Farm Succession Stories: Celebrating Jan 9th 2024

As the part of our celebration and acknowledgement of Farm Transition Appreciation Day (January 9th, 2024), the NSFA has highlighted two stories of local farm Transition/Succession stories.
Read further to learn about the journeys of Folly River Farms Ltd and Webster Farms.

Folly River Farms Ltd – Jolene and Lauchie MacEachern
Starting a farm from scratch is possible with a good work ethic and passion for agriculture. New farmers are finding creative solutions such as renting equipment and land, direct marketing, and new entrant programs. Non-family succession is rare, but it is happening in Eastern Canada with enthusiastic young starters and retiring farmers. Jolene and Lauchie MacEachern, who own Folly River Farms Ltd. in Nova Scotia, learned the importance of working hard and keeping options open. They took the right fork in the road early when they met a farmer who wanted to keep his dairy farm intact when he retired. Henry Eisses had a clear vision and an opportunity for the young couple to work on a non-family farm succession while Lauchie worked for him. The message is that trustworthy people with good intent and the ability to work hard can still create success.

To read the complete story, click here: Lessons from a non-family farm succession – Country Guide (

Webster Farms – Annapolis Valley First Nation
Webster Farms is a mixed-crop farming operation. Here, we grow rhubarb for processing, strawberries, summer-bearing raspberries, long cane raspberries, edible dry beans, and fall rye. Webster Farms was previously owned and operated by three of the Webster brothers: Greg, Chris, and Brian. During their time as owners, many of the other family members were part of the farm operation, but none had an interest in taking-over. In 2018, the Websters made the difficult decision to sell the farm. The Annapolis Valley First Nation (AVFN) community purchased the farm and hired individuals, such as me, to take-over the day-to-day operation of the farm. I feel that this is a unique situation that may become more common in the future.

Originally, AVFNs idea was that they would hire a farm manager to oversee the entire operation and hire three people to replace the roles of the three brothers. In the beginning, this plan worked well. There was a lead farm manager, and I took-over Brian Websters duties of day-to-day farm work and delegation, we had an office person to take-over Gregs job, and we had a food-safety and sprayer operator to take-over Chris’ job.

Fast forward to now: I am the current farm manager, and we have a fill-in office person. Thankfully, most of the staff that started at Webster Farms are still here now to continue to help with the transition. The success of the farm has heavily been the result of their long-standing knowledge of the farm. Some of the employees have been here for over 40 years and the transition would been impossible without their tenacity, resilience, and wisdom.

To get to our current point, there were many events that took-place. Understandably, the Webster brothers had a difficult time letting the new people take-over their legacy. We certainly still get help from the Webster brothers when we need and when we can, but they are now enjoying a much-deserved retirement. In 2020/2021, the long cane raspberry pilot project was implemented by John Lewis, who was the current manager at the time. He also modernized our bean packaging system and helped to expand our rhubarb acreage. Since that time, we have expanded and done our best to improve the long cane raspberry system as well as increase more rhubarb acreage.

In my time as the farm manager, this transition has mostly been about learning how everyone works to best be successful at the farm. I hired someone with much more HR experience than I will ever have, and she made huge improvements to the farm; she implemented a new payroll system which takes us less than 1/3rd of the time; she updated our payables/receivables system; and most notably, she was able to ensure that everyone was being treated with respect on the farm. Taylor has recently moved-on, but her efforts have been instrumental in the farm transition.

Our transition is far from over. We still need some office help and have a lot to learn about the day-to-day farm activities. Three goals that we have are: having a healthy office atmosphere, improving soil health on the farm, and integrating the AVFN community into the success of the farm. To accomplish this, we are taking what we have learned from previous office staff and using it to hire new people. For soil health, we have started land-trading with farmers that grow corn. This enables us to have a three-year rotation as opposed to a two-year rotation. Regarding soil health, we are also part of the Living Labs project and will be trading land with a livestock farmer to see how it affects soil health. The last goal is by far the most important on-going goal. Currently we have had the help of some staff at AVFN to help build the long cane structures as well as help with housing maintenance. We also do free-pick days when we can.

(Submitted by Jordan Eyamie)