Donald John Thompson was born in Zephyr in 1918. He was the second born in a family of five children. In 1937 his family packed their belongings into a wagon, hitched up the horses and moved to Holt to the land we still farm today. He met and married the love of his life, Marion Gibney, and together they raised 5 children.
Farming implements were much smaller than they are today as they were drawn by horses. All seed potatoes were cut by hand and planted using a one row planter. The weeds were managed using a hoe, rainfall was the only form of irrigation, and harvested potatoes were picked up off the ground by hand. It was labour intensive in an entirely different way than it is today. It meant you better have a lot of kids to help, and get along with your neighbours so they would lend a hand during the harvest!
It wasn’t until the late 1960’s that Don began to specialize in growing potatoes on a mass production scale. When his son John joined him farming full time in the 1970’s, they worked on expanding the business together. During this time he still maintained his dairy herd, which meant when the long day in the field was finished there were cows to be milked and tended to.
There is a whole lot of truth to the saying “Old Farmers Never Really Retire.” When Don’s grandson RJ joined the farming team in 1994, Don felt it was time for him to “retire.” However, he still helped with some field work, and since that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, he chose to raise beef cattle as a new hobby. He helped with the grading line well into his 80’s. His age finally caught up with him when he turned 90 – so he slowed right down and took over cutting the grass for a few hours every day!
Don always had time for the customers who popped in to buy potatoes and sweet corn. He had a ready smile and a story for every person who came to the door. We miss Don’s gentle presence and his gracious manner every day. And we thank him for his lifetime of hard work that left us the grass roots of the business we run today at his farm.
If you are interested in learning more about some of the other faces around our farm, you can visit “Our Story.”