The Hoogeveen Family
Ard & Verna, the adventurers, weren’t quite sure if farming was for them, so they took a hold of their wanderlust and went on a year-long journey around the world. Included on this journey was a biking trek across Canada and when they returned to Holland, they knew Canada was their future destination. So in 1995, with a small child in tow, they set off for their permanent adventure to British Columbia.
At first, they worked on Verna’s uncles’ dairy farm and realized that their family ties to farming were more deeply rooted than initially thought and started searching for a farm of their own. In 1997, they bought a mixed farm in Chilliwack built it up to a full farrow-to-finish hog operation. Their farm, Verard Farms, now includes 295 sows and they send approximately 6,500 round and market hogs to Johnston’s annually.
While Ard & Verna were busy being farmers, they also welcomed three more children to their family. The Hoogeveen’s have been able to enjoy the flexible schedule of the farming lifestyle to be active in their four children’s lives and accommodate all their soccer, basketball, and other extracurricular activities. More than just a business, being a farmer offers a quality of life that a regular 9:00am-5:00pm, Monday-Friday career sometimes cannot. Make no mistake, farming is hard work but for the independent with an entrepreneurial spirit, it’s more than worth it.
The Hoogeveen’s take great pride in their farm and raising healthy, happy pigs to send to market; Verard Farms has been shipping to Johnston’s since 1998. Ard admits that it’s difficult not to develop relationships with the pigs he works with everyday. He says, “I have 300 women waiting for me every morning. You do get attached to them. There is no way around it.” It is this love of animals, evident in the way Ard and Verna speak of why they do what they do, that makes their lifestyle choice as farmers the obvious one. They are exactly the type of producers that Johnston’s takes great pride in working with, and values.
When you sit around the Hoogeveen’s kitchen table, you can feel the contentment in their lives. Contentment largely due to their ability to laugh through challenging times. Ard says with a smile, “you have to maintain a sense of humour.” A plaque on their kitchen wall quoting E.E. Cummings, “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter” reinforces Ard’s simple yet true comment. How could we argue?
To quote A. Hoogeveen, “Happy pigs, happy kids, happy wife, happy life.”
Verard Farms in Chilliwack, growing high quality, safe food close to home for fellow British Columbians.