#CdnAgDay 2021 | The Western Producer

Source: www.producer.com

Today is #CdnAgDay, a day to celebrate the contributions of producers from across the country. Today we’ll share the stories of some of the farm families that make #cdnag great every day.

Through their hard work and dedication, the producers featured below – and all farm families – make Canada stronger by providing an abundant source of safe,  high quality food.

Follow the links below to learn about some of the families recently highlighted in our weekly “On the Farm” features.

Career change both challenging and rewarding – Saskatchewan grain and cattle producer Jocelyn Velestuk describes her first six years in farming as a whirlwind of activity. “It’s been a wild ride,” says Velestuk, who farms with her husband and his parents near Broadview, Sask.

Jocelyn and Jesse Velestuk moved to the farm partly for their children. | Photo courtesy Jocelyn Velestuk

Young farmers get involved to shape policy – Resolving conflicts is a useful skill in all aspects of life. Whether you’re a manager of a fast-food restaurant or a mother of two daughters that fight about toys, clothes and everything else, you’ll likely be in the middle of a dispute or three.

Chris Procyk and Paige Stewart on the farm with their sons, Ryder and Nigel. | Supplied photo

Sask. farm diversifies into clothing business – Aaron Spence has created a home business that encapsulates four of her passions — farming, Saskatchewan, hockey and lake life. Her Dirt Road Collective online apparel and accessories company features eye-catching artwork, symbols, statements and phrases covering those four themes.

Rylee Spence models one of the shirts that her mother makes under the Dirt Road Collective label. | Supplied photo

Success in the show ring seen as win for breed – In the four years since Twin View Livestock started appearing on purebred show lists, the Gelbvieh operation has established itself firmly in the championship category.

Aaron Birch, left, and Joe Barnett established Twin View Livestock at Parkbeg, Sask., four years ago and have quickly risen to the top of the Gelbvieh show ranks. | Submitted photo

Better weather this winter eases calving stress – WESTLOCK, Alta. — Scott and Wendy Letts have their home farm on the original Letts family homestead northwest of Westlock, Alta., near the Pembina River. Family have been on this farm for more than 100 years, and cattle have been part of the farm all along.

Scott Letts does a visual check of udders and vulva to determine if a cow is close to calving. The close ones are held back in the calving area. | Les Dunford photo

Market vegetable farm thrives in Alberta – Janelle and Aaron Herbert have what they call the perfect storm for growing vegetables in Alberta.

Janelle Herbert holds a strawberry plant in a basket in Riverbend Gardens’ greenhouse. | Jeremy Simes photo

Sask. cattle producers return to their roots – ARCOLA, Sask. — It all started with 4-H. At the age of eight, Randy James joined a local beef club. It was a fateful event that has taken him to cattle shows around the world. 

Randy James checks one of his purebred Angus cows. | Christalee Froese photo

Christmas light display brings cheer – MCLEAN, Sask. — The goal is simple. “I just want the lives of patients who stay in 1D (mental health unit) to be a little bit better,” says Ian Moats as he sits by a crackling outdoor fire on his expansive rural acreage surrounded by 55,000 Christmas lights.

What started as a modest fundraiser has turned into a Christmas decoration extravaganza on Ian Moats’ acreage near McLean, Sask. | Christalee Froese photo

Rural couple sells solar to prairie producers – RADVILLE, Sask.—Southern Saskatchewan gets more than 2,300 hours of sunlight per year, and as far as Shane Hunter is concerned, that’s a valuable resource that is going to waste.

Jennifer and Shane Hunter have brought their acreage power bill to zero with the installation of two arrays of solar panels. | Christalee Froese photo

Mustard focus keeps Alberta farmers hopping – There have been times when acres of blooming mustard decorated the fields at Luco Farms near Lethbridge. Those acres formed the basis of a business in prepared mustards that is now operated by the father and son team of Robert and Ben Luco.

Robert, left, and Ben Luco sell their mustard at locations across southern Alberta, including the farmers market in Lethbridge. | Supplied photo

Organic grain marketers flex global muscles – RADVILLE, Sask. — They run their hands appreciatively along the fur of the buffalo hide given to them by one of their grain contractors. While their organic grain marketing business is known worldwide, and is an economic success with 80 growers and 24 employees, it isn’t necessarily about any of that.

