For 50 years, farm families from northern and central Alberta communities have been recognized as the recipients of the Farm Family Award. The Northern and Central Agricultural Service Boards select outstanding families who best represent values of the family farm within their rural community. The award honours both their farming business practices and community involvement. Each recipient
receives a commemorative gate sign and are honoured at the
Farm Family Awards Gala.
Meet the 2022 Award Recipients
Ellwood & Fred Splane
Splane Family Farms
Splane Family Farms is a grain and cattle operation near Boyle, Alberta. Erwin Splane bought the first home quarter for $1,100.00 in 1939 in what was then the Municipal District of Cartier at the time. Erwin won the Farm Family Award in 1972 as a pioneer farmer with limited experience. Ellwood and Fred farm 10 quarters of hayland, 570 acres silage, 3,500 acres of grain and have 430 head of cattle. Along with the farm responsibilities, community, church, and 4-H are very important to the Splane Family. Doris was a municipal councillor for 20 years retiring in November 2021, and Ellwood was a leader in 4H for over 30 years. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Big Lakes County
George & Ted Blackhurst
Blackhurst Ranch Ltd.
Blackhurst Ranch Ltd. was established in 1993 by George and Ted who now run 1800 head of cattle in the Prairie Echo community of Big Lakes County. They run their operation from the saddle and over the years have worked to keep their operation on horseback and reduce the dependency on machines by rotational strategies, calving timing, winter feeding, and sales strategies. The family values their community by volunteering at their local rodeo and having ties to the High Prairie Provincial Grazing Reserve. Their children are also heavily involved with 4-H and sports. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Municipal District of Bonnyville
Bill, John, & Tom Wakulchyk
The Wakulchyks immigrated to Canada from Russia in 1928. The original homestead of the Wakulchyk’s was near Garth until 1948 when a medical emergency prompted the family to move closer to town in Iron River. The farm grew with a sawmill, 2000 acres of crop, 2000 acres of forage and pasture and a cattle operation of 120 cow/calf pairs. The future of the farm will continue in the third generation helping the brothers continue the operation. Several family members each served 25 years volunteering with the Iron River Fire Department, Land of Lakes recreation and serving in local churches. The Wakulchyk’s community has come to know their farm office as the “coffee shop” where anyone from the community can stop by for a coffee and a visit. The brothers will tell you over the years they have served more coffee than any place in town.
Blaine and Dezeree Strauss
Strauss Farms Inc.
Strauss Farms Inc., founded in 2003, is owned and operated by Blaine and Dezeree Strauss. They run a mixed grain and cattle operation with 3000 acres of grain and 50 cow/calf pairs located near Forestburg. The family is heavily involved in their community with Forestburg Arena, Thunderstars Hockey Association, Forestburg and Daysland Minor Baseball Associations, Forestburg Agricultural Society, Hastings Coulee 4-H Beef Club, School Council, Forestburg Swim Club, and the Forestburg Hot Lunch Society. The Strauss homestead is a Century Farm where Blaine’s aunt and uncle currently reside and farm.
County of Grand Prairie
Michael & Melody Vavrek
Vavy Valley Farms
Michael Vavrek founded Vavy Valley Farms in 1947. He was one of the first farmers to grow canola in the county. The Vavrek’s are currently raising cattle, mixed grain, and oilseed on 3200 acres. The family prides themselves on their efficiency in completing spring and fall clean up as well as weed control in their fields resulting in the best crop yields in their area. In 2012, the farm received the Elite Barley Grower of Alberta Award. In addition to their immaculate farm, the family has a strong connection to the curling community, where they have taken home the provincial and national championships. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Lac Ste Anne County
Grant & Tanya Chittick
Chittick Family Farms
The Chittick Family Farm was established in the Mayerthorpe area when Jack Chittick, Grant’s grandfather, immigrated from Ireland. The family operated a purebred Hereford operation until Grant and Tanya took over the family farm. The original homestead was then sold, and 2 quarters were purchased near Anselmo. The Chittick’s began raising around 500 head of cattle including Red and Black Angus, purebred and fullblood Simmentals and Herefords. Grant and Tanya won the Purple Heart Award that the Anselmo Willing Workers 4-H Club awarded them for their stellar volunteer work within their community.
Myron & Terry Zacharko
Zacharko Family Farms
Zacharko Family Farms, operating since 1941, is a 1400-acre grain operation in Lamont County. The Zacharko family was awarded the title of “World Oat King” in 1962. In 1977, Myron and Nadine Zacharko moved to the farm and took over the operations, Myron also started a trucking company in 1971 while still running the farm. The family are dedicated members of the Skaro Ukrainian Catholic Parish where they volunteer their hours to the church, hall, and yard maintenance. The family also can be found volunteering with Ukrainian dancing, basketball, volleyball, ringette, and any other school activity that may need their services.
