Stories - DFM

Love local. Eat local.

Dairy Farmers of Manitoba is proud to support the local restaurants we all love.

 

Local restaurants have been there for us, now we’re here for them.

Local restaurants are small businesses that have helped shape the communities they serve. From birthdays and anniversaries to date-nights and game-nights, local restaurants have always been there for us – and now it’s time for all of us to be there for them.

To show our support, we’re helping to promote them! Working with each restaurant, we’re creating custom advertisements and donating media space so more people can learn about these amazing local food hangouts.

And remember to keep an eye on our social media because we’re teaming up with local influencers to host exciting gift card giveaways so Manitobans can eat at their favourite local restaurants or try something new!

It’s a plan that’s as simple as it is delicious. So let’s all come to the table, and make a difference to the local restaurants that make Manitoba so special. 

 

Milk Helps Make You!

We’re proud to announce our new campaign: Milk Helps Make You.

We know that milk contains calcium and protein that are key for growth, development, and energy. Our campaign explores the many different ways milk helps people achieve greatness in whatever they’re doing!

We’re also excited to announce the launch of our new social channels, it’s the perfect way for you to stay in the loop! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for fun content and tasty recipes!

 

Kids in the kitchen

What do you get when you mix a group of eager students and a real-life learning kitchen? A whole lot of education, practical skills, and fun memories!

SuperChef Academy and Cooking Quest are two hands-on cooking programs making positive connections between kids and the kitchen. These programs, hosted by Nüton – a team of registered dietitians from Dairy Farmers of Manitoba (DFM), give children the chance to learn about food through hands-on participation while building cooking confidence and lifelong skills. More than 400 kids attend each of the two programs. SuperChef is geared toward Grades 2-3 children, while Cooking Quest is aimed at Grades 4-5 students.

Not only does Nüton teach kids practical skills, but it also equips Manitoba teachers with knowledge. Prior to a program, teachers attend a Nüton workshop where they learn how to teach about food and nutrition. It’s a positive, inclusive environment to work directly with registered dietitians about nutrition and, in turn, empower their students.

“It’s a primer to positive messages around food and nutrition before they engage in the actual field trip,” says Amanda Hamel, a Nüton nutrition programs educator. “This provides teachers with an understanding of how to talk to kids around and about food.”

 

SuperChef Academy

 

SuperChef Academy participants are split into small groups led by a Nüton dietitian. Students learn the ground rules of kitchen and food safety before getting a chance to use the stovetop, oven, and skillets, while also having a chance to blend, chop, grate, slice, dice, and mix ingredients.

“We’re giving kids a sense of independence and ownership around food,” explains Hamel. “We try to get them to build confidence around eating by exposing them to a variety of foods. We can help them develop eating competence, which helps them navigate the complicated food system we live in.”

Hamel says the helpful connections made through collaborative preparation and consumption of food are invaluable for children. Even better, the program introduces the kitchen apprentices to new foods such as avocado, couscous, or even something as simple as a red pepper.

“Teachers are looking for exciting ways to provide fun food opportunities for kids – and I think SuperChef fits the bill,” adds Hamel.

 

Cooking Quest

 

One Winnipeg foods and nutrition teacher who immediately fell in love with the program is Stephanie Fehr. Her Grades 4-5 students attended Cooking Quest in 2019 – and she was left in awe of the program.

While SuperChef Academy introduces kids to the kitchen, Cooking Quest takes it a step further. The field trip pairs two on-site classes with two remote classes to complete educational food quests. In person, students investigate a mystery, and the remote groups communicate back through iPads, sharing the information they have researched for their team.

As students fill in the blanks, they earn points, which are ultimately converted into real dollars and put towards nourishment programs in that school’s community.

“The way it was organized, it was inviting and inclusive,” says Fehr, who described the entire experience as a perfect intersection of theoretical and practical. “Kids sometimes don’t want to be talked at, they want to do. It provides a really authentic experience.”

Fehr was delighted with Nüton’s organized event, which allowed her to stand back and watch the dietitians provide a time of education and entertainment.

“Students are laughing, making lasagna with hands in the water to soak noodles. They’re all having fun, waiting their turn, and being patient,” explains Fehr.

For the Nüton team, smiling faces of both students and teachers underscore the importance of both programs.

“The memories that kids walk away with will last them a really long time,” says Hamel.

Photos by Daniel Crump Photography

Local dairy farmer returns to
Manitoba to an industry he loves

Growing up on a dairy farm in Landmark, Manitoba, Matt Plett had everything he wanted before him—fresh air, family, and a farm. He loved working with animals and being a part of his tight-knit rural community.

However, at 12, his father sold the dairy farm and within a few years the family made a decision to move to the United States. His stepmother had accepted a job as a nurse in Central Point, Oregon – following an American campaign to attract Canadian nurses. So, Plett, who only ever knew Landmark and his farm community, began life anew with his family at age 15.

“It was very challenging,” says Plett, now 40. “I had grown up in the same town my whole life. My baseball team, hockey, Sunday school—it was the same dozen guys and we were all very, very close.”

However, with the benefit of time, Plett did grow to appreciate his two years spent stateside, explaining how it made him grateful in a new way to what his childhood in Manitoba was all about.

“It was good to expand my horizons and see something different and experience different cultures,” he says. “At the same time, my sense of appreciation for time, people, [and] places were heightened.”

And, just as he planned, upon high school graduation, Plett returned to Manitoba and enrolled at the University of Manitoba to study agribusiness and animal science. He quickly landed his first job at Landmark Feeds in 1999.

