erard and Marie DeRuyck decided it was time to find a different way to farm in 2000 after spending buckets of money to seed, spray and harvest – only to have yields decimated by fusarium.
The following year Gerard broke up 25 acres of pasture and sowed oats, sans synthetic inputs.
Their son Dan and daughter-in-law Fran soon followed suit, beginning to transition their mixed farm to organic in 2004.
Right off the bat, the families saw the potential to create Manitoba-grown organic products too.
Today value-added products off both generations of DeRuycks’ farms are widely sought, including a cold-pressed sunflower oil, plus a variety of on-farm milled flours.
“Basically, we try to add value to everything we grow on our farm,” says Dan DeRuyck whose farm includes 500 cultivated acres plus a few acres of pasture.
The DeRuycks have recently paired with an Arborg seed processor and three Manitoba bakeries to launch a value chain for organic sunflower seeds. Prior, the bakeries have been sourcing organic sunflower off-shore.
All is not smooth sailing. Weed pressures – mustard is a tough one – remain challenging and they’d certainly like to rely less on tillage, says Dan. Organic farming can test the most patient of farmers, he says.
“It’s a new way of management and it takes a few years for your land to get back into decent system.
“For myself personally it’s having the patience to do it.”