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Abbotsford family honoured for more than 100 years of farming

Bradner Farms celebrates 4 generations of farming with provincial award
The Donaldson family of Bradner Farms has received the Century Farm Award from the provincial government. Robert Donaldson (in the centre in the plaid shirt) passed away on Aug. 11. (Photo from Bradner Farms)

The Donaldson family of Bradner Farms in Abbotsford has received a Century Farm Award from the provincial government.

The award honours farms, ranches and agricultural organizations that have been active for 100 years or longer, as well as those whose farms and ranches have been in families for 100 years or more.

The story of Bradner Farms began in 1912, when Caleb and Winifred Manuel arrived in Vancouver by train from Lewisport, NL.

The Manuels settled in the community of Bradner, where they cleared the land using horses, built a farmhouse, and started farming daffodils, poultry and dairy. That farmhouse is still lived in today by the family’s current generation of farmers.

Buller Manuel, Caleb and Winifred’s son, took over the farm in 1953 after spending his early career working in logging camps.

Upon his death in 1976, Buller’s will bequeathed the farm to Robert Flett and Muriel Joy Donaldson, who continued farming daffodils, poultry and dairy, and began farming beef cattle to sell in the Fraser Valley.

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In 1984, Robert Allan Donaldson bought the farm from his parents and expanded into the organic and specialty poultry markets by raising pigeons, silkies, Taiwanese chickens, game birds and organic broiler chickens.

Robert and his wife Patricia raised four children, while continuing to grow the farm by expanding the dairy, adding a poultry hatchery and establishing B.C.’s first certified organic feed mill.

Today, Robert and Patricia’s children are the fourth generation to own and operate Bradner Farms. Their families run the farm, which now includes a robotic milking dairy and water buffalo. They are also expanding into the Ashcroft area with organic beef and dairy operations.

“Farming is our passion. It’s a legacy that four generations of our family have devoted their lives to,” said Sarah Yoder of Bradner Farms.

“Our family is proud of our heritage, the challenges that we’ve overcome – including natural disasters – and our great customer base that trusts our products. Our farm’s history connects one generation to the next, and we look forward to continuing to build on that legacy and history while we continue feeding our community.”

Agriculture and Food Minister Lana Popham congratulated the family on the milestone.

“It’s really special to see multiple generations continue the legacy of their family farm for over 100 years, adapting and innovating along the way,”she said.

“…Your family’s accomplishments are inspiring, and I look forward to seeing the next generation continue to succeed with Bradner Farms.”

Sadly, Robert died on Aug. 11, at the age of 62, surrounded by his family at the Holmberg House Hospice. A celebration of life takes place Aug. 22 at 1:30 p.m. at Bradner Community Hall.

“Rob was a legend and pioneer in the organic and niche specialty markets of many commodities. He was a great mentor to many in farming and in life. He was a humble, innovative, successful, kind, caring and faithful man,” his obituary states.

“… He took great pride in his family and Bradner Farms he successfully managed to balance a growing business and was able to spend time, which was most important, with his family.”

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Abbotsford News Staff

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