The Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers event took place in Saskatoon last week
By Diego Flammini
Farmers from Saskatchewan and Quebec received national honours last week.
Cody Straza and Allison Squires of Upland Organics in Wood Mountain, Sask., and brothers Étienne and Guillaume Lessard from Ferme Holdream, a dairy, pork and maple farm in Saint-Honoré-de-Shenley, Que., shared the title of Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers during the national competition in Saskatoon on Nov. 25.
The event brings together regional winners between the ages of 18 and 39 to celebrate agriculture and how these young farmers are finding their way in the ag sector.
“It was certainly a bit of a surprise to hear our named,” Straza told Farms.com. “There were a lot of really good honorees there who are doing great work, so we were surprised when it was us.”
The finalists are required to appear in front of a panel of judges and interview about their farm.
This interview can include information about production, conservation, community engagement and financial management.
Upland Organics is made up of more than 8,000 acres of land, on which Straza and Squires grow flax, lentils, durum, peats, oats and cover crops. They also use cattle as part of the organic operation and use their individual educations to improve the farm.
Squires has a Ph.D. in toxicology from the University of Saskatchewan and promotes the organic industry through on-farm research.
Straza received an agricultural and bioresource engineering degree from the U of S and implements principles he learned in university on his farm.
One of those is lean manufacturing, which focuses on reducing waste while maximizing productivity.
“We used to do a green manure plowdown and the cover crop incorporation is a pretty big tillage and we’re trying to reduce our tillage,” Straza told Farms.com in July when he and Squires were named Saskatchewan’s Outstanding Young Farmers. “We used a roller crimper for a few years and saw benefits there, then we got into grazing cattle on our cover crops.”
Now, the nutrients are cycled through the cattle. Straza and Squires leave residue for the cattle to trample into the ground and they use an adaptive multi-paddock grazing system.
Using these and other practices, Straza and Squires try to demonstrate being able to improve soil and be excellent stewards of the environment while also realizing financial benefits.
The Lessard brothers own and operate a dairy, pork and maple farm in Saint-Honoré-de-Shenley, Que.
These farmers purchased the farm from their parents while in their twenties with a milk production quota of 27kg. That quota has since increased to 282 kg.