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Agricultural Hall of Fame: Donald Kroeker

Five new members of the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame were inducted July 17 at a ceremony in Portage la Prairie. We're featuring a new inductee each week

Donald (Don) Kroeker was born on January 6, 1935, in Winkler, Manitoba. He graduated with a BSA from the University of Manitoba in 1957, majoring in agricultural economics. Don was awarded the Gold Medal for outstanding scholarship.

In 1957, Don married Eileen McGill and together they raised five daughters, Wendy, Kathy, Diane, Cindy and Donna. Don and Eileen moved to the family farm where he became manager of farming operations with Kroeker Farms Limited. In 1958 he initiated 50 acres of onion production. Under Don’s leadership, potato production grew from 500 acres to 5,000 acres. Other farm enterprises included sweet corn, hogs, cattle, laying hens and a machinery division. He was the first to introduce hydro-cooled sweet corn production in Manitoba, growing over 200 acres. During Don’s tenure, Kroeker Farms became the largest potato producer in Canada.

In 2002, Don retired as president and CEO of Kroeker Farms Limited but continued to work under the new CEO, Wayne Rempel, until 2009. He continues to serve on its board of directors.

Presently, organic potato and onion production are an important part of the farm and an elite seed potato farm has been established in Saskatchewan.

Don served on the board of directors of Peak of the Market from 1972 to 2000. He also served as a director of the Canadian Horticultural Council, the Keystone Vegetable Producers Association, the Chipping Potato Growers Association of Manitoba, the Manitoba Potato Council, the Prairie Potato Council and the Seed Potato Growers Association of Manitoba. Don was one of the plenary speakers at the 1993 World Potato Congress held in Prince Edward Island.

Locally, Don was involved in developing Winkler Bowling Lanes, the Southland Mall, the Winkler Home for the Aged and the Winkler Airport Board. He was appointed an honorary chair to help fundraising for the Bethel Heritage Park. He has been a board member of the Mennonite Brethren Church in Winkler, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada, Bible Centered Ministries International and is presently chair of New Earth Agro, just beginning work in China.

His keen involvement in MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) has stimulated his development of Business Principles. In the ’70s Don initiated a substantial profit-sharing program for Kroeker Farms and developed the company’s current mission statement: “To meet people’s needs through innovative agriculture in a way that honours God.”

In 1995, Don was honoured with the Distinguished Service Award from the Prairie Potato Council; in 2006 he was given an Honorary Life Membership in the Manitoba Institute of Agrologists and in 2010 he was awarded a Certificate of Merit by the University of Manitoba.

Don Kroeker epitomizes the values of successful Prairie agriculture — hard work, innovation, leadership and industry and community involvement.

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