Faces Behind Food

Food unites us, but how much do we know about the people who work hard day-in and day-out to ensure Canadians have access to fresh, safe, nutritious, and delicious food? With a food supply chain as diverse and plentiful as ours – it really does take a village. Faces Behind Food will capture the passion behind the food that we love, one person at a time.

If you know someone who should be featured on Faces Behind Food, email info@farmfoodcare.org

Les produits alimentaires nous unissent. Mais que savons-nous des personnes qui travaillent dur au quotidien pour que les Canadiens aient accès à des aliments frais, salubres, nutritifs et succulents? Avec une chaîne d’approvisionnement aussi diverse et abondante que la nôtre… c’est tout un village qui est nécessaire. L’initiative « Derrière la nourriture… des visages » capture la passion à l’œuvre derrière la nourriture que nous aimons… une personne à la fois. 

Si vous connaissez quelqu’un que nous devrions présenter par le biais de cette initiative, envoyez-nous un courriel à : info@farmfoodcare.org

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We may be far from home, but we still cook real Jamaican food while we’re here. We have someone that comes by with Jamaican spices for us, so we can cook big dishes for each other. The best thing to make is curry chicken. Canadians should really eat more curry chicken. But not just any type of curry, you have to choose Jamaican curry seasoning – that has the best flavour.
It’s also important to pick the right mangos for your curry. When cooking with mangos, you don’t want the juicy ones. Those ones are too sweet, no good for cooking. For cooking, you want to look for the harder ones and steam those down. That’s how you get it to taste right. When cooking here, it`s just like cooking for my family back home.

-Baker, Seasonal Agricultural Worker on an Ontario apple orchard

“My mother was my role model. My dad died when I was eight and I started helping her then. My sisters were 3 and 4 at the time. There wasn’t anything she couldn’t do and we never argued when we worked together – not even when we were sorting cattle which can be a tough job. Thanks to her influence, I think I always wanted to be a beef farmer. She never pushed me to do so – it just happened. She especially loved horses and was a bit disappointed when I showed zero interest in them. She liked cows but horses were her favourite.
My wife, two sons and I now raise grass fed beef cattle. We have 60 cows and their calves which are all born and raised here on our farm in Eastern Ontario. I also sit on the board of Beef Farmers of Ontario, a provincial organization that represents all beef farmers in this province. I like travelling across the province meeting with other beef farmers and learning about the issues they are facing.”

-Don, Ontario Beef Farmer

“I really like helping make maple syrup. We have 14 trees in the field and use a propane burner to help boil the sap. I like making maple taffy and stuff. This is my first year in 4-H too. I’m in the goat club, beef club, plowing club, baking club and vet club.
On our farm, of all the animals we have, I like Butterscotch the goat best.
If I don’t become a farmer, I’d like to play hockey. I usually play goalie for our local team. My favourite team is Tampa Bay and I really like Steve Stamkos.”

-Lucas, age 10

“When I was in kindergarten, I wanted to be a firefighter but since we moved to this farm in 2007, I’ve always wanted to be a farmer. It’s a 5th generation family farm and the farm that both my mom and my grandpa grew up on.
I studied agriculture at McDonald College in Montreal. At home, I help with basically everything – from feeding the sheep to working in our corn, soybean, barley and hay fields. I also help out another farmer too with his hay and crops.
My favourite season is fall. It’s the time of year when all of the crops are coming in; the leaves on the trees are turning and everyone’s busy getting ready for winter.”

-Mitchell, Sheep and crop farmer

“My favourite part of living on the farm is Izzy, our mini pig, and all the cats. And next year, I can’t wait to do 4-H. I want to join the cake decorating club. My sister did it this year, so she can help me. My favourite foods are pizza, garlic bread, spaghetti, chicken alfredo. We aren’t picky, we like a lot things, and my brother and I even like mussels.”

-Griffin, age 9

“I was raised on a small hobby farm and met my future husband at a farm meeting. We were married in 2003. When we married, we used some of our wedding money to put a down payment on a no-till drill. We still have the drill! I guess that’s what comes from marrying a farmer!
Growing up, I wanted to be a veterinarian but living on this farm with goats and cattle and ducks and horses and chickens is the next best thing. The ducks and Nigerian Dwarf goats are mostly for entertainment. It’s hard to have a bad day when you’ve got a duck quacking at you! And the goats are hilarious.
I love meeting people and talking to them about farming. I always have. I work for our local fall fair in Perth which is held Labour Day weekend. There, we have 100+ volunteers helping to put on a great event for our 10,000 guests. I’m also a 4-H leader and love to ride horses.”

-Barb, Ontario beef farmer

“My job is to be the Morale Officer here at our grain elevator. I bike here from home, starting at 7 every morning. I also help shred paper, empty garbage cans and bring water to my coworker Geoff. In the fall during harvest, I help with sample buckets of grain.

I love sports. My favourite hockey team is the Ottawa Senators and football is the New England Patriots. My favourites players are Bobby Ryan and Tom Brady.

My favourite food is a burger with lots of cheese and ketchup. And French fries.”

-Brian, Morale Officer at his family’s grain elevator and beef farm

“I’ve driven trucks since I was 18. I love the truck I now drive – it’s a Kenworth and it’s beautiful. A dirty truck actually drives me nuts! On average, I visit about four farms per day, bringing feed for livestock. Winter deliveries can be a challenge – that’s just part of the job. I spend a lot of time watching the radar to see what the weather’s going to be like.
My favourite part of the day? I just like talking to farmers and getting to know some of them really well. I used to want to be a farmer so working for a company that supports farmers is great.”

