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Sturgeon County Bounty Blog


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Rosy Farms is striving to make haskap the next great super fruit. Leanne

The dream started in 2005 by planting a test orchard of currants, sour cherries and haskaps on a family farm. The bugs loved the currants, deer ate the cherries and Andrew found his vision in haskaps.

In 2014 Andrew bought a 76-acre farm, just north of Alcomdale and by 2015, with the help of his family, they amended the land by planting a cover crop starting from scratch. In 2016, he prepared a 26-acre orchard site, planting 10,000 haskaps and added another 16,000 in 2017 with the goal of creating the highest quality fruit possible.

In an organic and holistic process, Rosy Farms owner Andrew Rosychuk strives to create one of North America’s healthiest foods. This newest super fruit derives from the honeysuckle family, also called honey berry.

The Japanese indigenous Ainu people gave this fruit the name “Hasukappu” which means “little presents on the end of branches”. Naturally growing in the northern hemisphere, this wild fruit features an explosion of flavor; ¾ blueberry and ¼ raspberry, with undertones of black current and elderberry.

As Rosy Farms continues to grow and develop, their future goal includes building a processing chain, which means they need more equipment – namely a Haskap harvester. Also, they are targeting an I-individually quick-frozen processing facility in 2019 to remain competitive, while also opening doors for local Alberta growers.

To learn more about haskaps and the innovation prevalent at Rosy Farms, discover more at

Fresh Haskap Berry Crumble  

Heat oven to 350o F.


4 cups of fresh haskap berries

1 cup sugar or sweetener of your choice

½ cup flour

Mix berries, sugar and flour in a bowl then transfer to a 9X9” baking dish

Crumble topping:

1 cup flour (of any kind)

1 cup quick cooking oats

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup butter

Mix by hand in a bowl

Spread over berries in baking dish

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes

Haskap Berry Chutney

Very good with pork, wild meat, sausage or any kind of cheese or cream cheese on crackers. Also try as a topping for baked Brie cheese with almonds.

3 cups of fresh or frozen haskap berries

1 large onion

1 green apple

2 cloves of garlic

1 cup of sultana raisins

½ tsp each of cinnamon, allspice, curry powder, ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp chili powder

½ tsp salt

1 cup brown sugar

¾ cup cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a medium to large saucepan.

Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer for at least an hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking until it has reduced enough to become slightly thickened.

Ladle into sterilized jars OR cool down and freeze in small portions.

It’s Thyme to Build a Herb Spiral : Out and About with the Wheelbarrow Gardener Leanne

I recently visited Christine Boxall on her acreage just west of Legal where she grows vegetables to sell along with some baked items at a couple of local farmers markets.  Christine and her husband have approx. 5.5 acres but it was a garden that was 5 feet in diameter and 4 feet tall that had me intrigued and the reason I came for the visit.

Last summer Christine built a herb spiral, and this year she was reaping the rewards of her creative endeavor.  A herb spiral is a vertical garden based on permaculture ideas of working less in the garden but reaping more produce. Herb spirals are a great first permaculture project to get your feet wet with, these beautiful and practical gardens are perfect for any homeowner even if your yard is only the size of a postage stamp.

I asked Christine what inspired her to create a herb spiral.  “I attended a course hosted by Kenton Zerbin ** on permaculture, and thought this was one part of the course that I could manage to build myself. I like the idea of water conservation and ease of care.” So she did just that, in two days with little to no cost she created her herb spiral, and here are some additional reasons why it was a good idea.

Benefits of the herb spiral:

- Grow more food in less space
- Get the benefits of several microclimates in one spot
- Convenient, easy access for maintenance and harvesting
- Simple to irrigate
- Low cost to build
- Healthy herbs for your enjoyment

Herb spirals can be made from just about any type of material from bricks, stones, willow, pipes and even gabion cages filled with rocks.  Any material that will allow you to form a spiral shape and will hold soil in place will work. Christine’s spiral was constructed from 4x4 posts, which she had lying around her property, so the cost to build this was minimal. If you search Google or Pinterest for herb spiral images you will see all the different concepts and designs people have created.

