30 Years of Farming
This summer marks the 30th anniversary of us moving to the farm. We moved in the summer of 1992 when our daughters were 9 and 8. Although we always wanted to farm the push to move to a farm was due to our youngest daughter’s severe asthma and allergies. We wanted to move to the farm, in order to give her the cleanest air possible. We still remember the excitement and joy that our family had when we pulled a holiday trailer into the farm site and started cleaning the old abandoned farm site up, and building our new home and out buildings.
Ron had the idea that we would be hay farmers so we started to sow grasses and legumes into the land and bought a few cow-calf pairs. Ron talked to one of our neighbors, Daryl Skaret, about the best equipment to buy for haying and he started talking to us about using animals to harvest the grasses and forage and about Holistic Management. Daryl then pushed us to take a 10-day Holistic Management course that was being offered in Camrose. Taking this course was a turning point for both of us and we set our goals to improve our land, for Ron to come home from his surveying job, raise clean safe food for our family, become organic farmers, raise our children in a positive uplifting manner, teach them to respect the earth and to have a social conscience.
Shortly after we took the Holistic Management course we purchased some more cows and we were given a chicken shelter by Don Ruzicka, a Holistic Management classmate and then Sheila’s sister Dorothy Marshall gave us 80 chicks that she had brooded and we started growing chickens. These chickens were just for our own consumption but we quickly realized that there were many other people who were looking for clean organic food. Adding one or two shelters every year we started to raise enough chickens that we could start going to farmers markets to sell our meat. As consumers became more and more concerned with what was in their food the demand for our organic, humanely raised, local chicken, eggs, beef, pork and turkey grew.
The goal for Ron to leave his job as a surveyor was finally reached on March 20 in 2001. Our business had grown to a point that the family had to have him at home to help with the work load. With Ron being home, we could grow our business and move into more farmers markets. Demand for our clean organic meat was growing and we continued to grow our business. This included going to several new farmers markets, creating Our Meat Shop on Whyte Ave in Edmonton, building our own meat cutting and sausage making facility in Camrose, then building our own processing plant and sausage making facility here on the farm.
Throughout all of the changes, the ups and downs of farming and the progression of life we have kept to the goals and values that we originally set out in the Holistic Management course we took in 1996: to continually improve our land, for us to make a living from the farm, to raise clean food for our family (and now to raise clean, healthy food for our customers), be organic farmers, and to raise our children (now grandchildren) in a positive healthy environment, teaching them to respect the earth and to have a social conscience.
We are proud to call ourselves farmers and will continue to farm as we feel that this is our calling. It is more then a farm - this is our life and we are so happy that 30 years ago we took the leap.
Thanks to all our friends, family and customers over the last 30 years. Looking forward to many more years of calling ourselves your farmers.
Ron and Sheila
- Sunworks Farm