Rit VanNieuwenhuyzen is a co-owner of Vanco Farms Ltd, where he farms alongside his brothers Willem and Phillip. Rit and his brothers are the 2nd generation of their family farm, as their parents moved here in 1982 from the Netherlands and had purchased farmland on the Island. Vanco Farms is a unique farm here on PEI, as they grow organic and conventional specialty Potatoes (creamer potatoes for the Little Potato Company) and have a large Tulip operation. Many people may recognize Vanco for its breathtaking colourful fields, as each spring hundreds of people visit Vanco’s gorgeous tulip fields. Rit spends the majority of his free time with his wife Erica and their 4 young children, together they love to visit beautiful Island beaches, boating, and he likes to take his kids flying. Even since he was a child he knew that he wanted to farm just like his father, and he hopes that in the future his children share the same passion for agriculture.
Name: Rit VanNieuwenhuyzen
Occupation: Farmer – co-owner of Vanco Farms.
What does your job entail?
As a co-owner with my brothers I have an interest in every aspect of the farm and help in various roles throughout the seasons. My management responsibilities include plant and soil health as well as planning and managing the farms potato sales and finances.
How long have you been involved in agriculture\food industry on PEI?
I grew up on the family farm I’m now a co-owner of. Like most farm kids, I started riding tractors with my dad when I was very young. I’ve been involved in agriculture my whole life.
What is your education/ experience prior to entering your current job?
My biggest educational experience has been active hands on farming. Spending time with my father and grandfather as mentors. I did attend Dordt College in the USA and graduated with a business degree. College really was a chance to grow as a person, learn how to learn and be challenged to think outside of what I have learned by doing. I briefly worked in the fresh cut flower industry in Ontario before coming back to PEI to join the family farm.
Are you involved in any extracurricular or community activities?
I’m a husband and a father of four young children which uses a lot of my free time. My favorite place is the beach with my family. I also have my pilot’s license and enjoy flying around PEI with my kids. I have served and continue to serve on a few boards of local non profits.
What’s your favourite way to eat PEI potatoes?
My favorite way to eat potatoes is thin slicing and frying leftover boiled potatoes in real butter with some sea salt sprinkled on.
When you were a kid, what did you want to do when you grew up?
My grade 1 journal says “I want to be a potato farmer like my dad”. I am doing exactly that.
What would you want consumers to know about your business and the agriculture/food industry?
That we sell them the same potatoes to our customers that we are taking home to our families. We are proud of the food we produce
Why do you do what you do?
For me growing food is not a job or even a career. For me growing food is a passion and a lifestyle for me and my family.