Milk & Honey Dairy has joined the long list of farms in Lacombe County that provide fresh, local food to Central Albertans. Owned and run by Marcel & Heather Wassink, Milk & Honey is home to 108 animals, including 64 milking cows.
Milk & Honey Dairy has joined the long list of farms in Lacombe County that provide fresh, local food to Central Albertans. Owned and run by Marcel & Heather Wassink, Milk & Honey is home to 108 animals, including 64 milking cows. Marcel grew up on a dairy farm in Leduc County and has tremendous pride in how he was raised. The time spent with his family, especially working with his father on the farm, helped him develop a strong work ethic and a love for the docile, curious personality of the cows. Along with his wife Heather, they began milking their first 64 cows in February 2023 at Milk & Honey Dairy. Keeping it in the family, Heather grew up on the property where the Wassinks now farm, and they look forward to developing their skills and passion for farming together.
There is plenty of room for growth in the 25,000-square-foot barn, but the plan is to go slow and steady, especially in their first few years of operation. The family also farms 400 acres between Lacombe and Ponoka County, which includes 100 acres just for feed production. Marcel appreciates the strong support for agriculture in Lacombe County and a deep understanding of the industry’s importance. He also shared that the County’s network of high-quality and well-maintained roads makes it easy for them to get their whole milk where it needs to be, which is typically the Saputo processing plant in Red Deer. (And having a central location certainly helps!)
The cows at Milk & Honey Dairy enjoy their modern and automated dairy facility, complete with Lely Robotics, supplied through another local business - Penner Farm Services. Milking, feeding, and even cleaning is robotic, giving the cows the freedom and comfort to eat or milk as needed, 24 hours a day. This model works very well for the animals because, unlike humans, their natural pasture-based cycle is to sleep only about four hours a day in the form of shorter naps. The agriculture industry is very family oriented, which is one of the things Marcel and Heather appreciate most about it. The ability to work where you live allows so much more time for family. Patience and flexibility are two of these essential skills for working with animals. Growing up on a dairy farm, Marcel had a good understanding of both before starting his own operation, but now has the daily opportunity to hone them and pass them on.
A lot of variety is found in agriculture, including new challenges and skills to learn daily. Marcel shared that “rarely is there a boring day in agriculture!” Some of this variety is thanks to the significant innovations in the industry. These innovations yield efficiencies for farmers that allow them to provide customers with a safer and more sustainable product than ever before, which is a huge advantage. To stay on top of these advances and other industry changes, the Wassinks know that they must continually learn. There are always ways to improve, so they prioritize participating in workshops and studies when they can. For these services, they have relied on organizations like Alberta Milk, the University of Calgary, Alberta Agriculture, and Dairy Farmers of Canada, who provide accurate and up-to-date information for producers.