DNA Gardens offers visitors a variety of options: a trip to the orchard for fresh berries, a walk on the wild side with the self-guided nature trek, a more serious hike on the blue bird trail or kid-centred fun in the family fun park.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Alberta orchard not afraid of diversification

On the Farm: A greenhouse and tissue culture lab followed the fruit trees — and then came the store and patio café

ELNORA, Alta. — Dave and Arden Delidais own and operate DNA Gardens. The 15-acre orchard is nestled into the rolling parklands of central Alberta, where the hills and valleys dotted with wetlands gradually give way to sprawling prairie. The fruit farm is known for an abundance of saskatoons and boasts 19 varieties. “We are the […] Read more

Corey Clark cuts steel fence posts from 2 7/8 inch tubing in preparation for an expansion of the existing corral system at Shady Nook Farm.  | Maria Johnson photo

Alberta family’s matriarch returns to the farm

On the Farm: A love of the farming lifestyle and a century of rich history draws woman back to her family and the farm

CLIVE, Alta. — Louise Bell recently bought a quarter section of land at Clive and plans to move back to the farm, even though she’s reached an age where many people are slowing down. “I need a purpose in life,” said the 74-year-old. She currently lives in a condo in nearby Lacombe and has bought […] Read more

Three generations of Hooglands — Jake, left, Kolton, Evangeline, Sophia, Kurt and Sherry-Ann — operate a market garden and raise livestock near Blackfalds, Alta. | Maria Johnson photo

Alta. farms focus on growing vegetables and raising animals

BLACKFALDS, Alta. — There’s no doubt the Hoogland family in central Alberta will remember 2020. The worldwide experience of COVID-19 would be the main reason, which has, among other things, clarified the importance of food security. “There’s definitely more people interested in buying home-grown food,” says Sherry-Ann, who with her husband, Kurt, and three youngest […] Read more

Friends of the Greenhouse volunteer Janet Boyd, who graduated from the high school in 1999, and her son, Ruben Boyd-Hunter, plant parsnip and turnip seeds in one of the raised beds at the EcoVision garden. The raised beds are made from two corrugated window wells bolted together. A half bale of alfalfa hay is then laid in the frame to retain moisture and provide nutrients and covered with planting soil. Boyd also shows teachers how to start tower gardens in the classroom.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Alta. high school inspires ecological leadership

A two-acre green space in Lacombe is home to the EcoVision Club, which has remained active despite the pandemic

LACOMBE, Alta. — COVID-19 has shuttered classrooms everywhere, but it hasn’t stopped the learning. At Ècole Secondaire Lacombe Composite High School in central Alberta, a two-acre green space just outside the school’s west doors is abuzz with activity and experiential learning. It’s home to ESLCHS’s EcoVision Club, which has provided student-led, agricultural-based programs since 2007. […] Read more

Bud Taylor and Sharon Musto run a kite shop in central Alberta. Musto made this John Wayne kite for Taylor as a gift. The kite style is Ohashi variant and flies without a tail. It is based on a design by Japanese master kite builder Eiji Ohashi. The couple’s shop is open to the public on an appointment basis, and they follow the recommended protocols, including wearing masks. Note that Taylor’s mask is a made out of a bright kite-themed fabric. | Maria Johnson photo

Go fly a kite: an uplifting passion

BENTLEY, Alta. —Bud Taylor doesn’t have to be told twice to go fly a kite. He’s been passionate about it since childhood. The Kite Guys store and studio he owns and operates with Sharon Musto in central Alberta is the culmination of that pursuit. There are thousands of kites in the 2,500 sq. foot store, […] Read more

Marie Donais Calder has published a series of stories about her father’s Second World War experiences.  | Marie Donais Calder photo

Father’s war experience chronicled

Marie Donais Calder writes about her father’s relationship with a German family at the end of the Second World War

Marie Donais Calder lays bare the struggles faced by her father and one family he decided to help in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War in Europe in her historical fiction series called The Other Side. The 25 books are based on real people, focusing on her father, Edmond Joseph Donais, who was […] Read more

Jayden, left, Calvin, Louise, Jamin and Paige Sargeant farm 2,600 acres of rented and owned land and also raise horses and Simmental cross cows.  |  Sargeant family photo

Farmer convinced ‘this is the best place to be’

On the Farm: Couple considers themselves fortunate to be able to work with their two sons and daughter-in-law

RIMBEY, Alta. — “With the way things are right now, I’m glad I’m a farmer,” says Calvin Sargeant during a phone interview from his rural central Alberta home. He’s referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whole countries are closing up shop on non-essential services and requesting, sometimes demanding, that people stay home. Many workers have no […] Read more

Don and Lynn Burdett in the Prairie Points Quilt Shop on their No Regrets Ranch acreage. Lynn, a lifelong seamstress, was drawn to quilting as therapy when dealing with the death of two of her best friends in 2005. The quilting evolved into a retail business, which was located in nearby Ponoka for five years. Lynn opened the store in her home in 2017.   |  Maria Johnson photo

Untimely deaths inspire acreage move

On the Farm: No Regrets Ranch features a chicken coop, greenhouse, woodworking and quilting shops, and a garden

MORNINGSIDE, Alta. — Don and Lynn Burdett dreamed for years that someday they’d have a home in the country. They’d grow a big garden, raise livestock, pursue their creative interests and provide a refuge for family and friends. “We always had the desire to live simple”, says Lynn. “To live off the land.” It’s not […] Read more

Golden Willow Ranch markets elk meat, breeding stock, semen, safari bulls, hard antler dog chews, elk velvet antler and its Super Dog Treats.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Elk producers find way to add value

A farm family in central Alberta adds holistic pet treats to the list of products they produce from their herd of 171 elk

HAYNES, Alta. — Russell and Joanne Gwozdz, along with their daughter, Rachelle, 23, run a herd of 171 elk at their quarter section Golden Willow Ranch in the rolling parklands of central Alberta. The family is entering its 22nd year in an industry that has seen its share of volatility. They’ve grown attached to their […] Read more

Partners in Doef’s Greenhouses Ltd. include founder Joe Doef, left, Eric Doef, head grower in charge of planning and communication, Paul Doef, labour manager who also does payroll, and Phil Visscher, who handles maintenance, fertigation and accounts payable. They meet regularly and work together to manage issues and make important decisions. | Maria Johnson photo

Dream came true for Alta. greenhouse operator

On the Farm: Expansion is still in the cards for this greenhouse, more than 50 years after a young immigrant arrived in Canada

LACOMBE, Alta. — Joe Doef grew up in the horticulture industry in the Netherlands and knew early on that he wanted to continue on the garden management path. His subconscious agreed. “I had a dream that I was living in a house surrounded by greenhouses,” he says. “I was not yet 16.” In 1969, at […] Read more