National winners for Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmer for 2017 were awarded on Dec. 1 to Derek & Tannis Axten of Axten Farms in Minton, Sask., and Véronique Bouchard & François Handfield of Ferme aux petits oignons at Mont-Tremblant, Que.
“Once again, the seven regional finalists exceeded our expectations as innovative, forward thinking, young agricultural leaders. The judging process of evaluating their applications, presentations, and interviews was not easy. The National Winners are strong role models and oozed with everything positive in their agricultural operations,” Luanne Lynn, past OYF President, said.
Understanding that high inputs and timely rains were not always sustainable on a southern Saskatchewan grain farm, Axten Farms began to research their soil food web and soil biology. Their motto became ‘soil is our most valuable resource so how can we improve its health.’ With cost of production and the soil’s health as their key focus, they have now incorporated intercrops (seeding one or more crops together), cover crops, controlled traffic farming (using same track for all operations), compost extract and compost teas into their operation.
Véronique & François Bouchard grow about 65 different vegetables on their 11-acre farm. As well as they have a 20,000 square foot greenhouse. Part of that is used for propagation to produce bedding plants for their own use, as well as retail sales to customers. About three-quarters of the greenhouse area is used to produce a range of greenhouse crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and others. Handfield and Bouchard also have a talent for the entrepreneurial side — learning how to market, developing the human resource skills to work with employees and of course business management. They have six full time employees with as many as 20 seasonal workers.
– with files from Lee Hart and Geoff Geddes. Video footage recorded by Bruce Sargent.