Osceola, Ont. — It was a year of silence. But for Meghan Russell, it was worth it as she may have found a partner for life. But that is yet to be discovered.
Meghan, 24, and Doug Groenendijk, 26, are in a relationship. And why would this be worthy of a story? Because he interviewed Meghan for a reality television show, choosing her to be one of seven contestants on the show.
Farming For Love was a six-week show on CTV. Doug is a farmer on Vancouver Island and the show was filmed on his parents’ dairy farm.
Recently, Meghan returned to her family farm in Osceola for a few weeks with Doug following later to spend a weekend meeting her extended family and many of her friends for the first time. Last November, Doug had met her parents, Don and Joanne, and sisters, Shannon, Sydney and Quinn. He couldn’t be introduced to anyone else as the show had not yet aired.
Looking back to the early summer of 2022, Meghan recalled she was working in Guelph and her sister Shannon told her about the show.
“My older sister, Shannon, sent me his profile and she was like ‘you need to apply for this. I wasn’t even going to tell you, I was going to apply for you,’” Meghan said while laughing. “First off, I laughed it off. Then, the rest of my sisters got in on it.”
But Shannon wasn’t about to let it go.
“My sister and dad got on me,” Meghan said. “My dad sent me a barrage of texts saying things like `it’s that time in your life when you can be free and do things like that. It could be a cool experience.’ And yep, he kind of convinced me to go and do the application.”
It wasn’t a difficult process, she said. She wrote about what she was looking for “and I guess I matched well with you,” she said, pointing to Doug.
She admits she did not go into the show with a winning mind-set.
“I went in very open minded,” Meghan said. “I didn’t want to think about anything specific or I might have freaked myself out. I figured it would be a nice experience just to go out to BC.”
Doug admits his parents, Chris and Henrietta, were skeptical at first and told him to be careful, but in the end, “are happy how it all turned out okay. They really like Meg. Everything is good.”
The two met in September 2022 and the show was filmed that month. It was aired this past June and July on CTV.
One of the first things Meghan said to Doug was, “Oh, wow, you are tall.”
She said he smiles a lot, which is contagious.
“He does a lot of giggling,” Meghan said. “He was easy to talk to. We connected over a few things right away.”
Doug added, “I was very ecstatic when I saw her. She was easy to talk to. We talked about the farm right away.”
On set, she met the other six women who would also be vying for Doug’s attention.
Doug was a large part of the process, as he read all the profiles and chose the seven women who were from across Canada.
When questioned why he would want to go on reality television, announcing to everyone he was looking for a possible life partner, he said, “Why not? It’s hard getting off the farm. I thought there might be some women who would be looking for a farmer and would go on a show like this, or maybe someone who had an openness to try something like this adventurous thing, which I find quite cool.”
His parents operate a 160-cow milking operation, along with having other cattle, pet alpacas, goats, chickens, cats and dogs. He also has three siblings, Cam (married), Megan and Danielle (married).
“She (Meghan) lined up well with what I was looking for and her background in dairy was nice and she is quite beautiful,” he said.
Meghan and her three sisters grew up on her parents’ dairy farm in Osceola.
“They are great role models,” she said of her parents. “They got along so well together and raised us at the same time. I really liked having that atmosphere here. That’s what set me up for my future education as well.
“I went off to Guelph and did my Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, just like my dad.”
Meghan said while on the farm for the six weeks, Doug set up things for them to do, but they also worked as a group, such as doing chores, but would also take the time to sit and chat with them one-on-one.
The two went on two dates. The first was going up on the Malahat Skywalk in Cowichan Valley and the other when it was “almost nighttime and we went up on the mountain,” and she could see his parents’ farm down below.
Throughout the show, they both admit they gained a lot of confidence in being around each other.
It was all excitement at first, but as Meghan got to know him, her feelings for him kept growing.
Doug said as the weeks went by, he knew Meghan was the one and was excited to see where it might go after the show.
“I’m a private person,” he said laughing, and then added, “It’s like dating on steroids.”
Talking almost at the same time, they said there’s no time for dating like you normally do. Right away they were talking about what they each saw in their own futures, what they wanted, etc.
“You don’t waste much time,” Doug said, with Meghan adding, “You don’t have to worry about what the other is thinking, because you talk about it all.”
When it came time to choose between the final two women, he said, “giving bad news is never nice. I don’t enjoy it. That was a little tough.”
But, when Meghan said `yes’, he knew he had made the right choice.
“I didn’t think too hard on it,” she said. “I knew I wanted to continue what we had.”
The two have discovered much about each other.
Meghan has experienced first-hand just how passionate Doug is for the farm life and that “he looks at the bright side of things. He always thinks `things will work out.’ He’s also so easy going.”
