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Can two unconventional friends keep a decades-old family farm from disappearing?

Sixty-six-year-old farmer Jim Giffen feared his family farm would have no successor until he met his best friend, Jon, a quiet 23-year-old electrician who secretly dreamed of one day owning a farm.

For many young people, farming doesn’t feel like a realistic career path. With all kinds of financial hurdles, it has become an impossible industry to break into. For many aging farmers, whose children may not be interested in carrying on the family legacy, the reality that their farm may be on its last legs is a hard pill to swallow.

Until Giffen met Jon, he feared he would lose Edencrest Farms. The Giffens have been a staple in the Minesing, Ontario, farming community, since the early 1900s, a fact of which Jim is very proud. With diaries from his farming ancestors dating back to 1914, Jim’s connection to his roots is strong, and his passion for the lifestyle even stronger. In fact, Jim hasn’t left the family farm in over 25 years. But with his four children uninterested in the family business, the question of who would takeover the property was left unanswered.

Then, along came Jon. Jon’s mother, a local customer of Edencrest, got her 13-year-old son his first summer job picking vegetables at the farm. From the minute he started, Jon was hooked. He loved the smell of manure just as much as he loved the smell of hay, and would seize any opportunity to drive the tractor. With each passing summer, Jon’s respect for farming and his love of Edencrest grew, and Jim noticed. A friendship began to form between the old farmer and eager, young lad.

When Jon turned 16, Jim asked him if he wanted to take over the farm, something Jon had never dared dream of. But there was one major hurdle — the capital gains tax. For Jim to transfer the farm to Jon, a non-family member, they would face a tax of half a million dollars. Neither Jon nor Jim could afford that. It seemed like the dream might be over, until they discovered an alternative, little-known option: a leasing program. Jim would sell the farm to Jon piece by piece and work with Jon, like Jim’s own father had done with him, to guide Jon into his role as the owner of Edencrest Farms.

Now Jon, nervous and excited, has applied for his first loan to start the leasing program and embark on this lifelong journey. Working two full-time jobs to pay for the land, and juggling a serious relationship, Jon has many struggles ahead of him, but with his best friend and teacher by his side, he hopes he can make both of their dreams come true.

Credits (Click to expand)

Director
Brina Romanek

Producers
Felicity Justrabo
Daniel Roher

Associate Producer
Brina Romanek

Editors
Brina Romanek
Shayne McGreal

Directors of Photography
Robert Mentov
Colin Steingard

Camera Operator
Issa Shah

Animation
Mitchell Keys

Original Music
Duncan Hood

Sound Design and Mix
Chris Godfrey

Colour
Zachary Cox

Production Insurance
Front Row Insurance Brokers

Legal
Brenda Blake LL.B

Archive
Chatham Kent Museum
Waterloo Public Library
Kawartha Lakes Library
Library and Archives of Canada
Loud Roar Productions

The filmmaker wishes to thank
Edencrest Farms
Daniel Roher
Felicity Justrabo
The Romanek Family
Steven McEown
Robert Mentov
Dwight Jantzi
Patrick Danaee

Produced with the cooperation of the Canadian Federation of Musicians

Produced in Association with CBC
General Manager, Programming

Sally Catto

Executive Director, Unscripted Content
Jennifer Dettman

Senior Director, Documentary
Sandra Kleinfeld

Senior Director of Production, Unscripted Content
Alexandra Lane

Executive in Charge of Production
Lesley Birchard