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Mutuality at Work

As a policyholder at Dumfries Mutual, you understand the value of mutuality – keeping resources in the community in which you live and work; having a voice at the table; and sharing in the rewards. In the coming months, we will be sharing stories of policyholders who demonstrate our same values and focus on making a difference in their communities also. This month we have the pleasure to present A.V.K. Nursery Holdings Inc. and Pavlo Pottery in Rockton and Donn Zver School of Pottery in Troy. Enjoy!


A.V.K. Nursery

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Left to right: Faith & Greg Paquette, Art Vander Kruk, Phil & Lorrie Louwerse, Dan & Darlene Vander Kruk

A recent Earth Day visit to A.V.K. Nursery Holdings Concession 4 head office and shipping yard in Rockton was truly a family affair. The extended Vander Kruk family led us on a tour of their greenhouses, fields and yards, plentiful with stock for the upcoming planting season. Led by recently retired patriarch, Art Vander Kruk, this generational business has been a mainstay of the Hamilton-Wentworth region since 1986, with roots dating all the way back to 1906!

A.V.K. Nursery is a 350-acre wholesale production nursery growing an extensive list of evergreens, broadleaf plants, trees, shrubs, vines, fruit trees and bushes, roses and perennials. Their product is carefully grown to maximize its ability to grow and thrive in the landscape zone where it is planted. They supply your local independent garden centres, landscape contractors, as well as nearby cities and municipalities.

A.V.K. attribute much of their success to their dedicated employees, quality products and exceptional service.

Phil checks the cedar stock in the fields.

A.V.K. has steadily increased its investment in trees, critical for their role in processing harmful carbons and cooling our planet. Nurseries like A.V.K. play an essential role in growing and nurturing the trees that will help to remedy our planet’s health.

Over the course of A.V.K.’s 36 year plus history, relationships have been at the core of everything they do. The family explains that meeting and exceeding their customers’ expectations is at the heart of their business – having served many of them over multiple decades. Their extra care in packaging stock means quick turnaround for garden centres as stock is immediately ready for resale as soon as it arrives.

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Photo tags have bilingual descriptions of plant/tree characteristics, as well as details pertaining to zone, sun needs and ultimate size. Great for the ultimate consumer.

Anyone working in a family business knows it offers both challenges and rewards, especially one that spans multiple generations. Successful family businesses, such as A.V.K., are evidenced by vision, self-management, hard work, respect and love. The smiles say it all.

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Art shares a tender moment with daughters, Lorrie and Faith.


Rockton Potters Gallery, Home of Pavlo Pottery

Showcasing pottery

Pavlo displays one of their signature handmade items, a blessing bowl.

Community has special meaning for Pavlo Tsarynny and wife Oksana Pogorila, Ukraine-born Canadians who are equally proud of their Ukrainian roots as they are of the small community of Rockton where their pottery studio has been located since 2007.

Formally trained in Ukraine, Pavlo and Oksana have dedicated more than 25 years to perfecting their craft, but their real passion is people.

Oksana freehand draws the design on a custom blessing bowl for a very special gift.

Oksana freehand draws the design on a custom blessing bowl for a very special gift.

In addition to the unique pieces they fashion and sell, their studio gallery features the work of more than 30 Canadian artists. Connecting people with passion for design and a mission to help others resonates loudly with the couple. Powerful Pillows, for example, is the brain child of Eleanor, whose line of pillow cases is designed to promote self-esteem and feelings of safety and love in children.

Pavlo and Oksana are passionate about community. Their mugs, bowls and other pottery items are often present at various local charity events, including school and Rockton Agricultural Society fundraisers. Per Pavlo, he feels a personal mission to help.

In March 2022, as the tragedy in Ukraine unfolded, Pavlo and Oksana decided to have a fundraiser to support a registered Canadian charity organization that is actively involved in Ukraine. A special piece was created specifically for the fundraiser and will not be repeated. Thanks to overwhelming support by the community, 750 mugs were sold during this campaign, raising $30,000 for the Canada-Ukraine Foundation. All money raised was given directly to the registered charity. The need is great with the war ongoing. Please consider making your own donation to cufoundation.ca. Dumfries recently matched employee donations of $1,250 for a combined donation of $2,500.

Pavlo Pottery combines generosity and caring for their local and greater community with unfettered creativity. For Pavlo, that is just “the cherry on the cake”.

Beautiful pottery found at the gallery.

Gorgeous artisan pottery – work of Saskatchewan potters Wendy and Zach Dietrich.


Donn Zver School of Pottery

Guest written by Christina George, Dumfries Mutual Insurance Agent

The best part of my job as an Insurance Agent is getting to know my clients and their ‘story’. Many of my clients run small businesses which have been impacted by the pandemic. This is the ‘story’ of how one of my clients turned a negative impact into a positive opportunity.

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Each of Donn Zver’s mugs, dinnerware, vases and casserole dishes are works of art.

Donn Zver is a much beloved member of our community, well-known for running two successful small businesses: Donn Zver Pottery and Café Troy, as much as for his philanthropy to organize fundraisers for deserving causes. After 25 years in operation, Donn decided to close Café Troy last year following the struggles of running a restaurant during the pandemic. But this is not a sad story! Donn decided to repurpose the Café Troy space to fulfil a long-time dream of his to open a School of Pottery to encourage and inspire others to develop their skills in the art of pottery making.

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On a recent visit to the School, I was treated to a demonstration by the great Artist himself at work.

As a true artisan, Donn has always been committed to nurturing apprentices. The creation of The Donn Zver School of Pottery is an extension of that commitment, offering anyone the opportunity to explore their creativity and discover their hidden talent for the craft of pottery making. Whether you are a Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced Pottery Artist, there are courses in both throwing on the potter’s wheel as well as hand-building run by Donn and his team of Educators.

The school space itself is a beautiful place for art creation with lots of natural light and a very welcoming vibe. Donn’s passion for pottery is contagious, so much so that I will be signing up for a beginner’s course. Why don’t you join me? For more information, please visit the School of Pottery website.

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Donn Zver Pottery is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year!

A special thank you to our amazing policyholders who share our vision. We wouldn’t be the company that we are without you.

Stay tuned for next month’s blog when we feature some of our policyholders in Downtown Galt!