Doug has learned just how kind Meghan really is, noting people have only good things to say about her.
“Meghan is very selfless, but knows what she wants,” he said. “She’s very wholesome.”
After the show, Meghan returned to Guelph, where she was working, and the two had a long-distance relationship while at the same time she was job-searching on the Island.
She eventually moved to Nanaimo, BC, which is also on the island, about 40 minutes from where Doug lived. She got a job as a receptionist in a small animal clinic.
“I couldn’t get a job in agriculture, because everyone knows each other on the island,” she said with a chuckle. “I was keeping it pretty low key.”
“Nobody knew I had been on the show,” she said, as it had not yet aired. “It was top secret.”
Meghan said the support from Doug’s family has been wonderful, especially when the show aired.
“I definitely couldn’t have moved out there if I didn’t have some people that I knew,” she added.
Since the taping of the show, Doug has purchased property about 10 minutes away from his parents and is now operating his own 50-cow milking operation, but with jersey cows, unlike his parents who have a Holstein operation.
When asked where the relationship is now, the two admit it’s too early to tell.
“The show is an opportunity to meet someone,” Meghan said, with Doug adding, “We are now boyfriend/girlfriend.
“Six weeks isn’t that long to get to know one another.”
Since taping ended, it’s been an opportunity to get to know one another because they couldn’t really be seen out and about prior to the show airing or they would have given away the ending right after the first episode.
“I just saw it as another phase in our relationship,” Meghan said. “Now that the show is out, we can go out on real dates that we’ve been planning for months.”
Since the final episode, the two have been on a few dates, including a concert, and Meghan is now able to help him out on his farm.
Recently, Meghan was home for a couple of weeks, while Doug only arrived for a weekend visit, giving him the opportunity to meet her extended family as well as friends.
“I hope the relationship keeps on growing,” Meghan said. “This was a cool way to meet. But I wouldn’t do another (show).”
Doug said, “I’m glad Meghan applied.
Meghan is currently looking for a place to live and work closer to Doug’s farm and get a job in agriculture, preferably working with large animals. In Guelph, she was a research assistant and enjoyed that aspect of the industry.
Happy Mom and Dad
Her parents are happy with how things have turned out for their second oldest daughter.
Don said while it was Shannon who brought the idea to life of Meghan going on the show, he looked at the clip that was available about Doug.
“He sounded like a half-decent guy, someone she would like,” he said. “He comes from a farm background. She always wanted to date a tall person, and he’s tall,” he said.
“It was a good time in her life to try something different,” he continued. “Experiences are good. It’s always a good thing to learn. So, we said, `hey, let’s do this’.”
Joanne added, “She’s never been to British Columbia, so that was a draw. To go out, see Vancouver Island.”
She admits she had mixed feelings because she didn’t want her to go on a reality show and get her feelings hurt. But it would be a cool adventure to look back on, she added.
They were pleased when they heard that Meghan looks to them as good role models, but noted they also grew up with good role models in their parents and siblings.
“We’ve seen people have great relationships who also work well together,” Joanne said. “Loving relationships, friendly. Your friendships are in your partnerships.”
Don said there are couples who cannot work together, but “Joanne and I, we really work good together. It’s worked over the last 30 years. It’s been very successful and we started from nothing.
“We enjoy working together.”
Joanne added, “It’s nice that your kids recognize that and they see that.”
The farm is a great place to raise children, Don said.
“Maybe she saw that,” he said.
They admit there are no expectations for Doug and Meghan’s future.
“We just want her to be happy, that’s what you want for all your kids, just to be happy,” Don said. “Do what you like doing.”
Since Meghan was chosen to be on the show, the family had to sign non-disclosure agreements, stating they would not talk about the show to other people prior to it airing.
“Once the advertising started for the show, we could say, `yes, that’s our Meghan’,” Joanne said.
However, they could only talk about what had been televised, not what was coming up or the outcome.
“It was exciting watching the show knowing the ending, but no one else knew,” Joanne said.
While reality television shows aren’t their thing, Joanne said they enjoy watching Canada’s Amazing Race and Farming for Love, not only because their daughter was on it, but it gives them an idea of how farming happens in other areas.
However, Don admitted, “We loved watching it just to see Meghan.”
To celebrate the final episode, the couple invited friends and family to Boston Pizza in Pembroke.
“We wanted somewhere that had a lot of TV screens,” Joanne said.
Since there were no important sports events that evening on the television, the screens were all tuned into Farming For Love.
“It was fun watching everybody’s reaction,” Joanne said, with Don agreeing.
Meghan, who was still out west, was on Shannon’s phone once the finale had finished.
“She went around and said hello to people,” Joanne said. “It was really fun. It was great for the community to come out to celebrate.”
Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader