This is part two of my Be Well Camp re-cap. In my first post I covered our visit to the Dalgarno Family Farm, the Orsak Family Farm, Derkach Family Elevator and the Jackson Family Farm in Be Well Camp. This round I’ve covered off some more family farms and their stories. Now all that is left is to figure out my personal top 10 highlights that I will share with you all shortly.
Asessippi Autumn Feast
We chose to tour the countryside on a weekend that includes Open Farm Day. This allowed us to take in a gourmet meal up at the top of the Asessippi Ski Hill. The views were spectacular, the weather was perfect and the food was over the top delicious. You can read more about it in Autumn Feast in Asessippi.
Kids Helping Kids
While we were at the Asessippi dinner we had the pleasure of hearing from Van and Ayla. Van and Ayla are working hard at raising money for their Charity Kids helping Kids. Our group got to listen to them present their very thoughtful, inspiring and emotional message to the 200 guests at the Autumn Feast in Asessippi.
Here is their speech:
“We are trying to get all the kids in our area to help some other kids get here (which will eventually be home) to their Mommies and Daddy. To most children, Moms and Dads are the most special people in their lives. Know how hard it is to go to camp or ever leave your Mom to go to school some days? Imagine leaving your mom or dad for over a year and not knowing when you will see them again.
We have 3 moms and 1 dad who came to Russell, MB to try to make a better life for them and their families. To do this, they had to leave their family behind. Plus it costs lots of money to get the paper work done and it takes a long time after that, they have to have money for plane tickets. We would like to help raise money for their children’s plane tickets. If you would be willing to give a donation, it will help people who will become your friends and neighbors for years to come.
We have 9 children to raise money for, and you can just imagine how grateful they’ll be to be reunited with their family. Thank you for helping make this possible. Donations can be made out to Living Legacy. Please write Kids Helping Kids on the memo of your cheque. Cheques can be dropped off at the front desk of The Russell Inn.”
Needless to say, our group was quick to open their wallets and gathered up a large sum of money that was presented to the Van and Ayla.
Crusher left an impact on all of us. He’s the gigantic male bison that the bus was only a few feet from and to get that close to such an amazing beast is something to catch your breath. The Millers run their family business that’s operated by Lorne, Louise and two sons, Jason and Nolan. Jason operates the grain sector and Nolan manages the bison operation.
The Millers have been raising bison for 24 years and are considered some of the pioneer producers of Manitoba. From the very beginning, their business consisted of a cow-calf to finishing operation. Their concentration has been on a natural finished product without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones.
Direct farm marketing at one time was a big part of our business. Over the years, they have taken part in trade shows, farmers markets, knocked on many place of business doors and have been very successful.
The Millers pride themselves in humane handling of the bison and have constructed their facilities accordingly. This results in less stress for both animals and ranchers. They have received many compliments from truck drivers on ease of loading and behaviour of animals in transport.
An update on the Millers:
The bison adventure was to be part of their retirement plan and you can see that was 24 years ago. The great part of the retirement plan is they are spending time in Phoenix now.
Blue Moon Saskatoon
Leslie and Dale diversified their farm in the 1980’s and Leslie thought saskatoons would be the right venture. Leslie and Dale own and operate 2500 acres of grain, pasture and hay land and they have cattle near Rossburn. But that’s now. Leslie was a city girl. As a young girl, she came out to the family farm North of Rossburn every summer. She remembers her time as a 9 year old girl and how that impacted her. So much that she decided to take agriculture at the University of Manitoba.
Dale grew up 6 miles West of their homestead. They met at University, got married, had a family (3 kids, all away at university) all while working and growing their farming operation. It sounds easier and simpler than it was but there were many challenges along the road. Then the grain prices dropped in the 1980’s and to remain viable, they need to secure more income. Leslie had already been working off the farm and they made the decision plant 2 acres of saskatoons.
We had a kitchen party at Leslie‘s place which was kind of perfect as that’s where it started for her amazing jams and jellies. Over lunch, Leslie shared about the U-pick and how people don’t want to come and pick berries or fruit anymore. It seems to be a bit of a dying art. Now, a nearby Hutterrite colony comes and picks all the berries for Leslie. She then goes to Portage La Prairie to the Food Development Centre and takes her mom’s family secret jam and jelly recipe to process and package there.
You can purchase Blue Moon Saskatoon at
- Gone Scrappin’ In Bloom – Rossburn, Mb.
- Parkway Co-op Grocery – Rossburn, Mb.
- Twin Valley Co-op Grocery – Birtle, Mb
- Poor Michael’s Book Store – Onanole, Mb.
- Two Farm Kids – Brandon, Mb
- Directly from Blue Moon Saskatoon – Rossburn, Mb.
Freefield Organic Farm
When we had our stop at Franz and Erna s family farm, it reminded me of my Baba’s farm.
In 2005, Franz, Erna and their 3 children Hannah (6), Elias (4) and Jonathan (2) immigrated from Austria to Inglis, Manitoba and purchased a small farm and the old Freefield one room school house.
Since living in Ingill, they added another bundle of joy to their family, Samuel.
Franz, a former police officer in Austria, and Erna, a teacher, are pioneers in Manitoba. They are growing a variety of heritage vegetables, raising chickens, turkeys and a few pigs.
They each have a passion, you can see Hannah and how proud she is of her farm and family and she shines when she speaks. Erna s passion for propagation of fruit trees and her work ethic for gardening. And of course Franz, he is dedicated to his family and has a quiet strength that he will work very hard to obtain his dream.
Visiting this farm was a quiet reminder of just how far our early pioneers have come and just how far many of our new pioneers will have to go. It was a great example on how there is room for all types of agriculture and that where there is a will, there is a way. There is no doubt in our minds that Franz and Erna will have much success. It will take just as much hard work, dedication, learning and community as it always has and that their family and the community that surrounds them will collectively reap the rewards of their passion.
Be Well Camp Highlights
Be Well Camp was a weekend jam packed with family, friends, new experiences and great memories. Now it’s time to reflect and decide my top 10 highlights.