Karen and I started FarmFemmes to share the unique perspectives of women in modern agriculture. Over the past few months you have learned a bit about us, our farms, our interests and our perspectives. This week, we wanted to expand the circle of FarmFemmes to feature some other amazing women farmers. Farms all have some things in common, but each farm, and each Farm Femme, is unique. Our first featured Farm Femme is Jill Verwey. I haven’t ever met Jill in person, but when she was elected as a VP at the recent Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) of Manitoba annual general meeting I knew I wanted to find out more about her. To her credit, Jill replied to a message from a complete stranger, and took time out of her life to talk to me. Last week I spoke to Jill about her journey in agriculture, her current priorities and what she has learned along the way. During our conversation several themes emerged: the strong connection between family and farm, the importance of growing your skills and sharing your learning, and the value of interpersonal skills.
Jill grew up on a farm near Neepawa, MB and from a young age she worked on her family’s mixed operation alongside her sisters and brother. She graduated with a diploma in Ag and worked at a bank in Ag and Commercial lending for 13 years. Due to the complex nature of the record keeping involved in their operation, Jill began farming full time in 2000. Throughout the years she has been involved with the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba and a Co-Op board member and began her involvement with KAP about 6 years ago.
Jill currently farms alongside her husband, Ray, and his three brothers as well as two nephews. They operate a mixed farm, with 250 beef cattle, 100 milk cows and 6000 acres of cropland which includes cereals, oils and pulse crops. Jill is a mom of four ag-involved kids, including three daughters and one son; both university age daughters are currently studying ag. It was easy to hear the pride in Jill’s voice when she talked about being part of a multi-generational farm and how that interest in farming was evident in her children.
Keep reading tomorrow to learn more about Jill, her role in KAP and her advice to her younger self.