AFA members take their business on the road

We love to give a shout out to our AFA members! Here’s a great story on what can happen when you are willing to look at things in a different light. Congratulations to the Morris family on the new addition to their business!

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Arnie and Shirley Morris have been successful quail egg producers for the last three decades. From their Ardrossan, Alberta farm, they supply western Canadian retailers with about 10,000 of these delicate eggs each day.

When the opportunity to sell quail meat arose, they knew ramping up their production would be no problem. Finding a processing facility for the tiny birds was another matter.

Quails raised by the Morris family

Quails raised by the Morris family

“Processing plants don’t really have the equipment to handle small birds,” says Shirley Morris. “We made so many calls, and just couldn’t find a plant to do it. We knew we weren’t the only producers looking for this, and that there was demand for it.”

Where others saw closed doors, the Morris family saw potential. They decided to buy a custom mobile processing plant and became quail processors themselves. Inside the 28-ft. trailer, they can process quails, game birds and chickens plus create packaged meat for consumers.

Inside the Morris family mobile processing plant trailer

Inside the Morris family mobile processing plant trailer

“For other farmers that raise chickens or pheasants, we’ll bring the processor to them,” Shirley says.  “It can also be a way to bring this great-tasting, high-quality meat to chefs and restaurants.”

As Shirley explains, the mobile plant gives them a unique way to take advantage of new markets, like the farm-to-table movement. They can process up to 600 birds a day, plus vacuum-seal the meat and sell it either fresh or frozen.

Fresh Bry-Conn Quail (10 pack)

Fresh Bry-Conn Quail (10 pack)

Growing this side of their farm business has not been all smooth sailing, but Shirley notes they have some terrific support both on and off the farm. Their children are now involved in the processing business.

The Morris family also works closely with provincial meat inspectors to ensure the product meets the highest quality standards plus regulations for food safety, packaging and labelling. Shirley also credits Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) and Alberta Federation of Agriculture (AFA) staff as being instrumental in helping get this venture off the ground.

“This was a new area for us, so we had a lot of questions,” says Shirley. “AFA staff spent so much time helping us find the information we needed. We are so grateful for everyone’s help. It’s great to see what you can do with just 30 acres.”

The Morris family farm was also recently featured in The Western Producer. Click here to see the story and a video tour of the trailer!

A bountiful celebration of agriculture: the 2015 Harvest Gala

Ag for Life Sheryl

As Alberta farmers and consumers move into the fall season, they have the opportunity to sit back and enjoy the amazing bounty that the land provides. This is exactly the reason that Alberta’s Ag for Life hosts the province’s Harvest Gala celebration each year.

The Harvest Gala brings together the scrumptious tastes of locally-produced foods, the sights and sounds of Alberta artists, a silent auction and a chance to connect with friends in the community market. It’s an opportunity to celebrate Alberta’s agricultural roots through a fusion of urban and rural style and design.

  • The Fourth Annual Harvest Gala
  • Friday, October 23, 2015
  • Calgary, Alberta
  • 6 pm to 11 pm 

Ag for Life is a not-for-profit organization committed to building a greater understanding and appreciation of Alberta’s agricultural industry, and its fundamental connection to life. The Harvest Gala is one way Ag for Life reaches out to Albertans to tell the story of the incredible depth and prospects that agriculture affords in this province. Other Ag for Life success stories include: Classroom Agriculture Program, Little Green Thumbs, Alberta Open Farm Days, City Slickers, Rural and Farm Safety Days and the Rollover Simulator Project.

AFA is proud to have Ag for Life as one of our corporate partners. Our mission for advocacy for Alberta’s farmers, ranchers and producers aligns beautifully with the important message that Ag for Life brings to Albertans. An AFA Board Member attends the Harvest Gala every year.

“As we see an increase in interest from consumers about where their food comes from, events like these are important to connect rural and urban neighbours,” says Sheryl Rae, AFA Executive Director. “The Harvest Gala underlines the importance of sharing the impact that agriculture has on everybody’s lives. We are all stewards of the land.”

Tickets for the Harvest Gala event directly benefit Ag for Life. Tickets are $250 each, with corporate or group tables also available.

Tickets are still available from Ag for Life and can be purchased online: http://agricultureforlife.ca/event/2015-harvest-gala/