I grew up and lived in Germany until I was 23 years of age and came to Canada in June 2010 after spending 2 years travelling through New Zealand and Australia.
Prior to my travels, I completed my education as an animal care taker in 2008 at the Kiel SPCA and my Hometown Zoo in Rostock. During my time there, I gained work experience and a good understanding of the relationships between humans and animals raised in captivity. Even though I deeply enjoyed working with animals, I doubted that this career path would fulfill my passion of understanding the interactions among organisms and their natural habitat; so I decided to leave Germany and start my traveling adventure on the other side of the world.
Uncertain of what my future career held, I entered New Zealand under a Holiday-Working Program to expand my horizon, meet new people, to learn a new language and to gain more experience in different work fields. I quickly regained my passion to work with animals when I volunteered on a sheep farm on the South island for about two months. It was my first time working on a farm for a long period of time and it didn’t take long for me to realize that I loved just about everything about the farm lifestyle (apart from getting up early EVERY day).
I was always fascinated and wanted to understand more about interspecies relationships, the connection between a certain animal and its habitat, and how humans could use this knowledge to sustain themselves by managing this species in a way that works with rather than against nature.
Permaculture takes exactly this approach to develop sustainable architecture, regenerative and self-maintained habitat, and agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems.
After spending another year working and traveling in Australia I embarked on a new adventure to Canada in June 2010. I decided to start in Red Deer where I had friends that I met in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was planning on spending only a few months in Red Deer, then move West where the weather and waves are best, but matters of the heart kept me in Red Deer. One of the friends I had met while traveling and met up with again in Canada turned out to become my girlfriend Nicki. After we began dating in 2011, I decided it would be in my best interest to stay put in Canada and apply for my Canadian residence. The whole process took about three years, during which time I became known to permaculture- a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems.
One of those success stories exists at Tamara Ranch where Blake Hall and his wife Angela have come to an agreement with retiring farmer Tom Towers. Tom converted his farm in the 90’s to a holistic managed beef farm; ever since then, he put an emphasis on raising his cattle in a more humane and natural manner while restoring native grass species of the prairie on his land at the same time.
With the same philosophy Blake has combined his and Tom’s cattle in the last years and have produced some of the finest grass-finished beef and pastured pork in Central Alberta. On about 400 acres just South East of Red Deer their animals are cared for in a manner that is harmonious with nature and regenerative to the soil, the grasses and the animals. This creates a meat product that is outstanding in both taste and health effects for its consumers.
I have worked with Blake since 2015 where he taught me the In’s and Out’s of a holistic, sustainable way of farming; at the same time I started raising pastured broiler chickens on Tamara Ranch. Coming into my fourth season this year I'm proud to serve Red Deer (and area) with healthy and nutritious chicken meat.
After successfully completing a Permaculture course at Verge Permaculture in Calgary in November 2014 my decision was made to follow my passion and to start my farming endeavour. But how?
Getting started in most businesses requires start-up capital. In farming most of your capital will be tied up in getting access to suitable land that can provide a profitable income. Even inheriting farmland from relatives nowadays leaves young farmers in major debt due to large inheritance taxes. That is why many young farmers try to rent land rather than buying it; but as many land owners are not willing to offer more than 2-3 year leases on available land, it’s hard to build a profitable future-orientated production model based on sustainability and a healthy ecosystem.
Transfer strategies between beginning and retiring farmers is the new way of giving young farmers the chance to slowly take over an existing farm. This allows the young farmer to draw from the knowledge and experience of the older farmer while giving the retiring farmer the opportunity to put his life achievements in good hands and keep living on his land instead of selling it.