Life is a bowl of cherries for the Johnson family of Luke, left, Abi, Jennifer, Dwayne, Caleb and Josh.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Little Cherries on the Prairie keep life in the pits

On the Farm: Becoming orchardists was natural move for family, who say it’s always been in their blood to grow fruit


BENTLEY, Alta. — Becoming an orchardist was natural for Jennifer Johnson. “It’s always been in my blood to grow fruit,” she says. Johnson recalls happy times picking crisp apples from the tree in the backyard on her parent’s grain farm at Carbon, Alta. And she fondly recalls a vacation in British Columbia where the whole […] Read more

The Town of Sylvan Lake installed 30 cigarette collection receptacles along its waterfront this summer with plans to install more throughout the town. The butts are broken down into components of tobacco and paper, which are composted, and filters, which are melted, pelletized and combined with other plastics to be made into new products such as pallets and lumber.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Alta. town organizes cigarette butt collection

SYLVAN LAKE, Alta. — It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it. The “it” refers to cigarette butt recycling. The central Alberta town of Sylvan Lake has installed 30 cigarette butt collection receptacles along the waterfront this summer and plans to install more throughout the town. The lake is a popular tourist destination […] Read more

Mike Kozlowski and Mackenzie Bouteiller, foreground, work on weed control in the garden. The weekly work schedule once harvest begins in late June andearly July is weeding on Mondays and Fridays and harvesting on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. | Maria Johnson photo

Organic gardener cuts out the middleman

On the Farm Alberta producer’s journey to the field began with a simple question: ‘where do you get your food?’

RED DEER — An innocent question from a subsistence farmer in Kenya in the mid 2000s affected Mike Kozlowski in ways he never imagined. He spent months in the east African country through a Canada Millennium Foundation Scholarship project where he helped identify agricultural-related community needs. The question and the conversation that followed initiated serious […] Read more


Zeus, an eight-year-old male known as a tiercel, is one of the peregrine falcons raised by Helen and Phil Trefrey. The birds’ large eyes help them see more than 1.5 kilometres away and keep track of three moving objects at once. Peregrine falcons are considered among the fastest animals on earth because of their dive, or stoop, speed, which can reach more than 322 km-h.  |  Maria Johnson photos

Alta. couple stokes passion for peregrine falcons

The Trefrys raise, train and sell falcons on their 230-acre farm located in a wetlands ecosystem near Edmonton

TOFIELD, Alta. — Way in the back and beyond at the Trefry farm sits a row of wooden, tin-roofed buildings. Large wire-covered openings in the roofs allow sunlight and fresh air. Intermittent shrill screams, cries of the peregrine falcon, pierce the air. Phil and Helen Trefry raise, train, and sell peregrine falcons on their 230-acre […] Read more

After a more than 40 year absence, the Benalto train station sits very near its original location in the former rail yard on the main street of Benalto, Alta.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Historic Alberta train station returns home

Station was moved in 1971 and again in the 1980s before being moved back to Benalto, where it will be a community centre

BENALTO, Alta. — It’s common for old buildings to be moved away. It’s unusual for them to be returned. The Benalto train station is one of the unusual ones. It has come home after more than 40 years away. The station once again dominates the former rail yard on the hamlet’s Main Street and is […] Read more


Carson Ebeling, 14, drives a 1950 McCormick Super W6 tractor to seed barley from his 1929 John Deere steel wheel seed drill.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Teen takes different approach to farming

Alberta 14 year old is farming his own crops for a second year and getting it done with vintage equipment

LACOMBE, Alta. — When Carson Ebeling seeded his crops this spring, he started with barley before moving on to canola. It’s a very common scene on prairie farms, but what’s uncommon about this scenario is that Ebeling is just 14. This will be his second crop, which comprises 21 acres of barley on the family […] Read more

The Ebeling family, left to right: Murray, Esten, Candace, Harley, Grady and Carson.  | Maria Johnson photo

Alta. farm embraces unconventionality

The owner of a livestock trucking company says he technically doesn’t farm; he leaves that up to his kids

LACOMBE, Alta. — “Technically, I don’t farm,” says Murray Ebeling, who operates his livestock hauling business, Proudash Cattleliners Inc., from the family farm. Ebeling’s wife, Candace, is also an experienced livestock trucker, but driving has taken a back burner. Instead, her energies are devoted to their family of four teenaged children and the farm, which […] Read more

It’s never lonely on Chris Grab’s farm.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Goats make this Alberta farm a lively place

On the Farm: Chris Grab started with the Nigerian Dwarf breed in 1997 and later added registered Nubians to her flock

LEDUC, Alta. — Chris Grab enters her goat pen and is quickly surrounded by a welcoming committee of does and kids. The rambunctious Nigerian Dwarfs and larger, lop-eared Nubians rub and nudge for attention. They are personable, entertaining and friendly. Grab, who raises and sells the miniature breed as well as the larger Nubian goats […] Read more


Numerous upgrades have been made to the building over the years, including installing a furnace in the basement, enlarging and upgrading the floor space, adding power, a kitchen and front entrance, building a stage and dressing rooms and re-siding and re-shingling.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Rural school not allowed to fade away

LACOMBE, Alta. — On a winter’s day in January 1895 a petition was accepted for the formation of Lakeside School District No. 348. Plans and specifications for the rural school southeast of Lacombe were forwarded for approval to the Board of Education, which at the time was in Regina, Northwest Territories. It was a decade […] Read more

Three generations of the Rodenburg family include Jan-Willem, left, and his wife Jolanda, Axel, 1, Heather and Ben with Jazlyn, 3. | Maria Johnson photo

Alta. sheep farm anticipates room to grow

Producers feel there’s a huge demand and not enough supply, considering Canada produces only half of what it consumes

PONOKA, Alta. — It’s busy at East Valley Ranch — and loud. The collective“baa, baa, baa” of well over 1,000 sheep and lambs bleating together under one roof is surprisingly loud as ewes ensure their lambs stay close and lambs in turn want to feed or confirm the whereabouts of mom. Ben Rodenburg processes three-day-old […] Read more