Sustainability starts with family on the Vandervalk ranch located in the hills west of Claresholm.
VXV Farms is the winner of the 2016 Alberta Beef Producers’ Environment Stewardship Award.
Jack Vandervalk says his grandparents moved their four boys from Holland to Alberta arriving here just as the Great Depression hit, making for hard times for the family, but his father pulled through and started working on the land they reside on today.
His son Gerald, says sustainability has become a big part of their 400 head cow-calf operation.
“Over the last few years we’ve went to significantly more rotational grazing with better water development,” says Gerald. “Through solar water systems we’re able to move our cows much more effectively and just utilize our pastures significantly better and we have also done a lot of water development for ourselves and the neighbours. We’re just trying a lot of new innovative ideas.“
Jack says they are very honoured to have been selected for this award.
“It’s very nice that the nice that the community chose to enter us into this program,” says Jack. “I feel quite honoured.”
His wife, Merry, says the changes have allowed more time for family, who all come out and help when there is work to be done.
“I enjoy being outside and helping with guys moving cows and working with them, “ Merry said.
At first, Jack admits he wasn’t sure if the changes they were making were going to work.
“As an old cowboy, we didn’t know if putting all the cows all on a small pad was a good idea or not. At first the cows didn’t think much of it but I think they got used to it and they quite enjoy it now with rotational grazing, it was something that we had to grow into.“
Gerald says the changes they have made have allowed for more time to spend with family.
“I know when I was small it seemed like we had twice the hired men and half the cows and twice as much work, so we’re trying to make it so that we can do things easier and more effectively and enjoy our life a little bit better as well.”
Jack is not shy when it comes to talking about his family and for good reason.
“I’m quite happy with the community we live in, and I’m so proud of my wife and what we have done together and the family we have too.”