Dave and Monica Turta run Rainbow Acres near Devon, Alberta. Though their customers often associate Rainbow Acres with their famous carrots and carrot products, Dave and Monica grow arguably one of the most diverse crop offerings in the province. Their fruit and berry crops include: raspberries, high bush cranberries, haskap berries, sour cherries, strawberries, gooseberries, grapes, blackberries, goji berries, rose hips, saskatoons, blueberries, chokecherries, black currants, sea buckthorn, apples, pears, plums and apricots. Along with their famous carrots, they grow a variety of vegetables including: potatoes, celery, leek, chard, beets, celeriac, brussels sprouts, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, garlic and squash.
While they have attended as many as five farmers’ markets during their season in the past, Rainbow Acres products can now be found year round at Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market where they’ve been a fixture since the early 1990s. You can learn more about Rainbow Acres by following them on Facebook.
How Rainbow Acres began:
In the 1980s Dave and Monica had 160 acres of land but no viable way to make enough to support themselves. During his time working at the airport, Dave had a chance encounter with a farmer from the United States who grew mint. This conversation got their wheels turning about doing agriculture differently and how they could make the most of their land base.
They planted saskatoons in 1989 which were followed shortly by strawberries. They began by attending the Leduc Farmers’ Market. Finding some success with their berries there, they were often asked by customers to also grow veggies. From that point on, their product line began to expand based on customer demand. Monica began taking all the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry courses she could that focused on fruit and veggie growing and with the help of their two sons, Rainbow Acres was born.
How Rainbow Acres farms differently:
From Dave’s own market garden specific equipment to their modified old granary pack house, Dave and Monica are masters at making use of materials to fit their needs. This kind of instinctual innovation is part of what makes their operation so unique.
Their incredible variety of crops is a result of their eagerness to try anything new that comes to their attention. They like to “dabble” in many crops to see what will thrive on their land and add to their already diverse produce offerings. Anytime something new comes up, they want to try it out.
When they started in 1989, Dave and Monica were cautioned against doing fruits and veggies at the same time because their harvest seasons overlapped. While it can be an intense work load, they’ve been making it work for years. While most of their fruit is used in processing their delicious jams, jellies and juices, in her commercial kitchen Monica also processes many of the veggies that are leftover from market. To make sure none of their product ever goes to waste, Rainbow Acres regularly donates left over fresh produce to the Edmonton and Leduc Food Banks.
Their relationship with their customers and role in the community:
The education available through Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has significantly decreased since Rainbow Acres began and now Monica is noticing many more young farmers coming to their stall at market to ask questions about their growing process. Dave and Monica are thrilled to see a new generation eager to learn about growing food. They believe that they need to do all they can to help share the knowledge they’ve gained with these new, young farmers.
Monica and Dave know it’s important to have a real connection with customers and that genuine relationship with their supporters has created an incredibly loyal customer base. They’ve seen their customers’ children grow up and come to purchase their product with their families.
The future of Rainbow Acres:
In the future, Dave and Monica would like to see Rainbow Acres continue in the Turta family with their sons and grandchildren. They also are eager to continue to try new crops to see what works for them.
“We want to make Rainbow Acres a totally positive experience for our customers.”