We caught up with MI Acres producer Ian Lepp, who farms just north of Elm Creek, following his family's reception of the Farm Family of the Year Award that was put on by the Portage la Prairie & District Chamber of Commerce this year. The Lepps couldn't make it to the awards night due to a COVID affliction.

Nevertheless, the honour was given and Lepp shares what it feels like for his family to get this recognition.

"It's definitely a nice feeling," says Lepp. "Our accountants are MNP in Portage. Melanie Wall and Jennifer Christensen are the two people that look after our accounting. They asked if we would be willing to be nominated for the award. So, it's sort of nice for them to think of us that we'd be worthy of it."

The same award was also given to another farm family due to COVID having cancelled last year's awards night. 

"They gave it out to two farms this year, so it was nice to be one of the two that were were recognized," continues Lepp. 

Lepp explains they're a fourth-generation farm in Manitoba, while John J. Lepp, Ian's grandfather, started the farm just north of Elm Creek in 1939, and they are in the third generation on this current location. 

"My dad, Harry, and my mom, Barb, eventually started farming out of the same location here," adds Lepp. "Eventually, Michelle and I moved on to the farm here and have continued the operation since then. We're strictly a grain farm. We farm wheat, oats, canola and soybeans. We will dabble in some other crops sometimes. But those are sort of the four main staples of the greens we grow."

Lepp says his family went on a ski trip over Spring Break and when they got back, they learned they caught COVID-19, rendering them unable to attend the Awards night.

"Melanie Wall from Meyers Norris Penny was gracious enough to accept the award on our behalf," adds Lepp. "I and my wife Michelle, we have two kids, Byron and Eden. Three out of us ended up having covered when we got back from our ski trip." 

Lepp is thankful their accountants nominated them, and he adds they really run a true family farm. It's come down the line four generations, and even involves more than his immediate family. 

"My parents still farm, and my brother and his wife and family also farm with us," notes Lepp. "It's really a family effort. The whole farm will work together and it's just we have separate farm names and then different accounts and whatnot. But everything we do here sort of goes together with them, and then we have some great people at work alongside us here, too, that make everything work. It's nice for us to be nominated and recognized, but you know, there's a lot of people that go into what we do here every day, and we're really grateful for everybody that helps out on the farm."

Jefferies Brothers Vegetable Growers also won the same award due to last year's awards night being cancelled.