Alex and Janet Galarneau at PHS near Radville, Sask. | Christalee Froese photo

Solar energy helps power Sask. grain farm – ETHELTON, Sask. — Harvest never ends on the Stevenson farm. Once they’ve got crops from their 2,400-acre grain farm in the bins, they continue to harvest solar energy.

The Stevenson family enjoys harvesting solar energy at home on the farm: Allyson, her twin 14-year-old daughters, Isabelle and Chloe, and husband, Tyler. | William DeKay photo

Obstacles no match for horse training family – KENDAL, Sask. — Obstacles have never stood in the way of success for the Quams and they’ve had their share of them.

Cain Quam speaks to riders at one of his horsemanship clinics. | Christalee Froese photo

Alberta fish farm reels in booming business – If you caught a rainbow or brown trout this year in Alberta, there’s a fair chance you have the Menard family to thank for it. They’ve turned the unlikely prospect of aquaculture on the Prairies into a business that employs up to seven people, says Max Menard of Smoky Trout Farm Ltd. near Red Deer.

Raymond Dan Menard, left, and his son, Max, of Smoky Trout Farms take a look at the drum filter in their fish barn. The filter is a key component of the farm’s recirculating aquaculture system. | Menard family photo

Wild rice business takes family for wild ride – Larissa Muirhead has witnessed the wild side of the wild rice business. The venture started off with a bang in 2015 and 2016 when her family agreed to a share-cropping arrangement with the previous owner of the operation on Meeyomoot Lake in northern Saskatchewan.

The end result is in the bag for the Muirhead family and their crew at Against the Grain Organic Wild Rice. | Supplied photo

Second generation prepares to run sod farm – It makes sense that land once covered in grass would produce good grass. Doug and Lois McGillivray took that chance in the 1990s to add value to their farm south of Regina, establishing a 500-acre sod farm amid their grain and oilseeds operation.

Doug McGillivray, left, Lois McGillivray, Catherine McGillivray, and Carlos Quiroz on their Prairie Sod Farm south of Regina. | Karen Briere photo

Garlic growers have no trouble selling crop – OFFRE, Alta. — In 2012, after years of living in Lacombe, Alta., and running several businesses, Mark and Brenda Visscher moved back to the farm where he was raised. They live on 4 1/2 acres of land that has been subdivided from the original base where Mark’s parents operated a mixed farm starting in the mid-1960s.

Mark and Brenda Visscher moved back to the central Alberta farm where Mark was raised and now have a market garden, specializing in garlic. They’ve sold out of the versatile cooking ingredient every year, even while continuously increasing the number of cloves that they plant. Social media, specifically Facebook, has helped to get the word out, and the demand continues to rise. | Maria Johnson photo

Family creates inroads to fledgling hops sector – RED DEER, Alta. — Through the spring and summer of 2018, curious drivers stopped almost daily to investigate the high steel pole and trellis structures set up alongside the road in central Alberta.

Colin, left, Maya, Aspen and Jaclyn Smith stand in the cool shaded space between rows of hops. Each plant is strung from a trellis system made using 19 foot T-shaped steel poles. These poles are unique because most hop growers around the world use a traditional wood system. | Maria Johnson photo

‘I’ve never missed a harvest in my whole life’ – ST. BRIEUX, Sask. — With 77 harvests under his belt, Lucien Fagnou keeps climbing the combine ladder. He’s working on number 78.

Lucien Fagnou is completing his 78th harvest this year. The retired farmer is driving combine for cousins Craig and Marcel Fagnou. He stands with other members of the harvest crew before heading out to a canola field near St. Brieux, Sask., Sept. 22. | William DeKay photo

Sask. horse ranching family is born to ride – CORNING, Sask. — John King can’t put a number on how many horses he’s ridden over the years, but it’s a lot.

The King family of Corning, Sask., have been raising award-winning quarter horses for more than half a century. Four generations of the family are surrounded by some of their mares and foals at their Diamond K ranch. | William DeKay photo

U-pick market garden focuses on education – Bawlf, Alta. — If children, parents and customers leave Lil Ryley Farms knowing a bit more about agriculture and food, that’s a win, says owner Kerri Giesbrecht.

