Leafy greens blanket some fields in southern Alberta and underneath the lush plants are sugar beets.
It’s a unique crop to the area and one that many Albertans don’t know is grown in Canada.
“We went to Aggie Days in Calgary and many people did not know that sugar beets were grown, they thought all sugar was cane,” said Gary Tokariuk, president of the Alberta Sugar Beet Growers Association.
ASBG hosted its annual harvest tour which included an in-depth look at how the beets are grown and harvested.
“People don’t always know where their food came from and this is just one way we can get people out who haven’t seen this crop before, have them come out in the field and show them what we do, how the crop is grown and harvested, hopefully, learn something and have a little fun,” said farmer Gary Vucurevich.
Growers have had some challenges, thanks to mother nature. Last year’s harvest saw roughly 45 per cent of the crop left in the ground. Luckily, 2020 seems to be a bit sweeter for farmers so far, with over half of the harvest already completed.
“My tonnes were really good, and the quality, I’ve never had quality this good, over 20 percent sugar,” added Tokariuk.
Sugar beet growers said they see the value in educating the public on how crops are grown and the challenges they face. Their end goal is to encourage Albertans to buy sugar grown in southern Alberta when shopping.
“It’s really important to get people educated in what we do, and I can never stress enough, we are the only Canadian grown, processed sugar that’s out there,” said Tokariuk.
To find sugar grown and refined in southern Alberta, look for the black stamp on your sugar bag starting with the number 22.