Herbert Kletke was born in Rosenfeld, Manitoba, and lived there ten years before his parents moved the family to the Teulon area. Helen Holmstrom was raised on the family farm in Inwood, Manitoba. Herb and Helen were both actively involved in 4-H. In 1956 Herb and Helen married, raising two sons, Darrell and Glenn. Darrell was killed in an auto accident in 1977. Glenn, and his wife Maureen, are involved in the family business.
The Kletkes began their farming career on a three-quarter section of land in 1959. Within a year, Herb and Helen became members of the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association (CSGA) and were on their way to becoming Select Seed Growers. As well as their seed crop production, they were always keen to innovate and try new crops on their farm, devoting acres to such crops as forage seed and recently hemp production. Over the years their farming base has expanded to 17 quarters.
The seed business also grew, today encompassing production, cleaning, processing and retail. A priority for Herb and Helen has been new technology and diversification, such as an industry-leading process to treat and coat canola seed and forage seed. Today, such treated seed from their operation can be found on farms across the Prairies as well as in the export market.
In 2012, Herb and Helen were jointly presented with the prestigious Robertson Associate Award by the CSGA in recognition of their long term commitment to excellence as seed growers and certified seed promoters. The fact that this was presented to the Kletkes as a couple demonstrates the contribution they have made to this industry as a team.
Herb and Helen have led by example and generously shared farming ideas, as evidenced by the Kletkes’ annual plot tours and demonstration projects. Their influence and mentoring reached farmers far beyond the Teulon district, such as involvement with the International Agricultural Exchange Program. Young farmers from different countries benefited from work and life experience with the Kletkes, and many stay in contact.
Herb and Helen have always been strong supporters of their local community and their church. Besides leading the Bethel Bible Series, Helen is a long-time member of the Teulon Women’s Institute and the Lutheran Church Women. Herb has been a director of the Prairie East Sustainable Ag Initiative for many years. He spent four years on the Teulon Town Council and 20 years working with the Volunteer Ambulance Service.
Herb and Helen’s philosophy has been to “do what you do well,” and always be prepared to change, learn, innovate, and share your talents with others.