b'GROWER SPOTLIGHT | SUPPORTED BY: A Potato Farmer with No LandMichiel Buijsse isnt your typical potato grower, as he doesnt own any of the land he farms on. BY: ASHLEY ROBINSONWHEN MCCAIN FOODS approached Michiel Buijsse about growing potatoes there was just one problemhe didnt own any land, or anything else to actually grow potatoes. McCain was looking to expand production and needed new growers. Buijsse had immigrated to Alberta from Holland and was working as a manager on a potato farm. He had the farming skills and passion, but no land. However, a grain farm near McCain Foods Coaldale plant was looking for a new business opportunity.Bezco Farming Inc. is a 5,000-acre grain farm owned by the Bezooyen family. They farm canola, wheat, barley, winter wheat and alfalfa, while also running a concrete construction business. The Bezooyens were looking for a new profitable crop to grow on their land when they were asked if theyd be willing to partner with Buijsse.Its like this massive job interview, right? Youre kind of going to go in a partnership with somebody you dont even know yet. So, you have to get to know him, Bill Bezooyen says in a phone interview.The job interview worked and 845 Spud Farms Ltd. was born. 845 Spud Farms is a 50/50 partnership between Bill and Buijsse. 845 Spud Farms owns all of the potato equipment and the potato storage, the storage was built on Bezco land, and 845 Spud Farms rents the land. Buijsses wife Tabitha does bookwork with Bills wife Brenda, and Bills sons Dexter, Luke and Zoltan help Buijsse with the farm work.The first potato crop for 845 Spud Farms was planted in 2019.Bill Bezooyen (left) and Michiel Buijsse stand in a potato field on 845 Buijsse had already grown two years of his own potato crops onSpud Farms Ltd.PHOTO: MICHIEL BUIJSSEleased land under the farm name MTB Farms Ltd. He rented and borrowed potato equipment and storages from other farms toMoving forward Buijsse hopes to expand the farm to 750 run the operation. acres of potatoes. Currently 845 Spud Farms grows processing We put every single cent that we had onto potatoes if wepotatoes for both McCain and Cavendish Farms. made five bucks, then we borrowed another five, and wedBoth of these plants are ready to expand and have the spend 10 bucks on equipment, then on storages and everything,capacity and the means to do that. But right now, they do not Buijsse explains in a phone interview. have the sales. So, I think whenever these plants ramp up, were The first few years were rough. The ground they were plantinggoing to have room to expand, Buijsse explains. Adding they had been zero till and hadnt been ripped for years, meaninghave been working to keep good relations with the processing there was quite a few rocks in the fields. There was also frostplants by being flexible with shipping amounts and shipping on to contend with, so not all of the spuds were able to be dug upshort notice.before spoiling. Buijsse has planned the farm out with expansion in mind. He The start of planting was delayed this year when everyone washas bought an eight-row planter, which is slightly too large for infected with COVID-19, forcing at home isolation, while neighbourscurrent production but will allow for more acres to be grown started planting. Once they got up and running again on April 29,when the plants increase production. Hes also purchased a self-they were able to push through and finish planting 300 acres ofpropelled harvester that works better for digging in clay soils, potatoes by May 5, as the seed was cut before they were sick. which 845 Spud Farms is located in. 48SPUDSMART.COM Summer 2021'