Orkadian Farms is celebrating 100 years of family and farming history.
From the first Kirkness generation that arrived in B.C. to the current family members, each has brought a passion for the land and a love for the family that came before them.
“One of my favourite things about Century Farm Awards is the history that we get to learn about from different farms in our communities,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “The journey that the family made to come to B.C. and create a home is inspiring. I’m excited to congratulate the Kirkness family for their historic contribution to B.C. agriculture.”
In 1913, David and Catherine Kirkness and their two sons, David and John, settled in Maillardville, journeying from the Orkney Islands in northern Scotland, in pursuit of a life in Canada and promising farming opportunities in British Columbia. They were welcomed by family who had immigrated to B.C. a few years before and were hoping to make a home and a life in the province.
David Sr. secured a job as a herdsman in Maillardville. After working for six years, he saved enough money to buy the farm in Chilliwack that became the family home in 1919.
As the Kirkness family settled into Canadian life, they got to work clearing land, planting crops and establishing a dairy farm. When David passed in 1938, his son John took over farm operations. He lived on the farm with his wife Carmeta, their three children Margaret, Bill and Flora, and John’s mother, Catherine. The family continued their dairy operation, in addition to custom farm work grinding grain and baling.
Bill married Stephanie in 1962 and had three children, Will, Bryan and Carmen. While living in the original farm house, they continued to operate the dairy, adding beef, peas and corn to their family operation.
Over the years, the family has bought additional property adjacent to their land, expanding the farm from the original 40 acres to 120 acres.
Orkadian farms continued to operate as a dairy and hay operation until 2006, when current owners Will and Tracey decided to focus on hay production and custom farm work. It was a decision Will attributes to a passion inherited from his father and grandfather.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity to farm, and for the hard work and dedication of the generations before me that gave me this opportunity,” Will Kirkness said. “I couldn’t imagine living my life any other way.”
Will and Tracey have two daughters, Brynn and Jillian. Orkadian Farms continues to operate as Red Barn Hay Company, thriving as a local hay operation and custom forage business. The family welcomed the sixth generation in September 2019.
Century Farm Awards honour agricultural organizations that have been active for a century or longer, as well as pioneers whose farms and ranches have been in families for 100 years or more. Each Century Farm Award celebrates the rich heritage of farming and ranching families and organizations in B.C.
For more information about B.C.'s Century Farm program, visit: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/programs/century-farm-awards