Anew tenant has taken up residence at the Kapuskasing Demonstration Farm, with plans to eventually purchase the acreage and expand his successful cash-cropping business.
Last summer, Jim Rogers took over the lease at the demonstration farm, relocating his family and his business, Rogers Crop Enterprises, to Kapuskasing from North Battleford, Sask.
Finding a new farmer so quickly after the former tenant broke his lease last April was welcome news for the community, said Guylain Baril, who heads up Kapuskasing's economic development department.
And the family has integrated well into the area.
"They're a good addition to our community," Baril said. "They're very engaged, they believe in small communities, and they're very good citizens and very good tenants for the Town of Kapuskasing."
After farming operations ceased at the facility--a former agricultural research farm established by the federal government in 1916--the Kapuskasing Economic Development Corp. purchased the property and its assets in 2015 with the intention of seeing it continue as a working farm.
"The understanding was that we would keep it a farm, and we would keep it under our name for five years, at which point we'd be able to sell it," Baril said.
The property encompasses more than 850 acres of land for animal production; a 5,000-square-foot business incubator equipped with a boardroom, offices, a laboratory and equipment; and land available for crop trials and research.
Specializing in growing canola and white peas, Rogers Cash Enterprises has been buying land in Kapuskasing for the last two to three years, but decided to make the move permanent after the research farm became available, Baril said.
Rogers will lease the land over the next two years, completing the original five-year lease agreement, after which he has the option to purchase the facility from the town.
Baril said the farmer has been clearing and tiling land and seeding will begin in the spring.
Although the operation will focus on cash crops only, Baril said it's still encouraging to see food production activity return to the area, which had long been an agriculture hot spot before the focus shifted to logging.
"We do have a rich farming heritage in Kapuskasing, but it's 100 years old, and it's been shelved for so many years," Baril said.
"We've almost lost it--we've got much more of a forestry heritage now--and it's kind of nice to see farming coming back, especially at that location.