Be Well Camp

Be Well CampersThis past September, the Manitoba Canola Growers hosted their first Be Well Camp.  The intention of the camp was to connect writers, bloggers, chefs and foodies to farmers, farming and food.  Our adventure took us all the way to Russell, Manitoba.  That’s 400 km from Winnipeg!

Our guests included Mairlyn, Wendy, Kathryne, Getty, Rebecca, Judy, Simon, Constance and Johanne and of course the Be Well team of Leanne, Jenn and me.

We went and experienced all types of farms and farming operations. We met passionate people who love what they do and collectively we shared, discussed and came away with new perspectives.

Here is a recap from four of our farm tours.

Bruce and Carol Dalgarano of Newdale, Manitoba

Our first stop on this warm fall day was in Newdale, just off of Highway 16 at Dalgarno’s family farm.  We were all treated to an amazing supper in the field created with local garden produce, delicious beef, birthday cake and ice cream all from local caterer Barb Cook of Cookins Catering in Newdale.

It was the youngest grandson’s birthday but that did not stop them from hosting a bus load of people on their farm.  That’s just Bruce and Carol.  They are an amazing team and work so well together.  This past summer, they celebrated their 40th anniversary.  You can learn more about Bruce in Being Bruce – A Grower’s Passion.

Stopping the fall harvest for dinner traditionally is a quick, simple meal but always with tea and dessert.  Typically, Carol pulls up to the field that Bruce and Andrew (their son) are working on.  She brings out the table, chairs, food and drinks from the back of her vehicle.  But on our visit, everyone took the time, to linger, to talk and to share about the fall harvest, the uniqueness of the location of Newdale and its microclimate, test plots and the weather.

We missed Bruce and Andrew that night as they were called away for a fire call.  Both are involved in the local volunteer fire department and duty called.

Dinner in the field at Dalgarno Family Farm

Pat and Paul Orsak’s family farm

The whole family was out during our lunch stop and harvest tour at Orsak’s farm.  Pat and Paul’s daughters were in for the weekend, their son was running the grain cart, grandma came out for lunch along with two of Pat’s friends to help out.  Then there was the uncle from Alberta in to help with the harvest and the local teacher pitches in with fall harvest too!  It was a truly family and a community event.  Pat and Paul are large grain farmers.  Paul is passionate about farming.  He took over the farm from his dad and continues to build, grow, expand and improve from the generations that came before him.

Everyone had a turn to ride in the combine or grain cart.  We broke for lunch and lingered again discussing issues facing farmers from marketing, seeds stocks and world markets.

Pat and Paul Orsak - Brian Gould Photogarphy

Jay Derkach – Fairfield Land and Cattle

Russell Grain ElevatorTheir farm is a collaboration of Len and Margie (Dad and Mom) and Jay’s brothers Travis and Mark and their uncle Henry.  Jay spoke with such passion about why their family purchased the wooden grain elevator in Russell.  There are the logistical reasons for grain storage and transportation, but then there are other reasons of the heritage, community support and just being proud to be a farmer.

We participated in shovelling the grain out of the back of the truck, sweeping up and had a personal guided tour of the elevator.  It reminded me of my childhood and going to the elevator with my dad.


Donna and Carman Jackson – High Bluf Stock Farms

This family farm is run and operated by Donna and Carman along with their 5 girls.  Their stock farm operation is complimented by growing grains and oilseeds.  They farm with Carman’s parents and Carman’s brother.  They grow wheat, oats, barley and canola.  The majority of their grain is marketed through the Jackson Seed Farm.

As a cattle farm, when BSE hit in 2003, it was devastating to their income, their immediate future and how everything would unfold.   BSE is Bovine Spongiform Encephalophy (BSE) and what did it mean to cattle farmers like the Jacksons?  In 2003, all markets immediately closed their borders to Canadian cattle and beef. There was an influx of cattle on the Canadian market, prices dropped and farmers like Donna and Carman were impacted greatly.

High Bluff Stock Farms - Brian Gould Photogarphy

Since 2003, procedures and policies were implemented and in May 2007 Canada received an approved rating from the World Organization for Animal Health. ( During this time, many cattle farmers left agriculture but Donna and Carman continued.

An update: How did the XL closure in Alberta impact Donna and Carman and their farm in Manitoba. Well, market prices dropped and Carman saw a loss of $200-$300 per head of cattle.  He had 20 ready for the market.


 Be Well Campers at Stock Farm

Check back next week when I share more about the farms and our adventures in More About Be Well Camp.

Be Well…Ellen


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