In the heart of the Fraser Valley, the Donaldson family of Bradner Farms has been innovating and working the land for more than a century.
Four generations of family and agricultural history are being recognized with a provincial Century Farm Award that celebrates the Donaldsons’ dedication to farming, each other and the community they’ve nourished since 1912.
“It’s really special to see multiple generations continue the legacy of their family farm for over 100 years, adapting and innovating along the way,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture and Food. “Congratulations to the Donaldsons on this milestone, and thank you for your commitment to regenerative farming and for providing quality products to the Fraser Valley and the rest of the province. Your family’s accomplishments are inspiring, and I look forward to seeing the next generation continue to succeed with Bradner Farms.”
The story of Bradner Farms began in 1912, when Caleb and Winifred Manuel arrived in Vancouver by train from Lewisport, NL. The Manuels settled in the small Abbotsford community of Bradner where they cleared the land using horses, built a farmhouse and started farming daffodils, poultry and dairy. That farmhouse is still lived in today by the family's current generation of farmers.
Buller Manuel, Caleb and Winifred’s son, took over the farm in 1953, after spending his early career working in logging camps. Upon his death in 1976, Buller’s will bequeathed the farm to Robert Flett and Muriel Joy Donaldson, who continued farming daffodils, poultry and dairy, and began farming beef cattle to sell in the Fraser Valley.
In 1984, Robert Allan Donaldson bought the farm from his parents and expanded into the organic and specialty poultry markets by raising pigeons, silkies, Taiwanese chickens, gamebirds and organic broiler chickens. Robert and his wife Patricia raised four children, while continuing to grow the farm by expanding the dairy, adding a poultry hatchery and establishing B.C.’s first certified organic feed mill.
Today, Robert and Patricia’s children are the fourth generation to own and operate Bradner Farms. Their families run the farm, which now includes a robotic milking dairy and water buffalo. They are also expanding into the Ashcroft area with organic beef and dairy operations.
"Farming is our passion. It’s a legacy that four generations of our family have devoted their lives to,” said Sarah Yoder, Bradner Farms. “Our family is proud of our heritage, the challenges that we’ve overcome – including natural disasters – and our great customer base that trusts our products. Our farm’s history connects one generation to the next, and we look forward to continuing to build on that legacy and history while we continue feeding our community."
Century Farm Awards honour farms, ranches and agricultural organizations that have been active for 100 years or longer, as well as those 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 in B.C.
Pam Alexis, MLA for Abbotsford-Mission –
“The Fraser Valley is the breadbasket of B.C., and Bradner Farms is a shining example of the amazing local food it has to offer. Our province depends on hard-working farming families like the Donaldsons. Thank you for your dedication to agriculture, and congratulations on this amazing milestone.”
For more information on Bradner Farms, visit: https://www.bradnerfarms.com/
To see a short video about the family and how their passion for farming grows at Bradner Farms, visit: https://vimeo.com/289960935
For more information and to nominate a farm or organization for a Century Farm Award, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/programs/century-farm-awards