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Faces of Agriculture: Art Froehlich

Updated: Jul 7, 2023


From his humble beginnings on the family farm to his outstanding international career and philanthropic endeavours, Art Froehlich has experienced many aspects of agriculture business. He witnessed firsthand how agriculture produces food, strengthens economies in developing countries, builds communities, and continues to evolve with the modern world.


Growing up on his family farm, in Rhein, Saskatchewan, Froehlich developed a love for agriculture early. Even in his youth, he knew that this was his life’s calling.

“I watched my father, who was an immigrant farmer,” says Froehlich. “[I saw] how hard he worked, but [also] how satisfying the work he did on the farm was.”


He recalled helping out his father, along with his brothers and sisters, with day-to-day tasks such as tending to livestock, cultivating crops, and repairing farming equipment. Froehlich especially cherished the times when he accompanied his father to the grain elevator or to the local calf auction markets—memories that still evoke emotions in Froehlich to this day.


“The skills you learn growing up on a farm, many of them are applicable to what you do in later life—independence, freedom, [and] the social environment that you operate in,” Froehlich says.


Since his family was very involved with their local 4-H, Froehlich understood at a young age the value of community. Surrounded by 4-H members and mentors, the club fostered a culture of support and growth which shaped the person Froehlich is today.


With 4-H, Froehlich developed lifelong skills in public speaking and board governance. At fourteen years old, he became the president of the local 4-H club—this marked the first of his many board governance positions. Then in high school, he won a 4-H scholarship which allowed him to work abroad in the United Kingdom with different companies. Although Froehlich didn’t realize it at the time, this sparked his wanderlust.


“As you get a little more mature, you start reflecting on your youth and what you did then, and you say, ‘now I understand what an influence that had on me,’” Froehlich says.


Working in both the private and public spaces of the agricultural sector, he traveled across more than fifty countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia—he wanted to take away as much as he could from his international travel.

“Agriculture was this big wide-open world—I wanted to learn as much about it as I possibly could from as many directions as I possibly could,” says Froehlich.


Following his outlook, he learned the ins and outs of agriculture from food production to agribusiness and marketing. Eventually, Froehlich gained enough expertise to work with many well-known companies—he became the president of AdFarm, president of Westcan Malting, General Manager of Operations for Alberta Wheat Pool, director of sales and marketing at Hoechst, and currently president of AgriView. Equipped with a diverse business skill set, he worked with over thirty governance boards and committees.


After carrying out a remarkable career in agriculture business, Froehlich set his sights on a new endeavour. Along with his wife, Froehlich engaged in philanthropic work. With a focus on women and youth in agriculture, they provided scholarships and worked with local charities like the Mustard Seed and the Women’s Shelter.

Although Froehlich was always interested in philanthropy, he recalled one experience that really emboldened him to do more. About fifteen years ago, Froehlich travelled to South Africa to help conduct food audits with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Once he landed, Froehlich drove up to Ekwendeni, Malawi, to visit the reputed church where Dr. Livingstone, a famous Scottish physician, missionary, and abolitionist of the late-nineteenth century,[1] delivered his first sermon.


Throughout the sermon, Froehlich was seated next to four young girls. Once the collection plate came along, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a roll of Malawian currency.


“One girl beside me said, 'no, you need a coin.’”


Perplexed, Froehlich insisted that he was fine with giving a bill. But the young girl insisted and even offered her own coins.

“She said, ‘If you put that money in the plate, you won't have any money to buy food for yourself.’”


“Here are these four girls in the middle of a drought,” says Froehlich, “they probably hadn't had anything to eat that day. If they were lucky, they might get one meal at night, whatever that might be, [and] she was worried about me going hungry.”


Froehlich was taken aback by the young girl’s generosity and from that moment, he strived to dedicate his efforts to giving back through agriculture endeavours. In recent years, Froehlich became involved with Communities for Life, a philanthropic initiative that helps build sustainable communities.



With Communities for Life, Froehlich helped establish a gardening school located in Manchay, Peru. Most of the students were women who moved to the area in search of refuge and protection from the Shining Path rebels. They already came from a farming background, so the gardening school helped refine their agricultural skill set and taught them how to create a sustainable community for themselves.


To this day, there are about four hundred women who graduated from the program, and as graduates, Communities for Life provided them with the basic resources to start their very own home garden.


“All of a sudden, you've got these women producing incredible vegetables—and they grow more than they can even eat themselves,” Froehlich says. “Now we're trying to form a co-operative where they take their excess produce and go into the market on a Saturday and sell [it] to the local community.”



Through the combined efforts of Community for Life, these Peruvian farmers were empowered to create a sustainable community for themselves—and with the extra income from a market co-operative, they will be able to pay for their children’s schooling, clothing, books, and much more while also having a stable food source.


Agriculture is a unique industry because of its ability to connect people to the land and to each other. Through feeding the world, it builds up communities, whether it’s right here in our home country or on the other side of the world—this is just one of the many reasons why Froehlich loves agriculture. As for the future of the industry, he is certain that agriculture will continue to provide for the world community.

“The bottom line is we have all this wonderful land operated by wonderful farmers who are going to help feed the world. We will do it better, more safely, more efficaciously, and more sustainably than any place else in the world,” Froehlich says.


“I just wish I was forty years younger, so I could participate in the next incredible wave that's going to happen.”



Sources

[1] Britannica — David Livingstone https://www.britannica.com/biography/David-Livingstone

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