Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

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Outstanding young farmers of Manitoba and P.E.I


December 16, 2009
By Fruit & Vegetable

Topics

December 7, 2009, Ancaster, Ont. – Commitment, passion and expertise
fuel the MacKenzie and Dyck farming operations – winners of the 2009 Canada’s
Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF) program.

December 7, 2009 –



Ancaster, Ont. – Commitment, passion and expertise
fuel the MacKenzie and Dyck farming operations – winners of the 2009 Canada’s
Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF) program. Greg and Tania MacKenzie own and
operate MacKenzie Produce at Stratford, PEI – a 115-acre cole crop vegetable
farm that is a testament to their philosophy of answering the call of
opportunity. Grant and Colleen Dyck own Artel Farms Ltd. at Niverville, MB – a
diversified cropping operation and emerging specialty food business built on
the premise that the biggest problems offer the biggest opportunities. 

The
Manitoba and PEI farm couples were recently named Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers
(OYF) for 2009 at the organization’s annual event in Ottawa, ON on December 4.
The two winning couples were chosen from the seven 2009 regional finalists –
who along with the winners included – Monia Grenier and Dany Mayrand, dairy
(Quebec region); Jason and Christina Pyke, bison (Ontario region); Art and
Elaine Pruim, dairy (Saskatchewan region); Geoff Hoar, horse training (Alberta
Northwest region); and Ian and Jennifer Woike, poultry (British Columbia, Yukon
region). 

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“We
have witnessed the raising of the bar, once again, with the achievements of
this year’s OYF winners – and all the farm couples from across Canada,” says
Richard Stamp, OYF president. “When you think of ambassadors for Canadian
agriculture, the MacKenzies and Dycks are ideal poster families for the
inspiring, passionate individuals who we are now honoured to have as part of
our OYF family.”

Greg
and Tania MacKenzie recognized a great opportunity when they saw it – the
beginnings of what is today MacKenzie Produce, a 115-acre cole crop vegetable
farm in Stratford, PEI. From the day Greg went to help out on a friend’s
vegetable farm, to the same business that now bears their name, Greg and Tania
have built a successful, year-round business with their array of vegetable
crops. Since taking ownership of the business in 2003, the MacKenzies built a
refrigerated warehouse on farm, added direct marketing from their farm gate,
and added a delivery service to local stores and restaurants. Cabbage is the
mainstay of their vegetable lineup which is stored and marketed year round –
and quality is always the first priority. And if you eat cabbage in any of
Charlottetown’s Chinese restaurants, any time of year, you’ll be enjoying
MacKenzie produce. Other crops grown include broccoli, cauliflower, turnip,
peas, beans, pumpkins, gourds and cucumbers.

The
success and growth of MacKenzie Produce included developing a five-year
business plan, sourcing local labour and working longer work weeks with
weekends off. Greg and Tania’s three children, ages 4 to 12, love helping out
on the farm. The MacKenzies support the local community by volunteering with
sports activities, their church and donating vegetables to local suppers and
food hampers.

From
an early age, Grant Dyck’s father instilled in him a desire for independence
and farming. Those early lessons went on to serve Grant and his wife Colleen
well as they built a diversified agricultural operation that is Artel Farms
Ltd., at Niverville, Manitoba. After completing a diploma in agriculture from the
University of Manitoba, Grant was quickly immersed in the family operation when
his father passed away suddenly. At the age of 23, Grant entered a partnership
with other family members, eventually buying them out in 2005. Together with
Colleen, they doubled the crops grown at Artel to 13, added a reclaimed wood
business (Wood Anchor) and branched into the value added energy bar business
(The Great Gorp Project) that Colleen is launching in early 2010.

Artel
– defined as a group of people working together toward a common goal – is a
powerhouse of activity. Since they began nine years ago, the land base has
doubled to 12,000 acres of grain and oilseeds, minimum or zero tillage has
increased the farm’s efficiency, and drainage maintenance is critical as their
land is within the Red River food zone. With their seven full-time and 18
part-time staff, the Dycks hire first on attitude and second on skill. And
monthly staff appreciation events keep motivation levels high. With three young
children, the Dycks still find time for their community.

Celebrating
its 30th
year, 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, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are
selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen
each year. The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer
CropScience and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and supported nationally by
AdFarm and the Canadian Farm Business Management Council.