Agriculture Day: Get to know your local Farmers

Photo Credit: Alberta Pork, Sunhaven Farms

BY: Shelley Boettcher

©2018 Postmedia Network Inc.

Many of us take our food for granted. Go to the grocery store and you’ll find chicken, eggs, steak, you name it. We don’t always think about where our kitchen staples come from.

 

But this month, give a thought to the farmers who helped to get it there.

 

On Feb. 13, Canadians are invited to celebrate Canada’s Agriculture Day, a celebration of our country’s farms and food producers.

 

“Agriculture Day is really about bringing everybody who is a part of the agriculture industry together to talk about all of the great things that are happening in the industry,” says Debbie Bailey, spokeswoman for the industry initiative Agriculture More Than Ever.

 

“We’re part of a vibrant, forward-thinking industry that contributes significantly to our economy.”

 

This Agriculture Day and beyond, Taste Alberta encourages everyone to support their local farming communities by buying food grown and raised in Canada.

 

With that in mind, meet three Alberta farmers who are helping to feed Canadians every day of the year.

Canadian Agriculture Day is Feb 13

Want to know about Canada’s Agriculture Day events on Feb. 13? Go to agriculturemorethanever.ca for an events calendar in Alberta and other participating provinces.

Photo Credit: Egg Farmers of Alberta

Paul Wurz

Photo Credit: Alberta Pulse Growers

Caroline Sekulic

Photo Credit: Alberta Pork

Ruben Waldner

Ruben Waldner, Pork Producer – Parkland Hutterite Colony, Nanton

 

Growing up on the Parkland Hutterite Colony, Ruben Waldner started working with animals when he was a little boy. “I’ve been involved in farming ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper,” he says with a laugh.

 

These days, he’s the assistant hall manager for his colony’s 500-sow operation, roughly 2,000 to 3,000 pigs. “I love it,” he says. “I don’t think I’d ever change.”

 

He enjoys a good pork feast, too, especially ribs and bacon. “If you’re eating local, it’s just so fresh,” he says. “You can see the passion that goes into raising the food.”

 

Freshness and food safety are why it’s important for all Canadians to know where their food comes from, he says.

 

“We do everything we can to make sure that the food we raise is of the highest quality,” he says.

 

“We’re not just raising pigs. We’re raising food for the world.”

 

 

Caroline Sekulic, Pulse Grower – Prestville Farms, Rycroft

 

A pulse grower in Northern Alberta, Caroline Sekulic doesn’t just sell the peas, beans and lentils that she grows. She makes them the centre of many of her family’s meals, too.

 

“I eat a ton of lentils because they’re good for you and they work with everything. We eat a ton of beans, too,” she says.

 

“Probably a third of our protein comes from pulses.”

 

She’s not alone. About 80 per cent of the Sekulic family’s pulse crops are sold and consumed around the world: China, Bangladesh, India, Turkey, Mexico, the U.S. and more.

 

While she has fully embraced rural living, Sekulic had never lived on a farm until she got married. “I thought it would be a great adventure,” she says with a laugh. “And it has been.”

 

And now she understands why farmers and ranchers are important for all Canadians.

 

“Growing healthy nutritious food adds value to our environment, our community and culture,” she says. “It allows for different opportunities and jobs, and it provides a sustainable way for us to know what we are eating.”

 

 

Paul Wurz, Egg Producer – Morinville Poultry, Morinville

 

Paul Wurz started mixing feed when he was seven years old, helping his dad at the Hutterite colony where he grew up. Then he’d carry the pails of food to the barns. “I had to really work hard to lift them up off the ground,” he recalls with a chuckle.

 

“But determination wins. If you want to get something done, you can do it.”

 

Wurz still works hard as part of the Morinville Hutterite Colony, where he takes care of the eggs from the colony’s 20,000 layer hens.

 

It probably goes without saying but he’s busy.

 

And every Friday, he’s on the road, delivering eggs from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. to dozens of restaurants and shops in and around Edmonton, including Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, Cora restaurants, and the Italian Centre Shop.

 

“I’m giving them the freshest eggs you can get,” he says. “The eggs are at most two days old by the time you get them, and some aren’t even a day old.”

 

Wurz doesn’t just sell eggs. He eats at least two every day, usually at breakfast. “Eggs are so healthy for you. They’re like a little vitamin pill,” he says. “And I know they’re safe to eat.”

 

Food safety is one reason why he believes that supporting local farmers is important. “You know where it’s coming from,” he says.

 

“We try our best to give consumers the healthiest, safest product you can buy anywhere in the world.”

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content studio.