The ability to adapt to change can be key to the success of any business.
But in an industry at the mercy of the weather, whims of consumers and fluctuating markets, flexibility is vital to survival.
Few businesses exemplify a capacity to evolve and diversify better than DKT Farm. Operated by Dan and Maggie Thran, with the help of their eldest son Ryan, DKT Farm is an 80-acre mixed farm on Headquarters Road in Courtenay, with an emphasis mainly on cattle.
Purchased in 1927 by Dan’s parents, the farm was originally a dairy operation, shipping milk to the Comox creamery at the beginning of the 1940s. When Dan took over in the early ’70s, he and his wife Maggie registered the farm as “DKT Ranch” and began focusing on beef production rather than dairy. While just as labour intensive, the change meant they could process and market their beef locally.
Over the years, the Thrans have further expanded and diversified their farm to keep up with the changing nature of their industry.
“Now, in addition to approximately 40 head of cattle, we also have pasture-raised poultry, lamb and eggs, some pork, as well as turkey in the fall,” says Dan Thran.
In addition to traditional farming operations, the Thrans have operated their own farmside market on Saturday mornings for more than 10 years and have managed a log cabin and bunkhouse agri-tourism rental on their property for the past two decades.
“Agri-tourism has become a big part of our business, with people coming out for farm vacations,” says Thran. “It’s educational, and I think it’s important that people can see where their food comes from – how we handle our animals and grow their food.”
Visitors to DKT Farm can see firsthand the care and respect with which the Thrans treat their livestock. Eschewing the use of hormones, feed additives and grain finishing during the production of their high-quality natural beef, the Thrans pasture their cattle most of the year. The homegrown forages and grass result in a pure, simple and healthful product.
“We try to follow what we call a holistic management style,” explains Thran. “It’s a natural approach that involves profitability, a family lifestyle, sustainability and environmental considerations. If you lose any one of those components, the other three fall by the wayside.
“I feel good about the changes we’ve made along the way and the approach that we take to food production,” he continues. “If we take care of things and operate in a sustainable fashion, this place will be able to remain a farm for a generation or two to come. It may not be a glorious reason to do what we do, but it’s important to me.”
Located at 6301 Headquarters Road, the DeeKayTee Farm Market is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information on their accommodations, visit www.logcabinandbunkhouse.bc.ca.