The design for the spiral is not without purpose, by having the spiral raised in the center, spiraling down to ground level, lots of microclimates are created that support different plants. Plants at the top of the spiral will have to be ones that like dryer and hotter conditions.  Plants on the north side will enjoy shade and more moisture while plants at the bottom will receive the greatest abundance of moisture so plants that thrive with moisture consistency will do well here.  Christine grows several types of herbs such as lavender, basil, mint, chamomile and borage in her spiral, all of which she uses for personal use or for her baking that she takes to the farmer’s markets.

The advantages of having such diversity in a small footprint of space extends beyond convenience to the chef. The nature of the herb spiral with the close planting of different species creates beneficial relationships between the herbs (companion planting) and can create an environment that benefits the garden as a whole. Some plants are great pest deterrents such as marigold and basil, and others such as lemon balm, and marjoram attract insects like ladybugs and bees that are beneficial to surrounding gardens and feed on the pests. Borage and Chamomile are good for improving the taste of neighbouring plants as well as being visually appealing.

Here are some of the herbs that are in Christine’s spiral and what she uses them for:

Borage: This herb has cucumber flavoured leaves that she uses dried for tea or fresh in other drinks, and the blue starry flowers are used fresh in salads or frozen into ice cubes as a drink garnish. Bees love this plant and so it aids in attracting beneficial bugs and pollinators to the garden.

Chamomile: She makes a tea using the dried flowers infused in boiling water, it helps boost the immune system, it aids in sleep and calms upset stomachs. Make sure that the yellow and white flowers are not the scentless chamomile noxious weed variety.

Basil: She makes a pesto using 3 cups of fresh basil leaves, 1 ½ cups of pine nuts, chopped walnuts or almonds, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 cup olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add all ingredients to a food processor adding the oil in last. Store in the fridge.

Lavender: Add 6 flower spikes of fresh or dried lavender to 2 cups of sugar, seal for a week, then use in the baking of cupcakes or custard dishes for an extra little flavor surprise.

Christine loves her hassle free herb spiral, she is letting the plants get established and is finding out which herbs do well and which ones she needs to find a better location for. It’s easy to water and takes nothing to control the weeds. It’s a beautiful focal point as you drive onto their acreage, it adds interest to what is normally a horizontal garden view and it’s a great conversation piece.  Her only wish is that she had built it just a bit bigger so that she could fit more strawberry plants in it.

Herb spirals are only one of the many garden designs that were created based on permaculture principals. Here is a website that you could go to with good info about herb spirals and a video from Bill Mollison and his take on it.

** If you are interested in taking some local permaculture courses and learning about herb spirals and other permaculture design concepts I encourage you to check out Kenton Zerbin’s website .  Kenton grew up in Sturgeon County and is now doing amazing things as a permaculture designer and instructor. He often hosts an Introduction to Permaculture workshop in Morninville and surrounding areas, so visit his website, subscribe to his newsletter and be inspired by the permaculture way of gardening.

If you know of someone who has a farm, garden or anything special that is agricultural based that I could highlight in a blog please contact me.

Valerie Loseth    |    780-668-3892    |

You can find me on Facebook and Instagram as The Wheelbarrow Gardener or check out my website at

If you know of someone who has a farm, garden or anything special that is agricultural based that I could highlight in a blog please contact me.

Potiuk’s Paradise : Out and About with The Wheelbarrow Gardener Leanne

Today's blog is brought to you by Sturgeon County local Valerie Loseth, The Wheelbarrow Gardener. Valerie makes the world a more beautiful place, from backyards to weddings to planters, to workshops and more!

Potiuk's Paradise : Out and About with The Wheelbarrow Gardener

In the year and a half since moving to their acreage, Darren and Tasha Potiuk along with their four daughters have turned their 3 acres into a very productive small-scale farm that produces meat, fruit, vegetables and even honey for the family.