Kerri Giesbrecht kneels beside a row of colourful chard in her U-pick garden near Bawlf, Alta. | Mary MacArthur photo

Remote dairy farm grasps retail opportunities – CRESTON, B.C. — These dairy cows have it good. They graze on fresh organic grass every 12 hours. They are sheltered from blustery winds by a towering mountain range. They are milked on their own schedule. They don’t stand on concrete. And as newborn calves, they stay with their mothers for an extended period of time.

Erin Harris breeds all of her farm’s cows to Jersey bulls because she finds the breed preferable in terms of ease of handling. | Christalee Froese photo

Family members gradually return to B.C. ranch – CRANBROOK, B.C. — Putting a fence post in the ground here isn’t easy. The bedrock that lies beneath most of the 10,400 acres of grazing land at Pine Butte Ranch is unforgiving, sometimes requiring A-frame posts to hold up the more than 80 kilometres of fence.

The Rocky Mountains rise up in the distance as Hugh McLuckie, left, and Hadley, Logan, Edric and Lynette Van Steinburg walk through Saint Mary’s Prairie with four of the nine Border Collies they raise. | Christalee Froese photo

Alberta orchard not afraid of diversification – ELNORA, Alta. — Dave and Arden Delidais own and operate DNA Gardens. The 15-acre orchard is nestled into the rolling parklands of central Alberta, where the hills and valleys dotted with wetlands gradually give way to sprawling prairie.

DNA Gardens offers visitors a variety of options: a trip to the orchard for fresh berries, a walk on the wild side with the self-guided nature trek, a more serious hike on the blue bird trail or kid-centred fun in the family fun park. | Maria Johnson photo

Alberta family’s matriarch returns to the farm – CLIVE, Alta. — Louise Bell recently bought a quarter section of land at Clive and plans to move back to the farm, even though she’s reached an age where many people are slowing down. “I need a purpose in life,” said the 74-year-old.

Stacey and Suzy Bell received the Lacombe County 100 Year Farm Family award on July 25 at their farm near Clive, Alta. They are the fourth generation of Bells to own and operate the farm. Pictured are Ken, left, and Laurie Bell, Suzy Bell, Corey Clark, Stacey Bell, Louise Bell, Donna Barnes, and Bob and Shauna Bell. | Maria Johnson photo

Fresh Flavour Farm a year-round operation – NOBLEFORD, Alta. — At first, Andy Katoch’s reasons for starting a vegetable operation were selfish, he admits. But now his aquaponic operation in this southern Alberta town is supplying many with vegetables and serving as an example of how smaller operations on farms could provide sustainable income and stabilize vegetable supplies.

Fresh Flavour Farms produces a variety of hydroponically grown vegetables. | Barb Glen photo

Oats become healthy answer for family farm – ABERNETHY, Sask. — Harvesting wheat always presented a problem for Scott and Teri Ruecker. Their two children, Paige, now 18, and Luke, 15, would get sick each fall. And Luke wasn’t growing like a six-year-old should.

Paige, Luke, Teri and Scott Ruecker kneel in one of their 2020 oat crops. The family is growing oats certified for the gluten-free market. | Karen Briere photo

Hard work keeps family grain farm afloat – WILLINGDON, Alta. – Ample rain hasn’t dampened the Porozni family’s optimistic outlook for harvest this year.

Greg Porozni was putting in a long day harvesting field peas Aug. 24, 2016 near Willingdon, Alta., after experiencing a wet growing season. | Karen Morrison photo

Sask. family makes the switch from cattle to sheep – SHAMROCK, Sask. – Not everyone gets a trial run at farming, but Liezel and Larry Kennedy knew before they expanded from 60 to 600 sheep how things would likely go.

Sheep in the pasture on Larry and Liezel Kennedy’s farm near Shamrock, Sask. | Liezel Kennedy photo

Father and son focus on moving farm forward – STURGIS, Sask. — Education is a lifelong endeavour for a father and son focused on improving their soil health.

Keenean Amy and his father, Elgin, split the chores down the middle on their commercial cross herd and grain farm near Sturgis, Sask. | William DeKay photo