"I wouldn't trade it for anything else, any other lifestyle. I'm extremely happy with it." Bert Andrews said of his life as a farmer. Andrews is the founder of Andrews' Scenic Acres. Andrews opened the farm in 1980, and sold it in 2016. Andrews returned as part of a recent fundraiser for the Townsend Smith Foundation.
"I'm sure if you're talking to a lot of people today, you find out that they came here as children, and now they're bringing their own children, he said." People could give a donation inside the farmer's market, bid in a silent auction, or a make a guess at how many candies in the jar.
Bert Andrews was born in 1943, he grew up on a 200 acre farm near Peterborough with his parents, and a sister. He went to the University of Guelph pursuing a degree in their crop science program where he also met his wife Lauraine Andrews. He graduated in 1966, and worked for four years with Dupont. He started searching for a farm, with an eye to planting blueberries. He chose the farm in Halton Hills because the soil's Ph balance suited the crop. "Why not have other fruits and vegetables until frost hits?" he asked. So, he quickly added strawberries, raspberries, and asparagus, and rhubarb. Today it's up to 165 acres of "pick your own" fruits across a few area farms. They added the winery that uses grapes on the farm, and he sees microbrewing as the next step. The farm relied on a mixture of migrant workers, and local employees. The interview with Bert Andrews was interrupted a few times by those who returned to wish him well. "I have a philosophy that if you treat your employees well, they'll treat you well. It doesn't matter what level you're talking," he said. It's an attitude he learned from his time with Dupont on oil rigs.
He credited his family as part of his success. He, and his wife Lauraine had three children all of whom at one point worked in the business growing up. They all chose different professions; a physiotherapist, pharmacist, and a lawyer. "As Bert says, we got them educated too much, and they moved on." Lauraine joked. One of their granddaughters works there. Jill Brouwers is working her third summer on the farm. "I love it because I get to talk to my mom obviously. We'll talk about the ice cream machines; how she used to use them and how I use them. It's good to relate to her and how she grew up and stuff" she said. Jill hopes to continue working there for at least one more summer. "I love hearing his stories, and I love hearing about the farm," she said of her grandfather.
The pumpkin festival was held with COVID-19 protocols in mind, which, limited the number of people inside the farm market. The lineups spread from the store's entrance across the field in front of the food counter. The view provided Andrews with a good perspective on the farm's success from where he sat in his rocking chair outside. "It's gratifying being here today, and seeing all these people come to the Andrews farm, as they have for years, and years," Bert said.
Laura Steiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Milton Reporter, Milton Reporter