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Outreach project among national award winners

An outreach project to bring urban Canadians closer to farmers is among the winners of this year’s Agri-Food Awards of Excellence.

The annual awards, sponsored by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Toronto’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fait, were presented at the fair Monday by fair president Dr. Rob McLaughlin and Ontario MP and government caucus chairman Guy Lauzon.

The awards, presented in six categories, went to four winners in Ontario and two Manitoba organizations including:

  • the Ontario Farm Animal Council, for agricultural awareness and education, for its public outreach projects, such as curriculum materials for schools, publications, videos, public speaking, information displays, and an interactive website. OFAC has published a booklet, “The Real Dirt on Farming,” for use by schools, health care professionals, the media and others. It now plans FarmzOnWheelz, a travelling exhibit and video presentation to introduce agriculture to urban teenagers.
  • Manitoba’s Southwest Farm Women’s Network, for voluntarism, which includes its bus tour promoting agriculture in southwestern Manitoba, with visits to vacation farms, meat processors, wild bird sanctuaries, a foundry, local artists, grain elevators, Hutterite colonies and various livestock operations.
  • Carmina Halstead, age 25, for youth leadership, as co-operator of Nightingale Farms and Norfolk Organics, in LaSalette, Ont., a supplier of locally grown and organic produce to Ontario food chain retailers and others. She is also a regional director of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the youngest-ever active director with the Norfolk Federation of Agriculture.
  • Natunola Health Inc., of Winchester, Ont., for innovation, for the development of the world’s first commercial dehulling plant for flaxseed, allowing the company to separate and develop markets for the kernel and other extracts known for their health benefits as a significant source of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Peak of the Market, of Winnipeg, for agri-food exports, as one of Canada’s fastest-growing exporters of vegetables, boosting its sales by over 80 per cent in the past two years and its shipping volumes by over 90 per cent. The company, owned by Manitoba vegetable growers, recently expanded into organics and introduced the Adora potato.
  • Cathy and Bryan Gilvesy for environmental stewardship, as the operators of Y U Ranch at Norfolk, Ont., a tobacco operation entirely converted over to the production of grass-fed Texas Longhorn beef and development of eco-tourism. Their farm is an official Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) demonstration site; ALUS is a farmer-steered pilot project that provides farmers with incentives to conduct stewardship initiatives on their land.

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