Farmer Profile: Dinsmore Farms, Ontario

Posted by Alex Fletcher on May 16, 2014

Nineteen year old Ken Mills was born into farming and the National Farmers Union.  Dinsmore Farms has been in his family for generations. 
 
What do you produce?
We direct market beef and pork as well as share cropping 50 acres conventionally and growing pasture, forage and grain for our own uses.
 
Size of farm?
100 acres with 9 acres of hardwood bush at the back and 87 acres workable land.
 
Number of years farming?
I have never really started or stopped farming. I haven’t made a career out of it yet but I haven’t left yet either.
 
Farming background?
I will be the 7th generation Mills to farm in Southwestern Ontario and currently live with my family on land that was purchased from my grandparents.
 
How’d you come up with your farm name?
Named after the aging distant relation three times removed who lived on the farm up until the mid 1980’s.  The name is a testament to those who went before.
 
What do you want your farm/farming career to look like in 20 years?
Although I am unsure of whether I will be farming in 20 years I would always like the ability to grow my own food and see that goal driving my decisions throughout life.
 
What song are you loving right now?
A perennial favourite of mine is Fred Eaglesmiths “Rocky”. Despite its dreary content of mouth cancer, it always connects with me when I am depressed.
 
For this upcoming season, what are you most excited about?
Although I am leaving for university in the fall I look forward to a good apple crop with the idea of bottling our own cider.
 
Why did you join the National Farmers Union?
Like many of my compatriots, I was born into the Union. Despite not having a choice I relish the connection it gives me to the past and the future. Utah Phillips once complimented the International Workers of the World for not breaking with its elders and that is just what the NFU has done so well. The legacy going right back to the provincial unions from the turn of the last century lets me know I am not alone.
 
Dream dinner: what’s on your plate? Who’s sitting around the table with you?
Any dinner with my family brings on a euphoria for me that can’t be matched. Good music, good food, good company.
 
What issue is most on your radar right now that will challenge your farming dreams?
The attack on the working class cannot be relegated to a single issue. Everything from decreasing minimum wage to international free trade, creates a world where farmers can’t afford to grow good food and eaters can’t afford to buy it.
 
What advice do you have for aspiring farmers?
If you want to make money, turn back while there’s still time or you’ll end up greying and happy eating your own food. But more seriously, if you want to farm, don’t be afraid to make it happen, it won’t necessarily be the easy choice but it will be the right one.