Bruce Family Farm
Danny Bruce and Sandie Troop run Bruce Family Farm in Bridgetown, NS. We talked with Danny about their organic beef operation.
Tell us about your farm.
This farm has been in the family since 1788 - I’m a 6th generation farmer planning for the 8th generation! We have a large woodlot and about 150 acres of pasture and hay fields. Our focus is on organic beef which is 100% grass-fed. We also raise sheep and chickens but they aren’t certified organic. We’re always on the lookout for new opportunities - in the past we’ve grown grain for milling, made jam, and grown a variety of vegetables. We still grow some grain but now it goes into feeding the chickens. In addition to organic beef, we offer garlic and potatoes, eggs and hand-dyed yarn.
Why did you become certified organic?
We wanted our product to stand out from the rest. Being certified organic means animals are raised according to the organic standards and that’s something I want to represent. Organic is also a regulated term. There are a lot of marketing buzzwords, like “natural” and “regenerative”, that are not regulated and don’t mean much. Unfortunately, the majority of consumers are unaware. There’s a core group that understands what organic is all about but we need to put a whole lot more effort into consumer education. People need to understand what they’re eating and make healthy food a priority.
What's been your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is that farming is undervalued. Farmers are producing food, an essential product, but they are not getting the recognition nor the return they deserve. My kids are interested in the farm but they see the amount of work, the stress, the low returns and as a result, they’re pursuing off-farm jobs. It’s also tough to reach the customers willing to pay the premium for quality organic food, especially in this time of inflation when people are looking for cheaper food alternatives.
Another challenge as an organic livestock farmer is the lack of accessible abattoir facilities. There’s a general shortage of local slaughter facilities in Nova Scotia but it’s even more challenging because organic producers have to meet the processing requirements set out in the organic standards.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Well, I’m over 60 so I can tell you what puts me to bed at night - exhaustion! But I do wake up hopeful. Plus the animals need to be fed. Our animals are part of the family and there’s always lots to do. The farm is bigger than just me.
Where can people buy your products?
You can buy certified organic beef by calling Danny directly (902-665-2119 or 902-526-2728) or visiting him at the Annapolis Royal Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. Beef deliveries to Halifax and other locations can be arranged.