Saturday, June 12, 2010

producer profile

A few weeks ago Tim and Carla Schultz, the farmers we grow for at The Green Ranch decided to start profiling the people they work with for their newsletter. Here is our profile:

A while back this idea came to me about profiling our awesome producers that are a huge part of what makes The Green Ranch what it is!  Every Farmer/Rancher that is growing/raising food, has a story…why they are passionate about agriculture, and working together with the land to produce great wholesome food!  Here is the first in our Producer Profile Series!! 
As our business has grown in the past couple years, it has been necessary to increase garden production.  This could be done a few different ways, we could increase the size of our garden, and hire more employees to increase production and efficiency, or we could make partnerships with likeminded growers that would like to grow produce for The Green Ranch.  We have incorporated a bit of both methods, as we expanded operations on our ranch this year.  Our plan is to specialize in certain products that we feel our land is well suited to, and then have other growers raise the crops that are best suited for them.   

Pete and Shannon MacLaggan, Regina, Sk
This is Pete and Shannon’s first year of growing for The Green Ranch, and we are very excited to be working with them!  What is especially exciting about this partnership is that they are Urban Farmers!  Urban Farming is something that has been gaining momentum for the last few years across Canada, and the United States.  What is more local than food grown right in your city??  The Urban Farming movement gives me hope because what we are seeing is a whole new generation of young people that are interested in Agriculture and have a passion to farm for a living.  What is interesting about this new generation of farmers is that they are often a couple generations removed from farm life.  This means that its not tradition or family heritage that is drawing them to agriculture but a burning desire to have a hand in a new type of food system that’s Local, Sustainable, and of course amazingly flavorful!  I am not suggesting that it is better to be drawn to farming by pure passion than by family heritage….of course the reason I was drawn to agriculture was Family Heritage!  For us that has turned into a deep passion for what we do!  What excites me the most about this is that now with a new generation of farmers raising their families in the farming lifestyle, the next generation may be influenced by their parent’s passion, and consider Farming as a way of life for them also!  Some of you may know about SPIN Farming: Small Plot INtensive Farming This is the system that we use for our market garden.  It is designed for use in city plots, and the inventor of this system lives right here in Saskatoon.  Wally has been very successful with his own urban farm in Saskatoon, and has taken his passion for small scale farming and channeled it into education to help other aspiring gardeners get there feet wet in Farming!  It was through Wally that I got started with Market Gardening, we have taken his principles and applied them to our backyard on the farm.  Wally has been a great mentor to us, and many other aspiring gardeners all over the world!!  It was through the SPIN group that I came in touch with Pete and Shannon. 
Here is their story, 
Before I had children I never gave much thought to where my food came from, but with pregnancy came a deeper awareness of my body and the things I was putting into it.  The closer I looked at our food culture, the more concerned I became.   I started educating myself about the origins and properties of the food I was buying. Did the items on my grocery list line up with my values as a human being? Was the environment being respected? Was there fairness of trade? How were the animals treated? Did my purchases support the local economy? Sadly, I couldn’t answer yes to any of these questions.  My food’s journey from earth to plate became a very important one for me. So my husband Peter and I decided to make some changes. We knew that we had to change our eating habits and it wasn’t going to be a cheap or easy transition, but one that we felt was absolutely worth the effort and expense in the long run. We started buying organic, eating as local as possible, and planted a vegetable garden. Our interest in sustainable agriculture continued to grow as did our family, and this year we decided to take a giant leap and start Urban Farming. After hearing about SPIN farming on CBC Radio a few times, we took a trip up to meet Wally and Gail (SPINs creators) in Saskatoon and ended up coming home feeling incredibly inspired and excited and ready. With Pete working from home, and me teaching yoga and staying home with the boys, this seemed like the perfect business for us. However, we were concerned about taking on more than we could handle from the outset, and I wasn’t sure how it would pan out with two boys under the age of three, so when Tim mentioned he was looking for growers - it was simply meant to be!  Tim has been an incredible resource and friend throughout this journey and his and Carla’s enthusiasm and passion for local food has been utterly contagious. After only a few weeks of Urban Farming under our belts, I can most assuredly say that this is the life for us. When I am out in the garden, so dirty and sweaty, something uplifting and wonderful happens; life slows down. I become more mindful of all of the gifts and moments in my life - ordinary, as well as extraordinary - which normally would have gone by unnoticed. I am awed, humbled, truly and utterly happy and have never felt more connected to Mother Nature in all of my life.  

As the summer progresses you will meet Pete and Shannon and the kids Henry and Myles at the farmers market and CSA pickup days.  They will be a regular fixture of our team!  We are looking forward to a great summer working together!! 

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