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Episode 57 - Sunrise Farm

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To talk about what we raise, and how we raise it goes back to 1986 when I was diagnosed with Crohn's desease And the herbalist that I went to see, he told me that there's a pretty good chance that I could eat my way back to good health by the way we farm and raise our animals, and he mentioned that omega-3 fatty acids were critical to helping to heal Crohn's desease So, I said, how do I get omega-3's out of chickens and turkeys and eggs, and pork, and beef, etcetera And he said, if you raise them on pasture, you are going to get that factor Since 1997 we've been raising chickens, in shelters, broilers Also turkeys, and laying hens, and our shelters are moved once a day They have certified organic grain in the feeders The density of birds per shelter is such that they have a good quality of life with their stay on our farm They get fresh air, they get to eat dandelions, they get to eat bugs, grasshoppers Because of the variety of grasses and legumes that we have when they eat those grasses and legumes, the root systems from each of those plants comes from different zones, so they are bringing up different minerals which translate into different vitamins and, when the consumer eats that, I believe that those health benefits transfer onward The hogs are also raised on pasture, they're raised in shelters that have two nipple waterers, a grain self feeder, and they're moved at about 6:30 in the morning the pen is moved ahead, it's 16 feet wide by 32 feet long it has a tarp over it, and pigs, not many people realize this but pigs like to eat grasses, but one of their greatest joys I believe is being able to root. And if you look at the industrial model of raising hogs they're in a barn, and I don't think they get a chance to root they're in concrete. So I really get a kick out of watching our pigs after I move them in the morning because they just get right down into it with their snouts and they push dirt and rocks, and also throw some grass seed in so by the time we come around next year those varieties of legumes whatever I put there, are growing, so it's quite a process and the pigs are a real joy, they're quite a character And the beef, we quit feeding our range cows grain during the winter way back in 1998, and they're on a total grass/legume diet in the months that they're grazing, and then in the winter time they're on hay, and there again the omega-3 fatty acids are very high, and we've had papers done by university students on the health benefits of grass finished beef and if you read just about any health magazine now there's something in there almost monthly on the health benefits of grass finished beef what motivated us to go this way was a change from industrial agriculture which is very high input, high stress, to a different way of farming we took a course in holistic management in the fall of 1995 and winter of 1996 and it changed our whole view of how the land should be farmed and if I had to give a one sentence description of what holistic management is I would say that it's taught us to farm in harmony with nature what you see on our farm basically is looking at nature in a partnership in the way that we farm, and I think that as most people know when you have a partnership and if one of them is doing really really well and the other one isn't, that partnership doesn't last and right now we feel that we're getting back to nature as much as nature needs to help us to make a living I never tell people that we have a sustainable farm I say that we are on a path to sustainability because you can have the best of everything but if the consumer in this market right now, this food market that we have, globalized I should say where the cheapest price is the law, it's very hard to get people's attention and say that we need to look after the land if future generations are going to be able to live and eat, so we're putting a lot of energy into creating more biodiversity in our farm and to do that we plant lots of trees we've planted 60000 trees now since 2003 all of our wetlands are fenced off, approximately 85 acres riparian areas are nature's convenient stores migrating birds that come through in the spring stop here to fuel up and when they're headed south they stop to fuel up again the cattails that surround this riparian area, they're acting as a water treatment plant cleaning the water up for somebody who lives downstream and I think that one of the most important things that we should remember as landowners is that somebody always lives downtream some people say to me, you have to be financially sustainable before you are environmentally sustainable and I thought about that a lot and I disagree if you are trying to make the money first and then bring the land back to good health there's always something you need, you need another piece of equipment you need some more infrastructure maybe you need a holiday, and the environment waits and the environment waits and with climate change, disappearance of pollinating insects how much longer can we wait so my best hope is that some of the things that Marie and I have learned from biologists, people from organizations that we've worked with that we've taken their ideas, put them into practice on the farm we've taken some of Joel Salatin's model, put that into practice we need our rural communities to start rebuilding and we can't do that with 10000 acre farms and it seems like in Alberta, after we got to 3000 acre farms it became 5000, and 10000, and they're making the equipment bigger and bigger so that fewer people can operate huge huge grain farms Unfortunately they haven't figured out that to keep our schools going we need kids, we need small farmers Volunteer organizations are starting to tremor a bit because young families just aren't starting up, they don't want the debt load and so those young people come and they visit us sometimes they spend a day here, sometimes they stay in he cabin and they spend a weekend, and they say OK, how can we do this We show them what we do, and we tell them that it's quite a commitment Like planting trees is a commitment, looking after them is a commitment But, most of them are really well read They've got it figured out, they really know nutritional food And they really know how important it is to care for the land They know about climate change, global warming they know about peak oil, and biodiversity water quality and quantity And so, they've already got that part of the package, which we didn't have So, they're motivated and I think they are going to be motivated enough to be able to do what we are doing and they are going to be able to do it in I believe 40 acres A lot of them come with the idea that they are going to need a minimum of 160 acres well, of 9.35 acres in 2009 our poultry and pork brought us 49700 dolars That's on 9.35 acres, that was gross income and yes we did buy in all of our feed but, when we brought that feed in that fertilized that 9.35 acres so if they were to take that model and move it around on that 40 acres in 4 years they could go around that whole 40 acres and they are already saying to me, hey, my husband can stay home with the kids and since I am a teacher or I am a nurse, or business person So, they're excited, and some of them are already getting back to me and saying, you know what, we are looking at some land, give us your opinion So, yeah, I have great hope It's still fun getting up in the morning And these young people that email, or show up or I meet them at a conference We are going to win this one, we're going to win this one

Video Details

Duration: 9 minutes and 18 seconds
Country: Canada
Language: English
Producer: Kevin Kossowan
Director: Kevin Kossowan
Views: 97
Posted by: monicafp on Mar 21, 2013

Don Ruzicka talks about the sustainable agriculture practices used at Sunrise Farm

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