21st Century Farming

What does farming look like today? Who is doing it? And why?

The farmers profiled in this ongoing series are choosing a different way to tackle the challenges of climate change, sustainability and reaching customers. They are moving away from an export-focused model of commodity crops to something a bit more home-grown, using old tools that are new again—mixed farming, direct marketing, organic and regenerative methods to preserve soil.

Here are their stories.

Cabbage and clover in the new no-till beds.Farmers of invention
James Vriend and Jenny Berkenbosch are smart, experienced farmers with generations of farming knowhow in their backgrounds. Yet, two years ago, they wondered if they should continue farming. Too much water had overwhelmed the top-notch sandy loam of their Sturgeon River Valley farm. Would we lose their delicious vegetables? Seeing how they have adapted to changing conditions on their farm not only provides perspective, it gives us hope. Their perseverance is a beautiful thing. [more]

ducksOn Chatsworth Farm
It sounds like something out of novel. New York City girl meets Alberta boy. He had always wanted to farm; she grew up reading Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables. In the early 90s they married, began to farm and started a family. Now, a quarter century later, the Wasylik family (Rick, Johanna, Charlotte, Nicholas and Alexander) is redefining the term family farm. [more]

Trevor Riehl (left) and Ryan Carroll at home on the rangeRyan Carroll and Trevor Riehl of Haywire Farm
Trevor Riehl and Ryan Carroll took over Trevor’s grandparent’s farm near Leduc a few years ago. Both in health care, they realized they had an opportunity to help create the food system they desired—local, organic, holistic—on the family farm. They started with Katahdin lamb, eight ewes and one ram of unrelated genetics. The rest came later, as they built this farm into a home with a picturesque old house, several barns and hen houses that look like guest cabins. [more]

cover crop buckwheatGrowing Vegetables in a Changing Climate at Sundog Farm
James and Jenny are a decade into growing organic vegetables at Sundog Farm. James was a cabinet-maker and Jenny an art and English teacher when they decided that growing food was what they wanted to do as a family. James’ parents are Ruth and Dennis Vriend, who operated an organic farm south of the city and sold the vegetables at the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market for decades. James and Jenny relied on their 30 years of experience and knowledge, especially in the beginning. [more]