A Rich History
A Rich History
Back in 1958, Robert Young borrowed his dad's tractor, a seeder and, with a vision, Young Sod Farms was born. Robert Young's (Bob) philosophy has always been "treat people the same as you wish to be treated, whether it is a customer, employee or supplier." This still remains true today.
We have seen many changes throughout the years from each harvesting crew having 4 to 5 men cutting the sod, rolling and carrying to the truck, loading and unloading all by hand. Today we have a state of the art, computerized harvester that one person operates. It is no longer the back breaking job. Some of the original equipment used 50 years ago has been restored and displayed at the sales yard.
Bob and his wife Shirley started out with 13 acres of production and thought the following year the other half of the farm would be sowed. At this time we are farming over 2000 acres with crop rotations varying from corn, soybeans and wheat. Over the years the family farm has experimented with clover and rye for seed production, white radices, potatoes, peanuts and Chinese cabbage.
Our sales yard is the hub of the operation. We have topsoil, seed, fertilizer and turf for both the retail and wholesale trade. Young Sod Farms carries both the small and large rolls. All our equipment and trucks are equipped with a two way radio system as communication is critical.
In 1985, a large milestone was achieved, harvesting "One Million Rolls" in a season., Since then, we have seen this number increase due to demands for sod as the region housing markets have increased. We have also seen the tough times as we rely on Mother Nature as well. In 2007, the Niagara region suffered through the worst drought in 50 years.
Our orders are harvested early the same day so they're at the job site, ready for installation when the customer requests. Such timing ensures that the product is as fresh as possible and well within the safe range of it's 24-hour shelf life in hot weather. Under cool conditions, there is a extended shelf life.
Some 200 pieces of machinery make up the operation's fleet. Transport trucks with self-loading forklifts for unloading sod on-site, bulldozers, earth movers, large and small tractors, tillage, equipment planting and even snow removal equipment, are just a few of the items which must be overhauled each winter, and repaired as necessary. The 6 full time employees each have their own specialty, in performing or overseeing tasks at respective stages in the business operations. In the busy season the staff increases to around 25. Employees are a very important key in the success of young Sod Farms. Over the years there have been numerous gold watches given out to the staff that have worked 25 years.
When Bob decided to sell the business to the next generation, it was a challenge to make it all come together. Not all family members are involved in the business so this added to the complexity of the sale. Over the years, a succession plan had been organized and this was very helpful in the change of ownership to the next generation. In 2004 the family business was purchased by Bob's daughter and her husband, Barb and Scott Christopher. Many changes and improvements have taken place since then. There has been a lot of time and effort put into the updating of the environmental farm plan so that new equipment, buildings and permits are in place for the future.
Bob and Shirley are no longer involved in the day to day operations of the company. Bob is very active in driving for Red Cross and working in his basement on his many woodworking projects. Shirley has been robbed of her life in retirement, trying to cope with Alzheimer's Disease. At this time she is still living in their log home with assistance.
Young Sod Farms is an active member of the Nursery Sod Growers Association, Turf grass Producers International, Landscape Ontario, Chamber of Commerce, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, to name a few. Over the years it has always been a tradition to make charitable donations to important places like the local hospitals and University of Guelph Turf grass Research Centre. We are proud to say we have had Farm Safety come each spring to educate our staff for the last 33 years.
It always seems when the Young family gathers there is always talk about the business. We have had many of laughs telling stories about the past, like spraying roundup on the field by mistake or brakes failing and driving into the pond. There never seems to be an end to the stories.
Fifty years later, Young Sod Farms Inc. still remains committed to providing top quality turf, topsoil, fertilizer and seed to our valued customers. Our staff is always willing to assist in making your lawn beautiful.