-Paul, truck driver, Ontario feed mill

"I’ve been coming to Canada to work for 30 years. It’s nice to work here. When I come here to work, the money can go home and buy things. It helps feed my family, build a house, and then when I go back home, it’s like a holiday.
I come here to work for seven months, then I’m back home five months then back here again.
I’ve got three kids, they’re 28, 30 and 31. When you’re here, you get to know everyone so they’re like a family too."

-Percy, Seasonal Agricultural Worker on an Ontario apple orchard

“I work for a dairy nutrition company, I love spending time in the barn and getting to know each cow’s unique personalities and needs. I grew up in a rural community near Brantford and I always knew agriculture would be for me because of how much I feel a connection to cows. So when it came time to apply to schools, the only school I applied to was the University of Guelph for agriculture, and that’s where I went. So I truly have no idea what I would be doing without agriculture, it’s always been my goal.”

-Erica, 4-H member

“I came from a small city in Mexico where I studied Animal Science. I’m here through a program where people from Mexico can work in Canada or the USA. I love working with animals – maybe even more so than people! They’re easier to get along with. I’m now working in this beef feedlot, taking care of their animal health program. I love knowing all of the information about the cattle through our computer records – their genetics, what they’ve eaten, how well they grew, how healthy they are. And when they’re gone, we can look at those records and know we did a good job of raising them.
Something my coworkers don’t know about me? I like to dance – especially salsa – and I’m good! There’s not much opportunity to dance in Canada but in Mexico there is.”

-Daniela, Herd health manager, Ontario beef farm

“I’m a member of the 4-H sheep club. Each summer, we spend a lot of time walking our sheep and getting them used to being handled. We learn how to set up their feet (the proper stance for showing) and how to keep their head up when they’re in the show ring at our local fair.
Once, in my first year as a 4-H member, my sheep got scared and tried to run away. I was about 10 or 11. I rode it right out of the ring but I didn’t let go of it! That was maybe the craziest thing to happen to me with my sheep.
My favourite jobs on the farm include tractor work, feeding animals, cleaning pens and helping with repairs.
I also ride motorcross. I took over my brother’s bike. I like going fast and hitting the jumps and next year I hope to compete.”

-Kieran, age 14

"We’re open every day, year round. The only days we close are Christmas Day and Boxing Day. So, we’ve started using those days as family days on the farm. It’s wonderful to enjoy our farm the way visitors do. This year, we’ve got a lot of extended family, from near and far, getting together to enjoy everything the farm has to offer - skating, snowshoeing, good food and fellowship. It’s become a special time for us.
When my husband first told me what he did, I said, “You grow what? I thought they came in a can.” Despite being familiar with agriculture, I’d never thought about cranberries being cultivated. Then I discovered what a cool crop they are, and I’m still making discoveries. Our food has fascinating stories to tell. We depend on food for survival, health and well-being, so knowledge is important for that reason – but food is also interesting!"

-Wendy, Ontario cranberry farmer

“I grew up on this farm and my parents and grandparents lived here before me. I started a career as a lab technologist but while I had zero interest in the farm as a teenager, after marrying I realized it suddenly seemed like a nice place to raise our kids. I’ve been told I don’t look like a farmer, whatever that is. I even had a conversation with someone at Canada’s Wonderland who couldn’t believe I was a farmer! They had never met one.
My parents started selling Christmas trees just to prune out our forest. At that time, they were $2 each and it was a really big deal for people to come out of the city to cut their own tree down.
Today, there are about 600 Christmas tree farms in Ontario and we’re asked a lot of questions about the trees we grow like ‘do we paint them green’? (The answer is no!) We have 35 acres of trees and sell from the end of November through to Christmas Eve. People don’t realize that every tree in our grove gets visited, pruned and cared for at least three times per year. I love watching the family moments that take place on our farm as our guests search for the perfect tree.”

-Diana, Ontario Christmas tree farmer

“I think it’s very important to buy from local suppliers as much as you can. With a small business, you have to support each other. All of our candy is hand crafted in our kitchen in Markham and shipped across Canada. When people ask if our product was made with local in mind, they love when I tell them that 100% of the product supports others in Ontario, from the butter to the nuts and packaging. The other great thing about this job is when people first taste the candies and their surprise and delight, it makes me so happy.”

-Lori, Confectioner

My father was my favourite person. He’s the reason why I’m always so positive and why you’ll never catch me in a bad mood. Most of his advice was about being kind to others, which helps me to have good interpersonal relationships with everyone over the past 34 years I’ve been working here. It’s because of all of my co-workers, friends really, that I enjoy each and every day.”

-Roger, Dairy processing plant employee

“I was really lucky, I grew up with a mom who loves to cook and she's a fabulous cook. I learned everything from her at a very young age by standing on the chair beside her in our matching aprons - ones she had sewn for us. When you cook, you start to understand where your food comes from; you're more willing to try different things and be mindful of the food you choose. An important part of that is appreciating the people that produce it. You might not be able to go to a farm and ask all you want but there are plenty of opportunities to follow farmers online and understand that they're real people and they love what they do.”

