery Ens: Farmer from Scratch

I first met Avery where I have met many of my friends – at a horse show. She was the photographer taking awesome shots of my daughter and her horse. I know how hard it is to make a start at farming. I couldn’t even imagine how much harder it would be without farming with family. Have a read of Avery’s food story! 

Check out her Take Aim Photography on her FaceBook page here

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My husband and I have a small mixed farm in the Nipawin area. We started seriously farming about three years ago by baling hay and straw, and raising pigs. As the years have progressed, we have added both forage acres and animals – beef cattle, turkeys, butcher chickens, and laying hens. What originally started as a way to feed our own family has grown into feeding other people’s families as well.

Our goal from the beginning has been to raise quality products. We want clients to feel comfortable knowing that they are purchasing healthy animals and fresh forages. If we wouldn’t put it on our own table (or feed it to our own animals), then we won’t sell it! 

While starting a farm from scratch has had its share of challenges, it has most definitely been rewarding. We have had the opportunity to cultivate relationships with clients, and meet many new people. Connecting with fellow farmers has allowed us to exchange ideas and discuss the challenges facing the agriculture industry. But the best part of farming has been the lifestyle – being able to farm together, and having a great place to raise our family!

Avery Ens

JAE Farms

Codette, SK

#OurFoodHasAStory Post 5 Kali Cortus: Mother Gardener

Kali Cortus is a great family friend. Her and her family live in my hometown, and her husband helps my family’s farm during harvest. You can learn more about her financial work here. I love her story of how her son has not only connected with food himself, but helped her as well! 

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I have always been a townie and so have our kids. We have never grown a crop or had a garden. Fortunately, we haven’t been deprived of fresh garden food as there is always someone who grew too much and are willing to share!This year our 12 year decide he wanted to grow a garden in the back corner of our yard where the swing set and sand box used to be. We thought why not, something needs to be done to that empty space anyway. He chose the vegetables he wanted, which included purple potatoes, that’s his favorite colour.


He was always out there checking for new growth from the time the plants were just starting to pop out of the ground. It kept him interested every single day. Although weeding wasn’t his forte, picking the fresh food was rewarding.

I even cooked a full meal for a certain farm family and their harvest crew using only the veggies from the garden…..even the meat was provided by our own hunters.

#OurFoodHasAStory Post 4: Tara Davidson on Ranching, Family and Prairie Conservation

Day four of Agricuture Month in Saskatchewan brings us a guest post from Tara Davidson. Tara is a friend and fellow RancHER from Ponteix, Sask. Her ability to work the ranch on a daily basis with her children, including a tiny baby, astounds me – she is a Super Woman!! While our ranches are quite different, I am continually amazed at how closely our stories align. I hope you enjoy Tara’s food story!! 

Follow Tara on Twitter @tara_m_davidson or check out her Lonesome Dove Ranch here

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It’s October in Saskatchewan, which means it’s a busy time of year for farmers and ranchers. It’s also Agriculture Awareness Month and I’m pleased to share my food story.

Along with my husband Ross and our four young children, we own and operate Lonesome Dove Ranch, in southwest Saskatchewan near Ponteix. We run a cow-calf operation, rely on ranch horses and cattle dogs in our daily work, and (mostly) enjoy the ups and downs of a large working cattle ranch.

I’m a rancHER, so part of my food story includes raising purebred and commercial Gelbvieh cattle. We raise cattle that other ranchers purchase to build their herds from and we also raise cattle that go into the food chain. Whichever the destination, my story includes understanding why I use certain production practices on my farm and being able to explain them to others, whether it is a fellow cattle producer or the general consuming public. For us, accountability is an essential part of operating our ranch.


I’m a mother, so part of my food story means trying to provide our children with a nutritious and balanced diet. Like many families, we are on the run with school and extracurricular activities but fortunately we are lucky most nights to have supper together as a family. Trying to plan and prepare meals for four hungry kids (ok, three – my infant is pretty easy to feed at the moment!) is always a constant, underlying responsibility. When consumers tell me safety, cost, and convenience are high on their priority list, I completely understand because they are important to me as well!


I’m a Professional Agrologist and work as a grassland specialist. Part of my food story is the story behind raising cattle… the grasslands, water resources, and biodiversity that cattle play a role in conserving! Livestock graze land that is unsuitable for producing food, converting native prairie and tame forage into beef, all while maintaining habitat for species at risk, pollinators and other wildlife. Grasslands sequester carbon, filter nutrients, retain rainfall (a pretty precious resource in my neck of the woods), maintain soil biological health, and they require few inputs, other than fence and stock water.  

