Niagara Falls – Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Niagara Falls – Each year since 2007, on-farm direct marketers gather to celebrate excellence in their industry and share in the successes of their fellow farmers. This year is no exception for the Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association’s (OFFMA) Awards Banquet. Over the years the number of awards has increased slightly but each one is deeply valued by the winners who receive them.
Leadership Award – This award is given to someone who has contributed greatly to the industry and has shown leadership qualities that have helped OFFMA work towards its vision to grow fresh and prosperous Ontario farms. Jesse Lauzon from Springridge Farm has done just that. Jesse was the first president of the OFFMA Board who was an employee and not the owner of a farm. It speaks volume to how the Hughes empower their employees to do their best on and off the farm. Jesse was involved with OFFMA before he joined the Board of Directors attending many workshops and almost every bus tour that was offered. As a president, he worked diligently to get OFFMA on a sustainable path. He gave generously of his time and was a critical link in the funding chain.
Food Innovation Award –This award is sponsored by Foodland Ontario and as such Foodland staff make up part of the judging committee for this award. This year they had their jobs cut out for them. The entries were all exceptional to the point that they could not decide and a tie was announced. Frootogo Orchards won for their Farmstead Frozen Soups under the heading of Souptogo. The flavour was outstanding, the concept of using their own vegetables to make a signature product and the fact that they had started with fresh soup and then decided to start freezing them to preserve the seasonal flavours from the farm all combined for a winning entry. Steed & Company Lavender submitted their lavender preserves for the award. Again the flavour of these products were exceptional, but before it even go to the judge’s taste buds, the labels and logo had caught their attention. Both are excellent products from Ontario farms.
Ambassador Award – For this award the Board of Directors looks outside of the immediate community to recognize someone who is promoting local food and local farmers to the public. Jennifer MacKenzie was honoured with this award on Tuesday evening. Jennifer is the author of several cookbooks, has written for LCBO’s Food & Drink magazine and was the official Milk Calendar recipe developer for several years. She and her husband Chef Jay Nutt, opened Nuttshell Next Door Café, to showcase the vegetables and herbs form their garden and surrounding farmers.
Outstanding Farm Market – For the first time, an on-farm market based on meat products will be recognized in this category. Nick and Lynda Van Casteren purchased the present day farm in 1982 and started with a farrow to finish pork farm. As business grew, more retail space was needed. More people were coming directly to the farm. Nick and Lynda opened a small store in a room adjoining the house. Here they started with the three P’s; Pork, Pies, Preserves. Customers coming to the farm wanted to source out more variety in local meats and produce. Nick and Lynda talked to members of their farming community and were able to increase the offerings. Today they have a modern, large building that houses their market, bakery and café. They are never satisfied with the status quo and are constantly looking for new products and new ways of doing things more efficiently. They are long time OFFMA members.
OFFMA was started in 1973 as a not-for-profit, educational, and promotional organization. It is a membership based group that helps farmers who market directly to the consumer through an on-farm market, PYO, CSA and/or agri-tainment operations. OFFMA’s mission is to provide leadership and knowledge to grow the farm fresh experience.
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