Dan, Arlene, Adriana and Marissa Glofcheski
By Pat Grotenhuis
The outdoors plays a key role in the lives of members of the Glofcheskie family of Northern Ontario. Both their career and their hobbies depend on a healthy natural environment.
The family owns a rainbow trout fish farm on Great Lacloche Island, on the North Channel of Lake Huron. Dan and Arlene, both originally from Waterloo Region, moved to the North in 1986 and are happy to be raising their daughters, Adriana and Marissa, there. In 2013, they’re featured in the Faces of Farming Calendar published by Farm & Food Care Ontario. This is the first time that a fish farmer has ever been profiled in the calendar’s eight year history. Their page is sponsored by their company North Wind Fisheries Ltd. and the Northern Ontario Aquaculture Association.
“We love life in the north. It’s slower paced, close to nature, calm and serene. People come to vacation in our back yard, so we try not to take living in such a beautiful place for granted,” says Dan.
The family’s hobbies include camping, hiking, fishing, biking, canoeing, skiing, gardening along with any sports which can be played outdoors. Together, they have gone on camping trips across Canada, including the Territories, with Newfoundland being one of the family’s favourite camping destinations.
Growing up on a fish farm has provided a lot of fond memories for the sisters. Marissa remembers being the only person in her class to bring in live fish or wildlife for show-and-tell, while Adriana says that the caves and shore at the fish farms were their playground.
Attending the University of Guelph is another family tradition. Dan and Arlene both studied there with Dan graduating from the Fisheries Biology program, and Arlene graduating from Family and Consumer studies. Today, Adriana is in her third year of Biomedical Science at the University of Guelph, and Marissa is in high school. Marissa also hopes to attend the same university to study ecology.
Dan and Arlene started a fish farm in 1993, and relocated to their present farm in 2000. They have an ideal site for their farm, which is sheltered but still has good cold water flow. It is a remote area on an island and to even get to the farm they have a nine kilometre long laneway. Traffic during their morning commute can consist of deer, moose, bear, wolves, turtles, or Scottish Highland Cattle.
With the environment being such a major factor on their farm, the Glofcheski es protect it as best as they can. Dan buys the same kind of rainbow trout fingerlings as the Ministry of Natural Resources uses to stock the lake, in case any of his fish were ever to escape.
To monitor fish health and inspect the pen structures, Dan and his team SCUBA dive to check on them twice a week in the summer, once a week in the spring and fall, and once a month during the winter.
Nutrients are important to keep the fish healthy and help them grow, but can harm the environment if not managed properly. The fish are fed a high energy, low phosphorus feed in precise amounts to reduce waste and environmental impact while still allowing the fish to grow well.
“I treat my fish farm like my garden – I carefully manage nutrients. Fish produce nutrients (solid and dissolved) and our goal is to monitor and limit nutrients from the fish in the water,” says Dan.
Dan is proud his farm recently underwent a benchmark assessment for eco-certification as a freshwater farm example for Canada. Areas the farm was assessed on included environmental practices, fish health and welfare, nutrition and labour.
Dan is glad he made the decision to become a fish farmer and work so closely with the environment.
“I love my fish farming lifestyle. It’s challenging but so rewarding to live and work with nature. I couldn’t be an office guy,” says Dan.
To view a video interview with this family, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZJXPin_6UM&list=PLxl8ycqu125d-iqsZFnv_CxGVT7NAgDDc