Next Gen Grower

'Next Generation Grower' is our way of recognizing the future growers that will eventually be taking over in the agricultural community, currently working alongside their parents or other family members.

Meet Mathijs Claassen!

Your name/farm name, area(s) you currently farm in (can be other areas you have previously farmed in too) and number of years you have been farming.
My name is Mathijs Claassen and we farm in Vauxhall Alberta.  I farm together with my parents Louis and Marjolein, and my brothers JP and Erwin.  We immigrated to Canada in 2005.  Previously we were farming in the Nederlands, growing seed potatoes, cereals, sugar beets, as well as onions. The main reason we moved to Canada was for more opportunities for my brothers and myself, as we were already farming together with my uncle and his children. 

How many generations has your family been involved in agriculture?  How many are on the farm today or who else in your family do you farm with?
My family has farmed for 3 generations, my dad and uncle started farming together with my grandpa in Holland.  After, we moved to Canada and started Claassen Farms, my uncle and his kids are keeping the farm in Holland running.

Why did you choose farming as your career?
I chose farming because I have always been fascinated with the hard work farmers put in to produce food for the world.  It has always felt important to me and I’ve always wanted to keep the generations going.

What crops/animals do you produce/raise?
At Claassen Farms we grow potatoes, wheat, barley, canola and sugar beets.  My brother Erwin also has chicken barns where he raises broiler chickens.

How long have you been growing sugar beets and when did you start?
Claassen Farms has grown Alberta sugarbeets ever since we immigrated in 2005, but in the Nederlands, my dad grew beets for a long time as well, so we are very familiar with the crop.

Why do you grow sugar beets?
We grow Alberta sugar beets because it works well with our rotation and it gives us more options for our cereals.  Another great reason is there’s something about the harvest.  The sweet, sugary smell in the air, in large quantities at a time.  The crop is an easier crop to grow compared to some of our other crops.  Harvest is a more labour-intensive time but since we have the manpower left from our other harvested crops, and sugar beets is usually a later harvest, it works out well with our operation.

Do you think you will continue to grow sugar beets when you operate the farm in the future?  Why or why not?
In my eyes we would always continue to grow beets, if climate stays good to us, good land and soil.  Most importantly as long as the financials are adding up since the harvest work is intensive and it is a long season of inputs.  It is very important that we are coming out ahead financially with growing the crop.

What have you done to prepare for helping on the farm (education, other experience, etc)?
When I was in high school, I worked 3 years off the farm to work on different farms for experience.  After I graduated high school, I went to Olds College for 2 years for Agriculture Management.

If you asked my family though, they would say I have been preparing to help on the farm since I was 6 years old.  Driving around on our farm’s little gator to check out what everyone was doing and trying to help out anyone on the farm from farm hands to working alongside my dad.

Archived Next Gen Growers
Next Gen Grower - Luke Loman
Next Gen Grower - Brandyn Howg
Alberta Sugar Beet Growers

5220 – 50th Ave, Taber, AB
P.O. Box 4944, T1G 2E1
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