“I was never going to be a farmer’s wife but I have no regrets now,” admits Iva Moen who, with her husband, Lorne, started the Shady Lane Berry Farm about 15 years ago. This active and hardworking couple moved to Lac La Biche several years back as teachers, “I cried the first 3 months, but after that we couldn’t help falling in love with the place. We met amazing people who became our lifelong friends, we’re outdoors people, we raised a family, and it’s home.”
“We had a garden and my husband always grew strawberries so this farm became our retirement project,” says Iva. They grow a wide assortment of berries along with many vegetables that are all certified organic on their U-pick farm and they even do their own composting.
“Organic is something we believe and we also wanted to be sustainable.” When visiting other farms before starting their own, Iva recounted witnessing someone in a hazmat suit spraying the fields extensively. “I thought no, we are not doing that! If he has to suit up in heavy gear to protect himself from those chemicals then that food cannot be safe to eat!”
“People are becoming more educated about what organic means and we’ve really noticed that in the past 5-7 years in the questions people ask. People are interested not only in organic but in buying local,” Iva explains. “Being a u-pick farm, families come with their kids and its really nice to say, ‘ya, there’s nothing on that fruit except dirt.’ That was really important for us.”
“We always thought our kids would pick up the business but they had other interests. But by growing up in Lac La Biche, they learned to appreciate the outdoors and they are aware of what they’re eating.”
Shady Lane Berry Farm will also be participating in the 2014 Alberta Open Farm days, be sure to visit them!.