by Patricia Grotenhuis
Farming is just in the blood for some people, as is the case with Jim Patton, a sixth-generation farmer from near Alliston.
Patton was not always sure he was going to farm. He decided to attend the University of Guelph after doing a project on the importance of agriculture in his final year of high school. He graduated with a diploma in agricultural business, and returned to the farm.
Once Patton returned to the farm, he began making changes to modernize the family’s business. Patton is featured as the month of September in the 2012 Faces of Farming Calendar, published by the Farm Care Foundation, because of his dedication to making improvements.
In 1998, Patton began keeping broiler breeder chickens. These are roosters as well as the hens who lay fertilized eggs that will hatch into chickens raised for meat. In 2000 he added raising pullets (young hens) to the farm. In addition to the birds, Patton also grows corn, soybeans and wheat. He makes it a point to go to as many industry conferences and workshops as he can, including a three-day training course at the University of Alberta and a no-till(age) conference in Cincinnati. He sets a personal goal to bring at least one idea home to implement on the farm from each event that he attends. This interest has also led him to the Innovative Farmers of Ontario association – where he now serves as a director.
This system helps the farm continue to progress. As a result, Patton uses GPS technology in his tractors and equipment, and in the barns has updated feed, water and ventilation systems.
Patton has generations of farming experience behind him. He has farmed with both his father and his grandfather, and is now farming with his wife, Martha, and bringing his young sons, ages six and eight, to the barn. “We’re going to give them every opportunity to be involved.” says Patton.
The farm has been continually changing over the generations. During the 1930s, Patton says his grandfather worked off of the farm to save what he had. He never let go of the farm and eventually was able to begin buying more land and expanding.
When Patton’s father decided to farm, livestock were added to the business. Over the past 10 years, the farm has been working hard to adapt to ever-changing technologies.
All of the changes being implemented are improving efficiency, but more importantly, benefiting the birds and the environment. Patton has an Environmental Farm Plan in place, and has completed a biosecurity workshop for the barn and farm business management courses.
Although Patton was not always sure he would become a farmer, he is happy to be there.
“It’s a great setting for the kids, and a great way to raise the family. There’s something honest about the living,” says Patton.