Celebrated Farmers

WINTER 2009/2010

James Parsons Named 2009 Ontario Forage Master

November 17, 2009 – Cache Bay. James Parsons, a dairy farmer from Cache Bay in Nipissing district, has been named Ontario Forage Master for 2009.

Parsons participated in the 22nd Annual Ontario Forage Master’s Competition at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, where he had the opportunity to present innovative ideas and forage management techniques to peers and visitors. Pickseed Canada, Agri-Food Laboratories, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, and the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) sponsored the competition.

“Pickseed Canada is pleased to be a sponsor of this event,which profiles the value of forage crops, both economically and environmentally,” said Paul Wight, Ontario and Atlantic Sales Manager for Pickseed Canada.

“With 166 participants from 24 counties/districts across Ontario, the Ontario Forage Master’s Competition held in conjunction with the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, is a great example of partnerships coming together to profile Ontario’s largest acre crop”, said Murray Cochrane, President of OSCIA. “Farmers are looking for continual improvement of management practices. To most livestock farmers, forages are the most profitable crop they grow, and are typically the foundation of most feed rations”.

Following the announcement, Parsons who represented Nipissing District, expressed his thanks. “I’m honoured to have been chosen Ontario Forage Master for 2009 and look forward to representing Ontario at the American Forage and Grassland Council next year”, stated Parsons. “Our business is about profitably producing a high quality, nutritious product in an environment that recognizes family, employee pride, animal husbandry, land stewardship, and community involvement”.

Parsons is a bachelor of commerce graduate from the University of Guelph majoring in finance. After two years working banking, James and wife Michelle purchased their dairy farm, Parview Farms Inc. James is currently vice-chair of his local Co-op, milk committee secretary, and coach of his son’s atom hockey team.

Parsons now qualifies to compete in the 2010 American Forage and Grassland Council’s Forage Spokesperson Contest to be held June 20-22, 2010 in Springfield, Missouri.

A key component of the Competition include an engaging exchange between Parsons and the Judges on the merits of forage management.

The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association is a grass-roots farm organization committed to the communication and facilitation of responsible, economic management of soil, water, air, and crops.

PICKSEED Canada Inc. is a leader in the development, production and distribution of turfgrass, forage crop and hybrid corn seeds. Since its beginning in 1947, PICKSEED has built a trusted and proven reputation for quality, agronomic advice and a commitment to research and technology.


Originial CSCIA Members Recongized

Nora Egan– Cochrane Times Post

Three members of the Cochrane Soil and Crop Improvement Association were recently presented with plaques marking their continued service and dedication to the Association.

Hedley Blackburn, David Hackett, and Andy Dodds, long time residents of Cochrane, were three of the original members of the Cochrane Crop Improvement Association formed in 1939. All three have been with the organization for 70 years but David was chosen as the “Official” longest serving member of the OSCIA, and honoured at the organizations annual meeting in Niagara Falls in February. At the event, it was noted that only these three members, out of all the current members in the Province, have been consistent members since the initiation of the organization in 1939.

David Hackett joined at the age of 14. In the early days, he had a strong affiliation with seed production, which included seed potatoes. David has been referred to as the last of the “Potato Kings”, as he was known for growing world-class elite seed potatoes. He received many awards including championship prizes at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and was recognized by numerous Ministers of Agriculture, including Dennis Timbrell who visited the Hackett farm on August 16, 1982 and provided personally signed “Pre-Elite” potato contracts.

Andy Dodds is one of the early pioneers in the Cochrane area. He was born in 1921 and married Lillian Farquhar in 1948. He has always been part of the farming industry, raising chicken, hogs, and dairy cattle on the farm in Clute, with his father R.A. Dodds.

Andy joined the Association in 1939 at the age of 18. He has also been involved with the Clute and Cochrane Agricultural Societies, the Cochrane Cattlemen’s Association, and the Cochrane Coop.

For ages, Andy entered potatoes, grains, and forages in fall fairs. Like many, he grew his own seed potatoes for 15 years. His grains were exceptional in the 60’s and a half bushel was cleaned and entered in the Royal where it placed 18th out of 30 that were good enough to make it to the public show table. The Dodds farm was self sufficient in grains over the years, striving for excellent yields. Growing test plots at times for the CSCIA, they tested different grains for yield, hardiness and lodging.

