Finding my voice

By Resi Walt, Communications Intern at Farm & Food Care and dairy farmer

When you’re young and growing up, it can be hard to grasp how big the world is. Where you live – your home, your yard and your neighborhood – is where your world begins and ends. As a child growing up on a farm, I felt that everything I would ever need was on the farm. That included the sandbox, the hay mow, and my bike.

As I got older and went elementary school, I had the occasional sleepover at a friend’s house, or stayed a night with my grandparents, and my world grew a little. Then I found myself in high school, and eventually got my driver’s license. The world really opens up when you can drive anywhere on your own! Continue reading

Faces of Farming – July

By Kelly Daynard

Deslippe familyFarming is one of the few careers that often spans generations of family members all sharing an unwavering commitment to the land and their livestock. Rochelle Deslippe of Amherstburg, in Essex County, is one such example.

Their family farm was started by her grandfather, Earl, in the 1930′s when he began a small hatchery raising turkeys. The farm was eventually taken over by Earl’s two sons, Jerome and Paul. Today, Jerome’s daughter Rochelle and her three children are the third and fourth generations of the family to be raising turkeys and crops on the farm, and Rochelle wouldn’t have it any other way. Continue reading

Napanee dairy farmer in 2014 Faces of Farming calendar

By Kelly Daynard

Dairy farmers Kevin and Adrianna MacLean enjoy interacting with the public and answering their questions about farming.

Dairy farmers Kevin and Adrianna MacLean enjoy interacting with the public and answering their questions about farming.

Napanee – You may not have thought of celebrating Christmas with a herd of dairy cows but that’s just what residents of Napanee did last year when they were invited to a special holiday open house event at Ripplebrook Farm.

Ripplebrook Farm is a third generation family farm operated by Kevin MacLean, his parents Barton and Barbara and his step-son Taylor. The family milk 130 cows and crop 750 acres.

The family always embraces opportunities to showcase the farm and often host tours throughout the year. Last year, they decided to host a “Christmas with the Cows” event for their community. They had no idea how many people might attend and were both surprised and pleased when 200 showed up to watch their evening milking and spend the evening in the barn.

That’s just one example of Kevin’s work as an agricultural advocate – or agvocate. Youth groups, service groups and school trips all enjoy feeding the young calves and “helping” to milk the cows. A friendly member of their herd, nicknamed “Carrie the Curious Cow” is always a special hit with the visitors. Continue reading

David and Goliath – Guest blog

In this post, we’re pleased to feature a blog written by Ontario farmer Sandi Brock. You can follow Sandi’s posts at http://staffachickfarmer.blogspot.ca/

Guest blog by Sandi Brock (Reprinted with permission)

Hard to put into writing what we sometimes feel. Farming lately has felt like a David vs. Goliath type of battle. I’m growing weary of this fight. We (farmers) are being targeted by media. Media likes a story, the worse it is, the better for them. Unfortunately, it leaves our consumers confused, scared and ultimately turned off. Gone are the days when we were all reliant on our land, our animals and our hands to feed our families. Let’s face it, the majority of our friends, neighbors and families do not farm. In fact, they may have a hard time remembering even being to a farm that was maybe a grand-parent’s or great grand-parent’s.

This then becomes our lop-sided battle.

There are just not enough of us to overpower the damage the media is doing. Farming to them is a story. To us, it is our life. It is our blood, sweat and tears. It is our income, our pride, and our contribution to a huge sector of our community and country. We don’t do this to become millionaires. We are happy to get one good year in five. We live at the mercy of the weather, the consumer, and the lenders. If any one of these are not in sync, we don’t meet our goals.

We do this because it’s in our bones. We do this because we love it. We do this because, ultimately, we all like to eat.

So that’s my side. But, it’s not enough. We need to educate. Not the other farmers, which we often find ourselves doing. It’s comfortable to talk to others that do what you do. But, that’s easy. The harder conversations need to be had with your friends in town, your neighbors, your kid’s teachers. We need to be honest and open about what we do, how we do it and most importantly, why we farm. This is the message that needs to be spread like wildfire. The problem is, we don’t take the time. I know while struggling through this fall, the last thing I feel like doing is justifying my farming practices. We are tired, stressed and feeling a bit discouraged. Day after day is another damaging story about our industry. Are they true? Likely not, but does it matter? No. It has made people hesitate. Even me, seeing stories that are edited to create fear, have made me just a little more on edge. Continue reading

Raised in the city, chicken farmer is now "living a dream"

Michelle Voskamp is the face of January in the 2013 Faces of Farming calendar

By Patricia Grotenhuis

It may seem like a big step from a life growing up in Brampton to one living on a farm in Prince Edward County but it’s the path that Michelle Voskamp has taken.

Born and raised a city girl in Brampton with no prior farm background, Michelle Voskamp was always intrigued by rural life. She rode horses from a very young age and spent a lot of time in the country. Today, she’s living a dream on a chicken farm with her family in Prince Edward County, near Trenton.

Voskamp is featured in the 2013 Faces of Farming Calendar published by Farm & Food Care Ontario. Her page is sponsored by Maple Leaf Foods.

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Faces of Farming calendar – meet the faces of April.

by Patricia Grotenhuis

Starting up a business is challenging, and starting up a farm is no different.  Add in an international component and it becomes more challenging yet.

Not all farmers take over the family farm.  Amy Cronin and her husband Mike were both raised on dairy farms but became hog farmers after they married.  Thanks to a lot of hard work, the farm has grown and expanded, with farms in both Ontario and Iowa.

Cronin and her six year old daughter Emmy are featured in the 2012 Faces of Farming Calendar published by the Farm Care Foundation. Their page was sponsored by Molesworth Farm Supply because of Cronin’s work on the farm and in the industry.

Amy and Emmy - the faces of April

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Meet farming's face of February – Cathy McKay

by Patricia Grotenhuis

A summer job for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food during university led to a life-long love and a diverse business for Cathy McKay. McKay is featured in the 2012 Faces of Farming calendar published by the Farm Care Foundation.

Cathy McKay

McKay’s page is sponsored by the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association. She’s the first apple grower to ever appear in the annual calendar that features the faces and stories of some of Ontario’s farmers. Continue reading

The true story of your Thanksgiving turkey

The following is a guest post written for us by Lilian from Food and Farming Canada.

Most of us have very little knowledge of where our food comes from or how it is produced. As a result, misinformation is widely circulated in many different forms – so to get to the real scoop on what’s going on, there’s no one better to ask than a farmer himself.

I had the chance recently to visit with Brent, who raises turkeys on his farm in south-western Ontario, and seized the opportunity to pepper him with questions about one of my favourite holiday meats, turkey. Continue reading

The end – A PIG'S TALE

Steve Buist, Hamilton Spectator, 2008.06.07

I left the Great Lakes packing plant on May 12 with four boxes of meat piled onto the back seat of my car. Piggy — my pig, the pig I had helped raise and care for — was packed inside those boxes.

Six months of his life, six months of my life, all reduced to four cardboard boxes on my back seat. Continue reading

Reporter feels business end of electric prod

Steve Buist, Hamilton Spectator, 2008.06.06

The use of battery-powered electric prods to get hogs moving is a controversial animal welfare issue.

The prod is poked into the back or rump of the pig and with a push of a button, a flash of electric current jumps between two contacts. It’s enough to elicit a loud squeal in some pigs. Continue reading