Creekside Cheese + Creamery is one of three award nominees
By Diego Flammini
Dairy farmers and cheesemakers from Agassiz, B.C., are one of three members of the province’s ag sector up for the regional Outstanding Young Farmer award.
The award celebrates farmers between the ages of 18 and 39.
Julaine Treur (pictured) and her husband Johannes, owners and operators of Creekside Cheese + Creamery, were almost nominated for the award last year but declined the nomination.
“It was a big surprise that someone wanted to nominate us, but we just started with our on-farm cheese processing and didn’t feel like we could give (the nomination) enough time,” Julaine told Farms.com. “It’s flattering and humbling because there’s a lot of good young farmers in our area.”
Part of receiving the nomination is for the nominees to tell their ag story.
For the Treurs, their farm represents a first generation and multigenerational ag venture.
“My husband comes from a long line of dairy farmers in the Netherlands, but he is the first of his family to be farming here in Canada,” Julaine said. “My maternal grandparents were dairy farmers but they sold the farm when I was a toddler.”
The Treurs have been at their current farm since 2011 and started with 55kg of quota.
They own 72 acres and rent out other parcels.
They milk 105B brown Swiss cows.
“We switched many years ago (from Holsteins) but when we started making cheese, we realized they’re the quintessential cheese cow,” Julaine said.
In 2012, they wanted to grow the business. That’s when a feed rep suggested they make the move to becoming a certified organic farm.
“We already utilized a lot of organic practices anyway like pasturing our cows and having low-grain rations,” she said. “And part of the incentive to farmers, the BC Milk Marketing Board provides an extra allotment of quota, which worked out to about 12kg for us.”
Land stewardship is also important to the Treurs.
They farm in a way they feel will leave the farm in good shape for the next generation.
“We believe that you don’t inherit the land from your ancestors, you borrow it from your children,” Julaine said. “When we see our kids wanting to take over the farm one day, it gives us a sense of responsibility of doing right by the land and right by the animals.”
Creekside Cheese + Creamery also has a social media following.
The farm’s Facebook page has nearly 3,000 followers.
Julaine started to share the farm’s story on social media while raising her five children.
“Like any new mom you maybe feel a bit isolated and so you’re looking at different parenting groups about raising your kids,” she said. “And every time there would be information about dairy farming, there would be disinformation about the industry. And I couldn’t find anything to show people what’s actually happening on Canadian dairy farms so I decided to show them myself.”
When Julaine’s social media posts gained popularity, it sparked an idea between her and Johannes.
“What if we could process milk here and sell it? Or make cheese?” she said. “We’re about two hours away from Vancouver, so we didn’t know if people would come out this far. Our little country road turned into a bustling metropolis and that told us that yes, this is something we should pursue.”
In March 2020, the pair purchased a cheese processing plant in a mobile home from a former cheesemaker.
They built a store with an aging cave underneath and have been making cheese on the farm since June 2021.
Having people come to the farm is an important piece of their business, Julaine says.
“With social media you’re still at an arm’s length, but bringing the consumer to the farm to let them see the animals and ask us questions is great,” she said. “And when I’ve got a group of kids and you can see their eyes light up because they understand that the animals make food that they get to take home, it’s a wonderful experience.
“The sales are great too but even if someone doesn’t buy anything, they still get an idea of how modern agriculture works in Canada.”
Linden Lane Farms in Kestova B.C., run by Matthew Carr, is also up for the outstanding young farmer honour.
This 150-acre farm has been in the Carr family for over 40 years with Matthew representing the third generation.
The farm produces certified organic greenhouse and field produce, as well as small fruits and berries.
Customers can purchase products from Linden Lane Farms at local farmers’ markets, through a CSA box program or local grocery stores.
The third farm vying for the BC/Yukon Outstanding Young Farmer award is Hopcott Farms from Pitt Meadows, B.C.
Jenn, Travis and Brad Hopcott represent the third generation of the family farm.
The family raises and processes its own beef on the farm. The farm has its own grocery store and an on-site bistro to serve customers.
The winners of the regional event will represent the BC/Yukon region in the national event.
The national event is scheduled for November 22 to 26 in Quebec.