SHEMOGUE, N.B. – A large crowd turned out last Sunday afternoon to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Timber River Eco Farms potato production facility in Shemogue, near Port Elgin.
In 1993 Pirmin Kummer brought his wife Katrine and their three-month old son Jonathan to Canada to pursue a dream of owning and operating a farm.
Born and raised in Germany, Kummer studied agriculture and spent two years as a farm apprentice before returning to university where he earned a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Science.
“I always knew I wanted to be a farmer, to raise my children in the country, in the open air and on the land. Jonathan (the oldest of the Kummer’s three sons) was just three months old when we came here; Benjamin and Finnegan were born here. It was hard for Katrine at first… but we have always felt welcome here; the schools are good and the children did well…” Kummer said at his farm recently.
After completing a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, Jonathan is now spending some time working the farm with his father and although it’s as yet undecided whether the younger man will follow in his father’s footsteps on the farm, the pair is having a good time working the farm together.
“It’s his decision whether he wants to continue with it. Farming was my own dream but I’ve never pushed it on the boys; we just want them to be happy in whatever they choose to work at,” Kummer said.
He added that anyone choosing to farm, particularly in south-eastern New Brunswick has to really want to do it.
“…You have to really love it just to be able to cope with the ups and downs and the long hours,” Kummer said.
The operation currently harvests about seven million pounds of potatoes each year and grows about 220 acres of cereal crops which are sold to a local dairy farm for feed with straw going to local cattle producers for bedding.
Eco-Spuds™ , the Timber River Eco Farms brand is sold at Sobeys and Foodland stores across Atlantic Canada and into Ontario. The potatoes, packaged at their own warehouses on the farm, also pass through a metal detector before being sealed in heavy paper bags.
“It’s a precaution. Unfortunately, with the problems producers in other areas were faced with several years ago (people claiming they had found nails and needles in bags of potatoes), most potato producers installed metal detectors in their packing lines,” he said.
Kummer also credits his dedicated employees for helping to make the business a success, employing seven – 10 people on a seasonal basis.
And despite the hot, dry summer that followed a couple early frosts, Kummer’s crops produce a good yield of potatoes, for the most part because of the many improvements he’s made to the soil to increase drainage and reduce erosion.
And while Eco-Spuds™ are not rated as specifically organic, they are grown with a minimum of chemical fertilizers and no herbicides are used at all. Instead, Kummer prefers to cultivate crops, also letting some fields return to natural habitat for birds and animals, which helps with insect problems as well; in some areas he partners with Ducks Unlimited.
Caring for the land is a priority for Kummer so as soon as a crop is harvested, it is seeded again with forage crops which are later tilled back into the soil to enrich the land and prevent erosion.
“As soon as we’re done harvesting we seed the field right away, either with cover crops or grass. So most of the time, even right after the potato harvest, you’ll see green fields and that helps to prevent erosion,” he said.
After 25 years, Kummer said he’s ready to slow down the pace a bit, but for the foreseeable future will continue to produce the top quality potatoes for which Timber River Eco Farms is well-known in the marketplace.