I’m a writer, so part of my food story is…writing food stories! I need to continuously ask myself, who is my audience? What are my objectives? If I’m writing on behalf of an organization, am I sure that I’m representing them appropriately? If I’m writing as “me” on my blog, am I sharing thought-provoking content? Or am I just ranting? I hope to share my perspective as a rancHER in a way that I’m proud of and can stand behind.  


Every good story has a beginning, a middle and an end and the storyline depends largely on who is doing the telling. Food stories are no different, and everyone’s role and voice is valuable, whether it’s that of a farmer, a concerned consumer, a curious parent, a research scientist, or a food retailer.


I’m raising my family while growing food that feeds other families, in a way that conserves land and water resources. That is my food story, and I’m proud of it.

#OurFoodHasAStory Post 3: Candace By, An Agriculturalists Living in the City

Today’s guest post is from Candace By, someone I would call an agriculturist – someone who works in agriculture, although they may not actively farm themselves. I am always interesting in people’s opinions on food and farming from those who do not raise food themselves, yet have a close relationship with those who do.  I hope you enjoy her Saskatchewan Food Story as much as I did! 

Follow Candace on Twitter at @ByCandace and see her work at Charolais Banner here

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Being raised on a mixed farm provided me with a broad spectrum of food experience. We had our own beef, our own chickens, and a large garden for canning and freezing the fresh tastes of summer.

I have lived in the city now longer than I lived on the farm. When we first bought our house I was excited to plant a garden, albeit a small garden. I planted it with the faith of all gardeners and a mouth watering for fresh home-grown tomatoes I would undoubtedly enjoy later. Our beautiful yard did not lend itself well to tomatoes. The heavy clay soil and strong canopy of shade provided by an over abundance of trees, just didn’t grow tomatoes.

Being the optimist I am, I thought I would try something different the next year. Zucchini appeared to be the solution. Who can’t grow zucchini? Apparently our yard can’t. With all of the care and watering, we still received no zucchini to feast upon. 

The decision was simple – unless we moved or took out a ton of trees, we would have to rely on the farmers of the area for our fresh, home-grown summer flavours. We are fortunate to live in a city that has a Farmer’s Market twice a week and a Market Garden that is open every day of the week.

We support the people who make a living growing the produce we enjoy. We admit they have the land prepared for the venture. They know the companion crops that work best. They bring it to our city and we willingly pay for its goodness.

Although I may not be able to grow a garden, I still take pride in cooking my food the farm way– from scratch. It never ceases to amaze me how even the simplest meal can receive rave reviews from our city friends. I often wonder why? They want to know what I put in my hamburgers. What is the secret ingredient in my fruit crisp? There are no secret ingredients. Maybe it is the confidence I have in our food. Maybe it is the love I put in the meals I prepare. Maybe it is knowing the ingredients I buy are safe and full of wholesome goodness. Maybe it is the cooked-from-scratch dishes that not everyone is used to these days.

Now we are content to have beautiful flowers and a nice lawn. I have found I can grow an abundance of fresh herbs and keep my dehydrator going for weeks in the fall. I can even make mojito mint ice-cubes to last until next summer. It makes me feel like a piece of me is still farming.

We will continue to do what we can and support those who do what we can’t. We will use others’ skills and produce for our home-cooked gourmet goodness. We will continue to be thankful we live in a country where we can walk into a store and see well-stocked shelves. 

#OurFoodHasAStory Post 2 Kylie McRea 

My first guest blog post was written by a good friend of mine, Kylie McRea. Kylie and Darren Ippolitto have been a huge part of our ranch success, as we buy the majority of our bulls from them. Their genetics, as well as their experience and wisdom have helped us improve our cattle herd year over year. As a new mother, I was looking forward to reading Kylie’s food story. Enjoy!!

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Thank you Adrienne for the opportunity to submit a blog post in celebration of “Saskatchewan’s Agriculture Month”.

My name is Kylie McRae, and I am part of the team at Moose Creek Red Angus {check them out here!}, a family run purebred and commercial Red Angus cattle operation at Kisbey, Saskatchewan.  

How lucky can a gal get… to be a part of Saskatchewan’s Agriculture industry. On a daily basis I get to work outside on the land, take care of animals, work with family, grow food for my family, and now I get the opportunity to raise our son Kord here on the ranch. 

 Kord was lucky enough to be born at the beginning of our calving season, February 21st. With this being our first child, it was suitable that I was giving birth in sync with the heifers (first time calvers). So from an early age he has been helping me on the ranch, everything from checking calves, bedding barns and feeding cows (those Ergo baby carriers sure are handy) because let’s face it, there is always work to be done. I think that exposing him to different types of animals, hay and other farm smells at a young age will reduce his risk of major allergies to pets, dust, hay etc. as he gets older.  