-Jennifer, Food writer & cookbook author

“I was raised on a beef cattle farm and was an auto mechanic for 35 years. That skill certainly comes in handy on our farm when I can fix all of the tractors and chainsaws. We don’t get rid of tractors. We just keep fixing them!
We now live on a Christmas tree farm – the farm that my wife was raised on. I really enjoy our Christmas clientele. They vary from the people looking for the perfect tree to ones that say ‘This tree is kind of ugly but we’re afraid nobody else would take it so we’re buying it’. Our kids help when they are home too.
When I’m not caring for trees, I’ve got a hobby building and restoring old airplanes. My favourite? An open cockpit biplane from the 1930’s. I’ve been working on it for eight to 10 years.”

-Bob, Ontario Christmas tree farmer

“I’m here all week to show sheep. That means that I’m basically holding her and setting her up so that she looks perfect during the competition. The judges are always looking for something specific, so it’s important to be prepared and to be ready. Right now I’m practicing so if a situation comes up, we can both handle it. It takes a lot of time working with the sheep so that we’re both comfortable.”

-Autumn, 4-H sheep club member

“My family doesn’t own a farm, but that didn’t stop me from working with farmers. I practically grew up on my neighbour’s farm and find the labour so rewarding. It’s not always easy, sometimes it can be tough. It’s the smaller moments that make it worth while, like seeing calves grow up into cows and cows have their calves. People need to know what goes into producing their food since it’s what keeps us growing. There’s something special about being part of an industry that is a major part of everyone’s lives.”

-Emily, Ontario farm hand

“I like to go places and learn about the people and their history. What they do and how they make things. If I go on vacation I don’t want to just sit on a beach; I want to go into the town and find out what’s happening, what people do, and how they live. It’s incredible going somewhere with a very different environment than I’m used to and to be able to talk to someone and find out how long they’ve been there, where they’ve come from and what they do.”

-Corrinna, Store Manager

“I like to do a bit of everything; I get a list of jobs and just work through them. But, I do like the mechanical side of things more. I’m in grade 10, so I’m taking a shop class right now and an auto mechanics class which I really like. That’s what I would like to get into, but I’ll always be involved on the farm to help fix or build things or drive the tractor.”

-Carter, age 15

“I’m currently studying to be a nurse, but once I’m done, I hope to move home and have a few animals of my own. I grew up around farms and I’ll always have a connection to agriculture, but kids today often don’t know too much about farming or animals. That’s one of the great things about this job, I get to teach where food comes from, about pigs, and show them even a little about farming.”

-Tabetha, Ontario pork educator

“I love connecting people with food that they love. When you tell someone about something new that they've never tried before, and they go ‘Hey, I never thought of that’ or a new way to cook something. Those are my favorite moments. People like to know where their meat comes from. They want it to be local. Our job is to feed families, so it feels better knowing that we can do that with the people who are around us. Those people that are passionate about food, grow your food, or make your food.”

-Christine, Ontario food marketer

“I’m a licensed millwright by trade. I did that after I started working here. You can never go wrong with a trade. What I’ve learned here is don’t sweat the little stuff. It’ll fall into place. The guys around here have told me that. You’ve just gotta make sure to plan your life, and plan your job in the food industry; people have always gotta eat. Stay away from the gremlins and the grief.”

-Ron, Farm Manager of the Pullet Division

"I was born in Canada, but I didn’t grow up here. At three months old, my parents decided to move back to Greece for good. I didn’t know anything about the country I was born in, not the history or the language. I had a Canadian birth certificate—that was it. It was actually my high school physics teacher who told me to go back. He was a very approachable person and we were on a first name basis. He gave me a lot of career advice along the way. I’ve been living and working in Canada for 24 years now and I can still look back and say that it was the best advice I’ve ever gotten."

-Costa, Senior Quality Control Technician

“The best thing around here is watching everything grow- the kids, the calves, the crops. You start when they are so young and then you get to watch everything grow to reach its full potential. You literally get to see the fruits of your labour every day. Things around the farm are not like an office job, at the end of every day you can see what you have accomplished. It is very fulfilling. Now being a parent with teenagers, I saw my kids grow and develop their own personalities and habits, and the same happens with the cows you have raised their whole life too. It’s a testament to how they were raised.”

-Chris, Ontario dairy farmer

“In in my undergrad I took a class on popular culture and development and I was really interested in farm sustainability. At the root of it, agriculture is becoming so competitive. So how do we make it an industry that's approachable for people? How do we allow firms to exist? Because I think we get so caught up sometimes in sustainability and what does that mean, like less carbon emissions and so forth. But at the root of it, sustainability is keeping the farmer on the farm, so I like to find out what vehicles we can use to do that.”

-Ashley, Value Team Government's Manager

“I worked in health care for years before moving to Toronto and starting here. I love eggs in so many different ways but my favourite is definitely the classic scrambled egg. One thing that’s really stood out to me since starting here is how passionate that egg farmers are about caring for their hens and the great pride they take in producing top-quality eggs! It really invigorates us and makes us proud to work in an egg production company.

I’m a really competitive person and I love playing board games. Scrabble is my favourite. It’s a Christmas time, family tradition at my house and everyone really gets into it."

-Gemma, Consumer Marketing Department, Egg Production Company

“Growing up with five siblings, I’ve always enjoyed caring for my younger siblings. My passion for learning and working with young children is what got me into teaching. My goal is to encourage students to think critically about controversial agricultural topics in addition to careers in agriculture including (but certainly not limited to) farming. It’s important for children to know about their food so that they can make informed decisions about the foods they purchase and eat as well as processes that are involved in getting their food to the table. The most rewarding part of my job is being able to interact with and challenge students to think about agriculture beyond the stereotype of agriculture as solely “farming” or `a farmer`.”

