Group photo: From left to right – Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade; Jordan Voorhorst, Farm Manager, Heppell’s Potato Corp.; Pete Schouten, Partner, Heppell’s Potato Corp and BC Deputy Minister of Agriculture Wes Shoemaker.
Surrey, B.C. – On Thursday, November 15, 2018, the Surrey Board of Trade recognized the outstanding achievements of a Surrey business that has made a positive impact to Surrey’s agriculture industry at the 3rd Surrey Agriculture Industry Reception, with Supporting Sponsor Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Award Sponsor Royal Bank of Canada, Community Sponsor BC Dairy Association and Media Sponsor Surrey NOW-Leader. Congratulations to the winner of the 2nd Surrey Agriculture Leadership Award!
“Surrey stands at a critical juncture to make the right decisions and investments to create economic opportunities for a generation and beyond. Surrey’s Agriculture industry is at the foundation of those investments and innovations,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.
The winner was chosen on the basis of their achievements and innovation in agriculture in the following competencies: innovative efforts to increase agricultural production, consumption of local products, long term protection of the agricultural land base in Surrey, viability of agricultural land, innovations in business management or technology, protection of agricultural assets and enhancement of policies that support and protect agriculture.
2018 Surrey Agriculture Leadership Award Winner:
Heppell’s Potato Corp.
Heppell’s Potato Corp. is a 3rd generation farm that was pioneered by Lester Heppell almost 100 years ago. Back then, it was a mixed farm whose main focus are vegetables, dairy cows and turkeys based on 40 acres land where the farm still sits today. In the early 60’s Lester’s two sons, Ron and Dave, took over the family farm and started to modernize it. Working with a long -time business partner, Peter Schouten, the predecessor’s motto “there is always a better way” has become their driving force and paved the way for new their agriculture innovations. Fast forward to today, Heppell’s Potato Corp. has leveraged new technologies to make farming and processing more efficient, among these are: the use of GPS mapping technology and self-guided tractors, use of real-time data for all crops to ensure food safety and overall farm efficiency Indeed, they continue to always find a better way!
For further information, please contact Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, at 604.581.7130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MORE ABOUT THE WINNER:
2nd Surrey Agriculture Leadership Award
Heppell’s Potato Corp.
Heppell’s Potato Corp. is a 3rd generation farm that was pioneered by Lester Heppell almost 100 years ago. Back then it was a mixed farm as most where at that time. Veggies, dairy cows, and turkeys where the main focus based on 40 acres where the farm still sits today.
In the early 60’s Lesters two sons Ron Heppell and Dave Heppell took over the family farm and immediately started to modernize it. The farm’s slogan became, “there is always a better way”
Ron and Dave raised 10 children between them and came up with many new innovations in Agriculture. From some of the first mechanical potato harvesting equipment to row cover to insulate crops and get them planted earlier to give them a greenhouse effect and get the crop to market earlier allowing Heppell’s to be the first to plant and harvest potatoes in the pacific northwest and across Canada for the past 35 years. They also started harvesting potatoes early and began what we all now know as the Little Potato Market.
After a fire in the early 70’s destroyed the dairy farm and they got out of the dairy business and the farm became poultry and vegetables. Modern equipment was brought in to meet the consumers demands for smaller packaging and clean potatoes. On site slaughter house was installed to further process the Turkeys. In the early 1990’s the Brothers along with several other vegetable growers broke away from the co-op system of the day and started a marketing company called Lower Mainland Distributor. They foresaw what the future distribution channels would look like and made a bold move to get there…. The first year’s sales through Lower Mainland Vegetable distributors was just over 1 million dollars… today lower mainland distributors is known as BC Fresh and is the largest root crop vegetable marketing business in Western Canada.
About this time the brother’s poultry business was growing to and the brothers decided that a succession plan was needed. The vegetable farm was offered to all the children in a letter.
It was at this time that Wes Heppell and his wife Laureen made the decision to take over the vegetable operations. This meant the property at 4945 known at this time as the home farm and several land leases the mound farm, and the federal government land at 192 and 40th and several others totalling 350 acres was the beginning of a new enterprise called Heppell’s Potato Corp. and so the third generation started.
One year into this process long time employee and neighbor Peter Schouten bought a 50% share of the business. Peter had been working on the farm for 10 years ever since he was 13. Together Wes and Peter began to follow the motto of their predecessors “there is always a better way”.
In the 25 years that have passed they grew the company from 115 acres of potatoes and other mixed vegetables into 700 acres of potatoes and 120 acres of squash as well as some mixed rotational crops. Heppell’s has brought in many new technologies to make farming and processing much more efficient.
In 2004 working together with a German company they co-designed and brought in a special harvester to harvest in west coast conditions and made applicable to the harvest of nugget potatoes, these harvesters are now used by almost every potato farm in BC. They designed row crop at the same time they have added some other business’ notably Naturally homegrown foods, and Fraser Valley Biogas.
Naturally home grown foods is the only chip manufacturer in BC and now a leading supplier of all natural potato and vegetable chips across Canada and in the USA. Innovating the snack food market with products like Parsnip, beet, carrot and sweet potato chips in innovative flavours and unique frying and oil types. This earned them awards for best new product in North America as well as other awards.
Fraser Valley biogas currently produces approx. 80% of all of British Columbia’s Renewable Natural gas and takes organic waste material from all of our operations and others that are destined for waste water treatment plants and land-fills and through the process of anaerobic digestion produce methane, and then through a non-chemical produce scrub the methane and produce pipeline quality Renewable Natural Gas and through a partnership with FortisBC distribute the RNG to anyone in the province who wishes to supplement their fossil fuel based Natural gas giving them the opportunity to effect the way waste is handled in our province from the curbside to the end product. By doing this they are taking thousands of tons of carbon out of the atmosphere. The by-product of the whole process is an organic nutrient rich product that we call digestate and use in our agronomy schedule to fertilize our and other farmers fields lessening our need for chemical fertilizers.
When Wes and Peter took over this business in 1993 in Cloverdale they had 5 staff including themselves. And then some students and seasonal help in harvest. Today, they have over 100 employees in all companies. They are virtually Carbon negative and have many more plans to continue to always find a better way.
Other innovations that they have carried out are:
– Invested in many technologies to better map and monitor yields and inputs
– GPS mapping technology and self-guided tractors help with operator stress and making tractor use much more efficient
– Real time data for all crops for use in food safety and overall farm efficiency
– Field scouting with professional scouts to minimize the use of pesticides and herbicides
– Maintaining an above 95% food safety rating from 3 third party licensing bodies.