Business & Policy
Two Centuries of Innovation
By Dan Woolley
Coburn Farms recognized for leadership and innovation
By Dan Woolley
Coburn Farms recognized for leadership and innovation during bicentennial celebration
New Brunswick Egg Producers Director David Coburn received praise for his agricultural leadership and innovation from an array of senior provincial politicians during his family’s bicentennial farm celebration this past July.
“You really are an inspiration. It shows what can be done,” declared Dave Alward, New Brunswick Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture, who praised Coburn’s commitment to the agricultural industry and the community.
At the bicentennial celebration, Kirk MacDonald, New Brunswick Minister of Business and Coburn’s MLA for the Mactaquac riding presented him with a commemorative plaque from the provincial government on behalf of Premier Bernard Lord, stating, “this event was 200 years in the making …. and something very rare and very special.”
Looking at the many Coburn descendants and visitors from the local farming community at the celebration, MacDonald observed he attends all sorts of family anniversary and community events, “but coming in at the 200 year mark of the Coburn family farm tops them all.”
Mike Allen, Tobique – Mactaquac MP (Conservative) presented a federal government commemorative plaque and a signed and framed certificate from federal Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl.
Andy Scott, Fredericton MP (Liberal), praised all the contributions, “a list too long to mention,” of the Coburn’s to the community over the years, commenting, “200 years is a spectacular accomplishment in the face of all the challenges the family farm faces.”
To Shawn Graham, Leader of New Brunswick’s Official Opposition (Liberal) the bicentennial celebration was a “true testament to the work ethic of this family.” Graham’s father, Alan, is a former provincial agriculture minister.
Larry Jewett, Coburn’s neighbour and a fellow farmer praised the Coburn family’s ability “to change gears when they had to do it.”
John Robinson of nearby Fredericton, master of ceremonies at the bicentennial celebration, observed that Dave Coburn’s reuniting of the original 260 acre 1806 farmstead from the farms of his father, Burris and his cousin, Donald, was a tribute to his foresight and ability.
In 1998, after buying out his brother, John, Dave Coburn, reduced his apple orchard from 100 to just 10 acres due to decreased profitability in the market for table apples.
He focused more intensely on his egg laying operations and now, he said, “the next big project we are involved with will be as one of the participants in the Maritime Pride egg grading station that will be built in Amherst, Nova Scotia.”
Coburn will have 25,000 birds worth of ownership in that new plant which will replace the Sunny Glen egg grading station his family started with two other partners in 1975.
It will mean he will be moving from a local enterprise to one that is regional in scale, spanning three Maritime provinces, that will eventually also do some egg processing.
As the sixth-generation Coburn on the farm, he would like a seventh-generation, any or all of his three children, Jennifer, 16, Glen, 15, and Tyler, 13, to someday take over from him, but, he admits, “it is too soon to tell.
“My main criteria if any of the children choose to farm are that they have to have a passion for it. They will need a degree. I had a technician diploma and it was good for 25 years ago; but today you are going to need a degree. It will have to be in agricultural business and they will have to minor in plant or animal science, whichever way they want to go,” he said.
He feels he was fortunate knowing at age 14 he wanted succeed his father; but his children will not have to decide as quickly as he did.
Coburn plans to farm until his youngest son, Tyler, turns 30. On succession he has “several long-term scenarios; but I am not putting pressure on my kids. That wouldn’t be fair.”
He is pleased they took an active role in planning and working on the farm’s reunion and bicentennial events: the corn boil, barbecue, horse shoe tournament, cow patty bingo, fiddle concert and dance, scavenger hunt, orchard tour, displays of old farm implements and horse and wagon rides.
They are also active in managing and working on the farm. During the March break this year, Jennifer managed the layer barn and when her father attended this spring’s CEMA meeting she assumed management of the farm. Coburn remarked: “These are the things that can make you proud as a father.”
Coburn was also pleased so many family descendants (160) journeyed to his farm, for the July 29 – 30, bicentennial weekend. “It is their farm as much as mine. We are farming history.”
They arrived from every Canadian province except Newfoundland-Labrador and from the United States, from as far away as California and Florida “and all points in between,” he said.