Stephen and Nicole Poburan raise Nigerian Dwarf goats and other livestock at their 4Acre Farm with sons Hayes, 7, and Kett, 3.  | Maria Johnson photo

Pandemic increases interest in goats

Nigerian Dwarf goat breeders see increased demand for breeding stock, milking goats and self-sufficiency information

SPRUCE VIEW, Alta. — The COVID-19 pandemic has created awareness and concern over food security and the capacity to access other essential products and services. There has been surges in demand, hoarding, shortages, limitations, and restrictions placed on food and other necessities of life. The pandemic has created tremendous interest in developing the ability to […] Read more

Jamie Aitchison rings up a customer at the Little Red Barn. The open space of the commercial kitchen just behind allows Aitchison and her staff to stay attuned to the needs of her customers while preparing food and beverages.  | Maria Johnson photo

Cafe and gift shop cater to owner’s artsy side

A central Alberta entrepreneur lures urban residents into the country by operating her business in the Little Red Barn


RED DEER— After some deliberation, Jamie Aitchison gave up her long-time secure office job in 2017. “I always had a dream to mix my two favourite things, retail and food,” says the owner of the Little Red Barn, a cafe and gift store located on her acreage a few minutes drive from Red Deer. “It’s […] Read more

Red Deer residents Gordon and Lori Steppler buy items from Nixon Honey, manned by Brenda and Craig Nixon. | Maria Johnson photo

Farmers market goes indoors – photo essay

Photo essay | The Gasoline Alley Farmers Market is Red Deer’s first indoor market and will be open Saturdays and Sundays year round. As an Alberta approved market, 80 percent of all products sold are made, baked or grown in the province. Approximately 2,500 people visited on Nov. 21, the first day of the market’s weekend-long “soft” opening. Local high school students volunteered to help manage COVID-19 protocols. Masks were not mandatory but were encouraged and worn by most customers. | Maria Johnson photos

The Gasoline Alley Farmers Market is Red Deer’s first indoor market and will be open Saturdays and Sundays year round. As an Alberta approved market, 80 percent of all products sold are made, baked or grown in the province. Approximately 2,500 people visited on Nov. 21, the first day of the market’s weekend-long “soft” opening. […] Read more


Multiple combines had the field covered when the Central Alberta Foodgrains Growing Project harvested its crop Nov. 3.  |  Leanne Zukowski photo

Alta. foodgrains project marks quarter century

A record number of combines bring in the crop for the Central Alberta Foodgrains Growing Project near Blackfalds, Alta.

BLACKFALDS, Alta. — The early November harvest of 120 acres of canola marks a quarter century that the Central Alberta Foodgrains Growing Project has supported the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. While the COVID-19 pandemic halted the local organization’s 25th anniversary celebrations, it didn’t stop the important work done by Lacombe County farmers. In fact the 2020 […] Read more

Mark and Brenda Visscher moved back to the central Alberta farm where Mark was raised and now have a market garden, specializing in garlic. They’ve sold out of the versatile cooking ingredient every year, even while continuously increasing the number of cloves that they plant. Social media, specifically Facebook, has helped to get the word out, and the demand continues to rise.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Garlic growers have no trouble selling crop

On the Farm: Alberta couple has increased what they plant every year since 2016 and social media takes care of the rest

JOFFRE, Alta. — In 2012, after years of living in Lacombe, Alta., and running several businesses, Mark and Brenda Visscher moved back to the farm where he was raised. They live on 4 1/2 acres of land that has been subdivided from the original base where Mark’s parents operated a mixed farm starting in the […] Read more


Colin, left, Maya, Aspen and Jaclyn Smith stand in the cool shaded space between rows of hops. Each plant is strung from a trellis system made using 19 foot T-shaped steel poles. These poles are unique because most hop growers around the world use a traditional wood system.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Family creates inroads to fledgling hops sector

RED DEER, Alta. — Through the spring and summer of 2018, curious drivers stopped almost daily to investigate the high steel pole and trellis structures set up alongside the road in central Alberta. “Some people thought we were setting up a bird sanctuary.… They were waiting to see the nets. Other people thought it was […] Read more

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