Bacon Hill Farms
The Soth Family | Pillars of the Community
Living in British Columbia, one learns to adapt to the constant changes in weather. And the Soth Family has weathered all conditions of a tough and demanding, yet rewarding farming lifestyle for almost 29 years as illustrated by their kitchen plaque stating, “Manure Happens.”
Mike Soth was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba and moved to British Columbia in 1969. Mike worked in the farming industry through Junior and High School, however pursued a real estate career. After many years as a successful realtor, Mike began to long for the independent joys that he grew up with on the farm. In 1984, when an empty hog farm came up for sale, Mike jumped on the opportunity for his independence and Bacon Hill Farms came to life.
Like Mike, his wife, Sandra, was also raised on a farm in Chilliwack. They married in 1986 and with Sandra by his side, they worked hard together to breathe life and love into making an empty pig farm into the Bacon Hill family farm.
The Soth family is extremely active and involved in the local farming community. Every family member, including their 3 children, Nicole, Katrina, and Erick, are active 4-H members and have always been connected to agriculture as a result of being raised on the farm. Their children truly make Mike and Sandra proud; knowing that their kids were raised to respect hard work and honest principles that will be a dynamic advantage as they make difficult life decisions.
The Soth family is very familiar with their animals. They get to know the characters of each and every animal. The kids are taught to treat the animals with care and provide the best possible conditions for them to grow. And the love and consideration shown is evident by the hogs’ characters; Bacon Hill pigs are very agreeable and comfortable around people rather than being frightened and nervous.
Bacon Hills and Johnston’s have enjoyed a respectful relationship since 1984 and both are very passionate in working together to continuously make changes and improvements as necessary. Both producer and packer understand the importance of being actively involved with the animals and to cohesively make the small changes to have the big impacts to ensure the BC consumers received the best quality products possible.
One of the biggest changes they have seen in the farming industry is the difficulty in making a living today. Gone are the days of the “rich farmer”; realistically, many farmers have left their lifestyles because they were unable to make their ends meet and that is why Mike is so vocal in the necessity of supporting local – our local farmers, local businesses, those in our community – our neighbors. The facts are farmers are receiving the same amount for today’s pig as they did 28 years ago when he first started in the business. Mike strongly believes in supporting your own local farmers because if we lose our BC farmers and commodity, we will be facing higher import costs and a weaker economy in the long run.
Mike is a great advocator in giving back to the community, as a leader or simply giving neighborly assistance to those in need. Mike is a captain of the volunteer fire department in Columbia Valley, serves as a director on the Hog Marketing Commission and a member the BC Agriculture Nutrient & Air Working Group, and served as a member on the Agricultural Advisory Committee. Mike is involved in various committees to assist the industry’s endeavors to make farming sustainable in the Fraser Valley for the future.
Mike is a firm believer in enjoying life. As much as he believes in hard work, he realizes that you have to give yourself time to regenerate to live and enjoy life. He knows that farming is not a rich profession; you truly have to love and enjoy animals to work and live the hard farming lifestyle.
Mike’s goals in life were to be content, support his community and watch his family grow, with time for hunting and fishing, of course. When asked what his current goals are, Mike stated, “Survive.” Though he was only joking, you can see the truth of the statement in his eyes. Farming runs through their veins and it simply cannot be separated. The joy of a pure, wholesome, independent farming lifestyle is what kept them and will continue to keep them on their family farm, especially through all of the trials and tribulations.