Olds College has been given $1.2 million in land in Mountain View County it will use to expand its Smart Farm, a high-tech operation employing and testing cutting-edge technologies.
The 316-acre parcel was donated by the estate of Willem Pitstra.
“Both my parents would be thrilled to know that the farmland will be contributing to research that will improve farming practices in Alberta and around the world,” said daughter Jackie Pitstra. “I believe my dad felt that the college would appreciate the land, and that by donating to the school he would be contributing towards a legacy of education for future generations.”
Willem and Marrigje (Mar) Pitstra immigrated from Holland as young adults and met in Canada. The couple purchased farmland west of Carstairs, in the 1980s. Willem was a welder specializing in pressure welding. He grew up during the Second World War and the occupation of Holland, meant educational opportunities were limited. The couple deeply valued education, and it was of high importance during the upbringing of their three children.
Marrigje was a self-taught horticulturist, a member of the Calgary Horticulture Society and award-winning gardener.