Rosebank Farms

Posted on Thursday, 1 October 2020 under Supporting Farmers and Ranchers Featured Farmers

Located in Armstrong, BC, Rosebank Farms is a 9 acre certified organic poultry farm that raises chickens and turkeys in a natural, agro-forestry pasture system. At Rosebank, they keep their farm climate friendly by doing farm chores by bicycle, limiting tractor use, practicing no tillage, introducing hedge rows and planting in the forest, and inviting a mix of species onto the property. They maintain biological diversity above ground, but spend a great deal of time and energy on the biological diversity below ground. When Andrea and Steve Gunner purchased the farm over 20 years ago, the land was entirely glacial till, consisting of large and small pieces of rock, something they hadn’t realized they were getting into because they bought it in the winter time when the land was covered in snow. Struggling with the lack of nutrients in their soil, they decided to introduce animals onto the land to try and bring it back to life. With cows, horses, sheep, and poultry, they have successfully transformed their land into a nutrient rich, topsoil dense, carbon capturing acreage.

Their pasture-raised birds that spend their lives rotating in an agroforestry setting thrive off of grain, grass and insects. As well, they have encouraged the growth of plenty of native Oregon grape, Saskatoon and elderberry for food and habitat. Fruiting perennials and trees act as a food source and habitat for other wildlife and a great source of nutrition for their poultry.

In these two photos of their land, you can see the stark contrast between where they have been successful in grazing their birds and where they continue to work on regenerating the soil. In the land that they continue to rotate on, they are starting to see green appear through the manure in the form of cover crops and grasses. Additionally, they have recently noticed tunneling rodents like voles and moles in the areas that are slowly building up nutrients and good topsoil. Andrea noted it’s been a long process, but they’re so thrilled to see how much the animals have made an impact on the regeneration of their soil.

Andrea noted that they mix certain seeds into their feed that then act as cover crops once the birds have excreted their waste on the land. They move their chickens and turkeys daily, giving the birds time to graze and eat fresh grass and insects. Additionally, their movement disturbes the soil and their manure replenishes the earth with nutrients. The piece of land that they are then moved from has a chance to rest and regenerate before the birds may be on it again.

When asked, Andrea explained why soil and protecting biodiversity is so important, “we know that we’ve got other species that inhibit the same space as us. We have an opportunity to support biological diversity by making sure that we have trees, planting butternuts and a variety of conifers in our woodlands, that we have hedgerows, and that we have watering spaces for them”. In the last several years, they have turned their focus to building carbon in their soils, using their poultry to help do so.

Andrea explains why they have poultry and how these birds are making an impact on the land. Watch the video below to see what she has to say.

We asked Andrea why it’s so important to take care of our agricultural soils. Watch this short clip to hear what she has to say.