It was a trip ‘down under’ to talk farming for the 2018 recipients of the Saskatchewan Outstanding Young Farmers Award.
Jordan and Jennifer Lindgren of Norquay, who were presented the provincial award at the Farm Progress Show held in Regina last June, gave three presentations in Australia earlier this year, the speaking tour coming as a direct result of their award.
Following the award presentation in Regina, something Jennifer Lindgren termed at the time as “pretty darned exciting” noting as well, “the other nominees were pretty incredible,” the couple advanced to the national competition.
“It was pretty intense,” said Jordan in a recent interview with Yorkton This Week.
“You’re being judged as soon as you walk into the hotel,” added Jennifer.
In the end the national awards would go to producers in Alberta and Quebec, but the Lindgrens were not overly disappointed because of the connections they’ve made.
“It was an interesting experience,” said Jordan. “It’s like we’re part of a big family (now).”
Jennifer said ultimately being part of the process both provincially and nationally built connections between the finalists and extending to participants from previous years as well.
“We’re all super close now,” she said, adding they even group chat via social media to stay connected.
The connections turned out to go beyond the circle of participants.
“The night of the presentations at nationals, we got an email from a gentleman in Australia,” said Jordan.
It turned out the contact from the Grains Research and Development Corporation was looking for a speaker for a meeting in Australia.
Initially, the Australian group had apparently thought about seeking a producer in Great Britain, but they thought the farming would be too different, said Jordan.
“The UK didn’t really translate to Australia,” he said.
So they Google searched outstanding young farmer in the United States, but came up empty, which had him turn the search to Canada, where Google brought him to the Lindgrens.
The Lindgrens eagerly accepted the invitation and headed to Australia, doing a series of three presentations, the largest speaking to 700 producers in Perth.
Jennifer said it was interesting to see the commonalities of farming here and in Australia, where wheat and canola are main crops for both countries.
Jordan said in terms of their presentation they had been asked to talk about their operation, and to have lots of photographs, adding it helped that they had gathered a lot of information for the Outstanding Young Farmer Awards.
The photos which garnered the most interest were those of a Saskatchewan winter.
“That was super exciting for them,” said Jennifer.
Jordan added the Australian producers were amazed, if not shocked, that he would be out hauling grain when temperatures dipped as low as they do in Saskatchewan.
The Lindgrens have always seen themselves as having a role in helping share information with other farmers. They do that by partnering with local agriculture distributors to host the ‘Field of Dreams’ tour that is held annually on their farm, which is an opportunity to share trial results from previous years and showcase the current trials that are focused on new genetics, applications and variable fertilizer rates.
And, for the first time in 2018, they became a part of educating the next generation as they incorporate a ‘Food Farm’ into their operation which is an interactive tour geared at educating Grade 3 and 4 students on agriculture.
Both undertakings played a prominent role in their Australian presentation.
The Lindgrens said there was a great deal of interest in the ‘Food Farm’ concept as producers in Australia are working to get more agriculture into the education system.
Of course there were lots of questions for the Canadian couple.
“As soon as we got off the stage people were just swamping us,” said Jennifer.
There was also a look at the Saskatchewan farm.
The couple started out farming with Jordan’s father and uncle, buying some land of their own, and working in what evolved into a three-way partnership.
Over time Jordan had assumed the management role, and then about eight years ago the couple bought out Jordan’s father and uncle.
“We had to buy everything,” said Jordan in an earlier YTW interview, noting his father and uncle deserved to be paid for what they had built up through their partnership of near four decades. “It’s what they had worked their whole entire lives for. They deserved getting the most they could out of all their hard work.”
There was never any hesitation to buy out the farm, but it took planning. There were kitchen table discussions regarding succession, and Jordan and Jennifer were helped out by having some of their own land and equipment to soften the impact of taking over.
“We were preparing for it … We had built up to where we were able to do it,” said Jennifer on a farm visit last year.
The move increased the couple’s debt load, but Jordan said debt is part of farming these days. If someone is going to farm “debt is going to be part of it,” he said.
“If there’s no risk, there’s no reward,” added Jennifer.
Jordan said having Jennifer on the farm where she can bring meals to the field is a huge asset. He said having a hot, home-cooked meal is something his employees look forward too during the busy seeding and harvesting seasons, the time of sharing a meal being a key element of building camaraderie.
Keeping workers happy is important on an operation where they employ two full and four seasonal people get all the work done.
Jordan said he tries to create a working atmosphere where he’d want to work himself, if he were not farming. The workers are looked at almost as extended family.
Jordan said he needs good workers because his focus is on dealing with breakdowns, planning crop sales, doing the management that increasingly has his attention on a computer screen rather than the steering wheel of a tractor.
The farm staff may soon include an Australian.
As a result of their speaking tour Jordan said they have received a resume from a young man, who wants to come to Canada to work on their farm after he completes his four-year agriculture course,
“He would come in July and stay for the harvest run,” said Jordan, adding he would then go home to help with harvest in Australia before coming back to spend a complete seeding to harvest cycle in Canada.
The couple are considering the resume closely, recognizing it as an opportunity to gain from the young worker’s knowledge in Australia.
“It’s opening some of these doors,” said Jordan, reflecting back on the Outstanding Young Farmer Award.
“We’re starting to see the opportunity to make the connections,” echoed Jennifer. “… Really it’s such a small world today. You can learn stuff from everybody.”