I visited them on a gorgeous morning as they were out and about feeding and tending to the several types of animals they have chosen to raise on their farm. I asked Tasha, why is it important that the family raise and grow their own food?

“People are far too disconnected to their food supply these days. It started very simply by growing a garden, and getting a few hens for eggs, then you start to look into where your food comes from. How it’s grown, processed, stored, shipped and handled. I know where our food comes from, I know how and where it was grown, how our meat was raised, what goes into everything. I know how our animals are treated, how my daughter plays tag with the pigs or that the chickens can run loose and love to take dirt baths and hunt bugs in the garden. I know our fruit and veggies aren’t sprayed with who knows what, and our bees dine on dandelions and fruit and flower blossoms. The amazing sense of peace we have when we are home. There’s a reason we call it Potiuk’s Paradise! Now that we have come this far, I can’t imagine ever going back.”

Sustainable Farming
Sustainable farming means that whatever is farmed, raised and grown on the farm is consumed by the farm dwellers themselves. They are living off the land and providing the food they need for their own consumption.

What started out as a garden and a few hens has expanded to pigs, ducks, geese, rabbits and bees. All of the animals other than the family dogs, some farm cats and one particular bunny are all raised to either produce food or to be food. Everything around the farm has multiple purposes, and a food chain is created between the animals and the plants. Weeds become food for the rabbits and pigs, the hens scratch up the soil, eat the bugs and fertilize the garden, rabbit pelts become mitts and hats, nothing goes to waste. They live as sustainable as possible, butchering their own animals, canning and preserving fruits and vegetables and even processing their own meat. Always finding ways to live with the smallest footprint on the environment Tasha even makes her own hand soap and has graciously agreed to share her recipe for it (see below).

With both Darren and Tasha working full time shift work, time is a challenge. On average it takes an hour in the morning and then again at night to do all the animal chores. “We can get it done in twenty minutes if we really rush, but I prefer to take my time and interact with the animals, everyone helps including our five year old. Our greatest success is how close we have become as a family. The day we put a meal on the table that was all homegrown, that was a pretty big success” said Tasha proudly.

I was interested in how much research she must have done before she started, but she shared that she often acts before she knows all the facts and that animals often find their way to the farm before Darren knows they are there. They explained that they are constantly learning and gaining knowledge through friendships with like minded people, mentors and groups on Facebook that share common problems and goals. When asked what is next for them and the farm Tasha said after a quick smile and glance at Darren, “Looking at adding a heifer calf next spring. She would be a 4H project for one of our daughters. A few more fruit and nut trees and a wood burning stove.”

Not all of us are blessed with owning an acreage, living within town or city limits there are some constraints, but urban homesteading is on the rise, people want control over their food. Growing their own vegetables and raising small livestock (where permits allow) can be accomplished on a small parcel of land if people are willing to make some changes. Dig up the lawn and grow your lunch. Plants trees and perennials that are food based. Raise rabbits, chickens or bees to feed your family. Shop local, visit your Farmer’s Market, or better yet visit the farm. If you are interested in any of these things there are plenty of support groups and people like Tasha and Darren who are willing to take you under their wing and show you the ropes, you just need to be willing to take that first step to food freedom.

Soap Recipe
One cup filtered water
3 tbsp. liquid Castile soap
1tsp veg glycerin.
Drops essential oil or tea tree oil (optional)
Mix and pour into foaming pump bottle

If you know of someone who has a farm, garden or anything special that is agricultural based that I could highlight in a blog please contact me.

Valerie Loseth    |    780-668-3892    |

You can find me on Facebook and Instagram as The Wheelbarrow Gardener or check out my website at

Sustainable Dairy Farming in Sturgeon County Leanne

Emma Cawthorne-Kozlowski and Sara Kluthe are Urban Agriculture students at Morinville Community High School.  This article is part of a series written by students enrolled in the Urban Agriculture course.

Ice cream, cheese, whipped cream, yogurt and butter are foods that most people don’t think a lot about. We buy them at the grocery store in the refrigerator section and never bother to think about where they came from. Many people work hard raising cows and collecting milk from them just so we can enjoy an ice cream every now and then. On March 6th the MCHS Urban Agriculture class visited the Lakeside dairy farm just outside of Legal to learn more about dairy farming and where our milk comes from. 

