Stephanie Nanne is the seventh generation of her family to farm the same piece of land in rural Eastern Ontario. Next year will mark the 200th anniversary of the day her ancestors came over from Scotland to settle there.
Stephanie is very proud of that fact that the land has been able to provide food not only for her family, but also now for others as well, for such a long time.
As she eases into farming herself, she looks forward to continuing the tradition.
“I’ve always wanted to raise my family on the farm. It’s a great way to grow up, and it’s its own little community” she says. “As I went through university, it just confirmed to me that I wanted to come back.”
Until her grandfather’s time, the farm fed only the family. Stephanie’s grandfather was the first to sell products off the farm, and Stephanie’s father Robert expanded the operation to what it is now, an egg farm with 17,000 laying hens, plus some cash crops and a grading station.
Stephanie always enjoyed the farming lifestyle. But as the youngest of three siblings, didn’t really expect to take it over. She always figured her older brother would be the one to do so.
When he decided he didn’t want it, she was secretly pleased, thinking: “Hmmm, I actually have a chance now!”
To prepare, she got a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture from the University of Guelph, and in 2012, after graduating, she came back to home. She is now easing herself into the business.
“I’m very blessed,” she says simply as she contemplates her path in life.
She and her husband Michael (he’s from a nearby dairy farm and works there with his parents for now) expect to take over the egg farm when her parents retire, which they figure will be in about 10 years.
For the time being, she divides her time between the farm, where she works two days a week helping her father, and a job as an agronomist.
And she and Michael are looking at how they can eventually expand the operation, perhaps by getting more quota or adding a pullet operation.
“I love the egg industry,” she says, explaining that she gets her greatest satisfaction from knowing that she is helping produce food – an essential element of life. “Especially eggs!” she adds. “There’s so much nutrition in them.”
She likes the challenge of problem-solving–figuring out what to do if something breaks, for example–and also the day-to-day routine. She recalls fondly gathering eggs when she was a child, and likes working with her father today. There’s no aspect of the work she doesn’t like, in fact.
When she looks to the future, Stephanie does see a few challenges.
For one thing, she says not enough people know how food is produced; that leaves them susceptible to misinformation.
She says farmers need to be proactive about educating consumers not only about the way food is produced, but also about why things are done the way they are.
“I see that as a challenge going forward,” she says But she says any young person interested in egg farming will find it an interesting career.
“It’s a great industry to be in,” she says.