Hedley Blackburn moved to Hunta with his parents when he was 12 in 1928. His father worked on the railroad at a time when the authorities were promoting farming in the region by giving land to those who wished to venture North. They came to Hunta and Hedley soon called Northern Ontario home.

They raised pigs, had 100-200 chickens, and sold eggs in town. At one time they had 500 capons which they would sell. They had Jerseys for milk and cream, beef cows, and a garden with potatoes that they sold.

Hedley joined CSCIA at the age of 23. He has continued to attend the meetings and be an active member as have his follow recipients, over the past 70 years. That is a Provincial record!


The Premier’s Agri-Food Innovation Excellence

Awards McGuinty

Government Rewards 7 Local Farms for their Innovations

Innovative ideas grown by Ontario farmers are contributing to the local economy, boosting the agri-food industry and offering more choices for the consumer. Those ideas were celebrated May 30th at a ceremony honouring local winners of the province’s regional awards for innovation excellence.

The Premier’s Agri-Food Innovation Excellence awards are part of a $2.5-million, five-year program (now in its second year) established to recognize innovators who contribute to the success of Ontario’s agri-food sector. Winners of the $100,000 Premier’s Award and the $50,000 Minister’s Award were presented last month at the Premier’s Summit on Agri-Food.

Local events across the province will recognize 55 regional award winners, who will receive $5,000 each for their innovations.

Area winners announced May 30th were:

Northern Quality Meats (Bruce Mines)

– Marcel Betty (Verner)

Burt Farm

– Max and Johanna Burt (Gore Bay)

Martin Farms

– Jim and Birgit Martin (Gore Bay)

Jonella Farms

John and Suzanne Mooney (Massey)

Ferme Blanche Rive

– André Saintonge (New Liskeard)

Terza Farms

– Matt and Carol Duke (Thornloe)


“I am pleased to recognize our local farmers with these awards. Their hard work and innovative ideas are helping to make our rural communities stronger,” said Michael A. Brown, MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin.


• Since its launch, the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence has attracted 358 applications highlighting on-farm innovations.

• Ontario’s agri-food sector is the second largest goods manufacturing industry in the province (after the auto industry) and contributes $30 billion to the economy each year


50 Years with Blessing and Thanks

Nora Egan–Cochrane Times Friday April 20, 2007

He came from a family of 11 and she only had one brother but George and Ada Struyk although they both came from Holland came from two different worlds, met and have been blessed in life with a loving family, successful in their endeavours and are thankful for every moment that they share.

On April 17th the children of Ada and George held an open house at the Cochrane Christian Reform Church to celebrate a milestone, 50 years of marriage and a time to celebrate with family and friends and to share they years which the two look back on fondly.

Ada was the first to move from Hollandwith her family in 1947. In 1949 George and his large family pulled up roots and also moved to Canada. Neither new one another in Holland so howdid the two meet?

Ada was quick to respond to this question.“I was asked to attend a youth rally by a friend and I wasn’t going to go because we didn’t have a ride home but I ended up going anyway. At the end of the rally George came up to me and offered me a ride. I had no way of getting home so I said yes. When he dropped me off he asked if he could come back on Saturday and I said alright.”

That Saturday, after confirming with hermother that George would be arriving the clock ticked, 8:00… no George… 8:30 no George finally he arrived.

George told his tale about the late arrival. “When I brought her home it was dark and when I returned, I couldn’t remember what road I had gone down. I stopped at one place and said I was looking for a girl Ada and that she was a daughter of a pig farmer.” He was then given directions. The irony of this tale was there were two girls living on the same road about the same age and both pig farmers daughters. He went to the right farm and on April 5, 1957 Ada and George Struyk were married in Hamilton, Ontario.

It was in 1969 they moved to Cochrane and Ada commented, “We have never regretted it a day!”. They began life on the farm, something they were both familiar with and focusing on dairy cattle and cream.

Of course, over the years their two distinct ways of being raised, raised eyebrows but between the two, they learned to compromise. “Everyone is different and you have to adapt and accept. The mainstay has been our faith, we begin each day with a prayer and before each meal and before we go to bed,” added Ada.

Over the years Ada and George have raised their family in Cochrane and watched them grow and some move on. Their children, Carolyn, Adrian, Lene, Richard and Aileen as well as their adopted children Ann, Kate, Brenda, Rick, Jackie and Jeff along with their 19 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren have brought them much joy over the years, and for that they are forever grateful.

