Buying an organic farm through a co-op structure could regenerate rural ag
Published: June 2, 2020
Category: Organic News, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter
For over 20 years, Don and Marie Ruzicka have created an agricultural and ecological gem in Alberta, Canada.
The 640-acre certified organic Ruzicka Sunrise Farm features native prairie, replanted pasture, large water bodies, over 100,000 planted trees, and 200 birdhouses housing nearly 100 species. Students, professors, and urban dwellers visit the farm and witness what rural agriculture at its best can look like.
But the Ruzickas are ready to retire—and Rajan Rathnavalu has a plan to buy the farm via a co-op model, creating a template for other farm sales that could foster rural communities in the Prairies. The proposed co-op, Sunrise Community Farm, would raise $2 million for the purchase.
“We’re excited about this,” said Don Ruzicka. “There’s a lot of potential in carrying on what’s here.”
Treva Olson, introduced to the farm through the Spirit of the Land program at University of Alberta, sees an opening for young people. “Raising $2 million is not going to be easy-peasy. We’re out educating. One step at a time and we will make it.”
Organizers hope to capitalize on revived interest in stewardship of the land—particularly native prairie—as well as biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and water protection. Rathnavalu wants the initiative to spur many farm purchases. “I’d hate to be a postage stamp farm in a sea of big ag,” he said.
Source: The Western Producer
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