The AFWA Tour/AGM 2017 was a huge success! Thank you to AFWA president Dianne Finstad and AFWA member Jennifer Blair for putting together a great program!
We visited Nixon Honey, where Kevin Nixon explained the burgeoning honey industry to us.
The Nixon Honey farm was started in 1998 in Southern Alberta, requiring only 2-3 employees at the time of conception.
They shortly discovered there was limited space for beekeepers in the area, and after only one year of operation, they built they first honey extracting facility near Innisfail, Alta. As one of the only beekeepers in Innisfail at the time, Nixon Honey was able to provide a much-needed product and service to the area, and the company flourished.
They are a family owned and operated company, and currently have 16 employees. They are a large supplier of honeybees to the hybrid canola seed production industry in southern Alberta, and also offer these pollination services to local fruit and vegetable producers.
Our next stop was Gisler Boer Goats farm. Merna Gisler regaled us with her trials and tribulations getting the goat farm established. A bad experience with ostriches was instrumental in introducing the Gislers to goats. Merna Gisler’s father Vern and her Uncle Ernie bought two does at Olds College’s first Boer goat sale in 1994. They haven’t looked back.
The family has used embryo transfer and good quality bucks over the past 23 years to improve the purebred herd, winning numerous shows and competitions, although those have slowly diminished over the years.
With a growing number of Albertans hailing from countries where goat is a staple, producers continue to see a demand for their product. Indeed, goatkeeping gained in popularity during the back-to-the-land movement in the 1960s and 1970s, and is currently enjoying another “boom” as Canada’s population diversifies, bringing with it the culture and tradition of foreign lands.
Gisler, who is current secretary of the Alberta Goat Association, expects interest in goats to remain high as Canada’s ethnic population increases.