by David Schmidt
ABBOTSFORD – After graduating from high school, Gary Baars hung up a shingle as TNT Agri-Services, offering “relief milking and much more.” On January 11, that “much more” made the now 33-year-old Chilliwack dairyman, hay salesman and cattle dealer and his wife, Marie (26), the BC & Yukon Outstanding Young Farmers for 2017.
In 2006, TNT Agri-Services became TNT Hay Sales as Baars started selling hay, first to local horse farms and then to local dairy farms.
“We sell a lot of hay to different dairy farms,” Baars says.
Not long after, the young entrepreneur expanded TNT to include cattle sales. When Farm Credit Canada offered him a large loan with “no strings attached” in early 2011, Baars used it to start his own dairy farm.
“I had enough money to buy quota for 15 cows,” he recalls.
Two years later, Marie’s grandmother asked the Baars to also manage her 160-cow 80-acre dairy farm in east Abbotsford. They agreed, on condition they could buy it.
“We amalgamated our small herd with her larger herd and have been steadily improving the facilities,” Baars reports.
His entrepreneurship did not stop there. Last year, he purchased additional hay-growing acreage in Greendale and bought a 472-acre 100-cow dairy in Manitoba with two partners.
“We have already grown that farm by 20%,” Baars says.
He has also served as a director of both the Mainland Young Milk Producers and the BC Young Farmers.
Baars’ entrepreneurial spirit extends itself to his recreational activities. Twice a year, Gary and his father-in-law hold Cornfield Races, inviting friends and neighbours to race beat-up cars on the farm.
To earn the 2017 award from judges Rick Thiessen (2004 BC & Canadian Outstanding Young Farmer), Mark Sweeney (retired BC Ministry of Agriculture berry specialist) and Kurt Bausenhaus (partner in KPMG Abbotsford), the Baars outpointed Jeremy and Tamara Vaandrager of Vaandrager Farms in west Abbotsford.
Vaandragers close second
After managing several egg farms for other owners, the Vaandragers obtained a 3,000-bird quota in the 2010 BC Egg Marketing Board new entrant lottery.
They have since increased their quota to 6,000 birds and are in the process of converting their farm from a free-run operation to an aviary.
“Aviaries are common in Europe but still relatively new in North America,” Vaandrager notes.
Gary and Marie Baars will represent BC at the national OYF competition to be held in Penticton in November.
Vol. 103 Issue 2
STORIES IN THIS EDITION
Hog farm won’t face charges
Okanagan drives land values
Where’s the beef?
Minister defends Bill 15 changes
Back Forty: Farmers, not just farmland, need revitalization
Editorial: No peace, no order
ALR restrictions make commuting a fact of life
Johnston’s Packers targeted by activists
Sidebar: When is a crime not a crime?
Berry growers get long-awaited funding boost
Proteobiotics reduce poultry, swine infections
Greenhouse growth stymied by gas prices
Increase farm productivity with cover crops
Ag Briefs: Water fees not evenly distributed among users
Ag Briefs: BC Tree Fruits prepares to relocate
Farmland trust explored for Island
New owner, same faces
Fruit growers cautiously optimistic on bloom set
Honeycrisp key to success for Golden Apple winners
Changes to slaughter rules taking too long
Going! Going! Gone
Local meat deamnd creating opportunities
Sidebar: Compost in 14 days
Ranch takes pasture to plate at face value
Market Musings: Technology has its challenges
Oliver veggie grower prefers wholesale
Grocer offers tips to get a foot in the door
Greenhouse veggie days a hit with school
Haskap research may help berry go mainstream
Research: Bee sensitivity linked to neonic pesticides
Fraser Valley orchardist calling it a day
Worming his way to the top of the heap
Mushrooms a viable crop for small growers
Island 4-H beef show celebrates 25 years
Woodshed: Deborah starts her vacation a golf widow
Brewery’s food program spawns farm project
Jude’s Kitchen: Celebrate dads!