Critic Responsibilities: Agriculture; Fisheries and Aquaculture; Immigration; and Labour Relations
John is a lifetime Kings County resident, farmer and successful agri-business entrepreneur. John's parents immigrated from Holland to Canada through Pier 21 in 1958 with collaboration from the Dutch and Canadian governments. His parents were met on Pier 21 by Waldo Walsh (then Nova Scotia's Deputy Minister of Agriculture), and after working two years on a farm, they purchased their own farm, in Canning, in 1960. John was born in 1962 and would eventually buy his father's farm in 1987. He has since developed the farm into a successful, multi-faceted agri-business which grows potatoes, onions, cabbage, bunch onions, carrots, dill, parsley, leeks, garlic, beets, wheat, soybeans and summer savory. He purchased and rebranded a company, Farmer John's Herbs, in 2001.
After attending elementary and high school in Canning, John graduated with honours from Nova Scotia Agricultural College, where he also won the basketball all-Canadian award. He then attended the University of Guelph, where he completed a BSc (Honours) in plant protection from the department of environmental biology. John was also awarded the Nuffield International Agricultural Scholarship for a three month study period in England. John is a member of the NSFA Council of Leaders and the current Director of the Nuffield Agricultural International Scholarship, past President of Horticulture Nova Scotia, president of the Nova Scotia Vegetable and Potato Producers Association and president and current director of the Crop Development Institute. He has also served for several years on the Kings County Innovation Committee. John also worked in Kenya for three weeks this past winter in a development program called Farmers Helping Farmers (farmershelpingfarmers.ca).
John and his wife, Heather, have three sons, two of which are involved in his family farming business. He has volunteered extensively in his community through sport, church and agriculture. Raising four sons led John to coach both minor hockey and soccer for many years, as well as coach the Northeast Kings Education Centre senior boys basketball team for two years. John is also the Vice Chair of Kings Mutual Insurance Company and the moderator of New Minas Baptist Church. He was a co-campaign chair of a capital campaign which successfully raised 1.2 million dollars for the current building at New Minas Baptist Church. John has held various positions in his church including Sunday School teacher, deacon and secretary. He also led a weekly Boys and Girls Club of about 30 kids for over ten years.
In addition to his widespread community, sport, church and agriculture involvement, John has co-owned and operated multiple other businesses with his wife, Heather. These include The Jelly Cupboard, The Tin Candle, Sweet Jennie's and a scrapbooking shop. John believes in hard work, completing the task he is on, fair and equal playing time, doing what he is asked to do, listening to advice and meeting his commitments.