Sunworks Farm is the home of Ron and Sheila Hamilton and is located near Armena, Alberta. In 1992, they moved from the city to their new farm and started converting their land to certified organic status. More detail about their story can be found on their website here. In summary, their farm is guided by their values, and they strongly believe in the principals of organic and holistic agriculture, and the ethical/humane handling of animals.
I was invited out to tour the farm along with other media-related people and get the scoop on their farm, and to see the inner workings of their operation. It was a beautiful day out, and a perfect day for a tour. I came out to the farm and was met by the owners, Ron, Sheila, and Isaac. I first encountered Ron at the Old Strathacona Farmers’ Market, and began buying their products. It is so great to see such friendliness and great level of customer service come from a company.
They started their farm with 80 chickens, in one shelter, and always made sure to maintain good animal welfare and conditions. The farm composed of 400 acres of land, and as they progressed and grew, they made sure to never compromise their core values.
Their animals are treated kindly, humanely, and ethically. They are access to fresh air, clean water, and sunshine. Their animals grow in a low stress and healthy environment which reduce diseases and the need for medications. More of their values can be found on their website, but essentially, they are certified organic (for 20 years!), believe in the humane treatment of their animals, and they value their customers and want to produce the highest quality products possible.
It takes ~ 50 days for a chicken to fully grow on the farm. Young chickens are kept indoors until they have enough feathers to stay warm outside. They are provided with clean wood chips and then when they are old enough, they use the chicken waste and wood as compost. When they are moved outdoors, their shelters are moved to provide access to fresh grass, and they have roofs to protect the chickens from threats.
They have around 5000 hens, which produce 300 dozen eggs everyday. Even with the amount of organic eggs that they produce, there is a shortage of organic eggs in western Canada and they are always in high demand. They are always looking at ways to expand, but without compromising their animal care and health.
In addition to chickens, they also have turkeys, pigs, and cows. Cattle graze and push down the grass, and rotate. They get moved around and graze, so that the chicken shelters can be moved across the fields. It’s cyclical and a great way to use and re-use the land. Overall, they process around 130 000 chickens, 3000 turkeys, 300 cows, and 200 pigs annually that go to markets and wholesalers across Alberta.
We were given a lot of detail and information about the processing of the chicken, and both Ron and Shelia are very open to questions. They are also looking into doing more public tours, so if you ever have the chance, come check their farm out, or even just chat with Ron some time at the Strathacona Farmers’ Market!
After our tour, we were fed a multi-course meal prepared by The Quarter Section Food company, as well as given a goodie-bag full of Sunworks chicken sausages. These are also available for purchase at the markets. They are also available at Sunworks Organic Meat Shop in Edmonton, the Southwest Edmonton Farmer’s market, in Calgary at the Market on McLeod, in Camrose at Vinesations, and at the St. Albert Farmer’s market.
Some pictures of the dinner.
Last week, I just ate some of the sausage we were given and they were delicious! Great thanks goes out to Ron, Sheila, and Issac at Sunworks for inviting me out to the farm. It is really great to see the transparency within the company, and to know the friendly people that are behind the scenes. Again, if you guys have a chance, pick up some of their products!
Lots of these little guys around the farm!