Brothers Jordan and Alex McKay, owners of Willowtree Farm in Port Perry, have been honoured as one Canada’s latest Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF)!
The OYF Program is designed to recognize young farmers between the ages of 18 to 39 that exemplify excellence in their profession.
“It was a great honour to win Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmer Award,” Jordan shares with us. “We are also very proud to be part of the OYF Alumni, they are a very progressive and positive group of farmers from all sectors of agriculture.”
The McKay family farm first opened in the late 1960s, when Jordan and Alex’s parents bought the land to start a dairy and cash crop farm. The farm has continually evolved ever since, with the focus eventually turning to beef cattle and an expanding list of fruits and vegetables.
Then In 2016, the McKays opened a 4,300 sq. ft. retail year-round market at Willowtree, complete with a butcher shop, commercial kitchen and cafe right on the farm.
Now the McKay brothers are being celebrated for their passionate and progressive work in transforming the family farm into a vertically integrated farm that focuses on farm fresh local food.
“The farm goal is to create a one of kind ‘working farm’ experience for customers while making the maximum use of the products it produces,” the OYF press release shares. “The McKay Brothers, with the help of their spouses Alyson and Kelty, are always changing their operation because they believe that is the nature of what they do.”
Together, the brothers have moved Willowtree through impressive growth, increasing the Durham Region farm to 650 acres, with about 25 employees in the winter and over 90 in the summer, and producing 35 hand-picked crops, 65 sheep and 102 cows.
“Alex and Jordan, along with their families, have successfully harnessed their complementary skills resulting in a multiplier rarely seen,” shared Franck Groeneweg, Canada’s OYF Program 1st Vice Chair.
“What we do is very unique in the industry and it’s great to be recognized for that,” said Jordan in this article from the Port Perry Star. “We’ve always tried to differentiate ourselves. A lot of people don’t realize there’s a farm behind [the market] supporting it. We’re a farm that has a store instead of just a store that’s in the country.”
Learn more about Willowtree Farm on their website and plan a visit soon – along with the fresh produce, cafe, bakery and butcher shop, they also currently have a free ice skating rink open during business hours!
Congratulations to the McKay family, as well as to Double F Farms in Alberta, who were also recognized as Outstanding Young Farmers for 2018!