There are many things Trevor Schriemer enjoys about farming: lifestyle, family and science.
“We’re constantly updating our knowledge on how to grow a product so it’s safe and sustainable for the population,” Schriemer explained. “It’s always been a pet project of mine to try growing products people tell me I can’t grow in this climate.”
One such project is the crop of cantaloupes they grow at Schriemer Family Farms, located in Otterburne, Man.
“A lot of specialty projects have been initiated by Co-op because they see a demand for it in the marketplace.”
The Scientific Process
It’s been a lot of trial and error for Schriemer. After 20 years in the retail grocery business, Schriemer left to start what was originally supposed to be a hobby farm in 1999 to spend more time with family.
“I thought it would be a lot easier than it actually turned out to be,” he admitted. “Economically, (a hobby farm) didn’t make any sense…(So) we started building more on the farm, building state-of-the-art coolers and buying more equipment.”
Co-op has been a partner from the start, which has helped the operation expand its business. Today, Schriemer grows red onion, squash, corn and melons, among other crops, on 400 acres with a five-acre greenhouse that can produce tomatoes and cucumbers year-round.
But building the company has been a learning curve.
“The good thing about learning things the hard way is you never make the same mistake twice,” Schriemer said.
Schriemer now lives and dies by the weather, something he never paid much attention to in retail business. He learned to focus on five or six products, discovering 12 varieties were too much to manage. The entrepreneur has also learned how to compete in the industry yet maintain a good handle on quality.
Labour of love
Not only does Schriemer like the science of growing, he enjoys getting his hands dirty. He tests crop varieties to ensure they are appropriate for the Canadian climate.
“We get a lot of satisfaction seeing product go from the seed stage to the harvest of the product.”
Schriemer, his wife and seven children have all been involved in the operation. He has a son and daughter now involved full-time in daily operations.
“At this point in time in my life, with my kids working beside me, it’s a great day everyday to go out to work,” Schriemer said.