Ruth Vogel was on hand at North Gower Grains Customer Appreciation Day, providing information on what the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has to offer as well as information on the Farmer Wellness Initiative. Tinkess Photo

By Terry Tinkess
AgriNews Staff Writer

NORTH GOWER – If you make your living in agriculture, then you know all too well that there is always something to do. There is always something that needs doing, something that needs fixing, something that needs planning, always something. Agriculture is much more than just a career, it is a 24 hour a day, seven days a week lifestyle choice, which means that any day that gives you a chance to catch your breath and spend time with friends and colleagues and share information is particularly welcome, especially when it comes with a really great meal.

North Gower Grains, located at 2518 Lockhead Road in North Gower provided one such opportunity with their 2023 Customer Appreciation Day on Wed., June 28. Cars and trucks started filing onto the property shortly before 10:00 a.m. and by the time the last person arrived it was possible that nearly 1,000 would drop by.

North Gower Grains is a family owned and operated grain elevator. Founded by Dwight and Ruth Ann Foster, the elevator was built to fill a need:  a result of a lack of storage in Eastern Ontario during the busy harvest season. That year (2008), the Foster’s had to leave 400 acres unharvested because there were no local storage facilities that could handle their crop. That’s history now, and they haven’t looked back.  They have become an integral part of the farm community and a fixture in the region. Their children are becoming fully involved in its management and operation, handling wheat, soybeans, and corn, while offering competitive storage rates, flat pricing, basis contracts, forward pricing contracts and delayed pricing contracts. This is their 16th year in business. 

As people were arriving Dwight Foster could be seen making the rounds, chatting a bit, shaking hands, but with that many people, it would be nearly impossible to spend a lot of time with everyone. Did he really expect to have 1,000 people attend? “Maybe, it’ll be what it’ll be,” he said with a smile.”

Foster agreed that it is important to take time for events like this, and getting together is something many look forward to. “That’s what we’re hoping for,” he said. “If everyone learns one little thing and has one little laugh and gets one good meal, then I think the day will be a success.”

When asked for his thoughts on the year so far, Foster expressed optimism:  Overall, 2023 seems to be shaping up well. “Crops went in in great shape this spring and things are looking real good,” said Foster. “We’re happy with the rain.”

In addition to good food and good friends, there was also a lot of good information on tap. Ottawa Valley Farm Show, Farm Credit Canada (FCC), Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and the Farmer Wellness Initiative, Algonquin College, O’Farrell Wealth and Estate Planning and many more, all offering information and ready to answer questions.

As you looked around the enormous implement shed that had been converted into a dining hall (complete with flowers on the tables) you could easily see that the best word to describe farming is community. With coffee and donuts available, people gathered in groups large or small, and talked. No phones, no screens, just face-to-face conversation on whatever topic seemed appropriate, with the understanding that tomorrow it would be back to business as usual, but maybe with a thought, an idea, or a solution you picked up from your neighbour.