-Claudia, AgScape Teacher Ambassador

“My favourite thing as a mom is being here for my kids whenever they need me, there is nothing about being a farmer that inhibits me from ever being with them when it’s needed. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it can always be done. There is no one I need to call to ask for time off or switch shifts. We have some circumstances with Chase, who has Autism, that have been intensive like getting him to and from therapy. And Payton was born with some kidney issues that required some major surgeries, but as a mom who farms, I am able to be there for them. That is one of my very favourite things as a mom. Farming has allowed us to watch our kids grow up. And as a farmer, my favourite thing about living on the farm is not having neighbours right next door.”

-Brianne & Chase, Ontario Dairy Farmers

"From a very young age I wanted to do this job. I started helping out when I was five, making boxes when I could. From there I helped pick cucumbers, pack them and learned all about the machines. It’s such a diversity of hands-on jobs and experiences that you get to do. I can’t image anything better. You learn a lot of practical things like where food comes from and country living, but I do wish people understood better what actually goes into growing greenhouse cucumbers. It’s not just about going out there and picking them, there’s so much involved and we work so hard to have product that is safe and nutritional and of high quality. We’re striving our hardest to do our best and it’s a little disappointing when someone says it’s really easy.”

-Jan, Ontario Greenhouse Cucumber Farmer

“I can predict the future. I’ll have a dream and the next day or a few days after it will actually happen. For example, I had a dream about my aunt that she was pregnant. The next day she told us, but my dream had a gender and a name and everything. We aren’t sure if it is all true yet, we still don’t know the gender or the name, but it is crazy.”

-Melyse, Pumpkin patch manager

“I get bored easily, so every day, it’s different, it’s not routine work. I come here and there are always new challenges and then working to resolve them with the team in the plant. It’s a changing environment all the time, and I want to ensure that every day we are following regulations and programs to make safe, quality food.”

-Jasleen, Corporate QC Manager

“The biggest thing with the buffalo on the dairy side is some people who are lactose intolerant can tolerate buffalo milk. We had a women come here from Peterborough and this woman loves food, like really loves food. She is lactose intolerant, so all of a sudden she was eating soy cheeses and soy milk and not loving it, so her doctor suggested buffalo milk because she wasn’t allergic to it. She gets here and is so excited because it’s not only the milk she can have, but the cheese, the gelato, pizza, cheeseburgers and lasagna. In her opinion, we changed her life. The lactose intolerant population is something we have trouble keeping up with. Then there are certain cultures that grew up on buffalo milk, that are also just excited to come here. To put it into perspective, buffalo milk is number 2 in the world for milk production.”
*if you have a severe milk allergy, consult your doctor before trying alternatives

-Martin, Ontario Water Buffalo Farmer

“I’ve refereed hockey for 42 years, and I’m a part time fire fighter. There’s maybe 35 calls a year, and a meeting every week on Monday nights. It’s rewarding but really challenging. I like the friendship out of it. We’re all kind of bonded together because you never know what type of situation we’ll get into. My favourite hockey team is the Toronto Maple Leafs – we go every couple years to a game, and we buy the big tickets if we go. We think if we’re gonna go, we might as well splurge and buy the big tickets.”

-Bryan, Farm Manager of the Aviary New-Life systems

“I was born in Trinidad and Tobago. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a professional cricket player. I still love cricket but there’s not very much of it played here. I came here with my wife and have been working here for 15 years. The people here are very nice and friendly and I love the snow and cold. Everything is much brighter when there’s snow. You just have to dress properly.”

-Joe, Shipping and Receiving, Egg Production Company

“I used to have goats of my own, I used to show goats. My origin is with horses actually, but my interest with goats just escalated with every fair that I went to. I couldn’t help but think that I wanted my own. The first goat I got, her name was Gloria. She was a Nubian, which is my favourite breed. I got her for my birthday along with one of her kids and we just went from there. Getting into goats is a big challenge. You have to find the right vet who understands goats. If they deal with cats and dogs versus cattle, it is not the same thing at all. As far as knowledge goes, I really have to say that the vets that I had were awesome. I was very fortunate to be able to learn from some amazing vets.”

-Karen, gestionnaire de crèche pour chèvres

“I did not grow up on a farm, but I did decide that I wanted to be vet, so I was told to get some large animal experience. In high school I started working on the dairy farm, I joined 4-H and I was the ambassador at our fall fair all within one year. That was a big summer for me. After working on the farm and doing 4-H, it started my passion for agriculture and I haven’t really lost that passion. I feel like if I had have gone to vet school, I would have done large animals versus small. I did not think, however, I would end up as a PHD student, but I really enjoy knowing that our research is making a difference.”

-Shannon, PHD Student in Pathobiology and immunology

“Some people call me the “spare tire.” That’s because I can fill in anywhere. Whether someone is on vacation or off sick, I’m happy to cover for them for a few days. I think I’ve tried just about everything once. I always want a challenge and to learn something new – that’s what keeps it interesting and keeps me happy.”

-Ali, Lead Hand Packaging

“I answer the phones and I get to talk to the farmers. It’s kind of funny, some call in and say exactly what they want and away they go. Others call and I can’t get off the phone in 15 minutes, so they’re old school farmers and they like to talk. So I take orders on the phone and enter them, checking other staff’s orders. I feel like order entry is all I do, but it’s nonstop. We are so busy. I check production, balance production, and stuff like that. My one customer, his birds were out, and he called me one day, and he was like we haven’t talked for a while. So now we’re good friends.”

