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Wednesday, 24 August 2016 14:32

Groeneveld family wins Farm Family Award

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The Groeneveld Family were the BMO Farm Family winners representing the M.D. of Foothills No. 31 at this year’s Calgary Stampede. The Groeneveld Family were the BMO Farm Family winners representing the M.D. of Foothills No. 31 at this year’s Calgary Stampede. Photo courtesy ShowChampions

The Groeneveld family came to Canada in the 1920s from the Netherlands, lured by some attractive advertising about farming in Alberta.

Tony Groeneveld was one of seven brothers who made the move. In Holland, he’d been a market gardener but in Canada he built up a mixed farm with grain and animals, as well as a large garden.
Sadly, Tony died young. Flores had just graduated from the University of Alberta in Agriculture and was considering a career in veterinary medicine, but he decided instead to answer the call of the home place and went into partnership with his brother George.
Today, the Groenevelds of the Pine Canyon Cattle Company are the 2016 BMO Farm Family of the Year representing the MD of Foothills No. 31.
Starting with two sections, the brothers expanded their land base, growing grain and running a large herd of cattle. As well, they got into the egg business, eventually housing 10,000 chickens.
“At that time, it was very lucrative. You didn’t have to buy quota,” says Flores. “As a farmer, it was good, because you knew you had an income every week.”
As another generation matured enough to take on the family business, Flores and George dissolved their partnership and sold the egg business.
Flores, with his wife Margaret, formed the Pine Canyon Cattle Co.
“I’m retired, more or less,” Flores says. “I still run a combine once in a while.”
Their son, Glenn, and his family operate about 1,600 acres of cropland using no-till methods and rotating wheat, barley and peas with some corn for winter-grazing his herd of about 70 commercial Black Angus cows.
Son Jay, and his family, are on the home place and Jay works off the farm while maintaining a small herd and putting up hay.
Flores’s daughter, Toni Lynn Bouvier and her family live on her maternal grandfather’s grain farm and another son, Jeff, owns and operates a business in Calgary while still running some cattle and hay land in the Balzac area.
When it gets busy, everyone pitches in and lends a hand.
One task the family didn’t expect was the result of the 2013 flood. While the damage done by the flooding in High River and Calgary got most of the attention, there was a lot of carnage further down the river, too.
“We lost a massive chunk of land,” says Flores “We had a whole quarter-mile of poplar trees 100 feet high and it took all of them.”
In co-operation with Trout Unlimited, the Groenevelds had fenced off the Bow River and put in a system of solar pumps and waterers to preserve the riparian area. The flood destroyed almost all this infrastructure, but the family immediately set about putting it right.
The family takes a strong interest in their community, participating in a wide variety of local communities and activities.
Flores served on municipal council for 15 years, starting in 1989, including six years as Reeve. He has also been with the Foothills Foundation for 21 years.
Flores looks forward to seeing another generation take on the challenges and rewards of rural life.
“We ranch or farm to make a living,” he says. “But also, we preserve a heritage that our families brought with them when they came out.”

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