Pure veganic cultivation is a new concept for most consumers, and even for many farmers.
For us, that means the search for high-quality veganic ingredients is a road less traveled. But it’s an exciting road, one that often takes us far over the horizon — and sometimes off the map — where extraordinary family farms wait to be discovered.
Last month our continuing journey led us through the heart of Canada, in search of oats, hemp, red fife and hard red spring wheat.
In Consul, Saskatchewan we met Randall and Colin Pierce, whose family has been farming the land for 90 years. The farm has been certified organic since 1999, and will supply hard red spring wheat to One Degree.
In Hays, Alberta we found a rare veganic source of hemp. Farmer Bernie Wickenheiser began growing hemp as a way to balance his crop rotations and build richness in his soil. Later he discovered the remarkable health benefits of the plant.
“The hemp is such an interesting crop to watch growing,” he told us. “It grows crazy. You know, it’s a weed and it loves heat and it loves water and if you look after it, it will produce for you.”
Also in Alberta, we met farmer Elden Kebernik, whose fields in Barrhead yield abundant harvests of oats. He describes his farm as an island of organic in a sea of conventional farming. With more than 1,400 acres in cultivation and natural buffers such as a river, he’s able to protect his crops from contaminants drifting from other farms, such as chemicals and GMO canola, which is becoming an increasing irritant to many North American farmers.
“Growing organically is a passion of mine,” he explained. “It’s a learning experience. You learn every day and you learn from other organic farmers. I enjoy it immensely, and I’m thankful that I can do it.”
In Etzikom, Alberta, we discovered a treasure of red fife, one of Canada’s original heritage grains. “Red fife has a different flavor compared to modern wheat,” farmer Bernie Ehnes told us. “It has a different baking consistency; it’s quite an interesting crop to grow.” His seeds are from the foundation Keremeos strain, the mother of today’s Canadian red fife wheat.
Like many of our Canadian farmers, Bernie’s family roots in the land are deep. His grandparents came from Crimea in Russia in 1911 to homestead a promising parcel. Similarly, the first Pierce to farm the land arrived from Wales, and the original pioneers from Elden’s lineage emigrated from Poland.
Just like all of our farmers, Bernie Ehnes is enthusiastic about One Degree’s bold new idea of 100% ingredient transparency. “I think I’m finding there’s more and more people today that really want to know where their food is coming from,” he remarked. “This is such an interesting concept with today’s technology. This One Degree concept, I think, is going to be huge.”