By: Matt McIntosh for Farm & Food Care Ontario
(Warkworth) – Ian and Sara Laver are not only proud parents and business owners; they’re also models – calendar models that is. With sponsorship from Burnbrae Farms Ltd., Ian, Sara and two of their children (four-year old Jacob and two year-old Amelia) appear on the month of April in the 2016 Faces of Farming calendar.
“My family has been farming for four generations, and producing eggs for three of those,” says Ian. “Right now I work together with my dad, but the businesses themselves are separate.”
Ian says he took an interest in farming fairly early in life, and after working on the farm all through high school, attended the University of Guelph. While working towards a degree with the Ontario Agricultural College, Ian met Sara – a self-proclaimed “city-kid” from Markham – who was pursuing a degree in Environmental Science. The two married after Sara completed a Master’s degree in environmental science from the University of Toronto.
Ian purchased his first farm eight years ago, and started growing corn soybeans and wheat. He then purchased a second farm.
Now Ian farms 170 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat, and has just completed construction on a new egg barn. The barn — which includes a new egg packing room and cooler — houses 6,500 laying hens. It is, however, designed to accommodate over 14,000 birds.
“We are hoping to fill the barn at some point, but that’s something that would probably happen gradually,” says Ian. “We are hoping to eventually take over my dad’s farm, which includes both laying hens and about 300 acres of crop land.”
Sara says Ian is the farm’s primary caretaker, though she has been increasingly involved in bookkeeping. She also works off the farm as an Environmental Officer for the Ministry of the Environment, but is currently on maternity leave with Ethan, the most recent addition to the Laver family.
“I used to keep all the books for the farm, but was pretty happy to give it up when Sara expressed an interest in it,” says Ian. “She is busy with the kids, too.”
In terms of future plans, Ian says he and Sara are focused on consolidating their business, and are hoping to continue expanding their acreage. Perhaps unsurprisingly, getting the kids involved in the family business is something the couple is looking forward to as well. Their oldest son, Jacob, has already begun showing an interest, though Sara says he is mildly disappointed there aren’t a wider variety of animals in the barn.
In his spare time, Ian enjoys fishing and curling; he is also the president of Northumberland Soil and Crop Improvement Association. Sara is an avid runner and enjoys going to swimming lessons, soccer games and other sport events with the children.
Why he farms, says Ian, has to do with the positive effect agriculture can have on both his family, and him personally.
“It’s a great atmosphere to raise a family. Being your own boss and the lifestyle are big draws for me too,” he says.
The eleventh annual “Faces of Farming” calendar, published by Farm & Food Care Ontario, 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.