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Holistic farms becoming more popular in Saskatchewan

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While holistic farm management practices are gaining popularity in Saskatchewan, there is a learning curve. Nicole Stillger explains – May 14, 2018

It was a hobby that quickly turned into a full-time job.

Four years ago Vanscoy-area farmer Arlie LaRoche and her husband, Brett, started Farm One Forty, a livestock farm that focuses on holistic management and regenerative agriculture.

“All of our management decisions are with animal welfare and the environment as the top priority in any decision we make,” LaRoche said. “We figure if we take care of those things first the other stuff will just fall into place.”

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According to LaRoche, it has. They’ve been studying their soil since day one and say they have already seen soil improvement and when it comes to the animals, LaRoche says the composition of grass-fed meat is different than grain-fed meat.

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“The byproduct is just really nutrient dense protein.”

Sheep and lambs grazing at Farm One Forty near Vanscoy. . Julien Fournier / Global News

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Assistant professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of Saskatchewan, Eric Micheels, said this type of farming is a growing trend.

“I think we’re seeing more farmers at least try it or become interested in it,” Micheels said. “It’s a way for them to maybe improve their own farm performance and their own financial performance.”

If you’re looking to make the transition to this style of farming, however, there is a learning curve.

“It’s hard to just flip a switch from a traditional farm to a holistic farm,” Micheels said. “You have to unlearn all of the things you have been doing to manage your resources. It’s a different mindset.”

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For Farm One Forty, its customer base is built mainly on referrals, a signal to LaRoche that not only do people appreciate the quality of the product, but the open door policy as well.

Free-range piglets at Farm One Forty. Julien Fournier / Global News

“They just really like that they can know the farmer personally,” she said. “If they want to take part in some of our on-farm events they can and know that they can just come see it for themselves.”

As for LaRoche, she traded in her desk job for the countryside and hasn’t looked back.

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