In part because the Kamsack area is reputed to have “the cleanest air in Canada,” the world’s largest independent organic breakfast and snack food brand has purchased 5,000 acres of farmland in the area.
“When you choose well, good things grow,” Arran Stephens, owner of Legend Organic Farm and founder of Nature’s Path Foods Inc., said on January 15 when he announced that Legend Organic Farms purchased the land near Duck Mountain Provincial Park.
Stuart McMillan, a “passionate organic farming professional and 25-year agriculture industry expert,” is the manager of the property, Stephens said.
Speaking to the Times last week, Dag Falck of Pender Island, B.C., who is the organic program manager for Nature’s Path, explained that the property, which includes the property once owned by the late Harry Wlaswich, just east of Keeseekoose First Nation is a “good area” to be transitioned for organic farming.
McMillan has been in the area since last year and currently lives on the former Betz property nearby, Falck said, explaining that during this year, the second year that Nature’s Path will be farming the property, the farm will be set up, with a focus on organic farming.
Asked what they plan to grow on the farm, Falck said that the area is a top oats-growing area and they will likely look into specialty crops like hemp, flax and other grains.
The company is moving its resources around and plans such things as field days and research plots, he said, adding that the property had been purchased quite likely because of the area having “the cleanest air in Canada.”
“Organic is not a passing fad. It has swept over the nation like a tidal wave,” Stephens said in a 1971 television interview. “More and more people have become aware of the need for food which is uncontaminated, food which is truly balanced, from the soil upward, right through to the food, which helps make a more balanced body and mind.”
According to the 2017 US Organic Industry Survey, sales of organic products in the United States jumped to $47 billion in 2016, up eight per cent from the previous year, said a press release from Nature’s Path. Organic food now accounts for more than five per cent of total food sales in the US, another significant first for organic.
The increased appetite for organic food and products has resulted in an increased demand for organic farmland, the release said. As a fiercely independent company, Nature’s Path and its subsidiary have the freedom to take unique, proactive measures to realize an organic future.
“Purchasing and cultivating organic farmland in Canada and the USA demonstrates our commitment to the future of the industry,” Stephen said. “To do this and be successful, we need an experience, talented and comitted hands-on organic farm manger.”
“I’m excited to be joining Legend Organic Farm and to be responsible for growing foods free from toxic pesticides and genetic engineering,” McMillan said. “this property will be farmed using the latest and most innovative organic and regenerative methods to achieve maximum yields, environmental protection and positive effects on climate through maximizing carbon sequestration.”
Raised on a farm, McMillan’s passion for agriculture began at a young age, the release said. He studied entomology and agroecology and earned a master of science degree in agriculture from Uppsala University in Sweden. His professional experience has equipped him with extensive knowledge in organic certification and production. In addition to organic consulting and inspection, McMillan’s professional experience includes crop and agronomy management, analysis and research. McMillan has authorized several articles in agricultural magazines, newsletters and a field crop handbook.
“We’re incredibly pleased to be welcoming Stuart, who has been avidly involved in organic agricultural production since 1993, to the Legend team,” Stephens said. “From family farm to organic inspector, he has spent his entire career in the agricultural field and will play a crucial role in helping bring our mission to ‘leave the earth better than we found it’ to life.”
The farm consists of 3,429 cultivated acres and 1,536 acres of bush and wetlands in wildlife conservation, the release said. The vast majority of the land was purchased from a long-time organic farmer. At the same time, an additional 1,600 acres of neighbouring conventional land was also purchase and immediately put into a 36-month transition program to become certified organic.
Nature’s Path sources much of its organic grains like oats, wheat, heritage grains, hemp, legumes and flax from the Canadian Prairies and the US Midwest, and this latest acquisition of property proactively ensures adequate land is transitioned to meet increasing demand for organic products.
Legend Organic Farms Inc. manages ownership of land and oversight of the farming operations.
Nature’s Path Organic Foods is a privately held, family-owned company, producing USDA certified organic and non-GMO project verified breakfast and snack foods sold in grocery and natural food stores in over 50 countries around the world, it said. Committed to the triple bottom line, socially responsible, environmentally sustainable and financially viable, Nature’s Path works diligently to support communities and champions the cause of people and the planet.
Brands include Nature’s Path, Love Crunch, Qi’a, Quye Pasa, Flax Plus and EnviroKidz.
Founded in 1985, Nature’s Path is headquartered in Richmond, B.C., and employs hundreds of valued team members at its four facilities in Canada and the United States.
Persons wishing additional information may visit naturespath.com.