-Ashley, Canadian Feed Mill Production Planning Lead

“I grew up in Trinidad, where my parents worked in agriculture. I didn’t grow up on a farm, but my dad was a sugar cane farmer, and my family had a small garden. When I was younger, I worked with both my parents in the sugar cane, but sugar cane didn’t last long. The industry closed down by the time I was 23, and after that, we had to look for other avenues to make a living. That’s when I applied to the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program. My first year was challenging, but I made it through. Now when I come, I can recognize certain things and enjoy working in the garden and with all the vegetables. I’ve been coming for three years now, from the end of May until the end of October. When I return, I really enjoy my time in Canada and always look forward to coming back.”

-Kishore, Seasonal Agricultural Worker

“The weather is the trickiest part of my job and deciding what hat I will be wearing on any given day. Sometimes I am a doctor, a dietician, a mechanic, a welder, or a plumber; it’s never a dull day being a farmer. You need to be someone that enjoys working with animals and the land and be someone that is comfortable with change. As a farmer, I get to give back to the land and seeing what the land is able to provide for us. I am able to spread the pigs manure on the land as natural fertilizer and from there with the help of Mother Nature grow food for the pigs and people.”

-Dennis, Ontario pig farmer

"Goats are very inquisitive and smart. They can be real characters and sometimes even trouble makers! They keep me on my toes. But I wouldn’t say there is a hard part about working with them. When you love what you’re doing – how hard could it be? When I became a goat farmer, it turned me into a much more passionate person about the industry that I was working in. It’s a love that you don’t realize is there until you find that ‘thing’ that makes you want to do everything you can for it."

-Ed, Ontario goat farmer

“I was raised on a farm in Minnesota but moved to Canada in 1972 after graduating from Purdue University and being offered a job here. We bought this farm a few years later and raised our three sons here. I loved sweet corn so we thought we’d try that.

My favourite variety is Gold Nugget. It’s an older variety with lots of flavour and not too much sugar.

The farm is now run by my son and his family. It’s great to see the next generation carrying on the business. I’m mostly retired but still help out when needed. And I get to play more golf now than I did when I owned the farm!”

-Jay, Retired sweet corn farmer

“The coolest part about being local is knowing about the foods and seeing exactly where they come from. By sourcing local there are so many learning opportunities and the ability to make amazing connections. I love being able to get out in the field and meet the famers and the people who produce our ingredients. It’s also something that I can pass onto our customers, so when I serve them a burger I can talk to them about the farm we went to and making the connection.”

-Meg, Business Development Manager

“Driving my dirt bike and the ATV are my favourite things to do on our farm. I also love the fresh air and having the space to do what I want. I’m not old enough to drive the big farm equipment yet but I’m excited to do that when I’m older.”

-Sarah, age 13

“When I was in high school I took one of those quizzes that tell you what you’re good at. I put in my skills and it came out with serving or bartending. So I tried it out and I ended up loving it! I went to Bartending School where they teach you to light the counter on fire, flip bottles and that kind of thing. They don’t really let me do that here but that’s okay and I still love it here.”

-Tamara, Bartender

“I was born in Ghana and came here to be with my family. I’ve been working here since 2000. I started in the shipping department and am now a production supervisor. Most of the people I work with here are all immigrants and we’re trying to make Canada even better. I do love the food here – especially spaghetti! I love rice. It’s my favourite too. And of course my family loves eggs. We eat free run, omega, organic and regular eggs. We eat them all! I enjoy playing soccer and I like watching hockey but so far I’ve never learned how to skate.”

-Isaac, Production Supervisor, egg production company

"Farming has always been my life. Since I was able to walk, I would follow my father around, and I would always ask a million questions. I’m still trying to learn new things, whether it’s going to different seminars, attending local meetings or talking to people on Twitter. It’s important to constantly learn. People are a wealth of knowledge, and they can help you see things differently! I recently won a scholarship from Women in Trucking Canada to obtain my AZ licence, which is exciting since you’re never too old to learn!"

-Kristy, Ontario pig farmer

“I love what I do. Especially the first pick. That’s my favorite part. It’s amazing to see how sunshine impacts the plants. It’s mind blowing how cucumbers that aren’t ready right now will be perfectly ready to pick tomorrow morning. It’s almost like watching a miracle happen overnight. We seed it, we grow it, we move it, we plant it, we trim it, we wind it up, we clean it and then we get that first pick. We do this about 16 times a year and I still can’t get enough of it.”

-Dale, Greenhouse owner and operator

“I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and studied nursing home administration at Penn State University. But plans sure changed when I met my future husband, he was also a student there but was from a farm in Canada. I remember my first visit here in 1991 to meet his family. Before that, if you had told me that I’d end up becoming a Canadian farmer, I wouldn’t have believed it. Since then, we’ve raised our two sons on this farm, growing sweet corn and pumpkins.

I work full time in our business which also includes a market, bakery and an on-farm experience program with a corn maze and pumpkin patch. On average we can have about 40,000 visitors every year. I also get to help with the crops, like these Haskap berry bushes, which are new for us. They do really well in cold winters like the ones we have. I think they taste like a combination of raspberries, blueberries and rhubarb. Combined with a few other ingredients, they make the best butter tarts!”

