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Pitt Meadows Family Recognized for 100 Years of Farming
For 100 continuous years, the Severinskis have been determined dairy farmers!
The Severinski family ’s farming legacy began in 1910 when Stephen Severinski immigrated from the then Austro- Hungarian Empire, which was later named Yugoslavia following World War I in 1918. Stephen bought a five-acre property in Cloverdale and invited his fiancé, Manda, to join him in 1921 from Yugoslavia. The couple married the day after her arrival on September 12, 1921. They milked about a dozen cows and began their Canadian farming venture together.
A few months later, “the neighbour’s chicken farm caught on fire, so they did a bucket brigade to put the fire out and save the house,” says the couple’s grandson Kevin. Manda “was quite pregnant, like seven or eight months pregnant, and the next day she miscarried the child, so she had to go to the hospital.” Within the four or five
day period that Manda was in the hospital, Stephen swapped their 5-acre property in Cloverdale
with a farmer who owned 40 acres in Pitt Meadows. From the hospital, they drove to their new farm just north of the Fraser River, along with all their cattle and one horse.
Over the years, Stephen
and Manda doubled their
farm’s land base and grew their
family too, with 10 children. The couple’s youngest son Harry bought the farm in 1965. He and his wife Louise expanded the operation to 120 acres and 60 milking cows. Severinski Farms entered its third generation when Harry and Louise’s son Kevin and his wife Audra took over the farm in 2000. The family has since grown the farm to 145 acres of owned land and 100 acres of leased land. Growing up, Kevin had little doubt he’d one day take over the family farm. He worked on the farm all through high school and during that time, met his high school sweetheart Audra. They married after graduating from high school. Kevin took an off-farm job for a year and
Three of four Severinski generations celebrate the farm’s Century Farm Award. (L-R) Back row – Audra, Harry, Louise,
Kevin. Front row – Amanda, Marissa, Danielle, Brandon.
A Family Farm feeding Canadian Families. Seems simple enough – but it takes love and determination
to continue it for 100 years!
uses help their breeding program and did away with arduous paperwork. They now use mostly ABS sires. To keep up with other advancements, Kevin attends online and in-person workshops and takes courses as opportunities arise.
The Severinskis work together and learn from one another to build on the farm’s success. “It’s very special, the fact that I get to work with my dad every day. I think it’s even more special that my dad gets to work with his grandson,” Kevin says. Harry and Brandon clean the heifer and calf barns together three or four times a week. “My dad drives the tractor and my son moves gates. I always think about how lucky Brandon is to have those experiences. My dad shows Brandon a lot of mechanic stuff too and shows him how to fix equipment. My grandfather was 90 when I was 12. He was retired by then.”
Through the family’s 100 years of farming, other operations came and went, but the Severinskis stayed true to their passion – cows. Kevin is most proud of “our love of cows and love for the community. We’ve never switched to blueberries or cranberries,” he says. “A lot of people moved around or did chickens. We’ve always just stuck with dairy for 100 years. And we love Pitt Meadows. We’re very involved in the community in a lot of local events.”
The Century Farm Award event at Severinski Farms in September saw close to 200 people in attendance. Harry and Louise were so proud of and astonished by their community’s support. “I told my parents so they knew the barbeque was happening, but we hadn’t told them we’d applied for the BC Century Farm Award and we didn’t tell them we’d invited all the local politicians,” Kevin says. “So, they were pretty shocked when they saw the mayor, councilors, and the MLA show up. They were pretty proud. My dad is 83, which means he’s been here for a good chunk of the 100 years.”
Kevin reflects on the immense commitment to dairy farming that four generations share and the fact that for the last century, the Severinski family has milked cows every single day.
Kate Ayers, B.Sc. (Agr.), University of Guelph
then returned to the farm and the couple
started their family.
As Kevin and Audra’s children grew up, the farm provided a space for them to be outside with the cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, geese and rabbits that they had at the time. Now, two members of the fourth generation, siblings Brandon and Amanda, have expressed interest in farming. Brandon is the family ’s full-time herdsman. Amanda is a herd manager and works off the farm in sales. While the family faces the realities of transition planning with four children, the “plan is to pass the farm onto the next
generation,” Kevin says.
The family now milks 160 cows 3x in a double-8 herringbone parlour. “I always wanted to milk three times a day. I worked
with my dad forever and over the last four or five years we worked together, I told him I wanted to milk three times a day,” Kevin says. “He said the day I bought the farm, I could milk as many times as I wanted. Purposefully, the day we bought the farm, we started milking three times a day and have ever since.”
Through each generation and stage of growth, the family has maintained progressive and innovative practices on their farm. In 2008, they tore down the old cow barn and built a new barn on the same site. During construction, they automated the milking parlour. The family also “put pedometers on the cows and milk metres in the barn,” Kevin says. “We have a computer system that keeps track of milk weights and cow activity three times a day and breeding information is all in there.” The technological advancements that the family
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