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West River Holsteins – 2018

In 1998, Jack Thomson and Rhonda MacDougall accomplished their dream – owning a dairy farm – and what made it even better was the fact that they were able to purchase a farm in their home community of Antigonish. After Jack and Rhonda graduated from McGill University’s Macdonald College, Jack gained experience working as a dairy herdsperson, for the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture (NSDA) as an Agriculture Representative and as a Sire Analyst in Ontario. With that experience, Jack moved back home to Antigonish and purchased the farm from the Corsten family in 1998.

West River Holsteins is operated by Jack and Rhonda along with their kids: Shamus, Bryce, Keith and Elise, as well as their farm employees. Here they have approximately 280 head of purebred Holsteins – and milk 135 of them. Waking up before the sun for 3:30am milk time followed by milkings at 11:30am and 7pm. Over the past 20 years the farm has changed significantly, in 2007 lightning struck the orginal dairy barn causing it to burn down and a new one be built as a replacement. Currently, West River Holsteins farms 500 acres, including 75 acres of corn silage.

“We’ve been proud participants in Open Farm Day since it’s inception – with the exception of 2007 we have participated every year,” Jack explained. “We’ve welcomed thousands to the farm to experience life on a dairy farm and learn more about agriculture.”

Open Farm Day is the largest group that is greeted by the farm every year in addition to the industry tours, school visits and university tours they host as well.

“As the number of primary producers decreases and individuals get additional generations removed from the farm, education is increasingly important. This is especially true since the advent of social media and internet advice on everything,” Rhonda added. “The best source for what is done on the farm, how things are done and why they are done is the farmer, and we are proud to share that educational component with anyone who desires the information from those who farm everyday.”

Did you know: in addition to being a large dairy farm, they also have 50 sheep and lambs, as well as chickens?

When visitors arrive on site there will be given two options: a self guided tour using static displays, and a guided tour. Static displays are set up around the farm to facilitate a self-guided tour and are a great option for those who have visited the farm in the past or who already have knowledge of dairy farming. The guided tours are a great option for those looking to get more details on each aspect of the operation, gain a better understanding of the indusrty/commodity, and have their questions answered by the farmer or the employees.

“Everyone at West River Holsteins loves being involved in agriculture. It’s a story we are proud to share and one of which many can claim a part of success – employees, family, 4-H members, neighbours and community. We appreciate the opportunity to share our story and our farm with those who are interested in learning more about farming and agriculture.”

West River Holsteins can’t wait to meet you on the farm!


2 days ago

Meet Your Farmer

Maplewood Maple Syrup and Christmas Tree Farm is a 4th Generation Family Farm with 17 Hectares of Christmas Trees, a 50 Acre Maple Syrup operation and Woodlot 170 Hectares large. In addition to their wood lot and Christmas tree production, they also run a 4000 tap maple syrup operation.

The Nova Scotia Woodland Owner of the Year Award recognizes and rewards landowners for outstanding stewardship of their woodlands. It was developed to encourage woodlot owners to practice sustainable woodland management and to increase public awareness of the importance of private woodlands in Nova Scotia and good woodland management.
Maplewood’s woodlot is a 2 time Nova Scotia Woodland Owner of the Year, winning this award in 1996 and 2009!

“We participate in Open Farm Day in efforts to promote farming/forestry importance to visitors. There is a need to look after the forest.....the continued existence of the Human race depends on it."

Maplewood Maple Syrup and Christmas Tree Farm will be opening their doors to the public on September 15th, to give visitors a taste of what goes into their operation. "We will be offering free maple syrup, maple cream and maple butter to visitors, and a wagon ride through our “award winning” woodlot for $5.00 per person.”
#FarmerFriday #NSOpenFarmDay2019
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1 week ago

Meet Your Farmer

Terra Beata Farms is run by David and Evelyn Ernst, along with about 20 employees. David previously worked as an engineer in the fishing industry, and neither of them ever had any intention of becoming farmers. However, in 1998, when the opportunity of some undeveloped land came up across from their home, combined with a downturn of the fishing industry, they decided it was a great time to start a cranberry farm. Terra Beata Farms has been expanding ever since.
“We initially planned just to grow cranberries, but then ventured into cleaning and freezing cranberries, followed by processing cranberries and other fruits into juice, dried berries and cooked preserves. Now we work with fruit from our own farm plus a few others, export frozen cranberries to 10 countries, and sell products to Sobeys and Superstore. It has turned into a much bigger operation than we expected!”

On Sunday, September 15th, Evelyn and David will be opening their doors to the public, giving them a behind the scenes peek of what goes into making these products. “Visitors usually start with a half hour walk around the farm, where we talk about cranberry planting, growing and harvesting. Then the group walks through the building looking at the equipment we use for making juice, dried berries and cranberry sauce. We talk about food production and marketing. The tour wraps up with free cranberry snacks, juice and recipe cards.”

David and Evelyn are always excited for Open Farm Day, and have been participating in in the event since the very beginning. “[It] gives us a chance to visit with our neighbors and welcome people from across the province. We answer all the cranberry related questions people can think of, give them new ideas to encourage them to eat more cranberries, and give them a peek at modern food processing.” Evelyn says people are always surprised at the amount of work that goes into the products seen on grocery store shelves. “Visitors are so engaged! They ask great questions, and we find they remember their visit and their connection to our farm for years.”

Did you know:
1. Cranberries do not grow under water! The fields are flooded for a few days at harvest time in early November to make harvest more efficient.
2. Cranberry vines can live for over 100 years and produce fruit every fall, as long as they are looked after.
3. Except for what is grown and consumed within Russia, the world’s supply of cranberries is grown in 6 Canadian provinces and 6 American states.

Come down to Lunenburg County to visit David, Evelyn, and the rest of their team this Open Farm Day! #FarmerFriday #NSOpenFarmDay2019
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2 weeks ago

Meet Your Farmer

Did you know today is #FoodDayCanada?! A day to celebrate all that Canadian food has to offer!

We’d love to see some of the meals you’ve made using local ingredients! 🤤🍽
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2 weeks ago

Meet Your Farmer

Meister Field and Forest is a 6th generation farm that has been operating for over 200 years. They have Black Angus cattle with a new Red Angus bull, a flock of laying chickens, two dogs and lots of forest. They have also moved into an Agritourism part of the business with farm events on site.

"We love farming because it connects us to our food and to people who want to know where their food is coming from. We love the opportunity to work outside and contribute to our local economy as well as meet people who come to our farm interested in learning about it."

Dave says climate change is becoming a large problem for farmers. “Our biggest challenge is adapting to changes related to weather. With more weather related issues due to climate change, we are seeing trends of more abnormal weather patterns like the wet spring we have had or the late frost last year.”

On Sunday, September 15th, Meister Field and Forest will be one of over 30 farms across the province participating in Open Farm Day. “Open Farm Day is one of our favorite activities every year. We love having people come to the farm and meet us as well as learn about what happens on a working farm...Our favorite part is watching the kids learn something new or see something they never experienced like watching cows graze or even collect eggs from our chickens.”

Come visit Dave and his team at Meister Field and Forest in Lunenburg County this Open Farm Day!

#Farmerfriday #NSOpenFarmDay2019
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  1. Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition

    August 20 - August 24
  2. Digby County Exhibition

    August 21 - August 24
  3. Cumberland County Exhibition

    August 26 - August 31
  4. Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition

    August 28 - September 1
  5. Pictou-North Colchester Exhibition

    September 4 - September 8


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