The Driedger Family

Just ten kilometers north of Leamington – known to some as the Tomato Capital of Canada – sits the Driedger farm. The operation is home to Jesse Driedger, his wife Lena, father and mother Dennis and Karen, and his grandparents, Helga and Abe, live just down the way. Jesse is the fourth generation of Driedgers to take up the family business, where the family grows corn, soybeans and wheat – but the farming legacy really began with their ancestors in Ukraine. For the Driedgers, farming is a part of who you are, not where you are. Their story may not have started out here in the Tomato Capital, but that has no bearing on Jesse’s drive to carry the family business forward. Jesse’s enthusiasm for farming, and his sense of responsibility to his family’s legacy, are as plain to see as the towering windmills shouldering the property. “I knew pretty much from public school that I’d become a farmer,” Jesse says. “I knew exactly what I was gonna do; high school, then Ridgetown College, then farm.”

It’s remarkable to meet a young man who, in equal measure, keeps his sights on the future while celebrating the stories of generations past. As he recalls the stories of his great-grandparents’ journey from Ukraine, then across Canada, it’s apparent how these stories have shaped the Driedgers’ mission over the years. “When my grandfather was born, my great-grandparents moved from Manitoba to Pelee Island, and then finally rented a 50-acre farm in Wheatley,” says Jesse. “They didn’t have any money, horses or equipment. But they managed, because neighbours would lend them what they needed – they would tell them not to worry, and they’d settle up at the end of the year.”

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It’s hard to fathom a better example of the power of kindness. After nearly a century, the generosity of these lenders still inspires the Driedgers to believe in the goodness of people. For Jesse, it means being a good neighbour to all – the community, the land and the consumer. “We strive to be profitable but also environmentally responsible,” Jesse says, “We’re trying to show that we’re good stewards of the land. We’re trying to do our job, and our due diligence.”

Believing in the goodness of others also means trusting them. Seeing the clarity of Jesse’s vision, his father Dennis trusted Jesse’s decision to stop growing tomatoes last year – a decision that has saved them hundreds of hours of labour. Since then, Jesse has also led the implementation of forward-thinking technology, like the Climate FieldView™ platform, to help the family better understand the needs of the land. “It’ll be a standard on our farm now,” Jesse says.

But the Driedger’s circle of trust isn’t limited to the family. Dennis has been working with DEKALB® Agronomist Bob Thirlwall since Jesse was a boy, and their relationship has matured just as much. “It’s been fun to have the had chance to work with Dennis, then see the younger generation come in and be so eager to learn,” Bob says. “It’s great to see Jesse carry on the things that have made this farm so successful.”

Things like field trials, regular scouting, and DEKALB® brand seed. “Ever since I can remember we’ve always had the DEKALB® brand in the lineup,” says Jesse. “For corn, DKC58-06RIB has just been a great racehorse variety, while DKC52-84RIB has been great for that tougher ground.”

Recently, Jesse made the decision to transition all of their soybean fields to Roundup Ready® Xtend varieties. “Last year, our field of DKB28-81 soybeans looked awful; we had a lot of rain events, then the tap shut off, then rain again,” Jesse recalls, “This field had no right to produce anything, but it turned around and we got 50 bu./ac., which amazed us.”

These days, the farm is much larger than it was back when Jesse’s great-grandfather signed the lease, but it still operates on good faith. “It’s just interesting every day,” Jesse says. “There’s always new problems and that’s not always fun, but we’ll figure it out.”

We thank the Driedgers for choosing DEKALB® brand seed for their farm and wish their family a safe and successful harvest this year and for many years to come. Check out the results of the Driedgers' corn trial and other farm-managed Market Development trials on DEKALB.ca this fall.


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