By Resi Walt
(Alvinston) – When chatting to Annette MacKellar about her family and their farm, you can see her eyes shine with pride and happiness.
In 2015, Annette appears in the tenth anniversary edition of the Faces of Farming calendar, published by Farm & Food Care Ontario. Her page is sponsored by SeCan and she is featured for the month of December.
Annette grew up on a crop farm and remembers, “I was always with my dad, working right by his side.” She then met her husband Dave in high school. Dave was raised on a century farm dating back to 1875 that his parents still call home today. Annette, Dave and their children all live within a few kilometres of this farm today.
After high school, Annette went to nursing school in Chatham, while Dave studied agriculture at Ridgetown College. Dave was already farming with his father when he and Annette were married in 1982. When asked if they ever considered pursuing different careers, Annette replied emphatically,
“We’ve just always wanted to farm and raise our family on the farm. There’s never been anything else.”
Today, Annette and her family have a crop farm and own a registered seed processing plant in Alvinston, Ontario. Annette and Dave farm with two of their three boys – Adam, the oldest, and Jacob, the youngest. Their third son Paul works off the farm. The crops grown on the MacKellar farm include soybeans, corn, wheat – and more recently – edamame beans.
In 1992, Dave installed a seed cleaning plant on their farm, and the farm became much busier. The addition came at a good time though, as the boys were growing up, they were able to take on more responsibility with that side of the business.
Annette’s son Adam went to Ridgetown College and completed the Agriculture program, before coming home to farm full-time in 2003. Adam now manages the seed plant and the day-to-day activities on the farm. He is married to Katie and they have added three more boys to the MacKellar family; Michael (7), Connor (4), and Duncan (2).
Annette’s second son, Paul, apprenticed to become a plumber but is always willing to help out on the farm during busy seasons.
Her youngest son, Jacob, also studied agriculture at Ridgetown College, graduating in 2008. He then continued his studies at Olds College in Alberta and is now home farming full time.
Jacob is credited with the farm’s start in growing edamame beans, which has been a successful addition. Edamame beans are most commonly associated with Asian cuisine, and are becoming more popular here in North America. Annette says, “Jacob wanted to grow something different – something that was becoming more in demand by consumers.”
Annette praises SeCan for the support they have provided her family’s seed business. SeCan is a national, not-for-profit organization, supplying certified seed to Canadian farmers. SeCan has helped the MacKellar farm with their seed business by promoting plant breeding and quality seed genetics. Annette confirms, “They’ve been a great partner to work with.”
Outside of the farm, Annette enjoys gardening and yoga. She also enjoys reading and scrapbooking. To stay active she plays ball hockey and goes biking.
One of favourite ways to spend her time, though, is with her three grandsons who are also pictured in the calendar. “They bring so much joy and entertainment to our lives.” And, while it’s too early to know if they’ll follow in their farm family tradition, they already love riding in the tractors with their dad, uncle and papa.
Annette and her family are great examples of a modern farm family who are passionate about growing crops and caring for the land.
The tenth annual “Faces of Farming” calendar, featuring the theme of Home Grown and Hand Made, is designed to introduce the public to a few of Ontario’s passionate and hardworking farmers – the people who produce food in this province. Copies can be ordered online at www.farmfoodcare.org. A list of retailers selling the calendar is also located on that website.