Innovative Thinking: The Carbon Farmer

I first encountered this gem while watching CBC’s Dragon’s Den with my family. This morning, it popped up in Pacific Parklands Foundation’s Twitter feed along with the announcement that it has been nominated for a 2013 Emerald Award. I simply have to share!

Conservation is my true passion, so I absolutely love this idea. However, coming from an extended family of farmers, I can appreciate how difficult it was for Brad Rabiey to pitch this idea to his family. Initially, it would seem as though they were moving backwards after years of labour and hard work. The reality is, the farm was no longer sustainable. This increases the pressure to sell it for development. Instead, the family has chosen to become land stewards, returning their family farm to forest consequently providing valuable environmental benefits.

Meet The Carbon Farmer.

Brad Rabiey grew up just east of Manning Alberta on his family farm of three generations. Hearing repeatedly from his father that the farm was not sustainable the way it was, Brad could not see a future for himself on the farm. With that, he headed to Edmonton to further his education and get a big city job. He was away for seven years. In that time, Brad earned a degree in conservation biology at the University of Alberta and worked as the Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of Energy. Learning about habitat loss and climate change triggered something in Brad and he came up with an innovative solution to take back to northern Alberta.

Put simply, The Carbon Farmer plants trees that will never be cut down. The first trees were planted in 2007. With time, the family got on board and The Carbon Farmer is now creating forests to restore habitat and reduce climate change. To date, about a third of the Rabiey family farm has been planted into trees while the remaining land is being transitioned into organic heritage grain production. They have successfully taken their concept to other landowners throughout Alberta and are in discussions with others worldwide. The Carbon Farmer not only offers a means of restoring habitat and reducing climate change, it also helps ensure that family farms can be a part of society for future generations.

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