Gerald and Fred Van Osch
By Pat Grotenhuis
With a wide range of hobbies and interests, Gerald and Fred Van Osch may not fit into any typical farmer mold.
The two brothers, raised on their family’s beef and cash crop farm near Mount Carmel, Ontario have expanded the farm their father started.
Although the two didn’t always know exactly what their future in the farm had in store for them, they both knew that they were meant to farm, and began farming as soon as they were finished high school to help their parent Paula and (the late) Harry Van Osch. Their love for agriculture runs through their children, too. Each has one son working full time and one son working part time with them.
“We have very strong family bonds, and we get a deep satisfaction from seeing the next generation take over. We are a hard working team that works well together,” says Gerald.
The shared commitment the brothers have to farming and caring for both their cattle and their land earned them a place in the 2013 Faces of Farming calendar published by Farm & Food Care Ontario. Their participation in the calendar was supported by Monsanto Canada.
While on the farm, the brothers work hard to make sure their farming methods have a positive impact on the environment and on the animals. Their new barns and modern handling facilities for their cattle attract visitors from around the world. They took every effort during construction to make sure the barns would be comfortable and low-stress for both the cattle and those working in it. “We always work to improve animal cleanliness and healthiness. Content animals are healthier,” says Fred.
To protect the environment, the farm has an Environmental Farm Plan program in place and a nutrient management strategy to ensure they’re using inputs, like fertilizers correctly. Environmental Farm Plans involve the farmers taking a course and completing a workshop to determine how their farm is impacting the environment and how to lessen that impact. They have also installed rooftop solar panels to help with renewable energy generation.
The brothers grow a variety of crops on their land. In addition to crops such as corn, soybeans, alfalfa and wheat, they began growing some coloured beans in 1998.
The farm keeps the brothers busy, but they have a shared love for travelling and for relaxing on the shores of Lake Huron when they get the chance.
Today both Gerald & Fred cannot picture themselves doing anything else. “I like the freedom of being on the farm and being able to watch things grow, and I like the people we work with,” says Gerald.
To view a video interview with the brothers, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEwxyl0QsyM&list=PLxl8ycqu125d-iqsZFnv_CxGVT7NAgDDc