Day in the Life – of a Saskatchewan Grain Farmer

By Jean Clavelle Farm & Food Care SaskatchewanDayintheLife

I spoke to Trevor Scherman today from the tractor on his farm near Battleford in northwest Saskatchewan where he’s in the middle of seeding. See what he has to say about their family farm and being a grain farmer in Canada. Continue reading

Lanark dairy farmers are faces of “May” in 2015 Faces of Farming calendar

Amanda and Jason O’Connell’s Faces of Farming calendar page

Amanda and Jason O’Connell’s Faces of Farming calendar page

(Carleton Place) – Amanda and Jason O’Connell, dairy farmers from Beckwith Township in Lanark County, are the winners of the 2014 Outstanding Young Farmer Competition in Ontario. This prestigious award is presented to farmers by industry leaders. The couple will continue on to compete on behalf of Ontario at the national competition in November, 2014.

In 2015, the couple also appears in the tenth anniversary Faces of Farming calendar, published by Farm & Food Care Ontario. Their page is sponsored by RBC Royal Bank and they are featured for the month of May. Continue reading

Celebrating soils

By Patrick Beaujot

Did you know:
• 95 per cent of our food is directly or indirectly produced on our soils
• A shortage of any one of the 15 nutrients required for plant growth can limit crop yields
• By 2050, food production must increase by 60 per cent globally and almost 100 per cent in developing countries
• 33 per cent of soil is moderately to highly degraded due to erosion, nutrient depletion, acidification, salinization, and compaction
• It can take up to 1,000 years to form one centimeter of soil
• Sustainable soil management could produce up to 58 per cent more food
• Experts estimate that we only have 60 years of topsoil left

Source: United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization
The United Nations declared 2015 the International Year of the Soil. This is also National Soil Conversation Week so it’s fitting to consider what the soil and the earth provide.

Since 95% of our food comes from the soil, we should treat the soil with great respect.

To make sure our top soil is kept healthy and preserved for future generations, farmers have been changing their practices from using intensive tillage to conservation or no-till. Continue reading

Soil or dirt? What’s the difference?

soil

Soil is a living environment and is ideal for growing crops.

Soil is a living environment and is ideal for growing crops.

Soil is alive; it contains small particles of sand and clay, decaying organic matter, earthworms, bacteria, insects and microorganisms.

Soil is a living environment and is ideal for growing crops. Dirt is basically dead soil, which can be revitalized by adding organic matter.

The texture and colour of the soil, how it looks, feels and even smells, depends on the amount of each component in the soil blend.

Sand – what you find on the beach
Clay – what you find at the bottom of a valley
Organic matter – decaying plants and earthworms, bacteria and other microorganisms
Loam – the perfect mixture of sand, clay, organic matter – ideal for growing crops.

Different types of soil? Really?

Farmers work with different soil types, depending on where they live. The type of soil found across Canada is directly dependent on glacier movement thousands of years ago. About 12,000 years ago, during ice age events, advancing glaciers slowly ground rocks into finer particles as they moved south. Then, centuries later, retreating glaciers deposited sand and gravel in a mixture with the soil they were travelling over. That, combined with the annual cycles of plant and animal growth and decay over millions of years, has built the soil in your region into what it is today.

(Farmer Profile:) Doug Chorney is a third-generation Manitoba fruit and vegetable farmer. His ancestors made a commitment to farming sustainably when they immigrated to Canada 100 years ago – and he plans on his descendants continuing that practice for at least another century. What’s his favourite part about farming? The smell of the soil! He explains, “For me it’s about living the great life that you can on a farm with fresh dirt and hard work….It’s the smell, the sound, the feeling you get when you’re out there. It’s very fulfilling.” Photo: Manitoba Canola Growers

Doug Chorney is a third-generation Manitoba fruit and vegetable farmer. His favourite part of farming is – the smell of the soil! 
Photo: Manitoba Canola Growers

What’s his favourite part about farming? The smell of the soil!

Soil by depth is broken into three groups: Topsoil (on the top) is rich in organic matter but lower in minerals. Subsoil, found below the topsoil layer has a higher clay and mineral content. Parent Material is made up of deeper rock, sand or clay with no organic content.

Scientists have created soil maps of Canada. On those, you’ll see local soil types like Brookstone Sand Loam or Staten peaty muck referencing types of soil found just in that area. The type of soil found on a farm will certainly influence a farmer’s crop choices and management systems.

Although you cannot change your basic soil type, there are many management techniques that can help maintain or improve soil structure.

Doug Chorney is a third-generation Manitoba fruit and vegetable farmer. His ancestors made a commitment to farming sustainably when they immigrated to Canada 100 years ago – and he plans on his descendants continuing that practice for at least another century.

What’s his favourite part about farming? The smell of the soil!

He explains, “For me it’s about living the great life that you can on a farm with fresh dirt and hard work….It’s the smell, the sound, the feeling you get when you’re out there. It’s very fulfilling.”

