Meet the Farmer: Prairie Ranchers

March 2024 - Community & Environment

What does it mean to support ‘kind farmers’ when it comes to beef? And how does that lead to the striploin steak on your fork filled with flavour and nutrients? At Nature’s Fare Markets, we only choose animals raised ethically and humanely in a sustainable way, and certified organic whenever possible. We chatted with Darren from Two Rivers Meats to explore how Prairie Ranchers, an Alberta farm collective, is raising beef for Two Rivers in a whole new (humane and sustainable) way.

It’s late spring on Pine Haven Farms near Wetaskiwin, Alberta. A few hundred head of Angus cattle are grazing a one-acre section called a ‘paddock’. It’s dense with tall green forage, like grasses, alfalfa and clover, sometimes even corn and sunflowers. The herd feasts, leaves manure (and carbon) that gets stomped into the soil, and then the cattle are let out to another paddock. In about two months, when the cattle return to yesterday’s paddock, the soil is rich with carbon that can soak up rainfall (several inches, compared just one for carbon-depleted soil) and more nutrient-dense forage. It’s a practice that mimics the way herds of buffalo once grazed and nourished the land. It’s called ‘regenerative agriculture’ and those who practice it are being called ‘soil cowboys’.

“We believe in working with nature’s system,” says Will Hofer of Pine Haven Farms. “The simple elements provide all we need to raise abundant, high-quality, nutritious beef.”

Pine Haven Farms plays a key role in Prairie Ranchers, a collective of farms improving the soil with grazing patterns in harmony with nature. It’s contrary to the way it’s often been done in contemporary ranching—where overgrazing, overuse of chemicals, and erosion have created unhealthy soil that can make it challenging to raise healthy animals.

Working with nature and science-driven feeding strategies allows Prairie Ranchers producers to maintain a year-round supply of fresh, 100 per cent grass-fed and finished, premium quality beef. No antibiotics, added hormones or steroids.

“We’re proud to help lead a new approach to farming beef—economically and environmentally sustainable—to benefit everyone from our ranchers to consumers for many generations,” says Cliff Drever, a Prairie Ranchers member.

Today, BC-based Two Rivers Meats proudly sources from Prairie Ranchers—everything from salami and ground beef to ribeye and striploin steaks for chefs in restaurants and homes alike.

By selecting animals for specific attributes (like Alberta winter hardiness) and those that work well on a forage-based diet, the result is premium, marbled, grass-feed beef.

“The meat is exceptional,” says Darren Wilson of Two Rivers Meats. “It’s absolutely rich with flavour, natural flavour.”

Ed Lange, of Prairie Ranchers’ Walter Farms and W over Diamond Ranch, says raising healthy land and animals has fostered a sustaining and special bridge, along with wholesalers like Two Rivers, from farm to fork.

“We wanted to be more than just another producer. We wanted to be connected to the people who buy our food.”

Article was published in The Good Life magazine.

SHARE THIS POSTfacebooktwitterpinterest