Pirmin Kummer, owner of Timber River Eco Farms, was named Farmer of the Year during the recent annual Port Elgin Exhibition. Shown here, left to right are: Katrine, Pirmin, Finnegan and Benjamin Kummer, Con Rommens, director of the Botsford and Westmorland Agricultural Society. LEBLANC PHOTO
PORT ELGIN, NB – A local potato producer has been named Farmer of the Year during the Port Elgin Exhibition, which was held last week at the exhibition grounds in Port Elgin.
Owners of Timber River Eco Farms, Pirmin Kummer, along with his wife Katrine and two of their three sons, Finnegan and Benjamin, accepted the award during the official opening of the exhibition last Thursday evening.
On behalf of the Botsford and Westmorland Agricultural Society, director Con Rommens, made the presentation to the Kummer family.
Rommens noted that Pirmin and Katrine Kummer and their three month-old son Jonathan immigrated to Canada in 1993, settling into a farm on the Murray Road. Several years ago the family purchased a larger, heritage farm nearby on the Blacklock Road and relocated there.
Over the past 21 years the Kummer’s mixed operation has grown to include 850 acres of cash crop land; 30 per cent of that is used to produce table and seed potatoes, while the remainder is used for the production of mainly barley, in addition to oats, rye, hay, ploughed-down grasses and legumes.
The Kummers promote sustainable and environmentally-safe farm practices that include buffer zones, grass waterways, wide crop rotations and the reduced usage of pesticides.
Potato production provides a large part of their annual revenue, with table potatoes produced under their trademark name, Timber River Eco-Spuds and sold in Sobeys affiliate stores throughout the Maritime Provinces. Special varieties of seed potatoes are also produced and shipped to markets in Mexico and the US.
Pirmin Kummer is a long-time director of the Chignecto Soil and Crop Improvement Association, and a member of the Environmental Farm Club, New Brunswick Potato Agency and the New Brunswick Seed Growers Association.
“We saw an opportunity and came over here 21 years ago. Mind you, it wasn’t easy in the beginning, but it’s alright now.” Pirmin Kummer
“I was always involved in farming; in Germany (where he grew up), farming is considered a trade, so I did an apprenticeship in farming, and then went to university to study agri-science. But I always wanted to have my own farm. We saw an opportunity and came over here 21 years ago. Mind you, it wasn’t easy in the beginning, but it’s alright now,” he said with chuckle.
Pirmin and Katrine met in soil science class at university in Germany.
“I worked in the environmental field and married a farmer, so I knew what I was getting into,” Katrine said with a smile.
The couple both have much respect for their employees, some of whom have worked alongside them for many years.
“They are very dedicated and we couldn’t have done what we’ve done without them,” she noted.
Timber River Eco Farms currently employs three to four full-time staff with that number increasing to about 11 during production season.
One of the first agricultural operators to utilize an environmental farm plan, the Kummers’ approach pest reduction from an ecological standpoint.
“We don’t use any herbicides whatsoever on the potatoes, we just cultivate; and then it’s a reduced use of pesticides. You have to use certain products for blight, otherwise it would be a disaster. We were one of the first to have buffer zones around our field to control run-off and we work with conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, and we have hedgerows to help control pest infestation,” he explained.
In the future the Kummer’s plan to continue with their potato production, raising their sons to respect the ecological farm practices they currently utilize.