Robert Larsen has many hats; he is a beef farmer, an operator at Norring Road Custom, student, and a 4-H member. His family’s beef farm is located in Cape Traverse, PEI. 4-H has been an essential part of Robert’s life, opening many doors and giving him great opportunities. Robert is currently enrolled at Dalhousie’s Agricultural College (DAL AC), where his responsibilities go beyond those of most students on the campus. He is serving his third term as the Vice President of Finance and Operations for the Dalhousie Agricultural Students’ Association (DASA). This elected student union job consists of managing DASA’s financial health, operating the student pub, The Barn, and financially supporting the many DAL AC clubs, societies, and events. Robert is an excellent “agvocate” for the island agriculture industry and he demonstrates the many roles and opportunities the newer generation has available in the agriculture industry through 4-H, education and careers.
Name: Robert Larsen
Occupation: Beef Farmer / Operator at Norring Road Custom / Student
What does your job entail?
There are many day-to-day operations on the farm, which follow a fairly consistent routine. In the mornings and evenings, we spend a lot of time monitoring the health and wellness of the livestock, especially when we are buying new cattle. Another big portion of each morning is dedicated to feeding the cattle, as well as the regular bedding and cleaning of the pens. In the Spring, we prepare the ground for planting corn; in the Summer, we put up silage and bale straw; and in the Fall, we harvest corn silage, cobmeal, and process high-moisture corn.
On the farm, I work alongside my father, Lorne, and younger brother, Justin. My mother, Brenda, while also a teacher, maintains many financial aspects of the farm.
Norring Road Custom, our family’s custom planting and harvesting agri-services business, operates an 8-row dry fertilizer corn planter and two John Deere 8300 Self-Propelled Forage Harvesters. I spend much of the spring planting corn, the summer harvesting cuts of silage, and the fall harvesting corn silage and cobmeal.
How long have you been involved in the agriculture\food industry on PEI?
I’ve been involved in the agriculture industry and on the farm my whole life. Both my parents come from farm families and the extended Larsen Family has farmed for many decades here on PEI. My earliest memories are helping with manual labour on the farm and driving a tractor. This is my third year operating Norring Road Custom, serving farmers’ planting and harvesting needs from East to West on the island.
What is your education/ experience prior to entering your current job?
I graduated with my High School bilingual Diploma from Three Oaks Senior High School in 2017 and am currently attending Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Agriculture in Truro, Nova Scotia. I am entering my fourth year of a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Agricultural Business with a minor in Ag Economics.
Are you involved in any extracurricular or community activities?
Our family has deep roots in the agriculture community through the 4-H program. 4-H is closely connected with agriculture and, as such,runs just as deep through my veins. I grew up in our local club, the Albany Centennial 4-H Club, and as I got older became involved at the regional and provincial levels. Now, I am more heavily involved with 4-H at the national level where I was elected and serve on the 4-H Canada Board of Directors.
What’s your favourite way to eat Island Beef?
Slow cooked steaks and roasts in the crock pot, or hamburgers cooked on a stone in the oven.
When you were a kid, what did you want to do when you grew up?
From a young age, I knew that agriculture would play a central role in anything I chose to do when I grew up. Therefore, a large part of me always knew I would be involved in the family farm. It was not until I was in High School that I understood how I could apply my love for agriculture and business to support the family farm and business as a whole.
What would you want consumers to know about your business and the agriculture/food industry?
I want consumers to know that the values you hold with respect to how your food is grown, raised, and produced are shared and upheld by Canadian farmers. The industry strives to produce high-quality food in a manner that is safe, sustainable, and caring toward our livestock and the environment: feeding communities and families each and every day. Be confident and be proud of the food you eat. Buy local, buy Canadian.
Why do you do what you do?
As a fourth-generation farmer, farming and agriculture is definitely a passion for our family. To be more specific, on our farm we have a passion for livestock and cattle. We do this because it’s an important value in our family, and it’s also important to us to help play a part in feeding the world. Another great part is that we are our own bosses so the decisions we make here on the farm affect us directly. We get to see the benefits of raising our livestock, and then seeing them go off to market, and that’s pretty rewarding.
As a young person involved in agriculture, there are challenges but there are also many opportunities for success. I really appreciate the fact that I’m from a family farm and that we make decisions together. My parents have always been good to include me and my younger brother in a lot of the major decisions that have taken place here on the farm. As a young person in agriculture, it’s important to have that kind of support. If it wasn’t for that, farming would be much more difficult.