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How Can Starting a Small Farm Become a Memorable Journey

How Can Starting a Small Farm Become a Memorable Journey

Whether scrambling up eggs in the morning or biting into some fresh blueberries, we all know the food we get to enjoy each day comes from hardworking farmers and producers across the entire globe. You really start to analyze the impact your food has on your daily life when you consider the ins and outs of a local farm’s operation. Here’s just that, our returning Guest Spotlight author Sarah from Happiness by the Acre farm has a wonderful story to share about the history of her family’s heartwarming endeavour.

Happiness By The Acre is a small farm near Carstairs, AB. By small, we mean 150 acres (which is small in these parts, but it feels huge to us standing out in the field). It’s a complete work-in-progress, like most farms. We are actually first-generation farmers and our story into farming goes a little something like this:

“City couple gets tired of life in the tech sector. Longing for more hands-on work, fresh air, simple living, and a way to contribute to the local food movement, they buy a farm. Faith-filled & driven by a soulful desire to bring awareness to creation care, the couple {now a small family with the addition of their two young sons}, embark on a journey, they’ll never forget.”

Heard that one before? Probably not. Although, by no means entirely unique, it’s not exactly the typical family/farm story.

Our passion and focus for farming are based in the regenerative agriculture movement, which works alongside nature to build soil health and promote a diverse eco-system, not a stagnant one. It’s been an extensive journey for our farm so far. When we purchased it back in 2013, the land had been exclusively farmed for grain for decades. We continued to lease to a grain farmer until 2016 when we began seeding our fields back to pasture.

In 2017, our farm was harvested for silage, while we managed a small market & cut flower garden. 2017 also saw major infrastructure building including, perimeter & cross-fencing, a large dugout, road, well, septic, power lines, and our first farm building was begun. We spent our first summer, full-time on the farm too.

In 2018, our modest farm building {where we live & work during the growing season} was completed. Still lots of finishing to happen inside, but that will come with time. Irrigation was put into our market garden, so we could increase our veggie & flower production, which allowed us to hire our first staff member. We purchased a small box of chicks to start our laying hen flock and also hosted a small herd of cattle {calves, cows & two bulls} on pasture. Oh and our farm store was opened. And a barn built. Phew! Busy, busy year.

In 2019, we reintroduced our own CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and sold veggies & eggs at regular markets throughout the season. More fencing was built to protect future shelter belts {being planted this year}, and the year-round watering system was installed. We dived further into raising chickens, by buying 100 more chicks in the spring. This has enabled us to focus on selling eggs in our year-round CSA! We once again hosted a herd of cattle over the summer months and continue to learn so much from that experience. We got a tractor! That was another big step for us!

And this year? Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the “how” part of our business, but we forge ahead. More big changes coming. Some are physical changes to the farmland {thousands of trees being planted}, and some are changes to our business plan. We’re moving away from veggies, which have been the focus of our farm since the beginning and turning our efforts to raising happy, healthy animals.

Feature Farm Happiness by the Acre
About Happiness by the Acre

Happiness by the Acre is a small family farm located on the edge between the Alberta foothills and the open prairie. Dedicated to providing healthy, fresh, local, and ethical food to consumers, they believe that what you eat, and what you choose to support with your purchases, directly impacts how the land is used and how healthy the soil will be.

For more blog content on growing and raising happy food, visit the Happiness by the Acre website at https://happinessbytheacre.ca/

Sarah and Marcus Riedner
[email protected]