By Matt McIntosh, Farm & Food Care
Andrea Veldhuizen and Joseph Zantingh are siblings with similar traits. Both are busy raising young families, are active volunteers and, perhaps most notably, love to farm.
Andrea and Joseph both operate their own chicken farms in different parts of the Niagara Region. Along with a third chicken farm owned by their parents Henry and Janet, each location makes up a part of Zanlor Farms — the overarching name of their family business.
“We grew up on a dairy farm near Smithville,” says Andrea, “but my parents completely switched to chickens about 17 years ago.”
Andrea and her husband Ryan live and work on their farm near Wainfleet. It’s the newest of the three farms and just a short drive from both Joseph and Henry’s farms in Smithville. Henry is the current chair of Chicken Farmers of Ontario.
“We manage separate farms but we are still a connected family farm, we are all partners,” says Joseph.
The mother of four children – Cheyenne (15), Keean (11), Arianna (4) and Caleb (2) – Andrea first came into the family business about four years ago. Prior to that, Andrea went to school at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, and received degrees in both psychology and religion-theology. She then worked in marketing at a nursery and most recently took on the position of youth director at her church. She made the transition to farming because she saw it as a better investment in her family’s future.
Joseph and his wife Diane have three children – daughters Alexis (4), Aubrey (3) and Erica (1). In addition to working as a welder, he has been farming for most of his life. He even remembers taking a pager to high-school just in case he was needed at home during the day.
Succession planning between their father and the siblings began about four years ago, and Joseph says he has been increasingly involved since.
“I always had fond memories of the farm. I liked the upbringing and want my family to have the same thing,” says Joseph.
Both Andrea and Joseph raise what they call “big broilers.” These chickens are raised for meat. They are kept on the farm longer and sent to market at a larger size. All the birds from each of the three farms are sold to Riverview Poultry, which is a chicken processor in Smithville. In addition, both siblings and their father Henry rent approximately 150 total acres to nearby crop farmers.
“We are happy that we have a local processor. Everyone works together. My kids help on the farm too and they’re learning a good work ethic,” says Andrea.
“My wife is an accountant by trade, so we are optimistic that she will start to take over the farm books,” says Joseph. “She’s getting more involved as time goes on.”
In her spare time, Andrea volunteers at her children’s school, and acts as a youth director and mothers group leader at her local church. She also enjoys camping, cooking and baking, when time permits. Joseph says he enjoys fishing, camping, playing baseball and being involved with youth programs at his church. He also enjoys spending time with Diane and their girls.
Their families and farms are, indeed, Andrea and Joseph’s most significant commitments. Looking to the future, the siblings both say they hope to continue growing and strengthening their family business in a sustainable way. It’s the best way, they say, for Zanlor Farms to stay viable for the next generation.
For more Faces of Farming, visit www.facesoffarming.ca.