Kord is the lucky one now. He gets to grow up on a ranch; surrounded by his family, pets, livestock, friends and Mother Nature. I will be able to tell him to “get outside” and not have to worry about him staying in a fenced yard, or strangers… although I may have to put a sign in our yard to slow traffic down… but regardless growing up in the country is definitely a blessing. 

 I was lucky enough to grow up on a farm, and I am thankful that my parents chose to raise me there along with my siblings. The family values it instilled, lessons in teamwork, and close relationships we were able to form with grandparents and extended family was something I am truly grateful for.  

There is a strong sense of pride growing your own food, and you gain extra satisfaction at every meal. We are lucky to have a freezer full of beef and pork we raised, chicken from our neighbour, and fish from a northern fisherman. The beef may or may not have had added growth hormones, and maybe at some point it had to be treated with antibiotics for an ailment, but it really doesn’t matter to me. The food safety standards of Canadian beef assure me that by the time these animals are butchered, they are safe to eat. It is safe because the proper length of time has passed for the withdrawal periods, meaning any added hormones or antibiotics have long since left the animal’s system, so you are not eating them in your meat. All the fear marketing occurring these days is really just fear mongering without any science to substantiate claims. I ate beef all throughout my pregnancy, and I had a healthy happy pregnancy. The first meat Kord has tried, now that he is eating solids, was roast beef. Healthy, nutritious and safe to eat, Canadian beef is my protein of choice! Tonight for supper Kord got to eat a variety of foods raised right here on the ranch, beef, apples and beans! Now that is food with a story. #OurFoodHasAStory


 Supper for 7 month old Kord, made with homegrown beef, beans and applesauce from our ranch. #OurFoodHasAStory


 Kord enjoying his supper made from food all grown here on the ranch. #LoveCDNBeef #EatBeef #nomnom  

             

#OurFoodHasAStory Post 1 – Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan 


October is here, so even more than falling leaves and harvest wrapping up, it means that it is officially Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan. 

Agriculture month is a time dedicated to celebrating all things food and agriculture in Saskatchewan. Perhaps more important than the celebration of agriculture, Ag month is a time to bridge the gap between farmer and consumer. It is an open conversation about the amazing products that we raise and grow here, and how that food connects us all. 

For me, agriculture month is the perfect opportunity to tell more of the story of what happens on our ranch. The story of the beef, oats and canola that ends up not only on my family’s table, but on each of yours as well. It is also a perfect time for me to help other farmers share their stories.

I have committed to filling this blog up for October with stories of farming, stories of food, and the people both growing the food as well as those eating it. My hope is for a packed month of connecting people with farming, as well as connecting farmers with people. I hope for some awesome conversations, engaging questions, and learnings all around. I hope you will join in. 

If you are from Saskatchewan and would like to add a guest post about how you connect with food or agriculture, please let me know. We would all love to hear from you! 

Please consider taking a moment to share your food stories on Social Media and use the hashtag #OurFoodHasAStory. Not only will it help connect us all, it could also win you some fantastic prizes from the organizations behind this awesome campaign. 

Happy Agriculture Month Saskatchewan!!! 

Who Will Grow Your Children’s Food? Why Small Business Tax Reform Will Change Who Feeds Your Children. 


Since the moment our children were born, we have been planning and strategizing on how to set our farm up in a way that will allow them to one day farm themselves. This is an incredibly complicated long-term plan, one that is constantly shifting and changing with economic changes, the growth of our farm, and small incremental tax changes. 

The small business tax changes that the Federal Government is proposing do not only affect if and how we will thrive as a farm. They do not just affect myself and my husband. These changes could very well mean the end of our family generational farm. These changes mean that it could cost millions of dollars for my children to take over the land and soil we have long cared for. Can you imagine, as a 20 something, having an extra million dollars (or two) on hand to start out your career? Not to invest and grow, but to hand over in taxes. The idea is ludicrous. 

After the last Agriculture Census I had the pleasure of being interviewed on the CBC National. We discussed the lack of young farmers, and how it is almost impossible for young people to build a farm without a family farm to start from. With these changes, people new to agriculture will still struggle to farm, and passing a farm onto a new generation will also be extremely difficult. 

This concerns all Canadians. I cannot stress enough how it concerns each and every one of you reading this. 

Who will grow your children’s food?

