The Canadian Outstanding Young Farmers program held its national event last week in Saskatoon.
The 2021 National Award Winners are Little Brown Cow Dairy from Ontario and British Columbia's R & T Poultry and Bredenhof Hops.
Jenny Butcher and Wes Kuntz own and operate Little Brown Cow Dairy at Brandtford.
Kuntz says they started renting in 2008, and in 2011 purchased property and began processing 100% of their milk:
"We offer the best milk in the world, full fat, unhomogenized Jersey milk on tap. It runs as free as water from the top in your kitchen. Hundreds of people drive four hour round trips every week. They line up they buy 20, 30, or 40 litres at a time. Because of this, we accomplished what we thought would take a lifetime. This summer, we sold 100% of our milk directly from our farm gate.
In 2017 the couple bought commercial space and opened the "Local Food Emporium" with an emphasis on local products, where they see about 5500 people per week to buy some or all of their groceries.
Butcher says COVID was a real game changer for them, as they saw their business multiply threefold from the very first day of lockdown.
"We kept the shelves stocked completely of all staple items. We didn't run out of anything. And that's a testament to the short chain between our farm and farms that we know of and our customers. We really truly believe that that is a change that we can make in the food system, is show people the power that that exists when you source your food directly from a farm."
BC's Raymond and Tracey Bredenhof operate R & T Poultry and Bredenhof Hops Farm in the Fraser Valley.
The poultry division has grown from 5000 to a 40,000 broiler per cycle operation and are the largest distributor of Canadian grown hops.
In 2015 they grew six acres of hops, which has now grown into 23 acres of their own, with custom growers adding another 35 acres.
Tracey says in 2017 they recognized a processor shortage and built their own processing plant, pellet mill and cold storage facility and began brokering and distribution for their hops.
"In 2020. Our cold storage facility was quadrupled in size to handle the amount of hot product we carry and we currently yield approximately 15,000 kilograms of finished product per year."
Raymond notes their sales and distribution company does direct sales to mostly craft breweries, adding they import hops from ten countries and export Canadian grown hops to seven countries while continuing to work on expanding their markets.