Andrew Simms Farm part of Shawville Fair for over 15 years

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Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

I’m always fascinated in how our food gets from farm to table, and I have tremendous respect for our farmers and their agricultural practices. It’s a pleasure to go to the Shawville Fair and meet the producers – and their animals and other products.

Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

I’m always fascinated in how our food gets from farm to table, and I have tremendous respect for our farmers and their agricultural practices. It’s a pleasure to go to the Shawville Fair and meet the producers – and their animals and other products.
So I was delighted when Andrew Simms of Clarendon-based Andrew Simms Farm agreed to answer questions about the Shawville Fair from his hands-on perspective.
Donna Courchesne and Andrew Simms focus on raising animals responsibly. The couple raise grass-fed lambs (Dorper and Dorper cross), Tamworth heritage pigs, and Purebred Charolais and commercial beef cattle.
Here’s what Andrew had to say:
KF: How long have you been farming in Clarendon?
AS: We bought our farm in 1990 and started a commercial beef cow/calf herd. In 2011, we added sheep and, around then, our daughter started acquiring purebred Charolais. Three years ago, we got into pigs, but we’re going to let them go; we just don’t have the time to do everything.
KF: How long have you been involved in the Pontiac Agricultural Society?
AS: I’ve been on the Fair Board as a director for 15 or 16 years, first in the poultry division, then beef, and lately on grounds and maintenance.
KF: Are you showing this year?
AS: Last year was the first time we had some of our own lambs at the Fair, shown by the neighbours’ kids in the 4H and open shows. Neither Donna nor I have shown before, but this year we plan to have both cattle and sheep at the Fair. Cattle are shown and judged in the arena while Sunday morning’s sheep show is in the beer tent. Visitors can see the animals in the barns unless a show is in progress, when they will be cordoned off for safety reasons.
KF: What is your view regarding raising animals for human consumption?
AS: Personally, I have never had an issue with raising animals for slaughter. It is part of the circle of life; all things come from and return to the earth, us included. That said, we like and respect our animals: we want them to have the best life possible here, and when the time comes to harvest them, we want that to be as humane and painless as possible. I truly believe that livestock, properly managed, are an essential part of sustainable agriculture and a sustainable planet.
KF: It must be hard work prepping for the Fair…
AS: Since this is our first year showing, it’s a learning experience for us. Every day or two we’re spending time with the animals to get them halter broken, plus grooming, clipping, and exposing them to different stimuli so they will be more accepting of the Fair’s hustle and bustle. Although our daughters are off pursuing their careers, both plan to be home to help.
KF: Do you think the animals get really stressed at the Fair?
AS: In my experience, most livestock aren’t bothered much by trucking. And most animals that have been handled before don’t mind being touched or petted. However, I wouldn’t encourage people who aren’t familiar with cattle to just wander in and pet them, again for safety reasons. Almost all exhibitors have fans to help keep their animals cool and avoid stress from the heat.
KF: What are your thoughts about the Fair’s educational aspects?
AS: Fairs are a great way for people to gain a better understanding of where their food comes from. This is one of the reasons we invite schoolchildren from all over the Pontiac to come on Friday morning to visit the different divisions and learn about what we farmers do. This sort of education, I think, is becoming increasingly important because in general, people have diminishing contact with agriculture and the natural world.
KF: Anything else you would like to mention?
AS: As a friend and long-time exhibitor once told me, the Fair is a time to meet friends and enjoy the show experience and if everyone comes home safe and sound, it’s been a good Fair. If you come home with a ribbon, that’s a bonus!
Meet other local producers at the Fair! Meet the Graham family from Coronation Hall, and vintners Joanne Labadie (Lavender Ridge Farm), Maude-Emmanuelle Lambert (Domaine de Pontiac Village), and Jennifer Dale Judd (Little Red Wagon Winery). These entrepreneurs — and many, many others — will be delighted to see you at the Fair.
See you there!