Congratulations to Brian Schoonjans for being Lambton Soil & Crop Improvement Association’s Outstanding Farmer for 2020!
Brian was born and raised in Plympton-Wyoming on a farrow to finish pig farm. He studied Agriculture at Ridgetown from 1990-1992. After Ridgetown, he worked for Wanstead Farmers Coop. In 1998, he started as a full time Pioneer sales agent. In 2000, he bought a 150 acre farm on Douglas Line. Brian grows the three common crops: corn, soybeans and wheat. Occasionally he will grow oats for his goat herd and for cover crop seed.
Brian’s voice to the farming and non-farming communities is what sets him apart as an OUTSTANDING farmer.
Brian participated in Ag in the Classroom for about 20 years and more recently does February classroom visits through Lambton Kent District School Board. He went to Instagram with @justbnfarmerb to collect photos and videos of growing crops from planting to harvest and explains why. Brian has seen the growing threat to safe food production by groups and individuals thinking farmers are trying to pollute the environment and harm people with GMO’s. Brian has given up on arguing on social media with people who have made up their minds. Instead, he has chosen to educate in the classroom and has opened his farm up to the public for numerous weeks of the year with Miracle Max’s Minions on beautiful display at the front and center of his farm.
Brian has been involved with the Kaden Brown Foundation and started Pumpkins for Wes as a memorial fund. The Kaden Brown Foundation is what gave Brian the inspiration for starting Miracle Max’s Minions. Miracle Max’s Minions started in 2019 shortly after Max Rombouts died of cancer at a very young age. Miracle Max’s Minions started on the rolling hills and valley at Schoonjans’ farm on Douglas line. This is a way for the Rombouts family and the community to remember Max and his smile.
Miracle Max’s Minions is so much more than just planting a sunflower patch and walking away. It has evolved into a corn maze spelled out as “Miracle Max”, growing Max-o-Lanterns, donating greenery, and turning sunflowers into S.M.I.L.E Ale at Stonepicker Brewing Company. In 2020, Miracle Max’s Minions grew to 4 sunflower locations with thousands of visitors donating close to $140,000 in one season. These donations go to organizations like ChildCan. The donations assist paediatric research and families with children fighting cancer.
Brian has spent months of his time in the past two years organizing, planting plots, manicuring plots, setting up signs, collecting funds, and talking with the public on his farm and on social media about growing food and sharing the life of Miracle Max. Brian has done many great things as a tribute to Max Rombouts and has been a very strong farmer’s voice within Lambton County and beyond. Farmer B has been outstanding with agricultural education and providing opportunities for peace and healing!