Helling Holsteins - The Peeters Family
The farm name ‘Helling’, which means ‘gentle sloping land’ in Dutch, comes from the community where John Peeters, the farm’s original owner, was raised in Holland. After John immigrated to Canada, he purchased the 250 acre farm, near Lindsay, Ontario in 1958. John's son, Harry, and his wife, Jeannie, then purchased the property from John and transitioned to organic production in 2001.
Though it has only been certified organic since 2001, its history of farming with nature dates back to around 20 years earlier when Harry, trying to cut costs, decided to divide the Holstein herd into two groups. Half the herd was raised by the conventional book, receiving every treatment which was ‘recommended.’ The second half of the herd was raised completely naturally, meaning no vaccines, no drugs and no treatments.
Much to Harry’s initial surprise, he noticed a trend: The ‘conventionally raised’ animals all went through a roller-coaster of health issues. They would be healthy, then they would get sick and receive treatment, which would then lead to good health again, but they would always get sick again and need another treatment. However, the ‘naturally raised’ animals took a surprisingly different path concerning their health. As calves, they would all get sick in some way, but with great management they would all recover and their immune system would be built up. This discovery lead to raising the entire herd naturally and enjoying the benefits that followed.
The beautiful farm with gently sloping land and a creek running through it is now owned by Kurtis Peeters, who purchased it from his parents Harry and Jeannie in 2010 and is the farm’s 3rd generation farmer. Today, Kurtis milks 30 certified organic Holsteins and every one of them has their own name, their own personality and their own stall they go into twice every day for milking. They are all pets; they come when called and get grumpy if they go too long without a good scratching ̶ though they are quick to forgive when they get some attention. The cows enjoy a fresh patch of pasture twice a day all through the warmer months, and enjoy eating snow and jumping through the snow banks together on the cold, sunny days of winter.
"I am truly blessed to be able to work with God’s creation in order to help multitudes of people live healthier, happier lives!" says Kurtis.