Meet the AAC Board

Chris Hiemstra, Chair

Chris Hiemstra has served on the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) board since 2014, as the Other Industries/Commodities representative, and most recently he was elected to serve as the 2019-20 board chair.

Chris is a third-generation beekeeper, with a commercial bee operation focused on honey, pollen, pollination and the sale of honeybees to other beekeepers. In 2000, Chris and his wife Christy bought his parent’s honeybee business. Over the years, they have restored corn cribs, pig houses, even a local train station to create a unique agri-tourism destination in Aylmer, Ontario. Clovermead adventure farm welcomes over 50,000 visitors each summer and there are activities for the whole family, including Ontario's largest glass bee display hive. Their Honey Shop has six varietal honeys on tap.

Over the years they have achieved a number of awards such as the Premier’s Award, the Ontario Farm Marketer award, Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmer, and Chamber of Commerce Business of the year, demonstrating they are they best place to Bee for family agri-adventures.

Chris brings a wide-range of experience as AAC's new chair, from his previous involvement with both school and church boards and co-chair of the Ontario Outstanding Young Farmers Program, to his current role as director of the North American Direct Farmer's Marketing Association.

We have asked a few questions to learn more about Chris:

What are you most looking forward to as chair of the 2019-20 AAC board?

I look forward to being part of the challenge, as we implement the board’s vision, as we transition into what the AAC will become. It will be an adventure, and I am excited to continue serving on AAC’s board, funding great ideas in Canadian agriculture.

How does your experience serving on boards translate to everyday operations? 

Sitting around the AAC board table, you have individuals who are the cream of their industry and rubbing shoulders with mindsets like those are good for you. There I hear and watch others in various industries adapting; it is inspiring me to make my daring business improvements. Every organization needs a plan, and then needs to get busy and implement it, all the while adapting in real-time. We can’t remain the same for very long anymore; business models are shifting, and we adapt as public trends occur, technology opens opportunities, and as the climate changes. 

As the operator of a family run business, what advice do you have for young entrepreneurs looking to start their own business or take the reins from a family member?

Life is short, and in business, there are no short cuts, despite what advertisers and what book authors may promote. Family business takes a lot of hard work, thoughtful attention, nurturing and effort spanning years. 

Relationships are the foundation on which to build your business, so invest your time wisely and always try to set things up so that each day you go to work with people that you love being around, people who bring you joy, and not grief. Strong relationships and deep connections will be your very best asset.

What is the most fulfilling benefit as the owner/operator of Clovermead?

I am making a difference in the lives of others, seeing happy families interacting, kids playing, learning with their hands, and exploring. 

What excites you the most about the future of the agriculture and agri-food industry in Ontario?

I am excited by the opportunities, many things that excite the world are in agriculture… essential protein, green open spaces, the miracle of growth, animals, fresh technology, life-giving clean water and respected energy. At the end of each day, people in agriculture can feel the deep satisfaction of doing something tangible and productive. Individuals in agriculture are responsible for a massive piece of the public commons; we have a delicate responsibility to protect, restore, utilize, and steward it. It is an honour to help shoulder the weight of the public’s trust.

Click here to learn more about the AAC Board.