Leffers Farm is owned and operated by the Leffers brothers, Howard and Cornelius. The 400 acre farm was their parents, however in 1990, with their father’s support Howard got his start on the farm with Cornelius joining him a few years later.
Leffers Farm is located north of Coaldale and 10 – 15 km. northeast of Lethbridge. Acre by acre the farm is being converting over to organic. The Leffers started down the organic road in 2002 and had their first organic field in 2005. If the brothers had decided to do the whole farm at once it would have taken years, instead, they’ve chosen to do it in stages. At this point, all the vegetables they grow are certified organic which includes the carrots that Community Natural Foods carries. The soil and climate on the farm is well-suited to producing high quality carrots. They chose their particular carrot because of it’s great taste, however, the carrots require more care when harvesting because they break easily.
Those same high standards for choosing a tasty carrot and the fact that Leffers’ is a local farmer, who produces a carrot that meets professionally graded specifications and their business ethics match Community’s values – are some of the many reasons Community Natural Foods views Leffers Farm as a preferred vendor and initially encouraged them to become a vendor.
The Leffers are learning about organics as they go along. When they moved over to organics a number of methods didn’t work. Coupled with the considerable knowledge that has been lost over the years they are sometimes farming by trial and error. When help is needed Howard and Cornelius call upon their parents who have been invaluable in supporting them with many issues from soil preparation strategies to business ethics. They’ve also turned to neighbours, other organic farmers and the web for information. One of the pieces of knowledge that is difficult to find is weed control. Howard said, “keeping weeds under control is an art and in many cases it’s an old art.” They do blend the old with new technology, better equipment and electronics in their operation.
The choice was made to grow a select number of crops and do it well. In addition to carrots, other crops on the farm include: winter cereals, alfalfa, edible beans and certified organic red and gold beets. There is a small, certified organic black currant patch they harvest too!
Leffers Farm is a small, tightly-run operation that both Howard and Cornelius are actively involved in. The Leffers brothers rely on excellent, local help for weeding, some packing and delivery to market. Come harvest season from August to early October there is a one day turnaround to get the produce to the retailer. After the crops are brought in at the end of the season they’re stored in a refrigerated, humidified, cold storage facility down the road from the farm.