Explore Local Regional Producer Profiles: Vital Green Farms

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Joe Mans and his family run Vital Green Farms between Picture Butte and Nobleford. They’re the only cow dairy producer/processor in Alberta which means all their products are produced, packaged and sold from the farm.

Their product line includes: non-homogenized milk (skim, 1%, 2% and whole), chocolate milk, creme fraiche, sour cream, yogurt, keifer, heavy cream, cheese curds and gouda cheese. You can purchase Vital Greens products at over 50+ grocery and health stores across the province as well as at the Lethbridge Farmers’ Market and their farm store.

Why they began Vital Green Farms:

Vital Green does dairy a bit differently than conventional dairy farms. The farm is certified organic and they don’t homogenize their products. One of the driving factors for turning to this kind of farming was that some of Joe’s own children have allergies and he found it was difficult to find dairy products compatible with their dietary restrictions. He wanted a product that was more health focused and so that is what he strives to put forward with Vital Green Farms.

While he put his initial 25 acres of land to pasture 21 years ago (9 years ago he purchased the rest of the quarter), the Mans family has only dedicated their operation to organic dairy farming in the past 12 years. Before that, Joe ran a small herd of beef cattle and worked with other dairies in the area.

How They Farm:

Vital Green Farms puts out anywhere from 40,000 to 45,000 litres of milk each month from their 45 to 65 cows. They pasture their herd during the summer but also supplement their diet with vitamins and minerals to make sure their animals stay healthy and happy. When cows do show signs of illness, Joe’s staff uses natural, organic approved methods to bring them back to health including using essential oils as natural antibacterial agents.

They also grow their own feed for the cattle to eat during the winter months. When customers call to ask what the cows are fed, Joe is able to tell them exactly what their diet has been.

Vital Green has to be particularly attentive to the needs of their pasture soil as well as their animals. Since they are organic, if the soil is deficient in a nutrient they must find alternative ways to help build up the health of the soil. When they notice that the nitrogen or calcium levels are low in the soil, they try to focus on building up plants that boost those minerals or spraying natural substances on the land that help kick start those nutrients.

Their Connection with their Customers:

Joe has always enjoyed direct marketing and so it was a natural fit to process Vital Green Farms’ products at the farm and then personally create agreements with individual grocery stores and sell directly to customers. Customers often call to ask about their farming practices or production methods and they’re often surprised to find they can talk directly to Joe. This accessibility and direct interaction creates a community of very loyal customers.

Vital Green Farms’ customer base is made up mainly of people looking for local products made with the health benefits in mind. One of the ways Vital Green meets this demand is by not homogenizing their products. Non-homogenization is very unique and in fact, Vital Green is currently the only milk processor in the province that doesn’t homogenize.

In addition to there being a demand for it, Vital Green Farms doesn’t homogenize because they like to stay as close as possible to the natural product. Many of their older customers remark on how the flavour of their products reminds them of the milk they used to have as children, when it was common for many rural families to have a dairy cow for their own milk, yogurt and cheese.

Their vision for Vital Green Farms:

One of the things Joe really enjoys is seeing the increasing demand for organic products. More and more farmers in the area are beginning to convert different crops to be certified organic and Joe feels good about the momentum they see building around the way people’s food is grown and cared for.

Vital Green Farms is limited in their production by the quota they possess. It is expensive to lease or buy more quota for larger production and they want to make sure their products are still accessible to their consumers’ budgets. They’re always looking for new and innovative ways to increase the health value of their products and Joe will continue to pursue this goal in the future.

“Milk is not just milk. We aim to feed the soil to get the most nutritious product on the market.” – Joe Mans

Vital Greens

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Mimi Lee.
This document is maintained by Delores Serafin.
This information published to the web on January 27, 2017.
Last Reviewed/Revised on June 30, 2017.