When we arrived, Jeff Nonay took us to see where their milking cows, also known as Holstein cows, are kept. Their cows are kept in a large facility where they have places to lay down. They also have a brush for the cows to brush themselves on and a big sweeper that runs through the barn six times a day to clean it up a little. 

Next, we went to see the automatic milking system they have, which is run by a computer and a robotic arm. The cows at the Lakeside farm as well as many other dairy farms are trained to go to these automatic milking stations as they receive a treat when they do as an incentive to go get milked. When the cow decides to enter the milking unit, a cow ID sensor reads an identification tag on the cow and passes the cow ID to the control system, this sensor can also tell if the cow has any infections. If the cow has been milked too recently, the automatic gate system sends the cow out of the unit. If the cow may be milked, automatic teat cleaning, milking cup application, milking, and teat spraying takes place. The robotic arm hooks up the cups to the teats and in about 10 minutes, 30L of milk are collected from one cow. 

The arm takes off the cups from each teat when they are finished and it pushes the cow out and allows the next one to enter. Each cow gets milked a different number of times each day and they are free to go to the milking unit whenever they want. These milking systems are helpful because they allow the cows to be milked 24/7 and it can tell whether or not the cow has a disease or when it was last milked. As well, most of the system is automatic like the waste removal,  and the milking so they do not have to spend so much time with the cows. These machines may cost a lot to buy but they are economically sustainable in the long run because they do not need to hire anyone to milk the cows and it is much more efficient as it can track the cows, scan them and milk them in a matter of minutes.

Next, he took us to go see the cows who just gave birth. The cows who are injured or who just gave birth have special treament.They get to relax on hay,  and they still get milked everyday. Then Mr.Nonay took us to go see the calves, to see their habitat and their way of life and how they grow up in their environment. The calves live in a very important environment. This determinds whether or not their going to be a strong cow or not.The calves were a lot more curious with us than the cows. They were a lot more friendly and not shy. They licked our hands and were biting our clothes. All of us enjoyed playing with the calves. It's about $8.00 a day to feed one cow. They’re very expensive; but so worth it in the end if you love to do it.

We learned many things at the Lakeside farm such as how we get our milk and the process that goes into it. But one very important thing we learned about is sustainability. Lakeside farm is very sustainable and well run. For example, Jeff makes his own compost by using drywall, which he picks up from the city and combines it with chicken manure from a neighboring farm and cow manure from his own farm.This compost contains gypsum which has positive long lasting effects in soil. The sulphate in the drywall lowers the pH of the manure, reducing ammonia and greenhouse gases. When this mixture is spread on the land, it adds sulphate and calcium, and retains nitrogen, all of which are nutrients plants need to grow. Also, by using drywall in their compost, they get rid of much of the drywall that goes to landfills. 

The Nonays even grow their own crops to feed their cows. That is why it was important for the MCHS urban Agriculture class to go to the Lakeside Dairy Farm, to learn about where our milk comes from and sustainable practices.

Click here to learn more about dairy farming in Canada

That'll Do Pig, That'll Do Leanne

Natasha Kryger is an Urban Agriculture student at Morinville Community High School.  This article is part of a series written by students enrolled in the Urban Agriculture course.

Pigs, we all know what they are bred for: ham, bacon, ribs…Yum! We love to eat pigs but we seldom stop and ask, “Where was this animal raised?” “How was it treated?” 

On October 20, the students in Morinville Community High School’s Urban Agriculture class visited Belle Valley Berkshires, owned by Ron and Karen Sobeys. Belle Valley Berkshires is a small pig farm operated five minutes west of Morinville. Ron and Karen raise Berkshire pigs, a heritage breed that is raised mainly for the quality of their ham. 

