How Red Fife travelled to Canada

By Communications chairman Stephen Cadogan.

In  Canada,  many IFAJ  delegates will find emigrant farmers from their home countries.
The crops they look at may also have come from their home territories.
Red Fife wheat, for example, has travelled around the world on its trip to Canada.
It was the subject of an interesting  recent article by Arnold Grant, Director, Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, in The Farm Journalist, the newsletter of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation.
There is no way to prove its origin, but it may have originated in Turkey, then moved across the Black Sea to the Ukraine, where Mennonite farmers grew it from the late 1700s to the mid 1800s.
It is thought that  farmer David Fife first grew the wheat in 1842 in southern Ontario, after a friend sent a sample from Glasgow, Scotland.
Fittingly, Canada‘s oldest successfully grown variety of wheat has found a home at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, the award-winning  open-air museum that depicts the history of east central Alberta by telling the story of Ukrainian immigrants who settled in this region from 1892 to 1930.
Three acres of Red Fife have been planted there, following collection of this  heritage grain   from a farmer  near Westlock, and from the Loehr Organic Project, Muenster, Saskatchewan,
All Canadian varieties of red spring wheat owe their ancestry to this grain, which went  out of favour due to its low resistance to rust and requirement for a longer growing season to reach its full height.
But it will now help to  augment the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village‘s authentic presentation of the history of agricultural practices in east central Alberta, when grain  harvested this fall will be used in   historic activities and demonstrations, and saved as seed  for planting next year.

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