Canada has a rich history of farming and Alberta is lucky to have generations of experience in raising all sorts of food from dairy farms, to a variety of produce, to world-famous Alberta beef and beyond.
Alberta’s Food History
Before European and American settlers showed up in Alberta in the 1600s, the diet of First Nations peoples consisted of Bison and the potatoes, corn and squash that they grew in the rich soil. As the number of settlers increased, farmers from Ukraine began to bring their expertise to Alberta in the 1890s, making potato dumplings, cabbage rolls, Sauerkraut and borscht popular dishes easily made from what could be grown. Many other cultures have influenced Albertan palates, one of the more recent ones came from the wave of Vietnamese refugees fleeing the war in the 1970s. So you shouldn’t be surprised that Alberta is of the best places in the world for spring rolls, bánh mì and other types of Vietnamese food.
With such a rich history of farming, Alberta is the place to start the CultivatR food revolution, bringing small-scale farmers and the fruits of their labour together into one place, where you can both support a different way of farming and find what you need. Small-scale farms began to disappear in previous decades as our food system began to focus on efficiency and develop the factory farm model that now supplies most of our food.
Our Small-Scale Farm Partners
Alberta’s food history is reflected in the offerings in our market and the skills of our farm partners. We may be biased, but our favourite Albertan small-scale farms are CultivatRs farm partners! From all over the province we find food producers that share our values and want to make a difference to the food system. Here are just a few of the farmers we work with.
Farming is certainly a family affair for the Doerksen’s, the 4th generation farming and ranching family situated in Gem, Alberta has a simple vision: to supply a trusted source of high-quality grass-fed beef to Albertans.
The Doerksen family raises their grass-fed and grass-finished cattle with an emphasis on animal health, soil health, and sustainability. Gemstone cows enjoy a nutritional mix of green hay and silage, which is free from added hormones and antibiotics. Using the principals of regenerative farming, Gemstone Grass Fed Beef aims to improve the health of their land, cattle and the families they feed.
Christopher and Jessica raise free-range natural pork without GMOs, antibiotics, animal by-products, or added hormones.
In 2015, after a few years of missing how they used to work with animals, they decided to put one of their quarter sections of land, (previously grazed by cattle) to use; leaving their full-time jobs to become outdoor free-range natural pig farmers.
Bear and the Flower Farms works with a certified swine nutritionist who has helped them develop feed rations that allow the finishing of their outdoor pork in a timely manner and with a natural plant-based formulation. They take their animals to feed seriously and want them to have the best!
Amber believes that when you eat honey it should evoke the senses. We couldn't agree more. Ethical beekeeping makes better honey.
After starting, growing and managing her first hives in 2012, Amber knew she was onto something. Beginning MOB (My Own Business) Honey in 2017, she has been able to build something truly unique through beehive sponsorships that connect the community to the honeybee colony.
MOB Honey has 100 hives all managed by Amber and kept on partner farms through YYC Growers and private owners. Urban apiaries are either corporate sponsors or small plot intensive farms (SPIN farms). In 2019 they estimated to have produced about 6000 359g jars, that’s 6,000lbs of honey!
David and Kirstin's focus on growing in square feet, not acres. Producing the freshest locally grown microgreens. With over 15 years of experience working at some of the most prestigious restaurants in Calgary, they loved having the privilege of serving amazingly fresh and local products. But with skyrocketing costs and lack of options at the grocery stores, they knew there was an opportunity to do things very differently.
That’s when they realized that vertical farming innovations could help bring farming costs down, provide 365 days of growing AND produce the higher quality and more unique produce that is usually only found on the plates of master chefs!
Like great wine-makers, Kirstin and David love exploring and experimenting with the growing conditions and harvesting of their microgreens to see how it changes the flavour profiles, texture and complexity of these small but mighty foods.
Joe and Caroline Mans started Vital Green Farms because they were tired of how hard it was to source healthy, organic dairy products for their family – and they decided to take matters into their own hands, literally!
First and foremost, the family considers themselves forage farmers, because cows eat more than just grass. Cows really enjoy a mix of plants, which includes grasses, legumes and herbs. This clean, organic food source provides the minerals, vitamins and nutrients that the cows then turn into milk.
Because the dairy is on the same land as the farm, they can pump the milk through a pipeline, eliminating the need for a truck to haul the milk. This and their small distribution means that their products see fewer food miles, helping the environment.
Vital Green Farms is a family operated on an organic dairy farm, with the goal to keep everything as close to nature as possible.
And these are just some of our farms! All of our farms practice sustainable and natural agricultural products and we love working with them and their families.
Trust us, you’re going to want to get to know our farmers. Take a look at our Farms page and learn more about our farm partners and the foods they grow, raise and prepare for you.