Outstanding young farmers honoured

Dairy farm, market garden | Couple raise purebred Holsteins and free range laying hens, and grow organic crops

BANFF, Alta. — Dairy farmers Richard and Nicole Brousseau of St. Paul have been named Alberta’s outstanding young farmers for 2014.

Working with Nicole’s parents, Bert and Yvonne Poulin, they have 50 purebred Holsteins at Moo-Lait Family Farm.

Both worked off the farm at Lakeland College in the dairy division, although neither expected to eventually milk cows.

“I always loved agriculture. I didn’t know if I would be a dairy farmer, but I wanted to be involved,” said Nicole after they won the honour at a ceremony in Banff Feb. 14.

Richard became dairy manager at the college at Vermilion, Alta., and has also worked on large hog operations before the opportunity arrived to work with his in-laws in northeastern Alberta.

They grow all their own crops and have developed a healthy soil and environmental farm plan that they feel benefits the feed they produce and ultimately improves the health of their cows.

They have three children: Ethan, Cassie and Emery.

Meanwhile, Lydia Ryall of Delta, B.C., owner of Cropthorn Farm, was named British Columbia’s outstanding young farmer.

Working with her sister, Rachel, she started as a market gardener and eventually started Cropthorne Farm.

The farm consists of 10 acres of 50 organic crops in greenhouses and outdoors, where they are able to grow crops 10 months of the year. It also has a community shared agriculture program and raises free range laying hens.

Before returning to B.C.’s Lower Mainland, Ryall earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Lethbridge and a diploma in agriculture production from Olds College in Olds, Alta.

She then worked as a environmental farm planner for the province before starting her operation.

The national competition will be held in Quebec City Nov. 25-30.