Anita DeJong is a force of nature. I met her and her husband Brian on my last getaway to Grey County at her family farm, DeJong Acres. After visiting their animals and tapping some maple syrup, we sat down to some coffee and Anita served us some scones she made for her family. I'm telling you, these were the absolute best scones I had ever tasted. Anita's scones aren't for sale at the farm store, they're a family recipe she makes for her. After a few bites, I asked her to share her secret recipe so I could share it with you. Read on for the recipe, my Q&A with Anita about community and the business of farming, and my picks for the must have items from her farm store this season.
I sat down to chat with Anit about farming as a lifestyle and profession,
When did you start farming?
Brian and I started Farming in 2000 and moved to our current farm in 2011
What made you want to make a living as a farmer?
Its all Brian has ever wanted to do since he was a young lad with farmer neighbours. He loves working with the animals and the equipment. I enjoy the animals, biology was a favourite subject but I also appreciate the opportunity to be an entrepreneur.
What is the biggest change you've encountered during your years farming?
Costs of land and capital items continue to climb. Making good use of resources increases in importance. Also consumers to seem to be increasingly appreciative of the opportunity to support producers and have responded well to our efforts to direct market and value add!
Is farming a business for you, or a lifestyle choice? Some combination of the both?
It has to be a business as this is what we do. There is nothing else to live off of or pay the bills. But it is our life. There is no 9-5 then rushing off to enjoy life somewhere outside of work. Our motto is to build a life you don’t need a vacation from. we love what we do and we do what we love.
What roles do the members of your family play in farming?
Our strategy is for everyone to contribute in the way that they find inspiring and fulfilling. For Brian that’s the barn and field work. For me it's marketing, procurring and working on the value added through the Grill Wagon and Farm Store kitchen. Rayleen, who's 15 loves working with the animals especially the dogs and pigs, she also likes showing kids that visit around the farm. Nicole, who's 13, is a business girl. She’s great with math and very task oriented and is Mom’s right hand gal at events, markets and in the kitchen.
How has farming in Grey County changed over the years?
Farming is becoming a finer science. Producers need to find away to create profit either by focusing on production or by finding ways to value add. It was a crash in the lamb market that led us to investigate ways to minimize the risk that comes from producing a commodity. That led us to open our own farm store, attend farmers’ markets and add to our diversification. We are really glad we did and haven’t looked back!
How do you see your role in the community?
We think its important for the community to have access to premium farm fresh unprocessed meats at a reasonable price. We also are very service oriented and work hard to accommodate special requests. We enjoy knowing our customers and understanding what they are looking for. Food security is a priority to us and are pleased to be able to contribute meat to our local food bank annually.
When heading up to Grey County, stop in at DeJong Acres to visit the farm and farm store. They've got some delicious farm fresh food this season. Make sure you come home with a rack of lamb, berkshire pork bacon and sausage, maple butter tarts made with their own syrup and a fresh rotisserie chicken (available long weekends all summer!)