By Kelly Daynard
To hear Scott Richmond talk about his farm, you’d think he had more of a career as a poet or a novelist than as a farmer.
“My favourite thing is to walk out the back door when the dew is on the grass and the sun’s just coming up over the hills. It just smells like beauty”, he says when describing his chosen career. “I just can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Scott’s a fifth generation farmer, raising pigs, corn and soybeans on his family farm near Plattsville, in Oxford County. His farm was named Brae-Heid, in recognition of its rolling hills, by his long ago Scottish ancestors who emigrated here.
Scott said that there was never any doubt that he was going to farm. Looking back, he chuckles, “I don’t think I picked farming. I think farming picked me.” He studied agriculture at the University of Guelph, graduating in 2002. From there, he worked in construction for a while before returning home join his parents in their farming business.
Together, they have a “farrow to finish” pig farm where mother pigs (called sows) give birth to their piglets and the piglets are raised up to the age when they go to market. They also grow 250 acres of corn and soybeans that are used to feed their livestock.
A successful blind date a few years ago led to his marriage to wife Dawn and the recent arrival of their daughter, Meredith, the sixth generation of the Richmond family to live on the farm. Dawn wasn’t from a farm but Scott’s proud to report that she’s adjusted to her new rural life well. “She’s always eager to help out when needed.”
Scott says that the health and well-being of his pigs are always foremost on his mind – from the time he wakes in the morning until he goes to bed at night. His daily routine involves walking the barn to ensure that all of his pigs are healthy, content and have enough feed and water as well as checking his fields to ensure that his crops are also thriving. Said Scott, “I haven’t found a better business partner than Mother Nature.”
Scott is also active in his community. He’s vice president of his local curling club and past president of the Oxford County Pork Producers’ Association. He likes being involved in his community and his industry. “It’s a combination of coveralls and business”, he said in an interview. “I like working at home and being my own boss but I like helping in the industry too.”
Many Ontario pig farmers, like Scott, are also involved in helping their local food banks. In June 2013, a new pilot program saw a donation of 10,000- 500g packs of ground pork made directly to Ontario food banks in Southwestern Ontario including Sarnia, London and Hamilton. The program built upon the success of the “Donate a Hog” program that was started in 1998.
During the course of the 2013 pilot project, the donated pork represented the equivalent of 20,000 meals for adults. The entire quantity was dispatched within three to five days of delivery.
Next, the program’s organizers hope to build on the success of the Ontario Pork Program by securing enough funding to run the program year-round for two years. The hope is to purchase enough pork to make it available to food banks on a regular basis. Industry partners have expressed an interest in helping to match funds made available by Ontario Pork, the organization representing Ontario’s pig farmers.
The Oxford County Pork Producers’ Association, of which Scott is past president, has also been active in food bank initiatives, donating to their local food bank in Woodstock.
“I think it’s important for farmers like us to give back to our communities,” said Scott. “I feel really fortunate to have the life I live. If we can do something to help others facing hunger in our communities, that’s a very good thing.”
He added that more than 400,000 Ontarians visit their local food bank each month, with 160,000 of them being children. Many of them are lacking good protein sources, like pork, in their diets.
In 2014, Scott is the face of Ontario’s pig farmers and December in the Faces of Farming calendar, published by Farm & Food Care Ontario. His page is sponsored by Elanco Animal Health and the Ontario Association of Food Banks. Both are involved in the Ontario Pork Program.
To see an interview with Scott, visit – http://youtu.be/JFhaUrYkqLg