Tag Archives: agriculture

We’re going to South America!!

So I’ve been keeping a secret for the past little while but now that I’ve finally put in my notice at work I have some exciting news! We’re going to South America!!

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Mount Fitzroy, Patagonia. One of the hikes we have planned for while we are there. They say Patagonia is a real life Narnia. I can’t wait to see it in person! Photo credit: http://www.tcktcktck.org

Like the hippies at heart we are we both quit our jobs and are going backpacking again! This time with a proper backpack instead of a giant suitcase on my part.. As you can tell I am extremely excited! I’m also super excited about what we’re going to learn down there. We first heard of the wwoof organization (Willing Workers On Organic Farms or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) while in Australia 3 years ago. We actually just stumbled upon a membership book on the free bookshelf at our hostel and thought it was the coolest thing ever. We contacted a couple farms nearby and heard back from one with a kangaroo petting farm and eco-tourism style venue where they held parties and weddings and hummer tours through the rainforest. I know a hummer is not the most eco-friendly vehicle but it was pretty cool nonetheless. We had planned on wwoofing again while we were there but sudden flooding in the area forced our plans to change as the farms we contacted were now housing their neighbours.. It also cut off our route south so we stayed put at another farm planting watermelons and pruning mango trees.

Anyways before I get too side-tracked reminiscing.. This time around we knew we wanted to learn as much as possible about sustainable living and what better way than get some hands on experience in a place we can’t wait to visit.  Many of the organic farms are almost completely self-sufficient with water collection units, solar panels, woodstoves, and yes even composting toilets. Not only do they grow all their own food including animal husbandry for meat or wool they try to use their own water, heat, and energy sources. I’m hoping that after spending a few months living like that we will pick up on enough tips and tricks to put it in action back home.

If you haven’t heard of WWOOF I suggest checking them out. It’s an international organization with branches in many countries and probably has some farms enrolled close by to learn from if you don’t feel like traveling. Another awesome thing about the organization is that the only fee is your membership unlike some eco-tourism trips where you end up paying thousands of dollars just to go volunteer with them. In exchange for a few hours work a day (normally 4 or 5 with a day or two off a week depending on the farm) you get free accommodation and food. It’s really a perfect way to travel the world, learn about their culture, and for us hopefully learn some Spanish as well! We’re landing in Patagonia and will be working our way up Chile, then hopefully heading over to Argentina, Brazil and back through Bolivia and ending our trip in Peru or back in northern Chile. We’re hoping to do lots of hiking while we’re there as well. So far we’ve planned two hikes in Patagonia. The Torres del Paine “W” circuit in Chile and another 4-5 day one to Mount Fitzroy, Argentina. Maybe a little ambitious after only ever completing a 3-day hike lol.

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Stunning photo from the Torres del Paine hike in Patagonia! Photo credit: http://www.wikipedia.org

I’ll try to blog as often as possible while we’re there and share what I’m learning and probably a million pictures of cute animals since we’re both big animal lovers. Anyways that’s all for now! Hope any of you in the US are having a wonderful thanksgiving!

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From an article on wwoofing in Chile. Photo credit: http://www.oneearth.org

My AOPA newspaper article.

 Article I wrote about our last meeting. Should be in the newspaper this week! 

The Alberta Organic Producers Association is a non-profit locally run organization made up of producers, handlers, and consumers who are all committed to working together to build an ethical partnership with nature. By practicing environmentally friendly farming methods, growing non-genetically modified crops, and refraining from synthetic fertilizer and pesticide use they strive to protect our earth for future generations. Members of AOPA meet four times a year at the Namao Hall in Namao, Alberta to discus new topics, share information and plan future events.

At this year’s Winter AGMM, held on March 9th, talk was centered on seed cleaning methods and the distribution of organic beef. Cleaning their own seeds is a great way for organic farmers to remain independent of large seed manufacturing corporations and to maintain the genetic diversity found in organic seeds. With Monsanto steadily acquiring more and more types of seeds, even organic, seed cleaning has become a way to combat this large monopoly’s stake in the industry. Roy Ritchie from Flaman Sales and Rentals was on hand to speak about the different types of seed cleaners and what they can do for organic farmers. From sorting seeds and grain based on size, weight or length to detecting the slightest shade difference, there are now machines for just about any use.  

Ted Soudant, Manager of Field Gate Organics, flew in from Ontario to speak on behalf of his company about cultivating a relationship with Organic beef farmers in Alberta. What started as a small group of organic farmers in Ontario, sick of the treatment they and their livestock were receiving at the hands of large processing facilities has since turned into a growing business who supply organic meat to over 70 locations in Ontario including Sobeys. Being in charge of the production, transport, processing, and sale of their own product these farmers and the people supporting them have been able to create a strong foothold in the organic market in southern Ontario. The main difficulty they have faced in this market has been meeting consumer demand. Which is where Alberta beef producers come in. Alberta is easily one of the largest producers of organic beef, yet with no real market to speak of, many farmers forgo the certification process and sell their cattle in conventional markets. Hopefully by joining forces with a company, which has proven that environmentally friendly growing methods and humane slaughter can be a profitable endeavor, Alberta organic beef will also prosper and grow.

If you are interested in becoming organic, or would like more information on organics please contact Kathy @ 780-939-5808 or email aopa@cruzinternet.com and visit our website www.albertaorganicproducers.org