Arkopia Farm And Freeze Dry is also a small working farm in central Saskatchewan that does research and development for sustainable and nutrient dense food production and the best food preservation methods. Every year, the soil gets better and we are able to grow more and more. We strive on providing high quality products for the longest possible shelf life and most nutrient retention, all while keeping prices as reasonable as possible. We emphasize producing food ourselves, supporting the local food industry, but also provide products that can not be grown and/or produced in Saskatchewan from the best sources in other parts of the world. All of our products are ones that we grow, source, and consume ourselves on a daily basis for our own health, vitality, convenience, and enjoyment.
On the farm, we currently specialize in Organic Hardneck Music Garlic, that is grown in the best way possible, and then preserved in the best way possible (freeze drying), essentially giving us the World's Best Powdered Garlic, with not one thing that we could do to make the product better. We spend a great deal of time and energy maintaining and expanding our young fruit orchards, amending soil, and implementing permaculture principles. We have proven our methods of growing with the use of cover crops and the use of heavy wood chip mulch.
A vast amount of research, time, and money went into developing new growing methods for food production. We are always amending our larger plots with cover crop systems, and over 4000 cubic yards of wood chips were hauled and spread out over 2+ acres of land. After 3-4 years of being on the ground undisturbed, and adding small amounts of chicken manure on the surface, the soil naturally begins to fix itself. We used a method of spreading chicken manure on the surface of the wood chips to add nitrogen to the wood mulch and help initially speed up the break down process. Wood chips are 400:1 Carbon to Nitrogen ratio, so the addition of Nitrogen from the chicken manure seeps down naturally with rainwater and helps the wood chips to break down faster. The different sizes of organic matter lets the soil breath, hold water, shed water, allow roots to easily move around, and is food for the soil. We treat our soil as if it is a living thing first, because it is. This method of growing increases production every single year, with less work and input costs, which is the exact opposite of traditional large-scale farming that looses soil every year and requires more and more inputs.
This system is a no-till method of growing. The soil can never be disturbed or tilled again. Every few years, more wood chips are added to the existing area, but over time, the soil gets so nutrient dense that it doesn’t need to be “fed” as much. Our soil went from being dead farm land with hard, alkaline clay, to being light and airy like a potting mix, full of earthworms and micro organisms. We have noticed beneficial fungi forming a network of mycelium, which is said by some researchers to act like a neurological network of all living things on the planet. This method is extremely intensive to start, as material is hauled in incredible mass. This method also takes a great deal of patience, but we feel it is worth it in the long term: our soil is our most valuable asset to us!
With this system of sustainable growing, we have eliminated the need for any sort of fertilizer, chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, have completely illuminated the need for irrigation even in a drought, have drastically reduced our need for weeding, and have eliminated the need for machinery and tilling. The things that we grow are so healthy and filled with so much water content and so much minerals, that no pests or diseases will ever come after produce of that quality.
The problem is getting this water and mineral dense real food to the market, as real food that is picked when ripe spoils quicker than chemically treated commercial food. Food in the grocery stores is picked unripe and treated in many different ways to make it last on the shelf and look visually appealing. With the invention of the freeze drying system, nutrient dense food is able to be stored for future use, providing higher quality nutrition than "fresh" produce at grocery stores.
Last season, we successfully grew 2000 pounds of heirloom tomatoes on less than 1/8 of an acre. We had a commercial tomato grower purchase some our tomatoes for his own consumption, as no mass-produced or greenhouse-produced tomatoes even come close to the taste and nutrients that our produce has.
Our livestock are raised on large natural grassland pastures that we fenced with high quality fencing for their protection from predators. Some of our initial animals that we purchased came to us in poor health: some chickens were missing a lot of their feathers, the goats had wire-like greasy coats, etc.
After only a short time of raising animals how they are supposed to be raised, the chickens grew back their feathers and their strength and the goats fur turned into a soft and fluffy coat, similar to a house cat. With this sustainable and natural method of raising animals, our animals are not prone to diseases and problems that commercially raised livestock have, and are able to live a happy, healthy and enjoyable life here on our farm.
We never have more animals than our large pastures can sustain and all of our animals are free to roam at their leisure. You can't put a price on the entertainment that happy and healthy goats, pigs, chickens, and cows can provide, everyone having distinct personalities; it's never a dull moment at Arkopia.
Arkopia's farming operation is proud to be a part of a brand new program to utilize the massive amount of food waste from grocery stores: Loop - Rescue Food, Rescue the Planet. Once a week, we get about 1 METRIC TON of the 1 day's worth of spoiled produce from 1 local grocery store, which we happily utilize to feed our livestock and drastically reduce landfill waste.
It is disturbing to us to get spoiled pre-made fruit juice smoothie products in our pickups, along with spoiled fruits and vegetables. Unlike all of our competition, Arkopia's products completely eliminate food waste, as our products almost never spoil, while having the same amount of nutrients as fresh food that spoils quickly. Our Freeze Dried Pure Products essentially have what grocery stores are now striving for: Zero Waste!