Wilma and Nicole Mol fill glass bottles with milk inside their dairy plant near Thunder Bay, Ont. The Mols operate Slate River Dairy and sell natural dairy products at their store and through a farmers market. | Photo courtesy of Cynthia Vis/Sunny Creek Photography

Farmers build dairy plant to avoid additives

Ten years ago, Wilma Mol was frustrated. She had noticed a decline in the quality of yogurt, ice cream and cheese at grocery stores, mostly because of what she attributes to additives in the dairy products. “Corn starch and pectin in yogurt, skim milk powder or milk ingredients in cheese…. Ice cream with no cream […] Read more

Bob Buskas has fledged thousands of purple martins on his farm with his specially designed purple martin houses. In his own North Star design, the compartments can be removed easily for cleaning and checking the young. Special entrance holes also deter owls, starlings and sparrows. | Mary MacArthur photo

Farm opens door for purple martins

Alberta producer kicks off a building boom in condominium-style bird houses that sees the species’ population explode

WETASKIWIN, Alta. — Over the next few weeks, Bob Buskas’ eyes will be on his fields as he begins to seed. He also has an eye to the sky as he waits for the purple martins to return to his farm. It takes about two to three weeks for the birds to fly from their […] Read more

David and Jean Caldwell say they will miss the Prairies’ wide-open spaces and straight roads when they return to Scotland. | Supplied photo

Man. farmers make decision to return home

On the Farm: David and Jean Caldwell emigrated to Canada from Scotland in 1995 — now they’re moving back

For just over a quarter of a century, David and Jean Caldwell of Kenton, Man., have called Canada home. But by their own admission, their Scottish roots run deep, and on April 30, their life will come full circle as they head into retirement with a move back to their bonny homeland. The decision to […] Read more

Brenda and Gil Leray operate 16 greenhouses and an outdoor commercial vegetable garden at Leray Gardens near Prud’Homme, Sask. | Brian Cross photo

Love of gardening prompted major transition for farmers

On the Farm: Sask. producers made the switch to greenhouses from grain bins and now run one of the largest operations in the province

Gil and Brenda Leray aren’t your typical Saskatchewan farmers — not by a long shot. About 30 years ago, the Lerays made a life-changing decision to stop growing broad-acre crops like wheat, barley and canola. Instead, they decided to focus on a higher value crop. The Lerays own and operate Leray Gardens at Prud’Homme, Sask., […] Read more

Blake Brownridge, left, talks to local farmer Lyle McLaren while McLaren picks up feed from Brownridge at Ridgeline Agriservices east of Arcola, Sask. | Christalee Froese photo

Producer settles down after life on the road

On the Farm: Blake Brownridge spent 12 years harvesting other producers’ crops before deciding to start a farm of his own

ARCOLA, Sask. — Blake Brownridge didn’t have your typical start in farming. His entrance into seeding and harvesting his own land came at age 30, after 12 years of harvesting other people’s crops. The Arcola farmer began travelling on the custom-harvesting circuit when he was a teenager, spending every fall season in places like North […] Read more

Julie and Jeff Shirley in a bee yard that they had just finished setting up. | Supplied photo

Hobby turns into full-time honey business

On the Farm: The Shirleys produced 57,000 pounds of honey last year from 254 hives, which they soon plan to double

Julie Shirley estimates she gets stung an average of 100 times per summer. “You just get used to it,” says the owner of Blue Heron Gardens Ltd., an apiary located 45 minutes northeast of Saskatoon. The stings are an occupational hazard of maintaining 254 beehives, each containing 50,000 bees. The hives are scattered in a […] Read more

Suzanne, Cooper, Tyler and Scarlet Smyth on their farm near Cantuar, Sask. | Supplied photo

Farm family lives where they work — literally

On the Farm: The Smyths have set up their home in the operation’s shop/barn as a way to ease the costs of developing a new farmyard

What do you get when you cross a shop with a house? A “shouse,” of course. That’s the nickname Tyler and Suzanne Smyth have applied to their workplace and family home. The building is actually a pole shed they bought a few years ago, along with two quarters of land at Cantuar, Sask. The property […] Read more

Lisa Kitt in the family’s market garden. | Supplied photo

Alberta couple find an organic connection

On the Farm: Donovan and Lisa Kitt produce 90 percent of their own food and sell the surplus directly to customers

Donovan Kitt had to travel the world to find out what he really wanted was what he’d always had at home. “I matured and realized that there’s a lot more to life than money,” he says. “That’s not where you’re getting your happiness from.” As someone who grew up in rural northern Alberta about an […] Read more

Jenna, left, and Emma Davison make 12 varieties of cheese in their 7,000 sq. foot production facility in Maple Ridge, B.C.  | Supplied photo

Sisters crack competitive B.C. cheese market

On the Farm: High labour costs are a challenge when competing with imported product that is gaining prominence

When sisters Jenna and Emma Davison were first presented with the idea of running their own business, they looked at each other in dismay. Jenna, 22 at the time, liked to consider things before making a move. Emma, then 20, was a risk-taker, ready to act first and ask questions later. Somehow, the combination worked […] Read more

Wes, left, and Ian Froese, with baby Read, make up three generations of Froeses on the family farm near Boissevain, Man. Ian is gradually taking over the farm from his father.  | Supplied photo

Two families call one Manitoba farm home

On the Farm: Wes and Elaine Froeses’ ‘joy bond’ — their three grandchildren — live ‘59 steps away’ across the shelterbelt

Today when she looks out across the farmyard toward the grain elevator, all she can see is grey, rather than the usual sight of the rising sun. But that doesn’t ruin her “quiet time,” when she thinks over her farm succession plan coaching business before the day’s busyness envelopes her. “No matter how tough and […] Read more