Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers Program (OYF) is a unique program designed to recognize farmers and farm couples who exemplify excellence in their profession.
The program was founded in 1979 by the Canadian Junior Chamber/Jay-cees and is open to farmers or couples who derive at least two-thirds of their income from farming operations.
CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR 2013 WINNERS
Dana and Adam Thatcher, Thatcher Farms, Rockwood
“Raising animals and livestock requires time, patience and a true commitment to the process, with an end result of what we believe to be a quality product.”
Thatcher Farms has undergone some major changes since Adam took over the land from his family. As a graduate of the Ontario Agricultural College, his dream was to pursue farming full-time. He began in the pig industry, but when those market prices dropped, he looked for a new venture.
In 2007, Thatcher Farms became a working sheep farm, with a flock of 250 Rideau Arcott ewes. And the following year they built their Thatcher Farms Country Store, a farm gate retail shop that features their own naturally raised meats, including hormone and additive-free lamb, beef, pork and chicken, and they also offer summer sausage and Omega 3 eggs. They are now harvesting their own honey, sell local maple syrup, home baked meat pies and fruit jams.
Last spring, thanks to a grant from the Ontario’s Industry Development Fund, they were able to add an on-site butcher shop providing them the ability to cut and package their own meats – ensuring they had complete quality assurance and control.
On the horizon, the Thatchers would like to add a pavilion to their property, host agricultural-themed events, chef dinners, school tours and group outings. The goal is to bring people out to the family farm as a destination, making the connection between farming and the future.
The Thatchers have three children Sophie (5), William (4) and Thomas (1) and both Dana and Adam look forward to involving their family in the farm business in the future.
The Thatchers were nominated by Ontario Farm Fresh.
Meet the other finalists:
Mark and Sandi Brock, Shepherd's Creek Farms, Staffa (RUNNER-UP)
Chris and Brianne Brown, Beslea Farms, Yarker
Curtis and Heidi Fielding, Fielding Estates Winery, Beamsville
Ian and Deb McGregor, McGregor's Produce, Braeside
Collin and Tanya Walker, Walkhavern Farms, Stayner
The Ontario Region of the OYF is one of seven regional programs. Each region holds an event where local nominees are judged on specific criteria. All regional winners represent their areas at an annual national event where they compete to be named Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers. See our alumni for all our past regional and national winners.