With grocery store shelves always full, it is difficult to imagine such a question. I have no doubt that those shelves will always be full. But from where? Will we import everything we eat from China? Should we leave our food security, as a nation, in the hands of other countries? 
A farmer is used to sleepless nights. Waiting on a cow to calf, or a rain to come. Worry over paying bills, keeping the family and workers safe, or how to get everything done that needs doing in a day: these are the things that keep sleep elusive. But these days, it isn’t Mother Nature keeping me up at night, it’s our very own government.

Have a peek at my friend and fellow rancher, Tara Davidson’s, blog post here, where she has compiled a list of links to more information, as well as a petition against these changes. 

I ask, no, I beg of you to take a moment, have a read, and sign the petition. Tax is something we all have in common, something no one loves, but is necessary for a functioning society. But you know what else is necessary for a functioning society? Healthy, nutritious food. The kind grown on family farms across Canada. 

Saskatchewan Can Do Better

I read an article this morning that struck a nerve in me. Tiffany Paulsen’s article in the Leader Post (here) hit the nail on the head for me. Her exact sentiments have been rumbling around in my head for the past week. 

Last Thursday, when Premier Wall announced his upcoming retirement, I wrote an open letter to him, remembering the Saskatchewan I grew up in, where it has grown to, and thanking him for the hard work and dedication he has given to the people of this province. (Read it here.) 

As with all things political, I expected some engagement. I expected differing views. I had no idea that people would react with hate. With personal attacks and downright viciousness. 

Should I be shocked? Apparently there is still a healthy dose of “Old Saskatchewan” kicking around. Those who would rather vent and complain, attack and claw, rather than step up and create the change they would like to see.

I am not taking about the people who would like to see a change in government. That’s the great part about democracy – having differing views and holding responsible, adult conversations about them.

I am talking about the people who see a man, choosing to walk out the door, and taking that moment to take a swing at his back end as he is literally walking away. 

To those people, what exactly did you think your personal attacks would do? Make him leave politics? Wait. He already did that. Make him change the last budget? Pretty sure that petty name calling isn’t going to get you far in that. 

I wish we could all remember that these are real people we are dealing with. Just like every one of us. 

And if you think for one second that your comments were justified, I dare you to apply the same sentiments the next time someone retires from your work place. The next “Congratulations on your Retirement” card that is passed around the coffee room, stick to the same mentality. Because if you can comment viciousness on a letter to a retiring Premier, I can only imagine that you would also feel that “Get lost bag, you are a terrible nurse/teacher/lawyer/banker/whatever, and we can’t wait to see you gone”, would be an equally appropriate farewell comment for someone you disagree with in your workplace. I can’t wait to see their face when they open that card. 

So here is my plea. My call to action. 

If you can be anything, choose to be kind. 

As I tell my children, you cannot control others, you can only control yourself. So do better. Stop being mean and vindictive. If you want change, fair enough. Go create it. Stop attacking and start building. In Premier Wall’s words, it’s time for renewal in Saskatchewan. Let’s make this amazing province even better, starting with ourselves. 

An Open Letter to Brad Wall from a Young Saskatchewan Rancher

Dear Premier Wall,

Today you announced your impending retirement from politics, from the position of Premier of Saskatchewan, and my heart broke a little. 

Born and raised here in Saskatchewan, I never dreamed of a leader like yourself. I never dreamed of what Saskatchewan, as a province, was capable of. For myself, your time as Premier was a little like the blind being blessed with sight, as I never had the smallest vision of what was possible. A vision that, thankfully, you did have. 

You see, I grew up in a very different Saskatchewan than the one that my children know. In my formative years, Saskatchewan was quite literally the joke of Western Canada. The gap, as Canada knew us as then. 

It was not until you took our amazing province’s reins that I dreamed that we could ever become anything but a have-not province. A sentiment I can only imagine was shared by the majority of my classmates, by the way they fled Saskatchewan in droves after completing their education. Your leadership changed that. 

With the last decade, I have developed the type of puffed chest pride of our province that can only be likened to that of my pride in my children. I have shouted to the world that right here, right now, Saskatchewan is THE best place in the world to live. THE best place in the world to raise my children. THE best place in the world to farm, ranch, and feed the people of this world. For that I thank you. 

Thank you for bringing the people of Saskatchewan together. Thank you for ensuring my children’s prosperity here. Thank you for making the difficult, unpopular decisions that are best for our province in the long run. Before you, I never knew that politicians could make decisions based on what is right, rather than what gains votes. For that I thank you. Thank you for making the RoughRiders win (ok, I may be getting a little carried away…). Thank you for teaching me the word “Jackwagon”. 

Thank you Premier Wall for pouring your heart and soul into Saskatchewan, because as you have proved, we are worth it.  

Sign with gratitude,

Adrienne Ivey