Recipients Northlands Farm Family Award

DEDICATION REWARDED – The Olson family has been working to forge a rural way of life for several generations and has been
awarded a Northlands BMO Farm Family Award for their contributions in the past and their continued work to promote agriculture.
They were presented with the award at Farm Fair in Edmonton on November 9, 2018. – photo courtesy Les Dunford

Athabasca County’s Olson Family has been recognized with a 2018 BMO Farm Family Award. The award was presented at the Farm Fair in Edmonton on November 9, 2018.

Ole Farms Ltd. is a mixed farm that raises purebred commercial cattle and a variety of crops on 60 quarters of land they own and 40 that are rented.

Can you imagine producing 1,500 calves in one year? The Olson family did it in 2007 and has developed a way to continue this type of success until today.

How did it all get started? Kelly and Anna Olson own the homestead quarter that Kelly’s grandfather, Alfred Olson, purchased over one hundred years ago. The couple has three children – Graham, Cheryl and Travis.

The couple started out by building a feedlot in 1979, shifting focus to purebreds and beef cows in 1996. Today they are one of the largest producers of Purebred Angus cattle in Canada.

This size of operation takes a great deal of coordination, communication, expertise and use of technology to stay on top of day to day operations while planning and maintaining growth.

Ole Farms practices rotational grazing, and intensive corn and swath grazing, to save on fuel/equipment and make efficient use of its land base including no-tillage seeding.

Preservation of existing trees and riparian areas is also important. Instead of allowing cattle to enter these areas, wells have been drilled and water piped to the cattle.

Ole Farms has held a “Family Day Sale” of Angus bulls and commercial females annually for 13 years. Livestock from the sale has been sold to buyers from British Columbia clear across to Prince Edward Island and into the United States.

“All members of the extended farm family continue to contribute to the overall success and growth of this operation,” says Warren Griffin, chair of the Agricultural Services Board.
“The Olson family is a strong example of what can be done when determination, hard work and family come together.”

Athabasca County’s Agricultural Services Board advertises for nominations and selects a farm family every two years. The final nomination is submitted to Northlands to receive the award.

They are selected according to eligibility guidelines set out for the award, one of which is the farm family units must be actively farming and consider agriculture as a major source of income.

Past Recipients

1969   Lucien Alfred Guay
1970  The Sale Family
1972   Erwin M. Splane Family
1981   Lawrence Botten
1982   William & Ella Chrusch
1985   Bill Sheremata
1987   Ken & Thelma Stafford Athabasca
1988   Mr. & Mrs. Clem Berube Boyle
1989   Roger & Pauline Morey Rochester
1990   Mr. & Mrs. Jonathon Crest Athabasca
1991   Mr. & Mrs. Charles Rypien Athabasca
1993   Ernie & Carol Siemens Rochester
1995   Herman Freh & Family Colinton
1997   Alex & Emily Kononchuk Grassland
1999   Harold & Phyllis Hood Family Rochester
2000  Ron & Barbara Kwasney Family Athabasca
2001  Mike & Maxine Franchuk Family Wandering River
2002  Douglas & Doris Sundlie Family Wandering River
2006  Dennis & Lesia Popowich Athabasca
2008  Nick Grygus Family Atmore
2010  Keith & Wendy Guay Athabasca
2012  Mike & Florence Kamelchuk Boyle
2014  Athabasca Colony Farms Athabasca
2016  Eli & Nellie Cholach Grassland
2018  Ole Farms Ltd. Athabasca