Farm fresh vegetables, hard work, local employment, and simple kindness are the ingredients for success at a Sturgeon County market garden.
2BK Vegetable Farm is a fast-growing success story of how Brian Brenneis and Karen Krachkowski combined their diverse talents and resources. Brian grew up helping at his family’s vegetable farm, he had growing experience, but Karen’s green thumb wasn’t as obvious. She was a former hairstylist, but she did own farmland near Namao.
Together they grew their business, and they were recently awarded the Excellence in Agriculture award from Sturgeon County for innovation and environmental leadership in the agricultural sector.
“We can’t believe it,” said Brian. “We’re just doing our thing. We’re having fun, and then we get this award. It brought a tear to my eye.”
2BK started selling produce grown on their farm six years ago at farmers’ markets. Today, loyal customers come to their farm near Highways 28 and 37 from June to October for 2BK’s wide selection of vegetables – everything from arugula to zucchini.
Brian and Karen are proud of their business that puts an emphasis on employing local youth and other community members. Ensuring a fair and safe work environment is important, and each season kicks off with a safety orientation day for staff emphasizing proper equipment handling.
Fun is also a key component of their business mixed in with the hard work.
“We have water fights, and we have mud fights,” recalled Brian with a laugh.
About 20 students ranging in age from 12 to 20 years worked in the fields this growing season, along with several adults. Their own children (Brian and Karen each have two) started out working on the farm in their younger years and now, in their early 20s, are starting to branch out with their own careers.
Treating people with respect is a cornerstone of 2BK, along with caring for the environment.
While the farm is not certified organic, 2BK does practise many of the philosophies without having to be officially regulated which can be an expensive undertaking.
“We don’t use a lot of sprays,” said Karen, noting that they prefer to hire youth to weed by hand.
A local cattle farmer also supplies manure as a natural fertilizer, and the farm is also exploring water recycling to conserve water.
“We’re just human beings that are trying to be kind and grow good, fair products,” said Karen.
The couple appreciates the community’s support over the years.
“We’re just doing what we love to do,” said Brian. “And at the same time, we’re helping the world, or maybe a small part of this city, to supply fresh vegetables. That’s what I like.”
Nominations for the Excellence in Agriculture award will be accepted starting December 1, 2022, until January 31, 2023.