The future is green for Saskatchewan's oldest sod farm

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June 20, 2017 - 9:25am Updated: June 26, 2017 - 11:11am

Ever wondered where sod comes from? Much like Christmas trees or the springs in pens, it’s a commodity many people don’t question. But for the Davis and Lauder family, growing sod is what they've done their whole lives.

They have owned Shellview Sod, the oldest sod farm in Saskatchewan, and one of the oldest in Canada, for more than 50 years and currently manage more than 500 acres of sod field.

That sense of family extends to all of their employees. While nearly every company says they treat their employees like family, Shellview Sod employees have the legacy to prove it; some have been with the company for 29 years. 

“That’s always the way it was thought of,” Shellview Sod managers say, “a company where there’s no real divide between employees and family.”

15 employees work diligently for years through Saskatchewan’s hot summers to make sure they have the best possible sod. Grown from the purest Kentucky Blue and Fescue seeds, their sod is perfect for Saskatchewan’s climate with shade tolerance, optimal colour and great resistance to drought and harsh winters.

It’s a three-year process to take sod from the field to your lawn, beginning with initial seeding in May, and constant care throughout the rest of the season, which ends in November. The grass is allowed to grow for so long in order to create thick roots for the sod; the thickness is what makes sod keep its shape and not fall apart during the gathering, cutting and selling process.

During those three years the fields are “kept and maintained like a golf course.” They constantly water and mow their fields all summer, and take painstaking care to make sure every blade of grass is the best it could be.

“When we go to trade shows in Saskatoon or Regina we have people come up to us and say ‘We bought sod from you 30, 40 years ago and it still looks great. That’s the sort of thing that keeps us working through the long hours and difficult jobs.”

New high-tech equipment lets them keep their fields in perfect condition. They recently purchased a new, first of its kind centre-pivot irrigation system, to ensure optimal growing conditions.

GPS programmed, the pivot bends and works around any pre-programmed obstacles in its path before straightening out and continuing on. This lets Davis and Lauder focus on the bigger picture, and keeps their farm working at maximum efficiency.

The soil they grow on is the real key to their lush sod. “The magic is the dirt here, it’s a light sandy loam that’s meant for growing grass, and it’s fantastic at keeping in all the water and nutrients we need to have the best sod.”

Though their fields are just outside Shellbrook, off Hwy. 55, and they do a fair bit of business in the area, Shellview Sod ships their product all over the province. They have multiple trucks in Saskatoon and Regina each day, delivering sod to residential and commercial properties. Their sod can even be found stretching to the Canada/American border.

They guarantee their sod will be delivered in pristine growing condition, having been harvested as close to the shipping time as possible and not cut more than 24 hours before delivery.

Any questions about their product can be answered on the Shellview Sod website.

To order sod, call 1-866-399-3935.

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