Our business has two divisions. The original company Kerr Farms Limited, grows conventional crops. Wolfe Creek Organic Farms Limited was added to grow and market organic crops.
Ours is a 3rd generation family business. It was founded by Lawrence Kerr in 1934. His son, Bob and his wife Moira took over in 1971. Bob is now working with his partner Dave Hunter, to develop the third generation management team.
We grow crops on 1430 acres. Our base of operations is on the home farm at 309 Indian Creek Road East on the south edge of Chatham. From our office we are in sight of highway 401 south of us. Our farmland is all tile drained. We have 1156 acres of versatile well drained sandy loam soil, well adapted to growing vegetable crops. It is located near the Thames River. Our subsoil is clay made by a succession of prehistoric lake beds. When the last glaciers melted 11000 years ago, freed of its burden, the land in central Ontario rose. Subsequent flooding of the Thames carried down to us the sandy loam soil rich in limestone parent material from the Niagara escarpment. ( It is the impervious clay below it which necessitates tile drainage.) Geologically speaking, we farm on the Thames River Delta. Our clay land is farther away from the river. It is sticky when wet, slower to dry out, and hard as concrete when compacted and extremely dry. But it is fundamentally rich in nutrients.
We grow a variety of crops, mostly on contract, many of which are labour and management intensive. On the Organic side, we began to transition in 2000, with our first certified organic crop on our own land grown in 2002. We have been gradually transitioning more land to organic, as rewarding market opportunities arose. We grow field scale organic crops utilizing modern efficient equipment. For example, our tractors are equipped with GPS based auto pilot (RTK) which makes precision row crop cultivation for weed control possible to sub inch accuracy.
We make extensive use of cover crops. They protect and stabilize the soil, hold nutrients, nourish the population of microbes in the soil which transfer minerals to crop available form, and take the greenhouse gas CO2 from the atmosphere, to sequester it in the soil as organic matter carbon. We believe that someday agriculture will be recognized for its ability to sequester carbon generated by the fossil fuels that we all use for transportation, electricity and heating our homes. If rewarded, farmers can do a lot more of this.
Our organic crops are nourished by compost which we make on the farm. An important compost ingredient comes from the supervised C-K Municipal yard waste collection sites, recycling chipped shrubbery, wood, leaves and grass clippings. We buy manure from other livestock farms.
In growing our crops, we pay close attention to the availability and balance of minerals in the soil. We intend to do more than produce a good yield in terms of tons or bushels. Our goal is to produce nutrient dense food that keeps well, tastes great, and will be part of the foundation for your good health.
If you visit the farm you might also meet:
- Tom Holtby, Mechanic and Master of all trades
- Siebe (Sid) Dehaas, Mechanic and Designer and Builder of anything
- Franco Basaneze, Foreman, Mechanic, Sprayer, Grower of Tomatoes
- Louis Campeau, Precision Field Operations, Planting, Harvesting and Maintenance
- Robbin McCorkindale, Compost Master, Asparagus Packer, Drainage specialist
- Mike Martin, Skilled Equipment Operator
- Terry Henry, Master row crop cultivator, Skilled equipment operator
- Matthew Hunter, Technology Wizard, Fertility management, Field operations
- Dwayne Steele, Tomato crew leader, planting and harvesting, spreader of compost
- Kenny Forrester, Field Crew leader
- Lise Robert, Office manager
- All of our seasonal staff !!
Note: Everybody does a lot more than the list covers above.