Jenny Butcher and Wes Kuntz, owners of the dairy farm and store on Cockshutt Road in Brant County, have been named Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2021.
They share the honour with Raymond and Tracey Bredenhof, a couple from Abbotsford, B.C., who operate a broiler operation and a hop harvesting and processing plant.
Butcher and Kuntz competed with seven other provincial winners from across Canada to take the national title. The winners were announced early this month in Saskatoon.
The annual event recognizes farmers in Canada, aged 18 to 39, who have “exemplified excellence in their profession while fostering better urban-rural relations.”
“Something that really stood out to me was that all the honourees had such an incredible eye for quality,” said Steve Cooper, chair of the program. “Their livestock, crops, agricultural products and the soil, too. They all are taking this ability and using to drive their operations to incredibly high levels.
Because the event was held virtually, Cooper said the honourees made the most of the small group setting.
“The camaraderie, new friendships and comfort with each other happened very quickly.”
Butcher and Kuntz, who both come from farming families, started in 2008 with a rented barn and a house trailer in Paris where they “started buying cows with what little money we saved,” said Butcher.
For three years they milked the cows before and after their day jobs off the farm. They bought 40 acres in Brant County and, for the next two years, Kuntz used his construction skills to frame a milk house, pour concrete, build a parlour, make freestalls and install curtains inside an existing barn.
The couple eventually got their dairy licence, and Kuntz renovated a former butcher shop on their property into what would become their cheese plant.
Cheese curds have become Little Brown Cow’s signature offering and they sell hundreds of containers a week.
In 2017, the couple bought the building, a former auto body shop, that would become the Little Brown Cow full-service grocery store. They employ eight full-time staff, including two chefs, who prepare an array of frozen dishes.
Virtually everything sold in the store is sourced from within 100 kilometres, said Butcher.
They now milk 70 cows and raise 130 youngstock for both dairy replacement and beef for the store. They process 100 per cent of the milk into cheese, milk and chocolate milk to supply the thriving business.
Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmer’s program has been held for 41 years. It is sponsored, in part, by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Source: The Expositor