Bringing the Farm to your Family’s Table

It’s rare that I hear about a food company operating with similar core values as myself which is why I was so excited to learn about the health-promoting family-driven philosophy of Yorkshire Valley Farms.   So after a few preliminary conversations with the owners, and an extensive sampling session (for research purposes, of course), I was thrilled to be asked to contribute for the inaugural Yorkshire Valley Farms’ blog post.

Nick Ahrens

I sat down with 5th generation farmer, Nick Ahrens, to talk about his early exposure to organic eating, and the pleasure of farm to table dining. Unlike most men today whose childhood memories consist of day-long videogame tournaments and cartoon marathons, Nick told me about a very different weekend itinerary for himself as a young boy. Growing up on his family’s Peterborough farm meant learning his parents’ sacred organic farming traditions “as soon as [he] was physically able”, and fostering an early appreciation for the delicious meal that would conclude a long day of work.

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Now if this was me working alongside my family all day, you can bet that my sister and I would spend dinner hour arguing over who collected the most milk, or whose chicken laid the best eggs.  But as Nick explained, being born into a family-run business actually helped foster a “sense of connection between family members” where teamwork and trust were engrained at a very early age.  That meant that in contrast to my hypothetical family scenario, dinner hour for the Ahrens was time to reflect on their gratitude and pride in having a superior-quality product on the table, and a happy, healthy family to share it with.  Sounds a heck of a lot more peaceful then the meal-time shenanigans my poor mother endured.

Thankfully, many years and chicken dinners later, with the large-scale success of his co-owned company, Yorkshire Valley Farms, today Nick is sharing his childhood dinner experience with other Canadian families.

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Unlike the scarce Canadian markets the family encountered when beginning organic farming 16 years ago, today the country’s demand for organically certified products is clear.  And while it seems obvious that factory farm operations could likely meet this growing demand, I have always wondered if that underlying corporate approach to production would compromise the types of healthful, sustainable farm practices that Nick learned at an early age.  That’s why Yorkshire Valley Farms handpicks a small number of local growers who possess the same passion and family-run holistic philosophy as Nick and the other founding farmers.

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Yorkshire Valley Farms feeds these farmers the opportunity to grow and build a sustainable farming operation that they can pass down to their children- children, who, like Nick, have shared a pride, passion and love of farming at their dinner table growing up.

It is so refreshing to know that the chicken I’m feeding my family is not simply a product of a business transaction, but rather, is the result of a healthy, happy, flourishing relationship between farmers and families who are all working towards the same goal- to feed Canadian families good food.

So if you’re one of the millions of Canadians searching for locally grown, hormone-free, organic, free-range, and delicious chicken to feed your growing family, look for Yorkshire Valley Farms products and start some dinnertime traditions tonight.

Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), an avid food and recipe writer and blogger, a passionate home chef, a food event hostess and the founder of Abbey’s Kitchen food media brand.  She believes that a pleasurable relationship with food is inherently essential for good health.