Making the most of a pandemic year, OFFMA members are celebrated for their adaptability and persistence.
We all know 2020 will be a year we won’t soon forget. So many changes, pivots and adaptations happening all year through. The OFFMA Board decided that because it was such a different year for the direct farm marketing industry, they needed to come up with some different awards to recognize the members who went above and beyond what would be expected of them, not only for their own businesses but to help other members and to assist the industry as whole to survive this global pandemic.
OFFMA’s Team Spirit Award – Bernia Wheaton from Your Farm Market
This is a new award for 2021. This person has not been an OFFMA member very long. She joined the Your Farm Market team 2 years ago and immediately jumped onto everything that OFFMA offers. Participating in the Nashville bus tour, attending the Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Convention, offering assistance on the members only Facebook page, hosting virtual hospitality suites and so many other things.
OFFMA’s Social Media Award – Murphy’s Farm Market & Bakery
Another new award for 2021. This business was secretly nominated by their staff. A great testament about the working conditions at this farm last year. Watching this business’ social media posts during 2020 was like a case study on how to communicate and adjust when you really have no control as to what is happening around you. They went from a seasonal on-farm market to a porch pick up system with an on-line ordering option, they shared the recipe for their famous bread and started selling kits for their customers to make their own. Their motto became “Hand Soap and Hope” and they shared it everywhere to help people get through the darkest days. Then Hollis Murphy started a virtual cooking school……who does that during a pandemic? All the time they continued letting their customers know of their plans and announcing all the changes as they took effect. Congratulations on how well you tackled COVID and on receiving this well deserved award.
OFFMA’s Greatest Pivot Award – Mark & Angela Saunders from Saunders Farm
How could we not have an award around the word ‘pivot’? This business represents the OFFMA membership sector that focuses on farm experiences. This group was one of the hardest hit in 2020 with numerous restrictions and shutdowns announced on almost a weekly basis. How do you keep your business afloat when you can’t open your doors? You get very creative. Saunders Farm already had a reputation for their creativity but it went to new heights in 2020. In order to work with restrictions but still have some kind of cashflow, Saunders set up an online shop with their favourite curated items, next they started offering socially distanced campfires early into the pandemic. As the year progressed, they just kept pivoting: they were able to offer their farm camp with all the necessary precautions, the famous pumpkin wall became the gift wall for social media pictures, and they created a drive through light & sounds show for Christmas. They took the assets that they had and tried to use them to create new experiences on their farm.
OFFMA’s Leadership Award – Heather Fraser from Harvest Goodies
This award is not new but it is one the Board felt needed to be presented this year. This business has been supporting OFFMA members for many years; offering assistance, advice, hosting workshops as well as providing top rate products for members to sell. Heather is a preserving genius. She can create recipes for any Ontario grown product and has always prided herself on only using Ontario fruits and vegetables in her creations. She was a busy lady last year as Ontario residents realized the importance of supporting local food and is looking forward to a busy year in 2021 as well.
Congratulations to all the Ontario farms who figured out how to adapt and serve their customers is a safe manner. They are all award winners in our eyes.