Alberta Beef Producers was pleased to host an evening with the 2022 Environmental Stewardship Award (ESA) recipients in Three Hills, AB. Brad Dubeau, General Manager, Alberta Beef Producers (ABP), and Chris Israelson, ESA Chair, presented Dawn and Jerry Baerg and family with an honorary gate sign, and attendees were the first to screen the award video highlighting Ribbon Creek’s stewardship initiatives.
Ribbon Creek Ranch raises cattle on land that Jerry’s grandfather purchased in 1972. The family business has seen plenty of helping hands, including Dawn and Jerry’s three daughters and three sons – the youngest of whom are five-year-old twins.
“Grain, cow-calf, and yearlings. We background our calves in the winter and put them on grass in the summer. I work the cow-calf side with my wife and children. It’s a family farm. And I work with my dad on the grain farm side,” says Jerry.
Initially the farm was 1,500 acres of mostly cultivated land that served primarily to grow grain and hay, with a small backgrounding operation. Jerry got involved in the early 2000s and brought with him a renewed focus on building a viable and sustainable family business.
He transitioned the backgrounding operation into a progressive commercial cattle operation, sourcing genetics and seedstock from producers who were prioritizing environmental stewardship within their own farms and ranches. And in 2013, Jerry started the cow herd.
“That part has been a lot of fun for me, building the herd on my own… I’ve always enjoyed cattle. It may be a little harder work, but I’ve always felt it was worth it.”
The farm is also seeing some cropland move back to perennial grasses, and trials of annual crops underseeded to clover. And in the winter, cattle graze on the residue of annual crops.
“The cow-calf and the grain farm really complement each other. There’s a lot of value in the grain side that you can utilize for the cow-calf side,” says Jerry.
The move to year-round grazing was accomplished while also preserving over 320 acres of original native grassland. Jerry plans to maintain the integrity of the land and vows to never break any native ground. He strives to provide for the land, and wildlife that call it home, and in return trusts that it will support his family for years to come.
“This award isn’t about the biggest operation, it is about stewardship. That is what I am trying to do – take care of things and work together with nature. Me and my family are honoured. I feel really humbled.”