“We are always looking at ways to make things work a lot better”
More than 75 people gathered to honour Dallas Vert and Natasha Pospisil, owners of three distinct agricultural businesses located in and around Kirriemuir, Ab., as Alberta/NWT’s Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF) for 2019.
The winners were announced at the regional event held at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Red Deer on Fri. Feb. 8.
Dallas and Natasha own and operate three businesses all based in agriculture; Conquest Agro. Services Ltd., Dryland Agro Services Ltd. and Kirriemuir Ag and Oil 2009 Ltd.
Conquest Agro Services consists of an 11,000 acre grain farm with land in both Alberta and Saskatchewan while Dryland Agro Services is an independent retail outlet for fertilizer, seed and chemical which reaches a customer base approximately 40 miles in diameter.
Lastly, Kirriemuir Ag & Oil Ltd. is a general store located in Kirriemuir which holds automotive parts, agricultural parts and a post office to keep locals tied into important necessities during the busy seeding and harvest seasons.
Between all three businesses, they employ four full-time staff which goes up to nine full-timers when the busy seasons arrive.
Conquest Agro strives to improve the sustainability of the farming operation by implementing progressive management practices to increase the viability of the soils within the farm, in hopes of leaving the land in a high producing state for future generations.
This progress is achieved by the knowledge gained from their other businesses and work with various companies.
The business works in many markets that branch off the farm but are strongly rooted in agriculture.
Advancements in modern farming techniques and equipment have been one of many aspects they utilize for their own personal operations.
“We are really early adopters on technology like sectional controls and auto calibration equipment just to make everything more efficient and easier on everybody,” said Dallas.
“We are always looking at ways to make things work a lot better,” said Dallas.
Dallas and Natasha believe in the success of rural life and community and pride themselves on hard work and their vision for diversification within agriculture.
“It’s fun and we are really involved in the community so it’s a lot of fun to see and keep these rural areas going,” said Dallas.
Tied to making the community viable
As for community events, they are very active in keeping the area viable. Dallas is the president of the local Lions Club and Natasha is heavily involved in the school system as she sits on the private kindergarten board.
They partner with several local outlets such as playgroups and Neutral Hills, a community adult learning society based in the area.
With Parent Link, the community gathers for a monthly potluck and movie night and a weekly playgroup for younger children.
“There is no social outlet, you know what I mean? It’s not like ‘Hey, let’s go have dinner.’
“No one is going to drive half an hour to go have pizza in Consort so we all get together and once a month we do potlucks,” explained Natasha.
“We are pretty tied to making the community viable.”
Their story began when Natasha was visiting Dallas’s father about a pipeline deal as she is a land agent. She met Dallas in the process.
A few months before they were married in 2009, they bought the local store.
In 2011, they bought the fertilizer plant all the while working with Dallas’s parents farming. By 2009, the remainder of their cattle were sold to focus on the grain side.
“We just started expanding fairly heavily after we sold the cows,” said Dallas. “I went to Olds College and finished in 2003 and started custom spraying and that’s how we got in with the fertilizer plant as I was using all of his chemicals to spray for farmers.”
Their children, Reese, six, and Tegan, three, also take part in odd jobs around the store or outside.
“They’re here everyday. They are just part of the scenery,” joked Natasha. “They have the little jobs that they do and Reese is in school full-time now so I just have Tegan.”
Nominated by neighbours
Dallas and Natasha were nominated by their neighbours, Craig and Jinel Ference of Double F Farms, who happened to win the same award last year.
“It’s really cool because we are two really different farms so like they have quite a large feed lot with corn and custom operation and we’ve got the three businesses and just the straight grain farm so we have two very different diversified aspects out of the same town,” said Dallas.
From there, the nominees go through a series of interviews about their business, community contributions and more.
Each nominee also presents a 30-slide presentation and listens to guest speakers.
This process determines who is deserving of the award and who may move on to compete at the national level.
Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmer Program past president, Luanne Lynn was happy with the recipients that were chosen, especially the Verts.
“You can’t help but feel the energy and passion that Dallas and Natasha have for their farm and the whole of agriculture. They are always seeking out new opportunities and are not afraid of investing hard work to see where these opportunities will take them.
“The four outstanding finalists in the AB/NWT regional event exhibited a passion for their farm businesses, communities and agriculture.
“They should all be proud of their accomplishments to date as it has not always been an easy road to get there,” she concluded.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Natasha. “[We are] humbled because for people to recognize you in that light makes you take a step back.”
The combined power of like-minded individuals, connection and future goals have inspired the couple to continue their work in agriculture and education surrounding the field.
“We don’t think that we are doing anything outstanding. We’re just doing what we enjoy and love to do and that probably showed through when we were presenting – the passion and the enjoyment we get out of it. Yeah, we have some bad days but most of them are pretty good,” said Dallas.
Four Alberta recipients recognized
The Alberta Region of Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers Program were pleased to honour four recipients at their event in Red Deer.
The couples recognized were Andrew and Denise Mans of Mans Organics of Coaldale, Ab., Jordan and Tynnell Schmaus of JTS Farms of Bruce, Ab., Jared and Julia Serben, Seben Farms of Smoky Lake, Ab., and finally Dallas Vert & Natasha Pospisil for their businesses.
In order to potentially win, a farm or business integrated in the industry is nominated.
Celebrating 39 years, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture.
Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year.
Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2019 will be chosen at the National Event in Fredericton, New Brunswick from Dec. 3 – 8, 2019.