Syngenta Crop Protection Canada Inc., a major sponsor of Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmer awards said that this year’s winners are Harry and Leony Koelen of Paisley, Ontario.
The Koelens were singled out for their dedication to building a successful 1,100 acre pig-farming operation, outstanding production records, and commitment to environmentally conscious farming. Later this year they will represent Ontario at a nation-wide competition.
Moving to Canada from Belgium in 1991, the Koelens had their backpacks and $2,000 dollars to their name. Leaving behind a rented run down barn in their native town of Brussels, they now own two new barns, each housing 2,600 sows. A forward-thinker by nature, whenever Harry hears of something innovative in farming, his attitude is “If someone else can do it, I can do it too.”
The Koelens have put in place environmental farm plans, nutrient management plans, water saving computers, decommissioned old wells and fenced livestock out of waterways as part of their commitment to protecting the environment. The Koelens also understand the importance of running a labour efficient farm. They acknowledge their success is also due to a hard-working team of 16 employees and the help of some of their five children.
Pig champ award
In 1998 the Koelens won the Pig Champ award with 26.2 pigs/sow/year in a competition spanning Canada, the US and Mexico. In 2001 they won the Genex award for 27.9 pigs produced/mated female/year and in 2005 for the highest number of pigs born alive and second place for 27.6 pigs produced/mated female/year.
Outstanding Young Farmer nominees are between the ages of 18 and 39, and derive two-thirds of their gross income from farming. They are judged based on the progress they have made in agriculture throughout their career, their environmental stewardship, their production history, financial and management practices and overall contributions to the well being of their community, province and nation.
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