Farmers’ market a boon for bison producers

looking up Glendean Farms has seen sales grow by 20 to 25 per cent annually 
at the Grande Prairie Farmers’ Market since setting up its booth in 2004

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Eldine and Glen Kjemhus are old hands when it comes to selling directly to consumers.

The owners of Glendean Farms, a fifth-generation farm near Hythe, have been selling at the Grande Prairie Farmers Market since 2004.

“We’ve been realizing 20 to 25 per cent growth there every year,” said Eldine, who has been raising bison with her husband since 1998.

Glendean Farms sells its own Homesteader Bison meat from what they call an environmentally sustainable, multi-generational ranch. Their herd now numbers about 350 cows, with 30 to 50 animals processed annually in the Peace region.

“A significant amount is also shipped to southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the United Kingdom,” said Eldine.

Bison roasts, steaks, prime rib, patties and ground meat, sausages, meat sticks, pepperoni and jerky garlic are sold under the Glendean label at the farmers’ market. Jerky and meat sticks are available at two Petro-Canada stations in Grande Prairie and a small store in Valhalla. Glendean bison is also served in selected Grande Prairie restaurants.

Being a producer in northwestern Alberta has its challenges, but succession isn’t one of them. Son Greg and his wife Kerri have been working with the elder Kjemhus for years.

“Not only has the ranch offered customers a healthy and high-quality bison product, it’s been a great environment to raise our families and instill values and business ethics,” said Eldine.

Producing healthy animals and sustainable pastures are the foundation of the enterprise, she said.

“Taking the time to promote the land and ensuring the animal is healthy gives us pride and confidence in the animals we raise and sell,” she said. “We’re working on what we want the business to look like in the future and how to grow it forward.”

She said producer groups such as the Canadian Bison Association and the Bison Producers of Alberta are a boon to the small producer.

“They have excellent resources which have really built an awareness in the public, the restaurant and hospitality industry, as well as with health associations and organizations.”

But Eldine doesn’t minimize the value of the farmers’ market.

“It’s important that the customer can meet the producer and know where their food is coming from,” she said. “I don’t intend to ever lose sight of that.”

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