Connery’s Riverdale Farms

Family Farm Flourishes for Generations

By Jennifer McFee

The commitment to farming is four generations strong at Connery’s Riverdale Farms — and the fifth generation has already begun toddling through the fields.

Ed Connery learned the business from his parents at their market garden in St. Vital. During the 1960s, Ed moved out to Portage la Prairie where he and his family continued to grow rutabagas, carrots and much more.

“They moved to Portage because of the availability of good land and water for irrigating and for the nice microclimate,” explains Ed’s daughter-in-law Beth.

“It’s near the Assiniboine and Elm Rivers and it’s just underneath the lake, so it’s got a little bit of a longer season. It’s a good spot to be.”

Over time, Ed’s sons Doug and Jeff took over the family farming operation. After the brothers sadly passed away in 2011 and 2012, Jeff’s wife Beth continued to keep up the farming tradition.

Today, Beth runs the farm along with her daughter Sam and son Chris. Together, they grow asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cooking onions and squash, along with u-pick strawberries.

“We eat a lot of veggies. Getting half your plate full of vegetables is not a problem for us,” Beth says with a laugh.

“Chris and Sam grew up on the farm, going out to the field with their dad from very early on. We really like growing vegetables because it’s something that we can see going straight from our fields onto people’s plates. It’s really immediate. We like producing good food for families just like ours.”

Perhaps an interest in farming is even beginning to take root in the fifth generation, since Chris’s wee ones — three-year-old Lucas and one-year-old Emerson — are already immersed in the environment.

For Beth, farming is in her blood since she grew up on a nearby mixed farm that her brother now runs. Her favourite vegetable changes along with the seasons with fresh and nutritious options always on hand.

“My favourite is usually whatever’s in season and really fresh for us. Asparagus is always a favourite because we wait until it’s fresh and brand new. Then we cycle through all of the crops that we grow,” says Beth.

“We have carrots all winter as well because we pack them at our farm. We store them and we have them right through until usually March.”

The family is pleased to be involved with Peak of the Market Ltd. for selling their homegrown vegetables. At the same time, they’re also members of the Prairie Fruit Growers’ Association for their tasty strawberries.

“We have a very good relationship with Peak of the Market,” Beth says. “Thanks to them, we can concentrate on growing and packing our vegetables. It’s a good life.”