Patrick Bartel, the farmer at Sunshine Valley Farms, holds up egg cartons for the farm’s organic and free-range eggs. (Aaron Hemens - Creston Valley Advance)

Creston farmer feature: Sunshine Valley Farms

Known for their organic eggs, the farm began selling free-range eggs in July

Four days a week, from Tuesday to Friday, thousands of eggs are shipped out from Creston’s Sunshine Valley Farms to more than 20 grocery stores throughout the Kootenays.

Founded seven years ago by Brent Barkman, the farm — traditionally known as Sunshine Valley Organics — has grown to become a household name and known for their organic eggs.

The farm has since expanded their egg production in July, and are now selling free-range eggs alongside their organic ones.

“We’re wrapping up our sales and production on the free-range. It’s really taking off,” said Sunshine Valley Farms farmer Patrick Bartel.

Chickens who produce organic eggs receive organic feeds, while chickens who produce free-range eggs are given more conventionally raised grains.

“The grains in the free-range feed might be sprayed with herbicides and pesticides,” said Bartel. “The organic feed is organic, so only organic food products can go on them.”

While organic eggs have the edge of being organically produced throughout the chicken’s entire life cycle, he said that both egg options are healthy ones.

“Going with an organic feed is definitely an added cost and it gets passed onto the consumer. The free-range gives you a similar egg at a bit of a lower price point,” he said.

Bartel purchased the farm from Barkman two years ago, and said that he’s feeling good about the farm’s new free-range business.

“It’s selling well and people like it. We’re happy to provide free-range in the Kootenays,” he said.

The farm — which is the only registered egg-grading station in the Kootenays — collects thousands of eggs each day.

“It takes about an hour and a half by myself. It’s about 45 minutes when the kids help out,” said Bartel.

Once the eggs are collected, they are sorted, cleaned and prepared for the stores.

“We couldn’t do this without the strong, local support,” said Bartel.

Originally from southeastern Manitoba, the 39-year-old has been farming for 20 years. He described him and his wife, Angela, as third-generation egg farmers.

“The secret to a healthy life is jogging and eating good eggs,” he said.

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