Meet our meat suppliers: Vance and Brenda of Earth Works Farms

By | July 12, 2018

YYC Growers is about to open up sales on Beef and Pork Shares for the Summer Season. But first, we want to introduce you to 1 of the 2 farms using phenomenal land stewardship work to build soil and ecosystems.  Meet Brenda, Vance and Max of Earth Works Farm!

Earth Works Farm, our beef and pork supplier, is truly a labour of love. After living away from Alberta for nearly ten years, Vance Barritt returned to central Alberta and encountered two things that would later shape his life—the property that his family had owned and managed since settlers had taken over the land, and Brenda. Brenda was on a similar homecoming journey after also having lived away from Alberta for ten years, and it was during this simultaneous returning to roots that the two met, fell in love, and later got married. Earth Works Farm is a product of Brenda and Vance’s relationship, and since 2011, the two have managed the land that has long been owned by Barritt’s family.

The common land ethic between Brenda and Vance has defined the central ethos of Earth Works Farm, which orbits around building regenerative agriculture within Alberta. They achieve this by maintaining proper grazing practices, meaning they raise animals and use practices that makes sense for the prairie-parkland ecosystem they inhabit. These practices create nourishing food for humans, while also developing ecosystems that are healthy, biodiverse, and resilient.

Earth Works is named for the respect Brenda and Vance have for the land. When asked what the name meant, they responded, “‘Earth’ is about warm soil and all that grows in and on it; the renewal of life; our home from our immediate neighborhood stretching out to the whole globe. ‘Works’ invokes a verb: action, happening, evolving, tending, becoming something more; and a noun: the facility and the place. ‘Earth Works’ is a statement that is important to us.  The earth works: ecosystems and all of nature’s cycles know how to grow, produce, renew, and adapt.  We respect these cycles and systems, learning from and working with them.” In the spirit of respecting the earth, Brenda and Vance are very cognizant of the climate and ecosystem we live in, and select species to raise which will thrive in these conditions. This means raising chicken, beef, turkeys, and pigs to sell directly to Alberta families. By keeping the line from rancher to consumer short, Earth Works promotes transparency and direct communication within Alberta’s food system.

The two credited Don and Marie Ruzicka of Sunrise Farms in Alberta as instrumental inspiration in their ranching journey. Likewise, Mark and Jen Shepard of New Forest Farm in Wisconsin have heavily informed the practices of Earth Works. Specifically, the combination of permaculture and holistic management has informed much of Earth Works farming practices. Vance and Brenda are eager to continuously learn from their fellow farmers, and believe that building a strong network between farmers is key to the longevity of solid regenerative farming practices. 

When not farming, Vance and Brenda enjoy experiencing and exploring the earth with their son, Max. Their love of the earth has fueled an inextinguishable wanderlust between the two. Most of their vagabonding happens at home however, in the form of walking, foraging, cooking (Brenda), and sailing (Vance). 

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