Fifty years has gone by fast but the couple continue to do some farming. “In 1994 we sold the big farm to Adrian and Carolyn the other farm. We built the home we are in know and I still have 25 head of beef cattle to keep me busy and I help the others along with my potatoes which is my hobby. If I would really retire, I would die of misery,” said George.

As for Ada, she remains involved in as much as possible, the Church, baking and the Farmers Market. “I don’t know how much longer I can continue doing the Farmers Market but I will do what I can,” she added.

Following the beautiful open house held at the Christian Reform Church they both commented on how blessed they were and the words which summed up the past 50 years were: “ We’re all kind of like mountain climbers and we always need a hand the church community show how we help each othr out laong life’s pathway. You need the valleys in order to appreciate the mountain tops. In the end He is in control and He can take it away. We have been blessed with everything we have.”Ada and George Struyk.


Jim and Birgit Martin Outstanding Young Farmers

Northern Ontario Honouree

Jim and Birgit Martin of Gore Bay were nominated for the Outstanding Young Farmer Award for Ontario and competed in Ottawa in late March for the Ontario title where Harry and Leony Koelen, hog farmers from Paisley Ontario won the right to move on to the national event. Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers Program begins each year with the nomination of farmers at the local level. These honourees compete in their respective region across Canada for recognition as a Regional Outstanding Young Farmer. All Regional Honourees attend the national event and compete for the title of Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmer. Jim and Birgit were among six young farm couples from across Ontario to be recognized at the Ontario event for their outstanding accomplishments.

Jim and Birgit’s dedication, passion and success is an inspiration. Jim and Birgit with their two children operate a beef cow/calf herd of 150 cows on 773 acres near Gore Bay, Manitoulin Island. They produce pre-conditioned calves ,finished cattle as well as doing some custom feeding. Jim and Birgit were at tracted to this region by the availability of reasonably priced land for beef production. They strive to keep their operation as simple as possible and to grow their farm so that it will be economically viable for them and also their children in the future so they only have a small compliment of equipment. Their cattle live outdoors almost permanently under a rotational grazing management and they graze as late into the fall or winter as possible with stockpiled pastures. In 1999 they entered into a venture with Sprucedale Agromart Ltd., a crop inputs retailer. A crop inputs and general farm supply facility was built on the farm to serve the farming community. This business allows them to support their family as the farm grows and gives them access to the most current crop production information. Jim and Birgit have faced many challenges but none have been insurmountable. They minimize their risk of producing only one product of the typical beef cow-calf operation by diversifying into custom feeding, cash cropping and selling into numerous markets. The depressed cattle markets during the BSE crisis prompted them to market a large portion of their cattle as finished beef. To add value, they began selling cuts at the farmers’ market and through local restaurants. They sold into the local freezer trade and began supplying local and regional butchers with sides of their own “Black Angus Beef”. Farm Plan has had a tremendous impact on their operation. Most of the areas of improvement are related to water and woodland resources and the program has been a valuable financial resource for completing some major projects. Because Manitoulin is one of the driest regions in Ontario, moisture conservation is critical and conservation tillage is important. Both Jim and Birgit take active roles in the community. Jim is a director for Northern Ontario in the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association and Birgit has been a Certified Crop Advisor since 1998. She is working towards certification as a Nutrient Management Planner.


Algoma Soil and Crop Assocation Recognizes Glen


Glen started farming on his own when he and Della bought the home farm in Dayton from Glen’s dad, Maxi, in 1959. This is the farm on which he was born and raised and which he still owns.

During most of Glen’s farming career there were two main general farm associations in Algoma. They were the Algoma Cattlemen’s Association and The Algoma Soil and Crop Association. Both, as you all know, are local chapters of provincial associations.

Glen was active at every level in both organizations. He was chairmen of the local Soil and Crop (this organization) for several years and he was chairman of the Cattlemen’s, again for several years.

At the provincial level in the OCA he was on the OCA executive committee during much of the ‘70s and into the ‘80s.

On the provincial scene, in Soil and Crop,he represented Sudbury, Manitoulin and Algoma Districts on the provincial board for quite a few years.

