by Gloria Welton
Lowell and Sally Balderston are owners of Fountain Farm Inc. in North Wiltshire, PEI. The couple and their three daughters Nancy, Lori and Marilyn are also very involved in agriculture.
Agriculture has always been a major part of Lowell’s life. He went to university but couldn’t see himself in an office job. Farming was his destiny.
Marilyn says her mom is an integral part of the family farm. “She came from the city, so farming did not come naturally to her,” says Marilyn. “She leaves the animal work to us, but she is instrumental with everything else. She worked every potato harvest grading potatoes on the harvester and throughout the winter in the warehouse, continues to make meals and delivers them to the fields for the workers, does the bookkeeping, preserves food from the garden and the list goes on.
“We have all contributed to the farm in our own way, but Dad and Mom have taken the lead and we have been blessed as a family.”
Over the years this family produced dairy, beef, pork, potatoes, soy beans, grain crops such as oats and barley, as well as hay and straw. “Even though Dad is in his mid-80s and has downsized the farm, he still has a very active farm with planting and harvesting various crops, doing custom work for others and of course, caring for his Standardbred mares, foals and yearling horses.”
At the farm’s peak, Lowell grew 250 acres of potatoes per year, along with harvesting a similar acreage for other farmers, grew multiple grain and forage crops and raised 300 head of cattle. Once Lowell decided to get out of cattle, he started raising Standardbred horses about 19 years ago. Their horses race on the Island, throughout the Maritimes and even the United States.
Although farming can be stressful at times, Lowell says it was never monotonous because of the variety of tasks keeps things very lively, and working with the animals is such a joy. “The animals take care of you, so you have to look after them to provide a livelihood.”
He acknowledges that the challenge today is how difficult it is for the younger generation to start farming. “With farms being so big and so costly to get going, it is a problem, but hopefully that will work out along the line.”
Marilyn spoke of her Mom and Dad’s generosity over the years in helping other farmers. “Many times Dad did work for other farmers and charged a very low price or did not want to be paid at all. Many people still come to the house to ask for Dad’s advice on different aspects of farming. Mom is so hospitable, welcoming neighbors and friends into our home for a meal and support.”
Lowell was always able to put his hand to the repair and maintenance required around the farm to keep machinery working. He says the technology now used on the farm boggles his mind. “Young folks are brought up with technology, so it is a lot easier for them to move in that direction than it is for the older generation.
“We have to keep the message going that farmers are as important as other professions such as doctors and lawyers,” says Lowell. “We need to help those interested in farming to find their way in such an important profession.”