The family farm is just as important today as it was generations ago. Passing on knowledge and tradition, and finding new, smart ways to tackle every crop or product is what this family is passionate about. Robyn is a leader of our campus community in Truro, NS as the president of the Dalhousie Agricultural Students' Association. Learn more about the work of our students on our Campus Life page.
For the McCallum family, farming comes first. Fraser and Helen McCallum, both graduates of the AC, and their four children, Robyn, William, Katie and Daniel are all making their respective marks on agriculture in Atlantic Canada.
“The region where we live doesn’t have a lot of farms, and they’re so important to our lives and economy,” says Helen (Class of ’86). “We’re proud that our farm, and now Robyn and her partner Ryan’s new farm just an hour away, are a part of New Brunswick’s agricultural landscape.”
Helen and Fraser believe that agriculture is a challenging field, but one with a lot of potential and opportunity. “We both truly believe that our local farming community is in a good position to face future industry challenges,” says Fraser (Class of ’84). “It might not always be easy, but it’s incredibly rewarding to see your children as invested in the field as we are.”
The family’s drive, tenacity and commitment to farming is clear. “We feel very attached to the Agricultural Campus and are extremely proud of our children,” says Helen. “Our daughter is working on her PhD, our oldest son graduated last year and is now Service Manager for Dynaco (New Holland) in Miramichi, our youngest daughter is going into her second year, and our youngest son is starting his first year this fall.” “We’re very happy they are all finding their own niche in agriculture,” adds Fraser.
Robyn (Class of ‘13), who is finishing her PhD researching native pollinators and conservation biology in wild blueberries, couldn't agree more. Even after growing up on the family farm, it was her experience at the Faculty of Agriculture that helped her put all of the pieces together. “We’re in such a special position here in Atlantic Canada,” says Robyn. “Our industry is committed, our professors, mentors and educators are invested and dedicated, and I believe that together we can create real change.”
Robyn’s younger sister, Katie, is also carrying on the family legacy at the campus. As a first-year plant science student, Katie had the opportunity to work with the Nova Scotia Crop Development Institute in Truro to research corn, soybeans, canola and cereals for the summer. “I don’t think people realize how diverse agriculture can be and how advanced our farmers are,” says Katie. “Even though I’m just beginning my agricultural studies, I’m looking forward to how the industry will change to feed the growing population.”
The McCallum farm is a perfect example of working farms using the latest technology to find efficiencies, boost production and be as sustainable as possible. “We farm about 250 acres, five of which are in strawberries right now, but we’re working to increase that as demand increases,” says Fraser. They also produce raspberries, grow their own silage and straw for their Simmental cow/calf operation, supply bedding plants for the local community and sell barley to the local feed mill.
“It is so important to keep up with the changes and technology,” says Helen. Fraser agrees that the faculty is keeping its students, and our local farms, at the forefront of agriculture and its ever-changing nature. “Students need to have a good foundation in science combined with the latest technology to be successful farmers, and that’s what they get at the AC,” he says.
The family agrees: They’re excited for what the future holds. And in a community of smart, dedicated farmers and scientists, the McCallum’s are sure to change our world for the better.