Organic food company buys farmland in northeastern Sask.

The founder of Nature’s Path Foods Inc. has bought a block of land in east-central Saskatchewan it plans to dedicate to organic farming.

Arran Stephens, who also owns Legend Organic Farm, bought about 5,000 acres in the Duck Mountain area last summer; 3,429 acres are cultivated and 1,536 acres are bush and wetlands set aside for wildlife conservation.

Most of the land was bought from a long-time organic farmer whom the company has declined to name.

Stephens also bought a neighbouring 1,600 acres of conventional land that were immediately placed into a 36-month transitional program to become certified organic.

The sales were private and no financial details were available.

However, in an e-mailed statement Stephens said Nature’s Path “is conscious of the fact that the average North American organic grain farmer is approaching 60-plus years of age. As these individuals begin to think about retirement, we must think about the organic supply chain.”

Nature’s Path is based in Richmond, B.C., and has for more than 30 years bought organic grains for its cereals, cereal bars and other products. It is the world’s largest independent organic breakfast and snack food brand and has production facilities in Blaine, Washington, and Sussex, Wisconsin.

The company said sales continue to climb. The United States market for organic products grew eight percent from 2016 to 2017 and organic food now accounts for more than five percent of total food sales there, it said.

Stuart McMillan will manage the Saskatchewan farm. He has worked in organic agricultural production for 25 years and has been an organic inspector in Manitoba for 12 years.

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