Julie Moore and Bob McMillan
By Pat Grotenhuis
Bob McMillan and Julie Moore may have struck people as an unlikely pair when they first started dating. He was a farmer passionate about the land and his livestock. She was a self described city girl from Toronto who knew little about farming when they met.
McMillan’s family’s history is entrenched in the rural community near Stratford. His ancestors bought the Perth County farm in 1850 when they came from Scotland, and it’s been in the family ever since. The farm has changed a lot over the years, but according to McMillan, that just adds to the history for future generations.
“The roots are something I take for granted. There are interesting stories and the history is nice to have. There have been lots of changes, but everyone gets to add something to the farm,” says McMillan.
Moore added, “We continue to call the original stonehouse our home. Under our roof, seven generations have been born, married, celebrated and inspired. Our home farm is truly a place where a family story begins.”
The two are appreciative of farm life and their community, something that Julie has especially appreciated coming from the city. “I love the sense of community here. It’s so different from larger, urban centres – everyone knows the history and has a sense of connection and belonging,” she said.
In 2013, the couple and their two young children Nolan and Reid appeared in the eighth edition of the Faces of Farming calendar, published by Farm & Food Care Ontario. The couple’s winning application was chosen from a field of 31 exceptional entries in a new contest launched to select one farm family to appear in the calendar. In their application, Julie described her family as a “progressive, passionate and proud farm family”. She also said that she felt they “typify today’s farm family – active, educated, engaged, caring and committed to our families, our farms and our community.”
McMillan and Moore have expanded their business by purchasing a neighbouring farm. They’ve also built a new barn and added new corn storage/dryer facilities.
They’re doing their best to make sure they leave the farm in a better condition for the next person who works the land by implementing numerous environmental improvements. McMillan has switched to new tillage systems to help conserve soil. He uses crop rotation to make sure nutrients are not being depleted from the soil, and to improve soil health by having crops with different root systems each year. Crop rotations also lessen the insect and disease pressure on the plants.
To explore changes that could be made on the farm to improve the environment around them, McMillan completed an Environmental Farm Plan and implemented many of the changes the program suggested. As part of a conservation project, the couple has planted 1,000 trees on their property.
“We plant for another day and another generation, so we can grow our rewards down the road,” says McMillan. “It’s impressive to see the benefits now from past projects.”
McMillan is also devoted to caring for his livestock – pigs – and follows stringent guidelines on what the animals are fed and how they’re cared for.
They’ve also got a strong commitment to their community. McMillan is currently Deputy Mayor of Perth East, sits on Perth County Council and is involved in other community boards and associations.
“I want to be a younger voice in politics, and I want to continue making people aware of farming through my politics,” says McMillan, who was first elected as a councillor in 2003 and is serving his second term as deputy mayor.
Moore is also involved in the community, serving as a school board Trustee with the Avon Maitland District School Board, volunteering with many projects at her sons’ schools and as a consultant to the South West LHIN. She enjoys running, and has completed several half marathons. Their two sons, Nolan (7) and Reid (3) enjoy everything there is to see and do on the farm.
Julie is using her newfound knowledge of farming to help educate friends and family from the city about where their food comes from, and the dedication of the people who grow it.
“I didn’t have an appreciation for my food, where it comes from and the work and skill that goes into producing it. Farmers are highly skilled. They need to be to produce quality food. Food that is safe and healthy food for us to enjoy” says Moore.
To view a video interview with this family, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFflWT6CXa8&list=PLxl8ycqu125d-iqsZFnv_CxGVT7NAgDDc