He had a great job, a romantic relationship, and was back with his childhood friends and family. There was just one nagging void in his life—a farm.

It’s a great way to raise a family and it’s a rewarding way of life

Plett had a secret dream that if his old family farm ever came up for sale, he would buy it back.

Every couple years, Plett stopped in at the farm owner’s property to remind the landowner that should he ever want to sell, there was a buyer all ready.

The benefit of time was on the side of young Plett and, one fall day in 2006, he received a phone call. The owner was approaching his golden years and inquired to see just how serious Plett was. As it turned out, plenty serious. The two worked out equitable terms and made a sale.

Within nine months, Plett and his wife Tanya went from no farm to owning a 45-cow dairy farm. Oh, and they also had their second child during this chaotic period.

“It was a busy season of life, but it all turned out and I’m glad we did it,” says Plett.

Initially, their dairy farm had limited space with limited cash flow. So, their heifer calves (young cows) were sent to another farm to be raised until the Pletts slowly got their feet under them. The family was thriving, and the children were learning all about life on a dairy farm with a 24/7 education.

Another opportunity arose less than five years later as Tanya’s parents offered their nearby dairy farm at Blumenort to their daughter and son-in-law. Although initially not interested, after time spent in conservation with friends and family, they took the plunge.

“But because the opportunity fell in our lap, we felt that maybe that first chapter was done,” says Plett.

The barn setup has allowed them to efficiently produce milk, while continuing to maintain a high level of animal care through three milking sessions each day.

Through farming, Plett is grateful for the opportunity to provide his family with a lifestyle he believes in and where thousands of Canadians can enjoy the fruits of his labour.

“I didn’t look at farming as a get rich quick scheme, because it’s not,” he says with a laugh. “It’s a great way to raise a family and it’s a rewarding way of life. Our work in getting milk to the marketplace is obviously very important and it’s been quite rewarding.”

What Plett finds most rewarding of being a dairy farmer are closely related to the values he holds and ultimately want to pass on to his children, like how a farm is a great place to teach children the value of work, building something, and the value of being productive as a family.

“The fact that farming has been in our families for generations gives our children, and us, a sense of time, place, and purpose. They can see the connection to land and buildings that their ancestors used to make a living, which are still being used by our family today,” he says. “Many of our cow families still descend from a brood cow that my father-in-law purchased 40 years ago. To see the cycle of life from a heifer calf being born, to standing beside her great granddaughter in the barn is a constant reminder that rewarding things take time.”

Mangin Bros. Dairy Farm

A proud family of 3rd generation farmers run the Mangin Bros. Dairy Farm, which dates back to 1969. It all began with Laurent Mangin who owned 11 milking cows. He passed his humble dairy farm on to his two sons, Rick and Florent, and by 1985, the herd grew from 11 cows to 26. Eventually, the brothers would build an addition to the barn, expanding the herd to 56 cows. 

With the next generation taking an interest in dairy farming, Rick and Florent were inspired to grow their farm. Together, they built a new barn in 2003. The first of its kind in the area, the barn incorporated new technology that came with a learning curve, but the Mangin brothers took it in stride. Afterall, a day doesn’t go by when you don’t learn something new on the farm. Because of this, the Mangin family has always valued and prioritized education when it comes to raising the next generation. 

After high school, Florent’s son Jamie studied Agribusiness at Assiniboine Community College and took a position as an Agronomist in Shoal Lake. Not a day went by when he didn’t call home to check on his family and the farm.  

In January 2008, Jamie returned home to take his place and make his mark on the family farm. That first month back home led Jamie to a new understanding and appreciation for his family’s dedication, love, and passion for the farm. A few years later, his brother Steven followed the same path as his brother completing his Agribusiness Diploma and spending some time working away. Then in 2011, he returned home to farm alongside Jamie, his parents – Florent & Judy, and his uncle and aunt – Rick & Lucy. 

 

 

“It’s like getting a chance to relive your childhood watching your children tackle the same chores you did at that age”

 

When Jamie was in college, he caught the eye of Sheri – a cattle farm girl – and stole her heart. In 2010, they married and a year later they started their family with the arrival of Alivia in 2012, followed by Cole in 2014, Maddison in 2015, and Brayden in 2016. Four children in the span of 4-5 years may sound like a lot, but Jamie & Sheri wouldn’t have it any other way! 

Alivia and her siblings can be found in the barn at various times of the day, especially when Grandpa and Grandma (Florent & Judy) are in the barn lending a hand. “Grandma and Grandpa have a special way of making chores fun,” Alivia recalls with a smile. “You’re working and giggling at the same time, and you don’t even know it.”
To Alivia, dairy farming means family – and the farm is where most of her memories are made, just like her dad when he was a child.  

“It’s like getting a chance to relive your childhood watching your children tackle the same chores you did at that age,” Jamie reminiscences. 

At a young age, Jamie and his siblings learned the ins and outs of a dairy farm. And like everything else, dairy farming comes with good times and hard times. 

Always looking for innovative ways to ensure cow comfort, in 2020 Jamie and Steven installed two automated milking systems, which allows cows to choose when and how often they get milked – on average 2 to 3 times a day.   

Two years later, the Mangins lost their dairy barn to a devastating fire. Driven by their love of dairy, it took Jamie and Steven less than 24 hours to agree that the only option was to rebuild. “When you’re born into dairy farming, it’s something you can’t shake,” Jamie explains. “I really can’t see myself doing anything else. I knew my heart was in it the first time I remembered my dad taking me to the barn for chores.”