A 100 Years of Farming Heritage Homestead Award has been presented to the Anderson family of Sexsmith.

Family members were recognized on September 3 for long-standing contributions to agriculture and the County’s heritage during an award ceremony held on their farm by the County of Grande Prairie’s Agricultural Services Board.

“We’re pleased to highlight the accomplishments of a family with a long and distinguished legacy of farming in the area and giving back to the community,” says Councillor Bob Chrenek, Chair of the Agricultural Service Board. “We wish the Anderson family continued success as they mark 100 years of farming in the County of Grande Prairie.”

The original homestead, located at NE-36-73-6W6, was established in 1912 by Jason Anderson’s great grandparents Swan and Carrie Anderson. They held the property until their son, Fred Anderson, and his wife Irene took over in 1932 and continued ownership until 1966. At that time, Jason’s parents, Larry and Vella, became owners. Jason began farming full time in 1996 and the farm was passed on to him and his wife Kodi in 2002.

Swan and Carrie Anderson left Minneapolis, Minn. in early 1912 by train to Edmonton with their four children and all their belongings. They travelled by oxen and sleigh on the Grouard Trail to start their homestead. Swan had been a storekeeper for 40 years.

“The biggest challenge of this farm would be for the first generation – leaving Minneapolis, which had electricity and running water to being here in a shack and not seeing those amenities for close to 20 years,” Jason says. "It's hard to imagine how things have evolved in 110 years, to think farming has changed from oxen and horse power to large equipment that drives itself.”

The Andersons began with 160 acres. The farm has grown to 2,700 acres with a regular rotation of wheat, barley, canola and peas, along with trials of clover. A few acres of land are also devoted to growing certified grass seed for lawns. While there was once up to 100 head of cattle on the Anderson farm, there are now two yard cows, a potbellied pig, peacocks and goats.

Jason appreciates the County of Grande Prairie paying tribute to families who have farmed for more than 100 years.

“We’re very proud of our heritage and being recognized for long-term farming is a great feeling,” he says. “We’re very happy we’ve been able to continue the passion for the land. It’s something about the smell of the dirt. It’s in our blood. I was renting my first land when I was 17 years old and I guess that was just the process to start the future.”

Jason studied crop production at Fairview College where Kodi attended to become an animal vet technician.

“She understands the trials and tribulations of the industry, which makes us a great team.”

The couple has strong hopes of the family’s farming tradition continuing with their son, Jordan. Their daughter, Quin, would be involved in the management side of the business as she’s currently pursuing work in finance. Jordan and Quin help out where possible, while their sister, Keyana, is studying kinesiology.

The Andersons have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. In the early years of the homestead, it was known as the Anderson Stopping Spot for overnight travelers heading north, as it was located beside the trail that would become Highway 2 North. Fred Anderson had his own threshing machine and crew to do custom harvesting. Larry and Vella were responsible for expanding the farm and became heavily involved in volunteerism, a legacy which Jason and Kodi continued.

Jason is on the Peace Country Classic Agri-Show board and a member of the Sexsmith Agricultural Society, the Sexsmith Seed Cleaning Association and the Sexsmith Elks Club. Kodi has invested many hours volunteering with parent councils.

Jason cherishes life on the farm, remarking, “There’s been the freedom of self-employment, to raise our family, volunteer and be stewards of the land.”

Applications for the 100 Years of Farming Awards are accepted throughout the year. For more information about the Heritage Homestead Award and the Pioneer Farming Family Award, and to apply or nominate a family, visit www.countygp.ab.ca/100years.

Information provided by the County of Grande Prairie