Brad and Leeann Barlow were named as the 2019 recipients of the Golden Sheaf Award by the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce at their annual Farmer Appreciation Banquet, held on Tuesday evening at McKenna Hall.
Brad and his 13-year-old son Matthew were on hand to receive the award, with wife Leeann at an agricultural conference in Hanover, Germany, for a couple of weeks.
The couple operate a 4,400-acre farm producing durum, canola, lentils and peas, as well as a pedigreed seed operation and a small seed-cleaning plant, on a farm that was homesteaded by Brad’s great-grandfather in 1923.
“I was astonished to even be asked to be nominated,” said Barlow after the award presentation. “I’ve often thought there are a lot of great farmers in the community, and it’s a great privilege to even be nominated.”
Barlow studied agriculture at Olds College, and came back in 1986 to begin on the family farm, which included becoming certified as a pedigreed seed grower, and setting up a seed-cleaning plant in an old barn on the farm.
Community involvement is one of the components of the award, and Barlow is a councillor for the RM of Griffin along with serving on the Weyburn hospital board, and he is the president of the provincial Wawa Shriners Club.
His wife Leeann is well-known as a playwright, having written three comedies that are all based in rural Saskatchewan, and is the editor of Grain News, a farm publication, along with being the bookkeeper and machinery operator for the farm.
The couple were early adopters of zero-tilling practices and ensuring environmental sustainability on their farm.
In accepting the award on stage, Barlow said, “I know it’s been a tough year, but we’ve had tough years before, and this is a great community.”
He quipped that there will be “great subsoil moisture” in the ground for the spring, and predicted 2020 will be a great year.
They were able to get all of their harvest done, although he noted some of their peas have to be written off as they began harvesting them in late August, and then didn’t get back to them for eight weeks.
The seeds were impacted somewhat, but were mostly all right as they were mostly lentil seeds this year, and they were harvested early on.
Asked what he loves about being a farmer, Barlow said, “I love the lifestyle, and I love getting up everyday, wondering what’s going to happen and being my own boss. I spent a year down in Ontario as a tool and die-maker apprentice, and I never got to see the evenings. The day would pass by, and I decided that wasn’t for me and came back to farm. There’s new challenges every day.”
The Weyburn Chamber had provincial Ag minister David Marit give a short update on the state of agriculture in Saskatchewan right now, and the guest speaker for the banquet was Roughrider player Manny Arceneaux, who shared about the struggles and challenges he has had in becoming a professional football player after growing up in a small town in Louisiana.