Whole family pitches in at Krywko Farms
Excellence in Agriculture Award Winner
By Lorena Franchuk for Sturgeon County
It’s all in the family when it comes to farming on the Krywko property in Sturgeon County. As winner of the municipality’s Excellence in Agriculture Award, father Ron Krywko is quick to share the credit with his wife Charmaine, three boys Marshall (married to Rebecca), Desmond and Kelsey, and daughters Sherneese and Cesylia. They also look forward to the day their two-year-old grandson Weston can pitch in too.
“I get tremendous support from my wife, she spends a lot of time on the combine and organizing a lot of the meals. She probably runs around more than I do during the busy season. We work with our children as well. It’s a whole family affair,” Ron said proudly of the co-operation and collaboration that occurs on the 3,000-acre farm that produces both pulses and cereal crops.
Ron and Charmaine purchased Krywko Farms from his parents Ed and Paulette six years ago. His grandfather William originally purchased the land in the 1930s and it has been with the Krywko family ever since. Farm life was also familiar to Charmaine, who grew up just a few kilometres away.
“Actually, I was the kid in the family that tried to get out of farming as much as I could and then I married a farmer,” she said, chuckling. “It's a different perspective as a married partner [than as a child] so you have a little bit more motivation.”
The couple tries to keep their children—ranging from 11 years to 27 years—engaged and it’s paying off. From mowing the lawn to babysitting or operating the combine at harvest time, there is a role for everyone. For years, the Krywkos have kept the operation of their farm within the family.
“How many occupations can you work in with your whole family?” asked Ron. “I get so much enjoyment being in the field with my kids and my wife, passing each other on the combine, waving to each other, and knowing that the kids are learning the basics of agriculture. I don't know if I would like it so much if I was doing it with hired people.”
Green peas are one of the crops the Krywkos have specialized in over the years, selling both to local farmers and as far away as Newfoundland. They can be finicky (much more so than yellow peas which are typically grown in Alberta), so when they’re ready Ron gives them the attention they need.
“You have to fight the weather a little bit and sometimes it can be nerve-wracking,” he said, explaining that green peas are susceptible to bleaching from the sun if left too long. His average personal bushels were down this year due to excess moisture, but he said they still likely performed better than the region as a whole. “When your peas are ready to go you basically drop everything else and concentrate on peas because they are a very intense crop. You want to make sure you’re doing everything properly, making sure your combine settings are right as you don’t want to crack them. You want to make sure your peas come off looking nice.
“Some years you curse them and other years you wish you would have put your whole crop into them,” he said. Some of his green peas are reserved to sell as seed for other farmers while the majority goes for human consumption. “I guess I’m known in the community for growing green peas and having lots of experience growing them. I do get a lot of phone calls from local farmers about pea production and what’s involved,” said Ron, who is currently chairman of the Morinville Seed Cleaning Co-op.
“Peas are very good for your soil, they really improve soil fertility.” Pulses draw nitrogen from the air instead of the soil as most cereal crops do, he noted.
That ties in perfectly with Ron’s philosophy of managing a farm that respects Mother Nature.
“I definitely try to be very environmentally sound. I practice no-till … I’m very conscious of our environment around us.”
Meet all of Sturgeon’s agricultural innovators at www.SturgeonCounty.ca/AgricultureCorner
Do you know other local innovators in the County? Tell us about them at www.sturgeoncounty.ca/AgricultureAwards.