Plovan Farms - The VanderPloeg Family
In 2003, Cliff VanderPloeg began to think about organics after being disenchanted with some aspects of conventional faming. “I just thought there had to be a better way to farm - without antibiotics, herbicides and pesticides,” he says. After a well-planned transition, Cliff and his wife Marilyn proudly shipped their first Organic Meadow milk from their South Western Ontario farm in 2007.
Today, Plovan Farms is made up of 135 acres, with and additional 35 acres rented. Every year, the VanderPloegs' goal is to divide their acreage into crops of sorghum, triticale and oats, plus pasture and hay. Cliff particularily likes triticale. As a winter crop it keeps the soil covered, minimizing the spring growth of undesireable vegetation. It is a great crop for natural weed control, producing "tremendous" yields - from 70 to over 100 square bales per acre.
Near the beginning of their organic transition, Cliff and Joanne decided to replace their corn silage crop with sorghum. One year, it was planted at the end of June and harvested at over 7 feet tall towards the end of August. Cliff appreciates the plant’s high sugar content and its ability to maintain his milk’s butterfat content above 4 per cent throughout the winter.