In the 1960s the Experimental Farm was researching all kinds of types of corn.
Andy Bodnar, Farmer, 2017
During the 1930s and 1940s, a second immigration event occurred in the District of Kent. Drawn by the temperate climate of the eastern Fraser Valley, a number of farmers from the prairies and elsewhere headed west in search of favorable fields to grow crops and support their families. Beverly Kennedy of The Agassiz-Harrison Historical Society spoke with Andrew “Andy” Bodnar Sr., a first generation Agassiz dairy farmer in 2017, to record his family story.
Andy and his parents John and Mary, moved from Slovakia to Agassiz in June of 1938. They had saved $1,000, which was held by the Canadian Government, until they purchased and settled on a farm. They chose a 20 acre property on Hamersley Prairie that had a small house, barn, and chicken coop. Andy recalls that the first few years were very difficult and lonely as his family had to learn English and were unfamiliar with the community and country.
During their first season in Agassiz, the Bodnars grew grain and raised pigs. Andy noted that they “went broke,” but that they were able to purchase a couple of cows from their neighbour. They added two cows or so a year to their herd, growing grass, then, corn, in the 1950s for feed.
The Bodnars expanded their farm by 20 acres in 1942, and again by eighty acres in 1943 when they purchased the home farm on Bodnar Road. Andy recalls that they milked by hand until 1946 when electrical service reached the farm. He purchased one of the first milking machines, a DeLaval, before 1958 when he installed a Beatty Barn cleaner to keep up with the growing herd. The family focused on growing corn in the 1960s, including the Warwick 261 and Pioneer 3957 varieties.
Andy and his wife Rosie raised three sons and a daughter on the farm. His sons Michael and Andy Jr. continue to live and farm in Agassiz; Andy Jr. has taken over the family farm. The Bodnar’s dairy herd currently numbers around 100 head.