Emerald Mountain Ranch (EMR) is Sparwood’s newest farmstead and it is something that Aaron and Jenna Jensen have grown up with. They are currently raising livestock on the same land that Jenna’s grandparents farmed.
“Ranching is something that Jenna and I have been a part of throughout our entire lives in one way or another. I grew up in Taber, Alberta, so farming was something I was involved in from a very young age and Jenna grew up here in Sparwood – with her grandparents farming on the same property we now are,” said Aaron.
The farmstead has been passed down three generations. While there was a time that the raising of cattle stopped, it has since been reinstated. “Jenna’s grandparents loved being in the cattle industry, but after her grandfather passed away, raising cattle here ceased. It is over the last few years that we have began to do this again, and this year on a bigger scale,” said Aaron.
The fantasy of owning a ranch has become a reality.
“Over the years we had talked about how running a ranch was always a dream and goal of ours, but have always kept it just a hobby, raising a few cows here and there,” said Aaron. “Fortunately now, with many things falling into place we are able to launch the hobby into a business that will allow us to provide this opportunity to more people here in the Elk Valley.”
Raising their livestock naturally is a fundamental business practice at EMR. Their beef is never grain fed and graze freely on a grass diet. Pork is fed a clean grain and produce diet that is harvested from their farm and are raised in conditions that allow for free outdoor movement and interaction with other pigs.
“We feel that raising these animals naturally is something hugely important and not to be compromised on. It allows us, and our customers to have the confidence that their meat comes from a state that is as close to what the animals would naturally eat and experience as possible,” said Aaron. “I believe that what we do is simply getting back to basics.”
The Elk Valley is an ideal area for a small livestock farm because of the landscape and its inhabitants.
“We are fortunate to have a lot of space here and surrounding us with good hay crops and a mixture of treed pasture as well as fields to grow farm hay,” said Aaron. “We feel that the residents of the Elk Valley are very supportive of local businesses, and we have a lot of friends in this area that are always here to offer great knowledge, advice and a helping hand at any time.”
The local business support and positive feedback is the primary reason why this hobby farm has made the transition into a business.
“People who have tried our beef or pork always tell us that the taste is incomparable to [the] store bought [alternatives], said Aaron. “There have been so many people who see such a huge value in the way our animals are raised and that they can buy beef that was raised so close to where they live. It is with all this positive feedback that makes this worth it.”
While EMR is growing their herds the Jensen’s have to be careful not to grow their livestock numbers too much.
“Growing the herd is a fine balancing act. Over the next few years we will be able to have upwards of 30 to 40 beef per year for sale, but we have to be careful not to get too big, as then things would change, more equipment, land, hay, paperwork and less time to be able to walk through and check each animal individually daily,” said Aaron. “We will just have to see where it goes, and only take on as much as we are able to handle while still keeping to our ideals and goals on raising these animals the way we do.”