Jeffries Bros. Vegetable Growers

The Risks and Rewards of Farming

By Jennifer McFee

Where there is great risk, there can also be great reward.

Few people know that better than farmers – and Jeffries Brothers Vegetable Growers are no exception. Located east of Portage la Prairie, brothers Dave and Albert Jeffries incorporated the farm in 1968. Forty years later, Dave and his son Roland bought Albert’s share of the farm. Today, along with Roland’s brother Ernie, they continue to operate as a father-son team.

They grow carrots, parsnips and rutabagas for Peak of the Market Ltd. on their 500-acre farm. The Jeffries also grow strawberries, which are Roland’s top pick for a sweet treat. “I like vegetables, but the strawberries would be my favourite to eat,” he says. “But, I have to say, the carrots are really good too.”

The farm also provides fertile ground for new ideas and fresh approaches to the industry. “We’re always trying to grow a better product, whether it’s with new technology or changing up some of the practices we’re doing. They’re always coming out with a new piece of equipment that maybe does this job a little better,” Roland says. “As well, we’re trying to find ways to reduce the amount of waste on our farm. We’re looking at starting up some processing to try to use up some of that by-product.”

As another source of satisfaction, Roland also enjoys seeing the progress of his crops throughout the growing season.

“I like driving around and seeing how things are doing, watching the crop grow and knowing that we’re feeding people. It’s a good feeling,” he says. “There are three carrot growers in the area and we try to work together. We’re all doing the same thing and we want to be successful at it.”

The life-long farmer is also grateful for the opportunity to grow the business with his family. “I come to work every day and work with my dad and my brother too. How many people get to do that?” he asks. “A lot of people don’t have that opportunity and we definitely don’t take it for granted.”

As for the industry, Roland remains optimistic for the future of farming.

“Farming, as an industry, is going to be important in the coming years. People always need to eat and our population is growing. But if all of a sudden we end up in a drought for three or four years, it’s going to be a struggle. Or everything could be great until one day you look out the window and we’re getting five inches of rain. You can’t do anything except sit there and watch it,” he says.

“I partly enjoy that too – the risk of it all. When things are good, they’re really good. Things can also be really bad, but there’s always next year. Overall, there seems to be a good balance.”