Coburn Farms, Keswick Ridge, New Brunswick
Glen Coburn can hardly wait to finish up his studies in business management at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Agriculture campus in rural Nova Scotia.
“It can’t come fast enough!” he says of his impending graduation.
When he’s done at school, Glen will head home to the family farm in Keswick Ridge, NB, to land and a lifestyle he knows well. Coburn Farms dates back over 200 years to 1806, and Glen will be the seventh generation of his family to work that piece of land in the St. John River valley just west of Fredericton.
It’s his connection to the land that draws him back–that and the realization there’s a place for him there.
It took a sad event to bring that realization home.
After high school he left the farm and worked in trades.
But one day a fire destroyed an apple storage building his grandfather had built in the 1950s. The fire destroyed not only the building and a crop of apples but also a lot of family memorabilia that had been stored in the building–his mother’s wedding dress, for example, and some of his own childhood memories.
He came back to help his family overcome the problems caused by fire. When he did, he realized he would stay.
“I knew it was time to man up and say that I had something to do at home,” he says simply.
The family connection is strong, and he loves working with his father and his younger brother. He figures that his father’s experience, combined with his new ideas, make for a powerful mix.
He also likes working with his brother. “Some people say, ‘you guys aren’t brothers, you get along too well!’” he says, adding that they learned quickly to get past any differences they have if they planned on working together their whole life.
His time at school will be put to use helping manage the business, which includes 25,000 laying hens and a 10-acre apple orchard.
There’s a routine to the farm work, of course, but that routine can quickly be thrown off. That’s part of the challenge.
“You have to have a little bit of a plan,” he says, “but at the end of the day you don’t know what’s going to come the next day.”
“It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle,” he says of the work. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s nothing like waking up and walking out the door and you are already at work.”