Bison handling system helps Wellington County business expand on their circular practices
Jeremy Bowman’s goal has always been to take over the farm that has been in his family for the past three generations. Over the years, he found that certain markets (beef, pork, etc.) have been more volatile than he was comfortable with. After the amount of land his family owned decreased in acreage, Jeremy began searching for the most efficient use of the remaining land. His interest was sparked when he saw a bison farm while out for a drive. After intense research, Jeremy and his business partner, Jay Woytaz decided to start a bison farm of their own in 2017: Black Powder Bison Co., located just outside of Elora. Working in several different agricultural sectors throughout the past decade, Jeremy felt that this new endeavor aligned well with his style of farming.
When they found out about the Seeding Our Food Future (SOFF) grant and read through the application questions, Jeremy and Jay agreed that it supported the regenerative and circular style of farming methods they practiced and wanted to implement going forward. Black Powder Bison wants to be a Guelph-Wellington/Elora-based company that supports their local community first, bringing business to their community as they grow. The SOFF grant allowed them to begin this growth process, providing funding to build a corral handling facility – a place where Jeremy can engage with the bison up close for essential work like medical treatments, routine health checks, and close observation. This type of system ensures the safety of both the bison and the farmer, as bison are dangerous animals who do not enjoy being handled. Having the handling system has also allowed the entire life cycle of a bison to happen on Black Powder Bison’s property, from raising to harvesting. This enables them to control the waste and energy input of the operation, and work with local businesses and farmers whether it be for animal feed, butchering purposes, and even material supply during the build. As they continue to grow their business, Black Powder Bison is looking forward to creating additional collaborations and supporting other farmers that are interested in raising bison. Working with their Innovation Guelph mentor through SOFF, they were able to gain new insights to develop their business and expand on their existing regenerative agricultural systems.
Black Powder Bison believes strongly in the recirculation of resources. As a farmer, Jeremy values maintaining a high level of soil quality which can be done through the natural cycle of an animal that is grazing properly on the land. For example, as bison eat the grass, soil nutrients are depleted, but manure from the bison replenish the soil again. The farm is also involved in a program where, once old trees die, they ensure the planting of double, if not triple the number of trees they take down. At Black Powder Bison, Jeremy maintains a circular mindset and is diligent about applying it throughout all tasks. He believes that if there is a disconnect in the loop and if you take without giving back, the future of farming will be short lived. Jeremy expects his farm to be around for his daughter when she is ready to take it over, and for her children after that, and circular practices help ensure this.
Learn more about Black Powder Bison at www.blackpowderbison.com.