-Amy, sweet corn and pumpkin farmer

“People who live in this area just think the flour mill is some big noisy factory. They have no idea that we produce flour here, and they probably even buy the products the flour is used in. I think it’d be great if more people knew where their food came from, and knew how many people these businesses support, like the farmers who grow wheat in our region, and jobs like my own. I find myself reading labels now, and I can go down to Costco and say hey, that’s our flour. It’s kind of neat to find our flour, and know that I was part of making that flour, and now those noodles are our flour. We don’t retail any flour, but it goes right to the bake shop. So to see something on the store shelf that is your flour, it’s rewarding.”

-Doug, Assistant Head Miller, Production Supervisor

“My favourite part of this job is the events where I’m always out meeting new people. It’s never the same old day to day stuff, you’re just out and about, and you work your butt off over the summer so that you can take it easy in the winter. We’re busy right up until Christmas, then we get a few weeks off and then its right into bookings. Right from February, we’re getting ready to go back out, and by March we are back out.”
Sandor, Fo Cheesy Food Truck Owner & Operator

-Sandor, Fo Cheesy Food Truck Owner & Operator

“I love the people, and when I opened this store, I wanted a family experience, for people to come. I just find people are so busy now, so to see parents come with their kids and drag them to the playset around the back and to look at the animals while the parents are in there shopping. I just love that whole experience and that whole vibe where everything just slows down for a few minutes. Sometimes I’ll look out the back window and I’ll see families running around and kids running around with sausage rolls in their hand while petting the pony and just happiness in the store and the conversations that are had. It’s just different because when you go to the grocery store, it’s like an assembly line. But here, it’s an experience, and that’s what I always wanted it to be.”

-Brenda, Country Market Owner and Operator

“My favourite thing is just working with the animals all the time and being able to be outside. In the summertime we’re on pasture, and I just love being outside, touring the pasture and seeing the sheep in their habitat and that they’re all calm and relaxed and just enjoying the day. We’re really lucky here; we’ve got a great family to fall back on. When I’m away busy with other activities, I rely on my wife to do the chores here for me. When we have big jobs that need to be done, the whole family comes together. If we’re weighing lambs, or weening, or sorting or doing a big move in the pasture, I can work together with my wife, my parents and my sisters to get those jobs done.”

-Quintin, Ontario sheep farmer

“I love Canadian agriculture and the people who work and live in this community. But it wasn’t until I started connecting personally with farmers and people in the agricultural industry as a part of food and agricultural research – probably about 6 years ago – that I realized a passion had been sparked in me. Now I’ve been able to help people, hear their stories, and do research that can be turned into something practical that can help Canadian farmers and Canadian agriculture. That’s something that I’m very proud of. Overall, I wish the general public was better connected with Canadian agriculture and knew more about their food, where it comes from, and how it is produced. I think that would help some of the problems we’re facing today, like food waste and undeserved scrutiny of farmers and agriculture.”

-Andria, Epidemiologist

“I don’t live on a farm yet but I’ve been saving to buy one since I was a baby. I want to be a veterinarian because I love animals. Horses. Sheep. Echidnas – all animals really. I’m in our local vet 4-H club where we’re learning about cool things like rabies and kennel cough and tetanus and bird flu – all things I’ll need to know about when I become a vet. I show my friend’s lamb at the local fair. I like washing them and getting them ready. I haven’t had one run away from me yet.”

-Kate, age 10

“We use biologicals in the greenhouse to control pests, basically using one organism to control another. Part of that is our bug program, which you could say is my ‘baby’ here. Everyday I’m checking on them and monitoring their progress. The bio program has taught me that there’s no cut and dry answer – there’s no silver bullet. You always have to be evaluating and asking questions about why something happened or what else you could try. Keeping that curiosity to continue to look outside the box makes it all more rewarding.”

-Jess, Biological Control Specialist and Assistant Grower at an Ontario cucumber greenhouse

“We made our own jobs. We were at Jennifer’s house handing out Halloween candy and she had a gnawed-on tube of cookie dough in her fridge. We got to talking because I thought it was strange but apparently, it’s a thing for people to eat raw cookie dough and found that edible cookie dough is a trend in the States. What we really love is that it’s ours and that we get to make the decisions everyday of what we’re doing and what direction we want it to go. We have the chance to grow it from a nugget into whatever we want.”

-Jennifer & Sarah, Food Truck owners and operators

“I’m originally from Iran and moved to Canada in December, 2009 when there was about one metre of snow on the ground! That was a change.
I got my master’s degree in computer science and joined this company right afterwards, managing their IT department. It’s an important job because if IT is down, everyone is down!

Everyone thinks eggs are an easy business and I used to think that too. The chicken lays the egg; we pick them up at the farm and sell it. Easy, right? But that’s not true. There is so much technology behind this company. It’s almost unbelievable. From the beginning of egg production in the barns to the production plant, it’s all based on technology.”

-Ehsan, Manager of Information Technology, egg production company

“I’ve worked at this feed mill for 27 years and it’s become computerized – it takes a lot of knowledge to run it. It’s not just pulling levers anymore. When they installed the first computers, the technicians came all the way from Germany. It was a bunch of young guys that really knew nothing about making feed - they were just a bunch of computer guys. They asked me to show them the computer system we had before, and I said it was just a pipe and you stick it in, and pull the ingredients by hand. They didn’t understand it. I’ve always been good with computers.”