The pigs are fed a complete feed from Champion Feeds.  The feed consists of barley, wheat, and oats. A nutritionist also helps determine what supplements are needed within the pigs’ diet. The Sobeys also feed their pigs vegetable scraps, and because the pigs are raised outdoors, they are free to graze on whatever is in their pen. I was fascinated to learn that the pigs aren’t fed an all-wheat diet, as this would create too much fat in the pigs. You may think that the pigs would freeze during the winter, but the pigs are given straw to burrow in. The straw acts as an insulator and keeps the pigs warm in the frigid temperatures. 

Ron and Karen have three sows and a boar. The sows usually produce two litters per year; this is a fair amount as a Berkshire’s gestation period is about 114 days. Each sow can produce about 10 litters in their lifetime and usually grow to a weight of about 400-450 pounds. 

I learned that sometimes a piglet is born with a ridgeling. This is a birth defect in males where one teste remains inside the pig. The procedure to fix this is very expensive so these pigs are often destroyed. Piglets born with defects are ended with a process known as thumping. Thumping is when the piglet’s head is slammed with great force against a hard object. The pig doesn’t suffer because the farmer makes sure to do it right the first time. 

Males born without defects are castrated at 2 days or no older than 6 weeks. They are castrated because when they mature, the testosterone would taint the meat and leave a strong odour.  At 6-8 weeks, the pigs are weaned off their mothers and begin to eat  the feed. I learned that the pigs were raised for about 180-190 days or about 6 months. At that time, the pigs generally weigh 260 pounds and produce a 90-95 kilogram carcass.  The pigs were sent to Country Quality Meat Cutting, in Bon Accord for slaughter. I was astounded to learn that not all facilities slaughter pigs with the same process. Quality Meat Cutting uses a bolt that hits the brain of the animal whereas Sturgeon Valley Pork, another facility near Morinville, now out of business, used to use nitrogen to asphyxiate the pigs.  

The students in Urban Agriculture bought three of these pigs, creating six half carcasses to butcher. Kyle of Darcy’s Meats, brought the carcasses to the school. On the trip to Belle Valley Berkshires, I learned the important process in going from piglet, to pig, to plate.

MCHS Visits Gold Forest Grains Leanne

Sarah Chevalier is a grade 12 student at Morinville Community High School.  This article is part of a series written by students enrolled in the Urban Agriculture course.

Sustainability. The word of the century. It is a noun that comes to mind when we think of our planet, at least now it is within our day and age. Someone who happens to have proven that it is completely possible to live off the land in a total eco-friendly and green way, is John Schneider and his family at Gold Forest Grains. He works hard to be completely self reliant and self sustainable. He has also financially sustained himself and has not taken out a single bank loan in years. Before he figured out a way to live this unique, and earth healthy sort of life, he and his family used to live in big houses with gas-guzzling vehicles, nothing extraordinary or different like the life he has built for himself now. John moved out of his old typically suburban large home, and created himself a straw bale house just a few minutes South West of Morinville. No wolf can come blow this house down though, because the straw is in between thick layers of cement to act as a natural form of insulation. This house is 1200 square feet with no framing, wood or natural gas anywhere in the home. The house is heated with a wood stove, as well as passive solar energy because of how heat absorbent the straw happens to be when the sun hits it. Heating bills are basically reduced to nothing because of these changes.

John raises certified organic grain, if the name of his farm did not give that away already. His ‘Golden Grains” bring in most of the income for the farm. John sells directly to the consumers unlike many of the larger more conventional farms in the area. The Schneiders only have 3 small stone mills in order to make flour. They sell their flour in small batches, usually 1kg at a time, but with their direct-to-consumer approach they garner approximately $113 per bushel rather than the $6-$7 for every day non-organic wheat. The small farm only has 3 hired employeess because that happens to be all they need. They have stock for sale in Morinville Sobeys, Old Strathcona farmers market on Whyte ave, and at the St. Albert farmers market.

