Shemogue potato farm marks 25 years

Lo­cal oper­a­tion cur­rently har­vests about seven mil­lion pounds of pota­toes

Sackville Tribune - - OBITUARIES/COMMUNITY - BY JOAN LEBLANC SPE­CIAL TO THE TRI­BUNE- POST

A large crowd turned out last Sun­day af­ter­noon to cel­e­brate the 25th an­niver­sary of Tim­ber River Eco Farms potato pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity in Shemogue, near Port El­gin.

In 1993, Pirmin Kum­mer brought his wife Katrine and their three-month-old son Jonathan to Canada to pur­sue a dream of own­ing and op­er­at­ing a farm.

Born and raised in Ger­many, Kum­mer stud­ied agri­cul­ture and spent two years as a farm ap­pren­tice be­fore re­turn­ing to univer­sity where he earned a Mas­ter’s De­gree in agri­cul­tural science.

“I al­ways knew I wanted to be a farmer, to raise my chil­dren in the coun­try, in the open air and on the land. Jonathan (the old­est of the Kum­mer’s three sons) was just three months old when we came here; Ben­jamin and Fin­negan were born here. It was hard for Katrine at first … but we have al­ways felt wel­come here; the schools are good and the chil­dren did well …” Kum­mer said at his farm re­cently.

Af­ter com­plet­ing a Mas­ter’s De­gree in me­chan­i­cal engi­neer­ing, Jonathan is now spend­ing some time work­ing the farm with his fa­ther, and although it’s not yet un­de­cided whether the younger man will fol­low in his fa­ther’s foot­steps on the farm, the pair is hav­ing a good time work­ing the farm to­gether.

“It’s his de­ci­sion whether he wants to con­tinue with it. Farm­ing was my own dream, but I’ve never pushed it on the boys; we just want them to be happy in what­ever they choose to work at,” Kum­mer said.

He added any­one choos­ing to farm, par­tic­u­larly in south-east­ern New Bruns­wick, has to re­ally want to do it.

“…You have to re­ally love it just to be able to cope with the ups and downs and the long hours,” Kum­mer said.

The oper­a­tion cur­rently har­vests about seven mil­lion pounds of pota­toes each year and grows about 220 acres of ce­real crops which are sold to a lo­cal dairy farm for feed with straw go­ing to lo­cal cat­tle pro­duc­ers for bed­ding.

Eco- Spuds ™ , the Tim­ber River Eco Farms brand, is sold at Sobeys and Food­land stores across At­lantic Canada and into On­tario. The pota­toes, pack­aged at their own ware­houses on the farm, also pass through a metal de­tec­tor be­fore be­ing sealed in heavy paper bags.

“It’s a pre­cau­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, with the prob­lems pro­duc­ers in other ar­eas were faced with sev­eral years ago (peo­ple claim­ing they had found nails and nee­dles in bags of pota­toes), most potato pro­duc­ers in­stalled metal de­tec­tors in their pack­ing lines,” he said.

Kum­mer also cred­its his ded­i­cated em­ploy­ees for help­ing to make the busi­ness a suc­cess, em­ploy­ing seven – 10 on a sea­sonal ba­sis.

And de­spite the hot, dry sum­mer that fol­lowed a cou­ple early frosts, Kum­mer’s crops pro­duce a good yield of pota­toes, for the most part be­cause of the many im­prove­ments he’s made to the soil to in­crease drainage and re­duce ero­sion.

And while Eco-spuds™ are not rated as specif­i­cally or­ganic, they are grown with a min­i­mum of chem­i­cal fer­til­iz­ers and no her­bi­cides are used at all. In­stead, Kum­mer prefers to cul­ti­vate crops, also let­ting some fields re­turn to nat­u­ral habi­tat for birds and an­i­mals, which helps with in­sect prob­lems as well; in some ar­eas he part­ners with Ducks Un­lim­ited.

Car­ing for the land is a pri­or­ity for Kum­mer so as soon as a crop is har­vested, it is seeded again with for­age crops which are later tilled back into the soil.

“As soon as we’re done har­vest­ing we seed the field right away, ei­ther with cover crops or grass. So most of the time, even right af­ter the potato har­vest, you’ll see green fields and that helps to pre­vent ero­sion,” he said.

Af­ter 25 years, Kum­mer said he’s ready to slow down the pace a bit, but for the fore­see­able fu­ture will con­tinue to pro­duce the top-qual­ity pota­toes for which Tim­ber River Eco Farms is well­known in the mar­ket­place.

JOAN LEBLANC PHOTO

Fa­ther and son, Jonathan, left and Pirmin Kum­mer, are cur­rently work­ing to­gether at the fam­ily potato pro­duc­tion oper­a­tion. Shown here re­cently, the pair get ready to ser­vice a piece of ma­chin­ery.

JOAN LEBLANC PHOTO

Pirmin and Katrine Kum­mer were pre­sented with a plaque mark­ing 25 years at their Tim­ber River Eco Farms potato oper­a­tion re­cently. The cou­ple was hon­oured by their em­ploy­ees at an open house at the fa­cil­ity, which was at­tended by a large num­ber of lo­cal and re­gional farm­ers, friends and neigh­bours.

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