Feature Article

Down on the Farm: Women Farmers in the Peace Country

“From the time that I was a little girl, I knew that I wanted to be a farmer,” recalls Mary Lundgard from her family’s home, just outside Grimshaw, Alberta. As she talks, she minces a clove of garlic – locally grown by her daughter, Lisa – and adds it to the mushroom soup simmering on the stovetop.

Born and raised in the eastern Maritimes of Canada, Lundgard was a town girl with the dream to grow and raise her own food. “My mom grew up on a farm in Nova Scotia,” Mary remembers, “She always said, ‘Oh no, you don’t want to do that!’ My family used to tease me about this childhood dream. But later in life, I moved to Alberta, met my husband, Peter, and we began to farm. Finally, I could write home to my family and tell them, well, I’m now a farmer.”

Over the past several decades, Mary and Peter have managed small seed and livestock operations in northern Alberta. In 2005, they moved their family from Fairview to 600-acres of land southwest of Grimshaw, where they started Nature’s Way Farm, a certified organic farm, producing pasture-fed beef, sheep, lamb, and pork. “We’re trying to farm a sustainable way,” says Mary, explaining that they don’t use any chemicals for pest-control, or fertilizers for field production.

Mary_Lisa

Nature’s Way’s holistic approach to growing and raising food is well-known in the Peace Country. Every year, the farm receives dozens of aspiring farmers from all over the world who come to intern and learn, hands-on, about organic agriculture. But what also makes Nature’s Way unique – and what many people might not realize – is that many aspects of the farm are managed with a woman’s touch. “I’m not just the wife, I’m not just the worker,” says Mary, smiling. “I’m actually a farmer.”

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