Steven & Theresa Reminsky
The Reminsky farm started in 1965 as a grain and dairy operation. Over the years the operation has expanded and changed to 2000 acres of grain, 400 acres of hay, 400 acres of pasture, and 120 purebred registered and commercial Red Angus. Steven and Theresa celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary this year with a yearly community pig roast to bring the community, family, friends, and business associates together. It has become a tradition that the community looks forward to. They are strong supporters of the local 4-H program as well as the Wild Sheep Youth Camp, the Alberta Wild Sheep Association, conservation programs, and hunting.
County of Minburn
Kevin & Carmen Kassian
Kassian Farms Inc.
Kevin and Carmen Kassian own and operate Kassian Farms Inc. along with their son Carson and daughter Camille. The Kassians come from a long line of farmers starting with Kevin’s great grandfather who immigrated from Ukraine in 1898 and started the farm. Today the farm consists of 4000 acres of crop land and 400 cow/calf pairs. The Kassian family are very involved in their community including the Innisfree-Minburn 4-H Beef Club, the Innisfree & District Agriculture Society, Innisfree Delnorte School Council, and Ukrainian Dance. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
County of Northern Lights
Gerrit & Laurelle Monster
Monster Family Farm
Monster Family Farm has been owned and operated by Gerrit and Laurelle Monster since 2011. They are first generation grain farmers and have grown their current operation from 800 to 2800 acres. Gerrit immigrated to Canada in 1996 with a dream to have his own grain farm. He started his farming career with hogs and moved onto beef cattle. The family moved to Wisconsin to own and operate a dairy farm for a few years and then later moved back to the Grimshaw area and purchased their current grain farm. Gerrit is a UFA delegate for the Grimshaw area and sits on the board at North Peace Applied Research Association. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Graham & Laressa Jespersen
Glory View Farms
Glory View Farms is a dairy and crop operation that started over 100 years ago. Graham and Laressa are now the fifth generation on the family farm. Over the years the farm has changed, however the vision to be the best stewards of the land and cattle as remained front and centre. The Jespersens have 3700 acres of crop land along with 190 dairy cows. They play a large role in their community, serving as a board member of the Spruce Grove Alliance Church and the Stony Plain Seed Cleaning Cooperative. They also participate in Alberta Milk promotions such as “Meet a Dairy Farmer”. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Smoky Lake County
Andy & Shawnalee Shwetz
The Shwetz Family
Ace High Farms Ltd. is a grain and cattle operation. Andy and Shawnalee manage 2000 acres of crop and 70 head of cattle. The Shwetzs prioritize the building organic matter and soil health to allow the farm to be managed for generations. This year they planted 60-acre plots of microbiology soil treatments on cereal and oilseed crops to gauge crop response, including a tissue sampling program to understand nutrient variation. In addition to taking care of their farm, the Shwetzs belong to the Thorhild Ukrainian Dancing Club, 4-H, the St Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and the Waskatenau Youth Foundation. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Daniel & Victor Majeau
Majeau Ag Enterprises Ltd.
Majeau Ag Enterprises Ltd., operating for over 80 years, is a 6100-acre grain and hog operation. Dan and Vic’s grandfather settled in the area after traveling from Quebec for harvest excursions during the 1930’s. Currently Majeau Ag Enterprises has 500 sows, and 220 hogs go to markets weekly, which includes supplying the greater Vancouver area; specifically, Langley, B.C. When the family farm started with hogs 30 years ago there was over 200 registered hog producers I Alberta, today there are only a handful. Dan and Victor both serve on several local and provincial organizations and boards. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
County of Wainwright
Aric & Don Pare
The Pare Family has been in the Chauvin area since 1917. Their farm is currently managed by the 4th generation with a 5th generation ready to take over. Pare Farms is now a 4500-acre grain operation, however in the past the Pare family has also raised cattle, horses, pigs, and chickens on their operation. When the family is not working on the farm, they travel with Aric for his outriding career with the CPCA & WPCA chuckwagon circuits. The Pare family also has deep connection with their community by volunteering for the fire department, Agricultural Society, Elks of Canada, arena committee, and coaching hockey. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Don & Debbie Breitkreitz
Clearwater Farms is owned and operated by Don and Deb Breitkreitz. The Breitkreitz farm is a mixed cattle and grain operation with over 350 head of cattle and 3000 acres of corn, peas, and Faba beans. The Breitkreitzs reduce tillage by using direct seeding with the use of air drill and crop rotation. When Don and Deb are not working on the farm, they are volunteering in their community with 4-H as communications judge, an organizer and leader of bible camp and Sunday school, the local fire department, agricultural society, and as the community baseball and hockey coach. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Farm Family Awards Through the Years
Since its launch in 1969 the Farm Family Awards program has recognized outstanding Farm Families who are dedicated to their farms and communities. To access the records of past recipients for the Farm Family Awards, click on the year: