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.
Both are proud to see their children showing interest in the business as well. Jan is married to Johanna and they have four children – Erwin, Wilena, Danique and Georen, ages 17 to seven. Erwin, the oldest, now works on the farm during summer vacation.
Evert and his wife Marije have three children – Romee, Ruben and Femke – who range in age from eight to three. “Ruben wants to be a farmer…and a firefighter,” Evert chuckles although the combination actually isn’t that unusual. Evert also serves as a volunteer firefighter in nearby Oxford Centre. He’s past president of the Oxford Soil and Crop Improvement Association and is involved in both the Norwich Township Chamber of Commerce and the Progressive Dairy Herd Operators’ Association.
When he’s not farming, he enjoys biking and fishing. The family also makes a priority of returning to Holland as often as possible to visit Marije’s family who still live there.
Jan’s active in his local school board, something that takes a lot of his volunteer hours. His family also enjoy skiing.
The brothers take a lot of pride in continuing the farm that was established by their parents. Jan said that his favourite part comes from “watching things grow – both the crops and the business.” He added that he enjoys the diversification of the business, where every day brings with it new challenges and opportunities.
Evert added that he takes great pride in raising his kids the way he was raised. “I love teaching my children how things grow and how to care and respect their animals.” His children have a growing menagerie of farm animals, including calves that they are responsible for looking after.
The tenth annual “Faces of Farming” calendar, featuring the theme of Home Grown and Hand Made, 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. A list of retailers selling the calendar is also located on that website.