The Rogers family moved from North Battleford, Sask. to Kapuskasing, Ont. in 2016
By Diego Flammini
Jim and Selina Rogers are preparing to plant their fourth crop at the Kapuskasing Demonstration Farm.
“We’ll be planting canola, oats, some wheat, and a little bit of soybeans,” Jim told Farms.com. “We did soybeans last year too, and we’re hoping this year will be a bit better.”
The family took over the lease at the demonstration farm in 2018 after its previous tenant, Andrew Gordanier ended his lease two years into a five-year agreement.
The farm is the former site of an Agriculture Canada research facility and is owned by the Kapuskasing Economic Development Corporation, who purchased the farm from the federal government in 2015.
The research farm includes more than 850 acres of land, 5,000 square feet of office space, a laboratory with equipment, and 40 acres for crop trials and research. The soils in the area range from Class 2 to Class 4.
The Rogers family, which includes Jim and Selina’s four grown children, is in its fourth year as lessees of the farm. They intend to purchase the property once the lease is up.
The family’s 2,224 km journey from North Battleford to their new home in Kapuskasing started in 2015 when they visited the Great Clay Belt on the advice of a friend.
Multiple trips from Saskatchewan to Ontario followed to gather as much information about the farm as possible.
“We did lots of soil tests, and the soil here is much different than out west,” Jim said. “In Saskatchewan we had sandy loam where here it’s either clay or black muck. We’ve had to change the nutrients we add, and the clay will pack a bit more. We need conditions to be dryer than out west for us to be planting here.”
They purchased 200 acres of land in Val Rita in 2016 and moved east that year.
“It seemed like an adventure, looked like a good opportunity and the land was affordable,” Jim said.
“People told us we were crazy,” Selina said.
Land affordability factored heavily into the family’s decision.
Three of the four Rogers kids plan to continue working on the farm in Ontario.
The oldest earned his tile drainage license and plans to move back to Saskatchewan to work land there.
The second oldest purchased his first 100 acres of land and is also earning his tile license.
“I want my kids to be able to have the opportunity to buy land and pursue their careers in agriculture,” Selina said. “It would’ve been pretty difficult to do that in Saskatchewan.”
Business diversification played a role in the decision too.
Jim and Selina’s daughter left a retail job to work on the farm and lead the family’s market garden. While their youngest son is overseeing the Feed & Water Cow Mootel, a rest stop for long-haul truckers, which opened in 2020.
“All the kids are taking a small part of the farm and making it their own,” Selina said.
“We’re much more diversified than we were out west, which is something we weren’t doing in Saskatchewan,” Jim said.