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The Red River Exhibition Association (RREA) announc ed June 7 that the multi-generational Chapman clan from Virden has been chosen as its 2010 Farm Family of the Year.

“The Chapman family exemplifi es the qualities recognized by this annual award, established in 1966 to profile the diversity of primary agriculture in Manitoba as well as the traditional values of farm families that have contributed to the success and resilience of Prairie agriculture and the rural way of life,” said Garth Rogerson, CEO of the RREA.

“They are role models for modern farm family operations,” said Bob Roehle, president of the RREA. “The Chapmans embrace new ideas, but live by old-fashioned values, and mix business savvy with environmentally conscious farming practices.”

Chapman Bros. Farms, incorporated in 1967, was named for brothers George and Russell, who took over operations from their father. Now that they have retired, the farm is run by George’s sons Darren and Parry and Russell’s son Robert, his son-in-law Jeff Elliott and grandson Justin. The farm also employs three full-time and up to five seasonal staff.

What began in 1944 as a 600-acre farm has grown to 17,700 acres: 11,350 owned and 6,350 rented. The cropping mix for 2010 includes 5,250 acres of Hard Red Spring wheat, 4,950 acres of canola, 920 acres of malting barley, 620 acres of peas, 480 acres of oats, 320 acres of soybeans, and 1,800 acres of hay.

The farm also maintains a herd of 500-plus beef cows. Forage production is a major enterprise, and the Chapmans sell hay across Canada and in several U. S. states. They are involved in several hay-marketing projects and have participated in the Forage Symposium, the Provincial Hay Competition, the World Dairy Expo trade fair and a recent trip to the horse states of Florida and Kentucky. They are also active with the Manitoba Forage Council.

Despite the scale of its operations, Chapman Bros. maintains a small-farm atmosphere, largely due to the coffee room. This meeting space has long been the hub for doing business and growing a strong team.

The Chapman enterprise combines cutting-edge practices with the pioneering attributes of their ancestor George Chapman, who homesteaded a quarter section in the Plumas district in 1890. They use GPS technology in their operations and have six units with auto-steer. The Chapmans find it particularly useful in preventing misses and overlaps when cutting hay, seeding, swathing, crop spraying and spreading fertilizer.

The farm was converted to zero till in 2004, and this practice has helped their crops get through dry spells. Other benefi ts include reduced wear and tear on equipment, reduced labour, and protection of the soil.

Throughout its long farming history, each generation of the Chapman family has helped the next generation get started, and that tradition continues to this day.

Their ability to work as a team and pool their talents and resources is one of the reasons for their continuing success. They also balance their hard work by volunteering with community organizations and participating in recreational activities and hobbies.

The Chapmans were nominated by the Manitoba Forage Council Inc.



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