Glen’s fellow Board members at local and provincial levels all came to respect him greatly for his intellect, his honesty, his integrity, his devotion to the farmers he was representing, his common sense and, I believe, his ability to sum up a complex situation in a very few well-chosen words.

Glen was also chairman of the East Algoma Plowmen’s Association and chairman of The Algoma Livestock Co-operative Sale. He was also director of the Iron Bridge Agricultural Society.

Glen never sought leadership but accepted it willingly if he felt he could make a difference. Glen is a master of reasoned persuasion and therefore it’s no surprise that it was Glen who wrote a letter to the Minister of Agriculture in the ‘70s making a case for the establishment of a community pasture new Thessalon.

And then Glen, along with Len Kirby and Glen Currie served on the first pasture board. He was chairman of that board and remained active on it for most of his farming career.

I recall once in the .80s when some federal forestry researchers were crossing the Community Pasture, without permission, to access some adjacent lands. Several of us on the board happened to encounter them. After some initial awkwardness we arrived at a solution that would keep everyone happy.

As we were parting the somewhat humble and apologetic scientist asked what would happen if he should touch the electric fence by mistake.

Glen answered in his most serious manner, “Most people get up again.” There is only one insurance company with it’s head office in Northern Ontario and that’s, of course, Algoma Mutual Insurance Co. started in Sault Ste Marie in 1899.

Glen served on the Board of this company for about 12 years, several of them as Chairman on the Board and President of the Company.

He served on Municipal Council for “Day and Bright” back in the ‘60s and again in the ‘90s. During the intervening years, he was road superintendent as was his father before him.

I recall a municipal committee meeting a few years ago that was being chaired by Glen. We were reviewing a document that had the work Mississagi spelled several different ways. This didn’t bother Glen at all but it sure did a lady on the committee.

Glen kept trying to keep us focused and after a while he said to the lady, “You’re just like my wife…she can spot a spelling mistake a mile away, but 200 cows can get out and go down the road and she can’t even see a track.” The lady re-focused.

Glen has been on the Sowerby Hall and Heritage Board for many years and is stillactive on that board. Whenever there’s some volunteer work to do at the hall Glen is usually the first to offer to help, the first to arrive and the last to leave.

Something generally not known about Glen is that he was a “house husband” or “stay at home Dad” for three or four years when his two youngest were pre-schoolers. Della got a chance to go back to teaching, so Glen stayed home with Sheila and Marnie until they started school.

Those of us who have known and worked with Glen have been exposed to a wonderful example of someone, who, with good humour and tremendous determination, gives generously of himself at every level to make his communities, large or small, from Canada to Dayton, better places to live.


Algoma Soil and Crop Recognizes Sid Collins

Sid, we are here today to recognize the work of an area pioneer in agriculture. We know you played an important part in the development of agriculture in this area. Also we know that from the feedback of several long time farmers that you realized the need to improve our land and how to take steps so that we leave it to the next generation in even better condition than we found it.

We have been reminded that you actually built the first lime spreader that was ever in this area. Later, you facilitated, thru your work with the Soil and Crop Association, the acquisition of a manufactured spreader for use by the Algoma farming community. This lime spreader is still in use as of today.

We want to point out that this all occurred long before there was any talk about the environment or conservation. Our members past, present and future continue, and will continue to enjoy the fruits of your labour. This was and is a very practical way to encourage good stewardship of the soils in our area. We are grateful for this.

Also, we must say a word of appreciation for your involvement in our local association- about a quarter of a century ago you were elected the president of this very volunteer group. I believe that Roger Fremilin took over

the reins from you, and very much appreciated the ground work that was laid. As a volunteer we want to thank you for the hours that you poured into this group. Sometimes, it may seem like volunteers are often passed over or missed. Was all the work worth it? Did anyone really appreciate it?

The answer is YES! We do appreciate it and continue to enjoy the benefits. Sid was always a resource person you could turn too. Why? Because probably Sid had done it before. Some of Sid’s accomplishments are:

• Growing good crops, raising livestock, drilling wells, tending to sick livestock, sawing lumber, draining land, cutting timber, building houses or barns, fixing things when parts were too expensive, fabricating equipment, trapping, and being a friend to many. These are just few -the list could go on and on.

On a personal note… Sid, thanks so much for your help to the Soil and Crop Association and to hundreds of area farmers.

Please accept this AWARD OF MERIT as token of our appreciation.


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