Farm Family Award
Every year, Alberta Agriculture Service Board representatives from local rural municipalities nominate a farm family for their contributions and commitment to agriculture and their communities. All nominees are honored at the Farm Family Award Ceremonies held in conjunction with the Calgary Stampede.
Kneehill County Ag Services Board & Council recognize together, with the Calgary Stampede and Bank of Montreal (BMO) the importance of honoring farm families. Those who best typify the ideals and way of life for the farm family unit and their contributions to the enhancement of the family's quality of life, their rural community, and society.
These guidelines include Community Involvement, Agricultural Industry Involvement & Business Updates, Team Farm Management, and Technical Practices.
2018 BMO Stampede Farm Family Award recipients, the Hoppins Family.
When Kevin Hoppins talks about the family farm, the emphasis is decidedly on family.
He's part of the eight families that make up Hoppins Farms Ltd., an operation that's grown to a sprawling 8,000 acres from the original quarter section homesteaded west of Huxley by his great-grandfather William Hoppins in 1904.
"You'll never hear anyone who is or has been involved in our farm refer to anything as 'mine.' It's all considered 'ours,'" Hoppins says. "It's through the co-operative approach — the sharing of resources, skills and expertise — that we've been able to successfully grow our operation."
The mixed grain farm run by the families — fathers, sons, uncles, cousins and their partners — produces wheat, barley, peas and canola. The families also maintain a herd of 160 commercial Angus/Simmental beef cattle. When Hoppins learned he was the recipient of the 2018 BMO Farm Family for Kneehill County, he wanted to make one thing clear.
"I told them, 'That's not how it works.' It's definitely not any one of our farms. It is a family thing and we are all in it together," he recalls. "At times, we may have eight ideas on how to approach something, but that usually means we have a better outcome and it's done sooner."
That all-for-one, one-for-all outlook has been passed down through the generations, as has involvement in
co-operatives. "It's an extension of the farm. You join together with other folks to do something together that you can't do yourself, like bringing natural gas to rural areas," he says.
Hoppins' grandfather was CEO of the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA), his father was a director and he is currently chairman of the board. Members of the family are involved in everything from Kneehill County Council and the Huxley 4-H Beef Club, toSt. Mary's Community Health Care Foundation and the Trochu Curling Club. It's not uncommon for one member of the family to take over a task for another, allowing them to coach a ball game, respond to a fire call or organize a community event.
In 2004, the Hoppins clan hosted a centennial farm celebration with friends, extended family and community. At the same time, they were honoured with the Alberta Century Farm Award and a Centennial Farm Award from Kneehill County. The families are used to gatherings, another tradition that's echoed through the generations.
"We have a corn roast every year and we have three antique 1950 combines that we break out. We save a bit of the crop and have all the neighbours and friends over," Hoppins says. "And in the winter, a lot of the non-farming family members come for the skating parties we have on the pond."
Another family tradition involves attending Olds College. There's even a photo of the Hoppins Farms Ltd. brand at the College. Various family members specialize in cattle, bookkeeping, pesticide application, mechanics and grain marketing, among other areas. Keeping abreast — and ahead, at times — of advances in agriculture is a priority for the family, as is planning for the operation's future.
"Encouraging others and taking time to share in the process has fostered a love of farming and community," Hoppins says. "We have three third-generation families, five fourth-generation families and the fifth generation is just around the corner helping out on weekends and evenings."