-Rick, Ontario Feed Mill Operator

“I grew up in urban Ontario and the closest I came to raising livestock was a biology degree. I remember on a Friday night our family would go up to the trailer by Lake Huron and with the smell of manure from a barn, my sister and I would play a game to see who could hold their breath the longest. So it’s been a real challenge, adjusting to raising livestock. It isn't a 9-5 job, we are 24/7. You never know what new challenges you will face every day. Sometimes it is difficult to balance the livestock with family time. But I really love caring for the animals. I enjoy raising healthy pigs and giving them the best care that I possibly can.”

-Tara, Ontario Pig Farmer

“When I was young, I wanted to be a doctor. I never became a doctor per se, but I deal with microbiology as a food scientist. That puts a huge amount of responsibility and accountability on us to ensure that they get a safe product. So in one way, I still look after the health of people through the food they consume on a daily basis.”

-Sanjay, Operations Manager

“As long as you have a connection to where the product is coming from and it’s a good product, to me that defines local. We have sweet corn growers here but our sweet corn isn’t ready until early July, so there’s really good corn in Simcoe and it’s less than 100 kilometres away. It’s still Ontario and to me that’s considered a local product type of thing. As long as you have that connection to where its coming from and you have that real connection. Wild blueberries you can get from up north, still Ontario and still a local product. When it comes from the farmer and its handed to you, that’s still local.”

-Kevin, Country Market Baker & Delivery man

“I was born in Switzerland and immigrated to Canada with my family when I was very young because my parents wanted to be dairy farmers. As a kid, I helped with feeding calves and working in the calf barn. As I got older, picking stones from our fields was a way of getting extra spending money.

Given that I didn’t speak English when I started school here, it’s maybe unique that I now work as a freelance journalist, specializing in writing about research and innovation in agriculture. I write mostly in English, but also in German and French. It’s also kind of funny because when I was in high school, I remember hating science. I was more of a writing, arts, history-focused student. Now I find that a lot of what I do involves research and innovation and science – all related to my early farm roots.

Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough, through membership in the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation and the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, to tour farms around the world and to meet agricultural journalists and communications specialists from those countries. Someone recommended to me that I join – back then, I didn’t even know what a “farm writer” was. But being able to spend time with like-minded people, learning from each other and learning about agriculture internationally is just fabulous and has been invaluable to me in my career.”

-Lilian, Freelance agricultural journalist

“If the weather cooperates, this kernel and the rest in this field will produce sweet corn later in the summer. It’s been a cold and wet spring which has made planting crops really difficult. We should be planting sweet corn and pumpkins this weekend but it rained again and the fields are too wet.
My family began selling sweet corn in 1978, when I was nine years old. At that time, we sold it from a wagon at the end of our laneway for 25 cents a dozen. My parents got half of the money and my brothers and I would split the rest. I remember we’d count it out every day as we saved up for big purchases, like bikes.
More than forty years later, we are still selling sweet corn – a lot of it. I’m especially proud of the sense of permanence that has come from raising my own sons here. In the fall, we also host tens of thousands of people who pick pumpkins or try our corn maze. I’m always happy to answer the questions they have about our farm.”

-Channing, Sweet corn and pumpkin farmer

“I was in university for something completely different- physics and mathematics. One day I came home and was talking to my parents and I don’t know why but I realized this is what I actually wanted to do. It was a weird moment and I once I finished my degree I came right in here and started training. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It’s the idea of knowing that I’m putting food on someone’s plate, the necessity of life, that makes me feel good.”

-Laura, Greenhouse Manager

“It’s a 24/7 job, and eggs come every day – so we have to be there for them and have to look after the hens. My advice is to find a partner that wants to farm, and you can do it together. It’s a nice life, and a really great place to raise a family. But the best part is that I can walk to work, and everyone is always happy to see me!”

- Nick, Ontario Egg Farmer

“This is Faith. She’s about a year old and when she was born, we had to bottle feed her because she was an orphan. I did that a lot. Last year, the two of us were in the Santa Claus Parade. We took her by trailer into town and we lined up with all of the floats. She wasn’t nervous at all. Once we got onto the main street, she wanted to stop and say hi to every kid. We might do that again this year.”

-Shana, age 11

“I work at a restaurant that is all about using local food. It’s incredible knowing where the food is coming from. These people, the farmers and suppliers, often wheel it in themselves and you're in contact with them weekly, making new orders. It’s pretty rewarding knowing you can take that food and turn it into a dish and that people will enjoy it.”

-Shayne, Chef de Partie

“I teach animal genetics and biology at a university and I love every part of what I do. Especially supervising the masters students because you can see how much they grow, not only professionally, but personally as well. You’re preparing them to be the next generation in your industry, so when they finish and are successful – that’s the most rewarding.”

-Angela, Animal Biology Instructor

“I wanted to be a music teacher or a lawyer. The farming passion came when the egg quota came up for sale from my dad in 1997. My dad had been an egg farmer for at least 27 years before that. We wanted to diversity. To supplement I worked teaching piano and working part time for a lawyer but being able to work with family and staying home to work is the most rewarding. “

-Cindy, Egg Farmer

“I knew I liked to cook from the time I was about 8 or 9 years old. That’s when I started to make pies but I was 26 when I finally went to chef school. The most challenging banquet I’ve ever catered for was a wedding with 30 guests on an island with no hydro and no running water. The most interesting location was a classic Canadian Thanksgiving feast – turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and all the fixings. And we prepared it in a campground north of San Francisco just after the earthquake of 1989. All we had was the camp fire and a camping stove to prepare it on – and it was delicious. My wife’s a foodie too. We just renovated our kitchen and found 21 whisks. We likely don’t need that many.”

