Community Feature: Barb Stefanyshyn-Coté

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Barb with Peonies

Black Fox Farm and Distillery is many things— a labour of love, a passion-driven business, and one of the most successful distilleries in Canada. With internationally rated spirits, this family-run farm is dedicated to energy-efficient and ecologically sustainable practices. At the helm of this ship is Barb Stefanyshyn-Coté and her husband John Coté. For Mothers’ Day this year, Barb’s daughter Erin Coté shared some memories of growing up with such a driven and successful mom. 

Morgan, Barb, and Erin Coté
Barb with her daughters, Morgan and Erin

Some of my fondest memories as a child are of being in the garden. Living on a farm, we had three gardens, and they all required the usual amount of work a garden entails. In order to keep our interest, mom would let us each have our own mini-garden. For me, this meant I could plant flowers and all my favourite vegetables in whatever pattern I wanted. For our oldest brother, this meant using his part of the garden to dig a hole deeper than he was tall. Either way, we were happy sharing and enjoying mom’s hobbies. That is something truly amazing about our mom: she is always ready to share her passions with others, whether it be farming, travel, gardening, or hunting for deals and more efficient ways to get a job done. 

My mom will always stand out in my mind for being the person who, when faced with an opportunity or a new avenue, will ask “well, why can’t we do that?” and then go do it to the very best of her ability. She is always ready to encourage people to shoot for their dreams and enjoy every moment on the way to their goals. This doesn’t just end with her children either: Barb wants the best for everyone she knows, and will offer a helping hand in any way she knows how to. 

Barb is so much more than just an entrepreneur and an awesome mom, of course. With a background in agriculture, one of her biggest dedications is to keeping this industry sustainable. At the helm of Black Fox Farm and Distillery, Barb makes sure that the whole family keeps green and that all of our agricultural practices work with the land instead of against it. Together, my mom and dad grow fruits that are native to Saskatchewan, and keep several thriving beehives on the farm that are all well-fed by the acres of flowers that we plant every year. They’re both dedicated to supporting the local economy, and building partnerships that are meant to last beyond business transactions.

Even more importantly, education is a priority for my mom. She is always learning, and she passes on her knowledge by teaching at the University of Saskatchewan. Barb makes sure that her students, like her kids, understand the importance of growing good food to put on people’s plates, while also keeping the planet healthy.

That’s what agriculture is about at the end of the day; it’s beyond what any individual is doing. It is a global endeavour and everyone has to work together regardless of how important they feel within the sphere of agriculture and ecosystems. It is only by cultivating strong relationships, working together, and educating each other that we can grow a brighter future.

Happy Mothers’ Day Mom, and thanks for making sure that we understand that the planet is bigger than just us. 

Love, Erin