Atlantic Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers
By Fruit & Vegetable
Nova Scotia vegetable producers win honour for 2010
By Fruit & Vegetable
Nova Scotia organic vegetable producers Josh Oulton and Patricia Bishop
are Atlantic Canada’s 2010 Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF).
Nova Scotia organic vegetable producers Josh Oulton and Patricia Bishop are Atlantic Canada’s 2010 Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF).
|Atlantic Canada’s 2010 Outstanding Young Farmers Josh Oulton (left) and Patricia Bishop (right) plus their children Izakk, Lily and Frank.|
The couple from Port Williams, N.S., were named at a recent banquet in Charlottetown, P.E.I. as part of the P.E.I. Potato Expo. They will represent Atlantic Canada at the national OYF event being held later this year in Victoria, B.C.
Josh and Patricia bought their first vegetable farm in 2004 with a desire to provide healthy, delicious food. Farming gives them opportunities to embrace challenges, and enjoy the independence to make decisions, adapt and grow.
“As consumers become more involved and interested in food production, farmers like Josh Oulton and Patricia Bishop are setting a great example of how to capture new opportunities while maintaining the grassroots values of rural life,” says Brian Newcombe, president of Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers program. “They are adapting and adjusting, and getting closer to their customers, and that is vital for the health of Canadian agriculture.”
Josh chose farming for his lifelong career from a very young age, while Patricia took a little longer journey back to the farm. They both grew up on farms, and for Josh there was never any other career choice. He spent much of his youth working with his grandparents. And at the age of five, he’d wait at the end of the lane for the local dairy farmer to pick him up to spend the day driving around in the silage truck. Josh attended the Nova Scotia Agricultural College (NSAC) and worked as a herdsman until he and Patricia bought their own farm.
Although Patricia grew up on a farm, she didn’t initially have plans to return to her roots. She also attended NSAC and then Acadia University for a Bachelor of Education. After a short time in Western Canada, the couple returned home to Nova Scotia to raise a family on a farm.
The appeal of local agriculture – and a desire to provide a way of life that feels great and generates enough money to provide for their family – has been a strong driver for Josh and Patricia. When they made the decision to farm organically, they thought the organic produce would sell itself. But it didn’t. And that’s when they realized the need for a significantly different business plan if they were going to continue farming organically. The plan hinged on the launch of their Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) model in February 2009 – where customers register as “members” to receive regular food baskets of organic produce.
With an initial business model based on 100 CSA members, Josh and Patricia had found their niche when they signed up 200 members plus a waiting list. They now distribute to 108 families every week of the year, with another 100 families added in during the summer months.
Josh and Patricia have established clear, defined goals for their operation in 2010. And together with their three children – Izakk, Lily and Frank – they are living their dream to farm for themselves, their children and the health of their communities.
Celebrating 30 years, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age who make the majority of their income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year.
Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2010 will be chosen at the national event in Victoria, B.C., from November 23-28, 2010.