-Jay, Culinary Team Lead at an Ontario resort, and long-time chef

“You could say that working in the dairy industry is a “family trait”. My dad worked in dairy processing from the time he was old enough to work until he retired, and I followed in his footsteps, maybe a little subconsciously. Dairy is a big part of my family’s diet, because it’s a big part of my life, and I have the inside scoop on the care that goes into producing it."

-Adam, Milk Production Supervisor

“I’ve been in the kitchen my whole life. I got my first job as a dishwasher in a restaurant when I was 15, and I’ve been working in kitchens ever since. It has always been the biggest draw – even if I left to try something else, I think I would always end up coming back.”

-Madison, Line Cook

"Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given was over a game of Euchre with my dad when I was just 10. He told me to always ‘pick the suit’ because otherwise you’ll never get what you want. I like to think that I apply that to other areas of life as well, and led me to where I am today."

-Stacy, Quality Assurance Coordinator

“I love to stay physically active and I’ve always been interested in the world of kinesiology, especially sport’s psychology and the behaviour of athletes. That sort of ties in to my occupation now…only I’m looking at the behaviour of animals – and because food fuels fitness, it all fits together in a way.”

-Derek, Food Animal Behaviour and Welfare Instructor

“Back home in Mexico I wasnt a farmer, but I've been coming to Canada to work in a greenhouse for 10 years. I’m here for 7 or 8 months, and then I go home to my family. My favourite thing to do is pick tomatoes. In the greenhouse, we work as a team - and there’s always something to do, which keeps it interesting.”

-Fidencio, Seasonal Agricultural Worker

“My Mom, whom I affectionately call the ‘Martha Stewart of the Prairies’ always made food special in our lives, whether it be with the large backyard garden, Easter, Christmas - or other food celebrations throughout the year. She let us cook, make a mess, and be creative in the kitchen. When I was around 7 years old, I loved taking carrots from the garden, cutting them into coins, and mashing freshly picked raspberries to go on top to serve friends in the backyard playhouse.”

-Patricia, Registered Dietitian

“Outside of playing on the farm with our animals, my favourite thing is gymnastics. I was in a gymnastics competition last Saturday. On my floor routine, I placed first with a 9.3 out of 10. On vault, I got a 9.1 out of 10 which was only third place.
My favourite thing to do around the farm is gather eggs and stacking the trays. I also like showing my sheep at the fair. I wash them three times before they go to the fair and I usually get first or second place.”

-Danica, age 8

"I guess I do have a diverse range of interests! I’m a fourth generation vegetable farmer. Maybe someday, my two sons will be the fifth. We ship about 1,000 cases of broccoli every day during harvest. I also volunteer as an auxiliary police officer in my community and I love racing cars. I started racing go karts when I was 12 years old and then later went into the CASCAR league, racing on tracks across Canada. I’ve won the Flamboro Memorial Cup twice."

-Kenny, Vegetable farmer

interested in electronics, mechanics, technology, things that move and make something – all the “how it’s made stuff”. Since I was a kid I was always trying to build something, fix something, or break something. It just kind of turned into a profession. I love all the moving parts and how we can use technology to improve things that are outdated and obsolete.”

-Alek, Maintenance Supervisor

“Part of the reason I became a large animal vet is because working with farmers is really interesting. You work with them closely, and have a much stronger relationship as opposed to seeing someone’s dog every year when it comes in for shots. I’ve had some clients for a long time – seeing their kids grow up and take over the farm and that intergenerational change is really cool – just watching people let go and start to let their kids make more decisions. Seeing the changes and improvements in their animals or farms over time is really rewarding. It’s obviously their business, it’s their family, so I think having that connection with clients is really interesting.”

-Charlotte, Large Animal Veterinarian & University Instructor

“I came from Liberia and I’ve been in Canada two years now. I love Canada because it’s a country of safety for all refugees from all over the world. I’ve been working here for one and a half years now. I never worked with food before coming here and I love this job the best. If I go in the grocery store and see our egg products, I am very happy, seeing people buying them and I think – they’re buying the product that I made!”

- Victor, Egg processing plant employee

"I spent much of my childhood on my grandmother’s beef cattle farm – she lived around the corner and my parents always knew where to find me if I wasn’t at home! Fast forward 40 years and I’m now raising beef cows and sheep my great uncle’s farm. I never really wanted to do anything else.
What did grandma think about my career choice? Even when she was no longer active on the farm, she was quick to offer advice. She’d leave me messages telling when she thought I need to move cows to another pasture!"

-Kim Jo, Beef and sheep farmer

“I graduated with a science lab technology diploma and actually worked in quality assurance for frozen food and beer companies before coming here. What I didn’t realize back then is that as much effort goes into making animal feed as goes into making food for humans. Every step of the process is tracked, from the time the crops are harvested and brought to the mill to the time they’re sent out on our trucks. As a consumer too, that gives me a lot of confidence in our food supply.”

-Jennifer, Quality Assurance Coordinator, Ontario feed mill

“I love passing on my knowledge of food and drink to other people, whether it’s co-workers or customers. It doesn’t really matter if they remember that I was the one that told them or not. If it sticks, and it can help them in the future, or even if it’s just a fun fact to share at a party, I think that’s awesome.”

-Myles, Restaurant Employee