Meet Melanie and Kevin Boldt: the dynamic duo behind Saskatchewan’s only all natural meat business
By Melanie EppFeatures Producers
The journey of Pine View Farms, from small-town Saskatchewan to all natural meat success.
Growing up, Melanie Boldt never expected she’d be running an agri-food business. Yet, she and her husband Kevin operate Pine View Farms, the only All Natural meat business in the province of Saskatchewan. The business has been greatly successful. The enterprise has given both her and Kevin an opportunity to shine in what they do best. Melanie takes care of business operations and marketing, while Kevin oversees production and operations.
Pine View Farms wasn’t always marked for success, though. In fact, it went through several transitions to get to where it is today. Melanie and Kevin met at the University of Saskatchewan, where Kevin was working towards a diploma in agricultural studies and Melanie was earning a business degree with a major in marketing. While Melanie had grown up in small-town Saskatchewan, she had never contemplated farming until she met Kevin.
They were married in 1991. At that time, Kevin was working on the family farm, a dairy and grain operation in Osler, Sask., just 20 minutes north of Saskatoon. Melanie worked off-farm in sales and marketing, eventually in agricultural sales, as it brought her closer to home. In 1998, the couple bought a farm yard just up the road equipped with a chicken barn and small abattoir. The yard had been Kevin’s great grandfather’s homestead back in 1901, but the land had been out of the family for about 40 years. It would become Pine View Farms and a diversification to their existing grain operation.
Around the same time, the couple took over Kevin’s parents’ grain farm. They bought the equipment and rented the land from his parents. Kevin’s father had made the decision to get out of dairy a few years earlier, so the business was focused on grain production only at that time.
Raising and processing chickens was supposed to be a sideline to grain farming. “We processed chickens in between seeding, haying and harvest,” Melanie says. “But time would prove that this little butcher shop had more potential than that. Growing at 30 per cent per year at the start, more and more people kept showing up to buy meat. It only made sense to add beef, pork, lamb and turkey to the product mix – and so it went.”
Melanie recalls the first six years on the grain farm being difficult. “We got slammed with grasshoppers, drought and low commodity prices in grain,” she says. “The crucible of hard times teaches you a lot about yourself, and what you’re made of and what you want to be.”
“We really had to take a hard look at what we were doing, and at the time, grain farming was just too risky for the reward,” she adds. “But we had this fledgling farm-gate chicken business that seemed to have an upside, and so we had to decide what our farm was going to look like if we wanted to survive in the long term.”
Eventually, the Boldts decided to sell the machinery, let go of the land and instead focus on building up an All Natural meat business. They reinvested funds to expand and equip their poultry processing plant, purchase quota, expand their poultry barn and focus on producing and marketing meat directly to the public.
Beef, pork, and some seasonal lamb, grown by Partner Producers and cut and wrapped at Pine View Farms, are also available for purchase in the shop and online atpineviewfarms.com. They produce sausages and deli meats in-house. They are the only provincially inspected, farm-to-fork, All Natural meat operation in Saskatchewan.
But their uniqueness isn’t their only selling point. Melanie and Kevin focus on All Natural production, a label that means their birds are fed a diet in accordance with the All Natural Protocol outlined by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. They have year-round access to the outdoors with plenty of room to exhibit their natural behaviours. When put together, all of these measures create a low stress environment for the animals, Melanie explains.
The on-site processing facility is small enough that they can do most of the work by hand. Melanie says keeping the operation small is what allows them to have better control over the entire process. Animal welfare is very important. When customers ask, and they do, Melanie is able to explain how every animal was handled from start to finish.
Today, Pine View Farms employs seven full-time workers and 20 part-time employees. Melanie is responsible for the financial side of the business, including hiring and payroll, as well as marketing and social media.
Kevin’s role is production and operations. Both roles are time and labour intensive, Melanie notes.
“We’re lucky we’re a complementary team,” she says. “I think that’s our key to success in the farm-direct marketing business.”
Moving towards carbon neutrality
Part of the business has always been focused on sustainability, both economic and environmental, Melanie says. The couple wanted to find a solution for the high levels of power and natural gas they use to operate the barns and abattoir. In 2019, they installed 134 solar panels, which supply 25 per cent of their needs on-farm.
In addition, over the past 25 years, they’ve planted over 4,000 trees, establishing a poplar forest and creating rows of shelterbelts. Planting 1,600 trees alone would have given their farm carbon neutral status. Their farm reached official carbon neutral status in January of 2019.
“We want to show people that it is possible for people to eat animal protein and be socially and environmentally responsible,” she says. “We as farmers need to tell the story of food so consumers get the whole story, right from the source.”
Print this page
- Navigating the Housing Transition: Insights and advice from Canadian egg farmers
- Confirming the safety of genetically edited allergen-free eggs