Kim Waalderbos’ dairy farm dream comes true
There was never any question in Kim Waalderbos’ mind that she would grow up to be a dairy farmer.
From the time she hit her early teens, she began saving and planning for the day that has now arrived – she’s starting a dairy farm in New Brunswick with her boyfriend David deVries.
Growing up with two sisters on her parents’ dairy farm in Nova Scotia, Kim learned from an early age that farming was a gender-neutral operation. “My dad told us we could do anything but we might have to work a little smarter, not harder, because we weren’t as physically strong as guys,” says Kim.
For some farm kids, getting a start on their own operation involves working alongside their parents after high school or college. But for Kim’s parents, the potential for discussing farm succession with any of their daughters was something that wouldn’t happen right out of high school. “We were encouraged to get extra schooling or work for someone else, and go out into the world beyond our farm,” says Kim.
That phase took Kim to Ontario to study dairy science and communications at the University of Guelph. The four-year break lasted a little longer when she added on a master’s degree in dairy science and worked in the agricultural communications industry for a few years.
However, her long-term goal never faltered. She and David built a business plan, surrounded themselves with a strong team of advisors and lenders, and have recently purchased a vacant dairy operation from a farm family that was relocating. This summer, Kim and David will begin milking 24 cows on their Takes Two Farm at Upper Hainesville, New Brunswick, and crop about 135 acres of both their own and some rented land.
Kim will be the full-time farmer as David continues his work for a milking equipment company. “Usually, I would be the one going off farm for the job,” says Kim. “But we’re doing things a little different, with the goal of building up our operation to the point where we can both be working here full time.”
A successful application to the Dairy Farmers of New Brunswick New Entrants Program has helped them secure the use of 12 kg of matching quota for up to five years. “This program is helping young farmers like us boost our short-term income without taking on additional debt in the asset-rich, cash-poor scenario of dairy farming,” says Kim.
Kim says there were skeptics along the way, those expressing doubt that young people, and young women, can get started in dairy farming. Clearly, she wasn’t listening to them, and through dedication, planning and the support of friends and family, her dream of dairying is unfolding. “We did our research and know what we’re getting into,” says Kim.