By Joan LeBlanc – Sackville Tribune Post
POINT DE BUTE, N.B. – Tantramar Acres Farm was given the honours at the organization’s annual annual general meeting and awards evening, held recently in Sackville.
Part of a provincial organization, the Chignecto Soil & Crop Improvement Association is comprised of many area farmers concerned with maintaining good farm practices and keeping abreast of new programs and government instituted policies. Through meetings, workshops and regular newsletters it provides its members with information on up-to-date equipment, farming programs and incentives, innovative farm practices and improvements in the many, diverse aspects of agricultural production today.
A family farm, Robert and Shelley Murray work side-by-side with their son Nathan and his fiancée Jessica Girouard on their operation at Point de Bute. The Murrays’ took over the operation formerly belonging to Robert’s grandparents, the late Clifford and Cynthia Richards and have been working the acreage since 1995. Born and raised in Dartmouth, NS, Robert graduated from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and then spent 30 years as a dairy herdsman with an area dairy operation before leaving that position to work his own farm.
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“I learned a lot working alongside my grandfather in those first years, and from my uncle Oakley Richards. He and Leona still do a lot of work with and for us today,” Murray said recently.
The family is renowned for the top quality vegetables they produce each year; all grown, hand-picked and washed by Robert and Nathan.
“We have 10 acres and two hothouses in vegetables each year – with about 20 different varieties – and about 95 per cent of our crop is sold right here at our gate. The remaining goes to two local outlets, Cattail Ridge Market and Independent Grocer in Sackville,” he noted.
Murray added that both local customers as well as many from far away enjoy their produce each year.
“We have a lot of loyal, local customers who live in the area or have summer cottages in the region. But we also sell to the many visitors to this area who pass by our door; we’ve had people from all over the world stop and buy our vegetables,” he said.
The Murrays’ also grow all of their own forage for their herd of more than 40 Black Angus beef cattle and their flock of sheep, which includes 43 ewes and two rams. The sheep are raised solely for meat.
“We do shear the sheep each year but most of it is discarded. We give it away to people who want the wool, but it’s not that often that we’re asked for it. It’s a lot of work to prepare wool from its raw state and not many people want to do that,” he explained.
Murray noted that it is not financially feasible to sell the wool themselves.
“It costs a lot ship it to the island (PEI) to have it processed and we don’t have the time to do it during the vegetable season,” he added.
The Murrays’ do all of the work on their farm by themselves, with Nathan taking an almost four months leave from his off-farm job each year to help with the vegetable crop. Looking to the future, he is also developing a line of pure-bred Charolais bulls and, along with Jessica, plans to one day take over the operation full-time. Nathan is also a provincial director with the New Brunswick Soil & Crop Improvement Association. The organization will hold its annual provincial AGM and awards ceremony in Moncton on February 25-26.
Following are the awards presented to local agricultural operators during the annual general meeting:
Legume silage, round bale – Tantramar Acres Farm
Grass hay, square bale – Harold Oulton
Grass silage, round bale – Estabrooks Farm
Corn silage – Estabrooks Farm
Grass silage, chopped – Roga Farm
Cereal silage – S & S Farms
Grass hay, round bale – Allan Fillmore
Award sponsors were Amherst Co-op, Fort Equipment Ltd., Fundy Bay Tractors, Green Diamond Equipment Ltd., McCain Fertilizer, Ridgeway Forage and Grain and Thulium Farm Ltd.