April is when the growing season really starts ramping up for the year. To celebrate, we will be exploring aspects of agriculture in Alberta throughout the month.

As our partnered producers wake their farms up for the year, it is a great time to get to know the families and faces behind the food that you love. We often think of agriculture as just fields of crops and ranches and barns for animals. These are both important aspects of agriculture in Alberta, but by no means does it end there.

After the crops come off the fields, they need to be cleaned, processed, packaged and distributed before they can reach a consumer, be it at a farmers’ market or through your weekly box. This chain of events is known as the ‘Value Chain’, as each step is an opportunity for a product to add value to the economy.

Think of a loaf of bread you receive in your box. How many steps does it take to get from the farm to your sandwich?

  1. Grain farmer plants the wheat, tends to it all season long and harvests it in the fall.
  2. The harvested wheat must be cleaned and ground into flour. This is sometimes done on-farm or can take place at a larger mill.
  3. The flour is packaged for delivery.
  4. The flour is delivered to a bakery.
  5. The baker turns the flour into bread and packages it for sale.
  6. The bread is delivered to our food hub and packed into your box.
  7. The bread is delivered to your doorstep.
  8. You can now make a sandwich.

As you can imagine, when you look at different food products, the value chain can be shorter or much longer. Each additional step adds value to the economy and generates income for Alberta families. How does this change the way you see your food?