Alberta Beef Producers has awarded this year’s Environmental Stewardship Award to the Radau family of Coulee Crest Farms in Red Deer County.
The farm, located east of Bowden, was established in 1929 by J.O. Radau with the purchase of three quarters of land.
The current owners and third generation, Randy and Sandra Radau, began farming full time with the purchase of the main farm in 1989. Purebred Hereford cattle have been raised continuously since 1944.
Randy Radau said Spruce Coulee, which runs through Coulee Crest Farms, has been designated by Red Deer County as an environmentally significant area. It has steep coulee banks, rolling terrain, soft grass and intermittent tree bluffs. The majority of the cattle graze in the Coulee.
The Radaus have developed a rotational grazing system with extensive cross fencing to increase carrying capacity, and the increased land base allows for the tripling of the cow herd. More than 50 different fields are used in the rotational grazing system.
“It’s indeed an honour to be awarded like this,” Radau said.
“When Ducks Unlimited nominated us, I thought, ‘wow, it couldn’t have been on a worse year. Everything looks so dry and brown and the water’s dried up, and I didn’t think we had a chance.’ It was a really big surprise for us to win. We really didn’t think we’d done anything special, except just trying to improve.”
ABP chief executive officer Rich Smith said ABP was probably one of the first agriculture organizations in North America to present an Environmental Stewardship Award.
“We started in 1992, and tonight (Dec. 4), we’re presenting this award for the 27th time. It’s a really important work for us as an organization. We know that nearly all cattle and beef producers are very good stewards of land, water, and air. Of course, you need these resources for your livelihood, and the thing I’m struck by all time is how producers want to make sure that they leave those resources in good condition for the following generations. It’s a multi-generational industry, and so everybody recognizes that they need to use the resources wisely now, but they also want to leave the resources in better condition for the next generation. We see that all the time.”
The judging committee, chaired by ABP Zone 3 director Chris Israelson, visited several nominees around the province in August before finally selecting Coulee Crest Farms.