Farmers Forum staff
BLACKSTOCK — Add another honour to the award shelf for the owners of Altona Lea Farms in Blackstock.
The Durham Farm Connections organization presented its 2022 Farm Family Award Oct. 28 to the Barkey and the Puterbough families, operators of the multi-generational dairy farm known for its award-winning Holsteins.
Organizers of the Durham awards gala lauded them as “just really amazing human beings” known for their devotion to farming and community service.
That devotion is exemplified by the Altona Lea herd, which has earned the farm four Holstein Canada master breeder shields through the decades, the latest in 2020, one of only three Canadian herds to hit that milestone.
Frank and Donna Barkey had yet to receive their first shield when they were compelled to leave the ancestral Barkey farm near Altona — in the family since 1837 — after the government expropriated the land for a planned Pickering airport in the early 1970s. Though the airport was never built, the couple relocated to Blackstock, where the family made a mark on their new community while the farm progressed in Holstein genetics.
“We have one Altona Lea animal that has reached 10 generations of excellent (this year) the only one in Canada to do that,” noted the founders’ son, Glenn Barkey, who runs the farm today with his wife, and with his sister and brother-in law, the Puterboughs. Frank Barkey passed away in 2011, but Donna Barkey remains part of the farm.
The family milks 60 cows in a milking parlour and tie-stall set-up — a far cry from the “bucketeer” milking bucket system that the grandmother of six, remembers using at the original farm in Altona.
“I think we’ve been very fortunate, and everybody’s worked. You have to work for things,” said Donna Barkey, who professed to having no idea the local recognition was coming when she attended the recent awards ceremony in Port Perry.