Nestled near the edge of Bowden Alberta is Country Thyme Farm.
The drive between Calgary and Bowden is the perfect backdrop to display dramatic summer skies in stark contrast to yellow canola fields. This is the rural paradise you imagine when you think of a farm, red barn and majestic scenery included. Roughly ten acres of cultivated land, this mixed farm produces eggs, vegetables and a diverse bouquet of fresh herbs. I was excited to see Country Thyme because this was my first time working on a rural farm in Alberta. After experiencing farms in other countries and provinces, it felt overdue to experience the land I grew up on.
Meet Daniel Chappell, owner and heart and soul of the farm. Country Thyme is home to a diverse range of plants and animals. Chickens and ducks for eggs, donkeys for protection, and sheep and pigs to increase resource cycling. Country Thyme is primarily a greens producer and works in close alliance with neighbouring farm and YYC Growers Member, Eagle Creek Farms. Daniel focuses on the greens grown above ground, while Eagle Creek’s focus is primarily with crops grown under ground.
My first visit to Country Thyme farm was for a weeding party. What is a weeding party? It’s a great way to invite friends, acquaintances and the public to the farm for an educational experience with a pot luck to finish. The necessity of this kind of community support is often overlooked. Weeds can get out of hand in organic production and as the saying goes, ‘many hands make light work’.
Like most farmers, Daniel and his farm are often at the mercy of Alberta’s crazy weather. As a greens focused farm, weekly hail storm warnings are a real concern. Daniel also voiced concerns about the economic situation in Alberta and reiterated the sentiment that CSA programs, which allow customers to purchase direct from the farm, offer one of the best ways to support local farmers.
Country Thyme is one of the greatest contributors to YYC Growers in terms of vegetable volume. Daniel is one of the ‘all in’ producers that works with YYC Growers. I was inspired by Daniel’s enthusiasm for YYC Growers’ initiatives and his true passion for farming. He is hopeful that through YYC Growers, the logistics of delivering and selling produce can be streamlined. And ultimately, this will give him more time on the farm, working the land and doing what he loves. This is particularly true now that Daniel and his family have just welcomed the next generation to the farm.