A visit to Roy Brewin’s farm on a sunny day feels like stepping into a pocket of sunshine. Here, in what Roy calls the “California of Canada,” rugged wheat is standing tall thanks to a sunlight and mountain water diet. “I think it’s a combination of the irrigation water from the Rocky Mountains being pure snow melt, plus the heat units are very high here in Southern Alberta,” says Roy. “I strongly believe it’s something to do with the soil here. It’s a very rich soil.”
As the third-generation farmer of Rowland Farms, following his grandfather’s immigration from England in 1906, Roy continues to pass on his farming knowledge and passion for organic foods to his son and two daughters (Dustin, Dalyce, and Tammy-Jo), who are all equal part-owners of Rowland Seeds. While Roy has been at it since 1977, the land owned by the family went wholly organic in 1984—not an easy feat at the time, as Roy and other farmers in the area were approached and pressured by massive chemical corporations looking to control and genetically alter their seeds. By standing firm and not signing one of their oppressive contracts, instead becoming a full-fledged organic farm, Roy was able to build a strong and lasting foundation for organic farming that wholeheartedly honors each bountiful crop.
Today the company is part of Western Canada’s largest organic producer, Rowland Farms, a family-operated agri-business that provides various farm processing services in addition to its diverse line of organic crops (Roy also grows the corn and hemp we use in our One Degree Organics foods). As part of our commitment to total food transparency, we visited Roy in Taber to get a look at the incredible operation he has built and learn more about the nourishing wheat we use in our One Degree Organics products.
Wheat is one of the most resilient crops out there. On Roy’s farm, this crop loves the dry climate and Rocky Mountain runoff, growing tall and plentiful. We like wheat for its high fiber and abundant nutrients, including B vitamins, niacin, folate, zinc, iron, magnesium, and moderate protein content.
Growing these kernels organically requires extraordinary patience. Roy spends a lot of time paying close attention to the conditions of the fields, weather, humidity and dryness; he will often wait for a killing frost to take out the crops naturally, so they’ll start to dry down, a process that can delay harvest by a few weeks.
“If the field wasn’t an organic field, an option would be to go in and kill it with a desiccant like glyphosate. Then you don’t have to wait for Mother Nature,” explains Roy. He uses “old school” cultivation methods instead of herbicide like Monsanto’s Roundup (the main active ingredient is glyphosate). Farmers working with GMO crops get to skip a number of steps Roy takes to maintain the integrity of these crops. “They just go in with Roundup and that will kill everything except the genetically-modified seeds,” he says. “It means the plant is resistant to glyphosate.”
Roy’s respect for Mother Nature is evident across his wheat fields, and he is immensely proud of the end product’s organic status. “I think it’s just natural to eat something that hasn’t been messed with,” he says. This passion for organic farming and the wonderful wheat kernels that come from Rowland Seeds make Roy and his family perfect partners in our food transparency mission.