A local couple that have really been at the forefront of pioneering an industry have been recognized for their efforts.
Patrick and Cherylynn Bos, who operate Rock Ridge Dairy located southwest of Ponoka, were named the co-winners of the Outstanding Young Farmers of Canada (OYF) award at a ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 24 in Edmonton. A couple from Bluevale, Ontario – the Cronins – that run a hog operation were the other co-recipients in the annual competition that has been running since 1980.
“We were really honoured and humbled to be named winners along with the Ontario couple,” said Cherylynn in a phone interview on Monday, Nov. 30.
The Bos family has run a goat dairy operation for the last 18 years, which now has about 1,400 goats, as well as a milk processing facility for the past nine years that handles a lot of the goat milk produced in Alberta along with organic cow milk. Beside simply bottling the milk, they also produce various dairy products for market across western Canada.
Cherylynn added the award demonstrates how far along their industry has come.
“With the goat dairy industry really in its infancy, this kind of recognition will help to set the industry apart from being just another hobby farm. It shows that there are really different ways of handling the family farm to make it viable in the long term,” she explained.
A big reason for their success – and one of the reasons they were selected for the award – is their commitment to staying on the cutting edge of technology in both the goat milking and processing sides. That includes their recently installed rotary milking system, which is one of the most technologically advanced systems of its kind in North America.
“Definitely, it is our volume of production and our willingness to remain at the top of the technology model that helps to keep us operating efficiently and remain sustainable,” she stated.
The Bos couple didn’t start out wanting to run a full scale processing facility, but were able to make it work following the closure of two other facilities in the province. It was that show of ingenuity in the face of adversity and having the strength to take a risk in order to keep going that also made them a choice for the judges.
They also try to inspire and educate through tours – the farm hosted more than 600 people last year – as well as giving back to the community. Currently, the Bos’ provide the Calgary Food Bank – as part of the Children’s Milk Program – with a 2.5 cents per litre of milk they sell as a donation.
“Every year, our organization recognizes and welcomes more innovation and more passion with farm families who are helping shape the dynamic future of Canada’s agri-food sector,” said OYF president Luanne Lynn.
“The Cronin and Bos families both exhibit the values of OYF and the agriculture industry in their unique and successful farm businesses.”