 

For more interesting farm and food tidbits, check out www.realdirtonfarming.ca

 

Growing hops for local beer garners farmer an innovation award

By Lilian Schaer for Farm & Food Care

(St. Thomas) One of Remi Van De Slyke’s favourite beers is produced by a small craft brewery in St. Thomas, Ontario.

Remi Van De Slyke receives a Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence from MPP Kathryn McGarry (Photo courtesy of OMAFRA)

Remi Van De Slyke receives a Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence from MPP Kathryn McGarry (Photo courtesy of OMAFRA)

Not only does he enjoy the taste of Railway City Brewery’s Dead Elephant Ale, but it also happens to be made from the hops he grows on his farm near Straffordville.

Van De Slyke of Kinglake Farms Inc. got into the hops business more than a decade ago when his family was looking for alternatives to growing tobacco.

His efforts at building markets and helping other farmers start growing hops have just been recognized with a Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence, and he credits the local food movement with helping spur interest in the crop.

“It was tough in the first few years I was growing to get brewers’ attention, but demand is increasing every year for craft beer,” he says. “The local food movement has really helped with opening markets for Ontario hops.”

Hops are a perennial crop that grows up to 20 feet tall on a trellis system. The hops come up every spring and climb up strings that Van De Slyke attaches between the ground and the top trellis. Around mid-June they start bushing out and producing the hop cones, which are harvested in late August or early September. Continue reading

A Saskatchewan Farm(er)

By Laura Reiter

I am involved in one of the over 36,000 farms in Saskatchewan. Now if you are like most folks, a picture or two will have popped into your head when you hear “Saskatchewan farms”.
This …

Combining on the Canadian prairies

Combining on the Canadian prairies

Or maybe this …

Cowboys on their horses moving cattle in winter

Cowboys on their horses moving cattle in winter

You’d be right in thinking that grain and cattle operations make up the majority of the farms in Saskatchewan. But there is so much more!

Continue reading

The Jamaican-Canadian farm connection

Donald (Rocky) Deyer has helped bring in the vegetable harvest on this Canadian farm for almost three decades.

Jamaican native Donald (Rocky) Dyer has helped bring in the harvest on this Canadian vegetable farm for almost three decades.

Farmer profile : Jamaican native Donald (Rocky) Dyer started working on a southwestern Ontario vegetable farm when he was just 29 years old. Now 58, he has spent most of his adult life helping with harvest in Canada. Like many seasonal workers, Dyer arrives on the farm in late spring and remains throughout the growing season — about six to seven months each year. Continue reading

Blogger Spotlight: Sarah Schultz of Nurse Loves Farmer

We’re putting the spotlight on Canadian farmer bloggers. Each month, we’ll feature a different farmer blogger to uncover a bit about life behind the blog, on their family farm. 

 

Blogger Sarah Schultz

Blogger Sarah Schultz

Meet Sarah Schultz of Wheatland County, Alberta. She blogs at: www.nurselovesfarmer.com and is also active on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Here’s what Sarah had to say about blogging and her family’s farm in our Q and A. Continue reading

Woodstock-area farmers pose for “March” in 2015 Faces of Farming calendar

Jan and Evert Veldhuizen’s Faces of Farming calendar page

Jan and Evert Veldhuizen’s Faces of Farming calendar page

Sixty years ago, the Veldhuizens immigrated to Canada from Holland in search of new opportunities for their farming family. Evert Sr. and Dina Veldhuizen both emigrated with their respective families and didn’t meet until they arrived in their new country. After marrying, they lived first in eastern Ontario before moving west and settling on a farm near Oxford Centre in 1966 where they raised six children.

Today, two of those six children – brothers Jan and Evert – are partners in a family farm that’s grown and changed a lot since their parents first started it. It now includes crops, a dairy cow herd, a seed business and custom farming operation where they provide planting, harvesting and tillage services for other farmers in the area.

In 2015, Evert and Jan are featured for the month of March in the Faces of Farming calendar, published by Farm & Food Care Ontario. Their page is sponsored by DeKalb Canada.

Farming wasn’t a clear career choice for Jan. After school, he worked in construction, apprenticing as a farm equipment mechanic before deciding to return home to the family farm in 2000. Evert, on the other hand, knew there was no other career path for him. He studied at Ridgetown Agricultural College, graduating in 1996 before becoming a full time farmer. Continue reading

Diversity, innovation and teamwork are the keys to long-term success

By Treena Hein

Brothers (from left) Steve, Glenn and Tom Barrie receive an honour from the Clarington Board of Trade

Brothers (from left) Steve, Glenn and Tom Barrie receive an honour from the Clarington Board of Trade

(Bowmanville) – Brothers Tom, Stephen and Glenn Barrie work well as a team, and like any successful team, they share a similar outlook. They’ve always worked to have their family farm (called Terwidlen Farms, located between Bowmanville, Orono and Newcastle) stay sustainable – both in terms of looking after the land and in terms of long-term profitability. Continue reading