WEYBURN – The Weyburn Chamber of Commerce named Alan and Yvonne Whitrow of Southampton Farm of Yellow Grass as the 2022 winners of the Golden Sheaf Award.
The award was presented at the Agriculture Appreciation Night held on Tuesday evening at McKenna Hall.
In accepting the award, Alan said he was “blown away” by the chance to stand up on stage and thank the chamber for the award, adding he didn’t think their small farm operation was worthy of such an honour. He accepted the award as he realized the honour also recognizes their community involvement.
He and wife Yvonne operate a mixed grain and livestock farm near Yellow Grass, with 250 head of Angus breeding females along with 2,500 acres of grain.
They raised four children, daughter Jenica and sons William, Walker and Jeff, all of whom remain involved in the farm. Currently Walker is at school in Saskatoon, and Jeff is working as an engineer in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
They are a third-generation farm, living in a house built in 1922, and using the original barn built in 1923, and a shed built in 1925.
“I’ve never seen myself as an outstanding farmer – that was my first response when I got the call from MNP asking if I would let my name stand for this award. But it’s more than that. If it’s recognizing lifetime achievement in community work, then I’m fine with that,” said Alan.
“I’m coming here standing in front of guys who have fantastic agricultural enterprises, and fantastic farms and businesses, who I’ve watched expand operations and do things I’ve been very impressed with,” he said. “I don’t see myself in the same position as that. Thank you for acknowledging what we’ve done as a family.”
He noted as they have a mixed operation, they don’t get a lot of down time, as once the grain harvest is done, the livestock side picks up, and this year the harvesting went late into October.
“This year there was very short couple of hours after harvest, and I sat back and thought, ‘man, that was a long year’,” said Alan.
In the community, he’s been president of the Yellow Grass Rink Board for over 20 years, and he’s coached hockey on some 30 or 35 teams in the same time period. He and daughter Jenica are currently assistant coaches of the Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Gold Wings team, of which Jenica is an alumnus.
Alan paid tribute to the agri-businesses in the Weyburn area that have greatly helped him and other producers in their operations.
Whenever he goes into a business to get a part or something he needs for the farm, “you find it or you make it, or you fix it. There are so many businesses at the heart of the community that affords the farming community to get on with the jobs we do. To be able to stand here and say thank you means a lot,” said Alan, adding he’s sure many of the farmers in the room would like to say the same thing.
He also noted their children are all very much involved in what they do on the farm.
“If they show up at the farm after work, they know they’ll have something to do. They keep showing up after work, so they must like to work. That’s one of the things I’ve really treasured,” he said.
His start in coaching and with the rink board began when he was asked to come fix something in the ice plant, “and 20 years later I was still president of the rink board.”
A benefit of being a farmer means he’s been able to have the flexibility to do what he wants to do in being involved in the community, he added, and noted there will continue to be more rinks built in local communities as they move forward with future generations.
As a farmer, this means their family is there for the long haul, and enables them to be more involved in the community for the long term, he said.
He and Yvonne were also involved in the church in Yellow Grass and later at the Free Methodist Church in Weyburn over the years, along with being involved in many other boards in the community.
“I’m blown away by the chance to stand up here and say thank you for this award,” he said.