Not too far north of the community of Coronation, in the eastern section of Paintearth County, lies a family farm with roots reaching back into the very history of Alberta.
Five years after Alberta became a province, three members of the Woody family made the journey into Canada from Montana and purchased a section of land near Coronation from the Canadian Pacific Railway.
That first year, it was just Levi Harvey (LH) Woody and two, of six, sons. At the end of the growing season, LH headed back south while the sons, Clarence and Frank, remained on the farm to look after the horses and the other property over winter.
Come the spring of the following year, LH was back at the farm with his wife after the couple took the train from Montana to Castor, then the end of the line.
Over time, LH acquired more equipment such as a Case Steamer, thresher, and a plow.
“He hired an engineer,” said Dwight Woody, the current generation operating Woody Acres.
“He could do 32-acres a day with that steamer.”
Eventually, LH acquired more land all over the area and he continued to farm with his children, though Dwight’s father did not get involved in farming immediately.
Instead, after Earl Dewey Woody, known to everyone as Dewey, got married, he headed back to the United States for three years before returning in 1933.
In 1938, LH retired to Coronation, and son Roy Woody took over the farm, though most of the other brothers remained involved; LH’s brother Frank Woody returned to the United States citing a dislike of the mosquitoes and the cold.
The brothers worked the land, including Dewey, until eventually in the 1960s Dewey’s son Dwight began getting involved. In time, Dwight, and his wife Marie, took over the farm around 1973 or 1974, and their home-quarter is not far away from the original homestead location.
Over the years, Woody says that there have been challenging times on the farm, but there are no regrets.
“The best crop was in ‘99, the worst one was in ‘02 due to the drought and grasshoppers. When the grasshoppers came, it was devastating,” said Woody.
Still, the Woody family has kept the faith and Dwight has been in the process of passing the legacy farm on to his own son, Darren, over the past year.
Additionally, Darren’s son Colby is currently taking his agriculture education at Olds College with plans to return to the family farm, making Darren and Colby the fourth and fifth-generation Woodys, respectively, to work the land.
Darren says that the plan is to keep innovating and keep up with the technology to keep producing in the best way possible, noting that with the bigger equipment of today, more gets done, faster.
“Thirty-two acres done in a day — now we do that in an hour,” said Darren, circling back to the earlier comment.
He added things like allowing fields to chemical fallow, keeping and adding to existing green belts, and tilling straw back into the ground can all help the soil keep its nutrients and provide better crops.
The roots of Woody Acres go back generations, and the roots stand to run deeper still.