John Schneider works more to farm the earth rather to farm for food. He works to replenish the soil that surrounds his house in order for the ground to be perfect, healthy and prosperous condition for his children to take over one day. He uses compost and other naturally available sources like wood chips to give the ground the nitrogen it needs. As well he rotates crops like buckwheat to help release phosphorous in the soil. No one but organic farmers use buckwheat anymore. There is just no need with the non-natural chemicals that are so much easier to use, and so much more readily available. Schneider also uses a technique called 'intercropping' where he plants lentils amongst his wheat.  The lentils provide the wheat with nitrogen and the wheat helps protect the lentils. In addition to using organic or natural means of fertilizing, Schneider also refrains from using any pesticides.  He explains that sprays leave residue behind, which is one of the reasons that farmers don't spray malt barley or wheat that they'll be using for seed the following year. 

Aside from being pesticide free, John also explains that many of his gluten intolerant customers have reported being able to consume his heritage or ancient grains without any adverse side effects. Interesting I know. What else is interesting is the fact that if everyone bought organic, all farms would slowly convert, leaving everyone forced to buy this whole and more healthy option, and everyone would soon be living in a that much cleaner and healthier world. The people would be healthier, the animals would be healthier and so would the planet.

Urban Agriculture at MCHS! Leanne

This blog post is written by Morinville Community High School teacher Neil Korotash. This article is the first in a series that his students will be sharing over the school year. Follow their urban agriculture adventures here!

Over the next several months, Urban Agriculture students from Morinville Community High School will be posting various articles in this space.  These students will be sharing with you some of the field trips and activities that they are participating in around the County as part of the new course. You’ll be able to see through the student’s eyes what they are learning about gardening, agriculture, local businesses, and the sustainability of our food system.

Gold Forest GrainsThe course, new to MCHS and the region, is designed to teach students in a hands-on way some of the homesteading skills that seem to be less and less commonplace these days.  Students are learning how to grow food including everything from raised vegetable beds and cold frames to hydroponics and everything in between.  These skills are then connected to Foods credits where students learn to pickle, butcher, cure, and make homemade pastas and breads.

Some of this year’s activities will include:

Wheat & Grains – We’ll be visiting Gold Forest Grains organic farm, located just a few minutes South West of Morinville and Craig Ozipko’s conventional farm just outside of Legal.  Students will be able see the differences in the farming practices, examine the sustainability of each and then using some locally grown grain, mill their own flour.  Students will then use the flour to bake bread, make pasta and bake pies.
  • Chicken – We’re very fortunate to have several students who raise chickens in the County and a visit to the Krupa farm will allow students the opportunity to kill and butcher their own animal.  Students will also be visiting Tri-West Poultry and a local egg farm to fully understand how these birds go from farm to our table.

  • Pork – Similar to the chicken experience, students will buy pigs from Ron & Karen Sobey’s Belle Valley Berkshires and visit to learn about pig farming.  Nestor at Country Quality Meats will then dress and split the pigs so that students can butcher them, and learn to make their own bacon, ham and sausage.

  • Small scale crop production – Students will continue to learn how to grow indoor greenhouse crops such as basil and mint and sell those at local farmers markets and retail outlets.  Currently, MCHS grown fresh basil & mint are available at Morinville Sobeys!

These are but a few examples and others activities will include pressing apple cider at Sprout Farms or picking pumpkins and enjoying some farm fresh ingredients at PrairieGardens!

This will be the second year for the course and we have had tremendous support from businesses and farms in and around Sturgeon County and Morinville.  Major sponsors include Sturgeon Valley Fertilizers, Champion Petfoods, and MorinvilleSobeys while the County and the Town have been very supportive as well.

We hope you will check back often to see some of the great things that are happening in the County and how MCHS students are learning all about it!

Herbs at Morinville Sobeys

This course continues to evolve and we are always looking for new and exiting ways to teach the students about their food, healthy eating, and sustainable living so if you have any ideas or suggestions, please let us know! I can be reached at MCHS by email ( or by phone (780-939-6891)


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Sturgeon County Bounty is a Sturgeon County Economic Development initiative, aimed at providing local producers, chefs and processors with an opportunity to promote and expand value-added agriculture in the region. more

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Phone: 780-939-8367