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Mark van Zeggelaar – Starlane Holsteins, Delegate – Alberta

“I grew up on a farm and dairy farming is a lifestyle I’ve always loved,” says Mark van Zeggelaar proud Agrifoods Cooperative Delegate and dairy producer in Picture Butte, AB.

Dairy farming has been in the van Zeggelaar family since the mid-1960’s and Mark, a third- generation farmer, runs the 180-head Starlane Holsteins in Southern Alberta with his mom, wife, brother and sister-in-law.

What keeps Mark interested in farming after so many years? “No two days are the same; you’re working with living creatures so there are always new surprises and challenges each and every day! Plus our cows are truly an extension of our family with their own personalities….you develop a bond with each one of them.”

After working on the farm since the time he could walk, the one thing that Mark has welcomed in the past 5 years is the installation of robot milkers – which means he can now sleep in until 6am!

On the rare occasion that they do take a very short break from the farm, Mark, his wife and their two young children enjoy fishing and camping but are always eager to get back to the farm, to the lifestyle they know and love.

Mark has also been an Agrifoods Cooperative Delegate for Alberta since 2015 and says that it’s always exciting to hear about Agrifoods’ brands launching new, innovative products and knowing that he has an ownership in those brands. “I feel proud when I see our brands’ products at grocery stores and see how shoppers grab them up!”

Will Mark ever retire from farming? Probably not but admits that when his children are much older and can help run the farm that he may have time to take up a hobby….although I’m sure it will farming-related!

Meet the Miedema Family – Dairy Farmers from Enderby, BC

Rene Miedema and his father Bouwe are dairy farmers in Enderby, BC, where they own and operate Bomi Farms. Bouwe immigrated to Vancouver from Holland, spent some time working in Sicamous, and eventually bought Bomi Farms in 1976 — the year after Rene was born.

Being raised on a dairy farm, Rene was taught the importance of loving the animals and working the crops. Like his father, he too believes that the farm is a perfect place to raise his family with his wife, Jessica.

Everyday on the farm is different and the Miedema’s take on the daily challenges with pride. Bouwe is a wealth of knowledge and always points Rene in the right direction; together they work as a team because they love what they do. In Bouwe’s words, “You gotta love what you do, or you won’t succeed”.

Profile provided courtesy of the BC Dairy Association.

Mike Kennedy, Lead Hand, Agrifoods Transport Saskatchewan

Orchestrating 15 different driving routes servicing 162 dairy producers throughout Saskatchewan and ensuring to the minute timing is all in a day’s work for Mike Kennedy.

When Mike started with Agrifoods Cooperative 10 years ago as a Relief Driver, he had to learn all of the different routes and how to maneuver on the all-weather, unforgiving roads through the backcountry of rural Saskatchewan. When an opportunity opened up, Mike took on a
permanent driving position and a year and half ago, he moved into the Lead Hand position.

As a Lead Hand Mike schedules the loads in and out; all of the pick ups from the farms throughout Saskatchewan and then the deliveries to the dairies scattered across the western provinces, ensuring that they are on time, every day…. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year regardless of the weather! And it truly is an around the clock operation as only once, 10 years ago, that due to a severe snow storm the highways were all shutdown and they weren’t able to pick up the milk for just one day.

Living in Saskatchewan for the past 52 years, Mike has developed a love for fishing in the province’s northern lakes and getting out into the quiet wilderness. Now that his two children are long since grown-up, you can also find Mike enjoying his spare time building and flying remote control airplanes.

Valérie Fabre, Senior Marketing Manager, Happy Planet

Valérie joined Happy Planet 18 months ago to help launch Happy Planet Creamery – a new line of BC organic, grass-fed, farm to table dairy products – and spearhead its marketing campaigns. Her wealth of experience and positive spirit were essential in establishing Happy Planet’s exciting entry into dairy.

Valérie also plays an integral role in the SIFT (Strategic Innovation Feasibility Team) unit that was set up earlier this year to specifically focus on innovation projects across the Happy Planet and Earth’s Own brands. She loves being part of a team passionate
about creating innovative, tasty and nutritious products that will make a difference in consumers’ life and help the brands flourish and outperform their competitors.

Valérie lives in Vancouver, BC and is mom to two active teenage daughters. Originally from France she has quickly adopted the west coast lifestyle and practices various outdoor activities and sports, such as running, spinning, tennis and ski.

Meet the De Jongs – dairy farmers in Abbotsford, BC

Meet the De Jongs – dairy farmers in Abbotsford, BC
“Buying and consuming locally produced food is one of the most environmentally responsible activities that consumers can do. It stimulates the local economy. It saves on transportation caused pollutants. It ensures a fresh product. I hope this is not a passing fad, but a gateway to stimulate change in agriculture in all regions of our province.”

With more then 35 years of dairy farming under his belt, Ted De Jong comes from a long history of dairy farmers spanning more then 3 generations. It’s safe to say Ted knows a thing or two about the business and uses this know how to continue building an efficient, and sustainable dairy farm where people, cattle, and the land are healthy, happy and productive.

Proponents of hard and honest work, the De Jong family takes immense pride in producing an exceptionally high quality product day in and day out that feeds and nourishes their local community. As Ted is the first to tell you, this truly is the richest return on his work.

Monchito Matienzo – Plant Manager of Meadowfresh Dairy Corporation

Monchito Matienzo, the husband of Rowena Calderon and the father of four musically gifted children, is the Plant Manager of Meadowfresh Dairy Corporation.

Mon, as he is fondly called by his family, friends and colleagues, is a seasoned manager and has extensive experience in food and dairy manufacturing. With more than 20 years’ broad-based dairy processing experience with a multi-national in regions like Asia, Oceania, Africa and the Middle East has allowed Mon to develop his skills and competencies as well as keep up with new technologies in dairy processing. He understands how each part of an operation functions on a very deep level. Mon is a hands-on Plant Manager that is responsible for maximizing daily production. He plays an integral part in Meadowfresh plant operations, special projects and has the responsibility developing and maintaining a motivated staff and for developing and achieving budgetary and production targets.

His passions away from work include helping less fortunate people in the community. Most of his spare time is spent in doing volunteer works with a variety of Charity Organizations. When asked about how he maintains such a strong commitment to volunteering within his community, Mon responds by simply saying, “It is a privilege to be able to give back”

Meet Randal Ius – founder of Happy Planet

Randal Ius, the husband of Marie Dorsey and the father of three smoothie and soup fanatic children, is the Co-Founder and VP Business Development at Happy Planet.

Over the past 20 years, Randal has applied his versatility to every job the company has needed done – his infatuation with connecting people to tasty, nutritious food and drink helps to keep Happy Planet on the cutting edge of the Canadian grocery food scene.

A North Vancouver, BC native, Randal grew up on one of the few true urban farms – his father an avid organic food grower, and raiser of chickens and rabbits imparted his kids with the love of the planet and wholesome ‘local food’. Randal attended Simon Fraser University and BCIT before starting his first venture in 1984, a chocolate manufacturing company which he sold to open some of Vancouver’s first mountain bike shops which he sold to launch Happy Planet.

In his spare time he also serves as the Player Agent for the North Vancouver Little League and he coaches a boys U12 All Star travel team, which keeps him humble and certain that he still has much to learn.

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