North Saskatchewan River, AB - Courtney Konschuh
My Watermark is the North Saskatchewan River, Alberta.
We're at Riverbend Gardens. Our farm is called Riverbend Gardens because we're surrounded by the river on three sides, which makes our soil really nice. We're pretty lucky, because of our location, we actually have a unique microclimate here, which gives us sandier soil and gets us potatoes and other crops a lot earlier than other farmers.
We take everyone up in the mule to the potatoes, we drop off a bunch of buckets, Erin drives with the tractor and his little digging machine and he digs out the potatoes. Everyone takes a bucket and fills up all the buckets with potatoes; they're all picked by hand. Then we load them on a wagon, bring them down to the pack house and wash them. We put them on a conveyer belt, we separate them by size, take out any bad ones, we bag them, put them in the cooler, and sell them at market.
Because we're surrounded by the river, it also allows us to irrigate, which a lot of farmers don't have the ability to do. We have a water source that also gets us product a lot earlier than everyone else. We wouldn't have crops when we do and we wouldn't have the amount that we get if we didn't have the river next to us.
I really enjoy working here, next to the river is a beautiful place to work. There's been many times when I've gone done with the owners and we've gone fishing or just sat on the beach next to the river, enjoy a beer after a long day of work. It's a fantastic place to work. It makes it a nice area, It does make this farm what it is.
It gives it the microclimate and the kind of soil that we have. We basically farm on a beach. We have very sandy soil, which doesn't do great for nutrients, but does allow us to get in the field in March. If it warms up enough, the soil thaws out and drains really quickly because of the land area. The river is a big part of that.