Durham Region, Ontario
Second generation egg farmers, Ron and Brenda Metcalf have been farming in the Durham Region of Ontario for over 40 years. They raise 22,464 laying hens in a conventional barn, milk 150 purebred Holstein cows and grow over 1600 acres of crops including corn, soybeans, hay and edible beans. The pork and white beans you eat may be from their farm. Plans are underway to build a new barn in 2020 for the chickens with enriched housing for 28,000 birds.
To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, Durham Farm Connections recognized over 150 farm families in Durham Region who have been farming in Canada since 1867 or before. The Metcalf family was honoured to be part of that group. The first generation began farming in the Bowmanville area in 1846 and Ron & Brenda still grow crops on the original Metcalf homestead.
Today their children and partners, Sara & Terry, Michael, Nancy & Dan, Kim & Peter and Emily & Spencer along with their nine grandchildren – Kassidy, Jacob, Miranda, Rylan, Jack, Ruby, Emmett, Madison and Blake share their passion for farming. In fact, the grandchildren are the 5th generation of the family involved in 4-H, one of Canada’s longest-running youth organizations for young people between the ages of 6 and 21. Brenda has been the 4-H coordinator of Durham East 4-H Association for 22 years or more and has been a leader for over 30 years. All the kids have been involved in 4-H as members over the years and several have gone on to be leaders of 4-H clubs too. It’s a family affair - a great organization with opportunities to develop life skills including a greater sense of responsibility.
In addition to their volunteer work with 4-H, Brenda also volunteers with Farm Connections, a local agricultural education program. Farm Connections is designed to have the farming community share their story with students, consumers and the political realm. “It’s really important here because we farm in a very urban area of Ontario,” she says. For the past 14 years, they organize a three-day program in a local arena for Grade 3 children along with an evening open house and 9 years ago, they started a one day program in the local high schools. The “All About Farming “trailer was put on the road in 2014 and travels to fairs and events across the province sharing facts about agriculture. More than 100 volunteers help to educate kids and adults alike.
Bringing the next generation of farmers into the fold is important to the Metcalf family. Nancy and Emily and their husbands Dan and Spencer are now involved in the daily workings on the farm. All of their children, partners and grandkids help out when needed. Sunday night suppers are still an important weekly gathering for their all the family.
The Metcalf family is proud to be Canadian farmers. They take pride in watching their crops grow, seeing the newborn calf take its first breath, shipping their eggs off to Burnbrae Farms and sharing their love of farming with others.