Siemens Farms Ltd., Abbotsford, BC
Mark Siemens wants people to know how important community is to egg farmers.
Too many people, he says, have a false impression of farm life–an impression that comes from only knowing about farms through television and film.
In Canada, he says, not only is the bottom line important; so is community.
“What I see in the Canadian industry is that there’s a lot of importance placed on giving back to the community, and an appreciation by farmers of the value of community, says Mark.
That sense of community is one of the things he feels proud of. He is also proud of the fact that in his home town, the Fraser Valley community of Abbotsford, the farming community is a pillar of local charities. (Abbotsford, by the way, has a reputation as the most generous community in Canada).
It took Mark a while to realize that egg farming, with its values, was for him.
Though he grew up on the family farm, he left home after high school to try to make his mark. He wanted to try life on his own.
But as he worked at different jobs, he came to realize that “I enjoyed the lifestyle, and being near family. And after I got married and had a son, I thought about how much of a benefit it is to include your family in your life.”
Rather than move back to the farm right away, Mark started working at another farm–to gain some experience. “I wanted to make it work for myself,” he says.
With that newfound experience, and the confidence it brings, Mark has found it easier return to the farm and work with his father.
He’s not moved back yet, but plans to in the near future.
In the meantime, he’s slowly settling into the life and routines of an egg farmer.
“I like that there is consistency, but that every day brings something new,” he says. “There are always new challenges, and you are always looking to innovate and improve.
“The family aspect is a huge part of it to me, but I also enjoy the mix of physical labour and other work. I get to be outside and work hard, but it’s not 40 hours a week of backbreaking work; it’s a mix.
“I am in there taking care of the animals, and always looking for how to improve things, and looking for details and looking to see if something is wrong. It’s an ongoing challenge.”
It’s a challenge he relishes.
“I feel like it’s something that’s just a part of me.”