Dave MacKellar – 2023 Robertson Associate Award

“If you take care of the farm, the farm will take care of you.” These words of wisdom were passed down to Dave MacKellar from his great-grandfather, who started working the land in Lambton County in Southwestern Ontario in 1875. Dave’s father, Alex, eventually shared them with Dave when he started farming at the age of 14.

MacKellar Farms is a cash crop farm with a registered seed processing plant. There are currently four generations currently working on the farm. Dave, his father Alex, two of his three sons, Adam and Jacob, and now three grandsons. The family grows 4,700 acres of soybeans, corn, winter wheat, edamame and pumpkins. Dave is a select grower, growing high-pedigreed seed soybeans and wheat and has received his 40-year CSGA long service certificate.

At 18 years old, Dave bought his first 100-acre farm and has been expanding ever since. After graduating from Ridgetown Agriculture College in 1979, he married his high school sweetheart Annette in 1982. Seven years later, he took the operation one step further by building a seed processing plant in 1991. By cleaning the seed himself, he could offer the best purity guarantee. His oldest son Adam has been managing the seed plant since graduating from Ridgetown College himself, and this year received his 20-year CSGA long service certificate. 

In the early 1990s, when Dave was a Director on the Lambton County Soybean Board. In 1997, he, with his Annette by his side, was awarded the DuPont Young Leader Award.

Dave then served close to 20 years on the Ontario Seed Growers’ Association, first as a director, then as President. Dave also served five years on CSGA’s National Board as a director. He is a long-standing member of the Lambton Soil & Crop Association. MacKellar Farms have also been hosting the Ontario Winter Wheat Trials on their farm since 2003.

Blending traditional practices with new best practices, technology, and crop selection, MacKellar Farms is continually adapting and growing. Starting small with a few acres and gradually growing, product landed in stores in 2012 with the MacKellar Farm, promoting a locally grown product. The family found it rewarding to develop a product through the entire value chain, from genetics to its placement on the grocery store shelf. This part of MacKellar Farms continues to thrive in today’s world of “locally grown produce.”

In 2017, they diversified again by growing pumpkins for seeds to eat. In 2018 another processing plant was built to accommodate the pumpkin seed production. Now, the Skuta Brand name has been in stores for the last few years.

In his spare time, Dave enjoys travelling, boating, tractor pulling, and watching his grandsons play hockey. Dave says, “This is not a one-person award. I wouldn’t be able to do this without my family, my wife, my dad and my boys. When you get everyone pulling in the same direction, it’s amazing what you can do.”