Many changes have occured since Wilhelm and Barnhild Pfenning moved their family from Gnodstadt to New Hamburg in 1981. The farm has grown from ~100 acres to ~700 acres, and with this growth our storage and production capacities have had to expand as well. We have become more than a farm, we are now a wholesale distribution centre for fresh, organic produce – always putting local first, and supplementing with import to offer a full selection of organic fruits and vegetables year round! The number of people required to run the farm business has increased as well; around 45 people are employed here year-round, and in the peak of growing and harvesting season this increases to roughly 140. All are considered Pfamily!
Today, the farm is operated by Wolfgang, Regina, Ekk and Jennifer Pfenning, sons of Barnhild and Wilhelm and their spouses. In recent years, some of the next generation have been finding their places in the business; continuing to build our vision for the future.
In 2005, with the business growing, we turned to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) for the first time. It had become increasingly difficult to find enough skilled workers who would be willing to return each season. The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), a division of the TFWP, filled that gap. Some of the first group of migrant workers from Jamaica are still employed by the farm today! Their skills and knowledge of the farm are extensive and they lead our local seasonal teams each year.
The original family farmstead is now a busy hive of almost constant activity – people and trucks coming and going at all hours. The days begin in the wee hours as our small fleet of trucks get loaded with the day’s deliveries. The drivers are usually on the road by 5:30am, and make their way across Southern Ontario to our network of customers. The field teams, which consist of locals, Jamaican migrant workers, and students, gather at 7am to learn where their efforts are needed that day, and they disperse from there. The office and warehouse crews start to arrive at 8am. Throughout the day we have trucks delivering and picking up products, tractors and other farm vehicles coming and going, and customers picking up their orders. The field work usually wraps up around 5pm, but sometimes the days go long. Office and warehouse crews aren’t too far behind. Then the evenings are quieter; cooking smells, conversations and laughter fill the air.
It’s a dynamic, ever-changing place! But underneath all of these changes, our goals and values remain the same: to produce the healthiest and safest food that we are able, to consider the impacts of our actions on future generations and the environment around us, and to do it all with eagerness to learn and adapt.
Check out our photo galleries below to meet our Pfamily and get a glimpse of what life is like on the farm!
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