Farmers from Saskatchewan and Quebec were named Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2017 during the national OYF program in Penticton, BC this past weekend.
Derek and Tannis Axten and Véronique Bouchard and Francois Handfield received the national recognition on Friday night.
The Axtens operate a no-till grain farm with a unique emphasis on soil health near Minton, Saskatchewan, while Bouchard and Handfield grow over 65 different organic vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruits at their farm near Mont-Tremblant, Quebec.
— CanadaOYF (@CanadaOYF) December 2, 2017
The OYF program is open to farmers 18 to 39 years of age who make the majority of their income from on-farm sources. Seven regional honourees and two national winners are chosen each year based on the following criteria:
- Progress made during their farming career
- Maximum use of soil, water and energy conservation practices
- Crop and livestock production history
- Financial and management practices
- Contributions to the well-being of the community, province and nation
The Axtens, along with their young family, have implemented innovative ecological practices, including the use of intercrops, companion and cover crops, controlled traffic farming, and composting. They’ve been able to not only increase water retention, but improve organic matter levels and reduce the use of synthetic crop inputs, said Derek, speaking with RealAgriculture in June. (Hear more from the Axtens here.)
With no farming history, Bouchard and Handfield also emphasize soil health on their small organic farm in the Laurentian Valley. Bouchard has a Masters in Environment and Handfield is a Bioresource Engineer. They market their products through a summer market, their own store and through internet subscriptions for organic baskets.
This year’s honourees also included:
- Gary & Marie Baars – Chilliwack,BC
- Marc & Hinke Therrien – Redwater, AB
- Brent & Kirsty Oswald – Steinbach.MB
- Dusty Zamecnik- Langton, ON
- Lauchie & Jolene MacEachern- Debert, NS
The 2018 Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers national program will be held in Winnipeg November 27 through December 2, 2018.