By Eraina Hooyer
Traditions and history are strong in Ponoka and Ponoka County but when it comes to preserving family farms, there are not many around today that have been passed down through the generations. Ponoka County honoured the Hagemann family with the Farm Family award, recognizing their agricultural involvement and history.
The Hagemann family is one of the few that has kept the family farm operating from generation to generation.
The matriarch of the family and first generation of the Hagemann farm, Jane Lafreniere, was pleased with the family receiving the honour and hopes to see the farm continue to prosper in the family.
“I think this is wonderful, we have worked hard for it throughout the years. There have been many changes since we have started,” said Jane. “We used to do it all with horses and we did a lot of tearing up with that old ox. The farm has been in the family for a long time and I wouldn’t want to see it sold as long as I’m still here.”
Jane and her late husband Louis Hagemann, began the tradition when they purchased the original half section of land in 1942 and over the years they created a typical mixed farm.
Jane played a major role in the start of the operation and although she lives in town today, she remains interested in the farm and is a strong support to her family.
Jane’s son, Wayne and his wife Dorothy Hagemann continued the farm operation and they have seen the benefits as well as the downsides to farming. They had a herd of beef cows, a small feedlot and pigs. Wayne was stunned after receiving the phone call from the County giving him the news that they were the Farm Family this year.
“It’s sure quite an honour and a surprise to be awarded, I love the land and it would break my heart to sell it,” said Wayne. “We’ve been doing things better each year, but I guess sometimes Mother Nature makes it difficult.”
The farm operation involved the entire family and through the generations each member had given their support with trying to make it a success.
Dorothy was active in helping out through the ups and downs of the seasons. Her roots deep in agriculture, she was busy on her and her husband’s farm looking after their children, keeping house and doing work around the farm.
“Like a lot of farm wives, I’ve been the helper or the extra person when needed,” said Dorothy. “I grew up on the farm and learned to do the work, and once you know how to do the work they don’t let you forget it.”
The farm, as well as the family values, was passed on to Rob and Shelagh Hagemann and they continue to be a hardworking and dedicated team on and off the farm. Today, they have 960 cropping acres and farm grain and oilseeds.
Rob was proud that his family received the Farm Family award and takes pride in his work and family.
“It’s really quite an honour considering the quality of farms in the area,” said Rob. “I enjoy the lifestyle of farming, more than anything. It’s a good environment for raising your family.”
Shelagh also enjoys living on the farm and says that it is a positive environment for their two growing children, Jayden and Rylan.
“It’s quite a good life,” said Shelagh. “It’s great for our kids, especially for them to have their grandparents close by and their dad around the home.”
The Hagemann’s were nominated by the Ag Service Board for the County and met the criteria of the award.
The Hagemann family was viewed by the County as a quality farm family that worked to increase awareness of agriculture. They keep a high standard in their farming business and promote the agriculture community. They are proactive in agricultural technology and have been a role model to the rural community.
Gawney Hinkley, deputy reeve for Ponoka County, believes that finding a farm in Alberta that is rich in family history is rare and feels that the Hagemann’s deserved the honour and recognition.
“Multi-generation farming is hard to find,” said Hinkley. “The Hagemann’s have been an outstanding family ever since they’ve been farming. We couldn’t have had a better farm family.”