3rd Annual Ontario Organic Awards Celebrate Dedication to Organics in Ontario

On Saturday, February, 2nd, the Organic Council of Ontario (OCO) hosted the 3rd Annual Ontario Organic Awards to celebrate the dedication of the people and businesses that grow, process and sell Ontario’s organic bounty. The event ran parallel to the 32nd Guelph Organic Conference.

The event featured an organic meal at 7pm prepared by Green Table Foods followed by the awards ceremony at 8pm. A local band, The Blackwood Two, entertained guests and award winners after the ceremony. Over 120 individuals from attended the ceremony.

The awards acknowledge excellence across the full organic value-chain and were given for many different categories such as Outstanding Horticulture Producer, Organic Innovation and Volunteer Award. There were 10 awards categories in total, with nominees who came from many corners of Ontario.

The dedication of two notable sector pioneers was celebrated with Lifetime Achievement Awards:

Lawrence Andres has been instrumental in developing a vibrant organic dairy sector in the province. In 1978 Lawrence established the first organic farm in Canada. In 1981 he began a successful 12 year process of lobbying the Milk Marketing Board of Ontario for the right to separately pool and sell organic milk. In 1983 Lawrence and his wife Mathilde founded the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario and he served as president for 11 years. Lawrence formed the first Organic Milk Producers’ Group in Ontario in 1994 and was instrumental in developing the Organic Meadow brand before he left the dairy co-op to co-found Harmony Organic in 2001 – a company that now produces 6 million litres of organic milk annually and emphasizes a minimal environmental footprint.

Dave Reibling of Oakmanor Farms is an organic pioneer, working since the 1970’s to grow and mill top quality organic grains. Dave was instrumental in establishing 3rd-party verification for organic crops. The systems he developed for his farm were the first used in Ontario to guarantee the organic nature of farm products he purchased. In the 1980’s Dave continued to help develop the certification process for farmers, manufacturers and processors, which evolved into the current Canadian Organic Standard.

“After 40 years of building a credible food system, the Ontario organic sector will come together to celebrate the hard work and commitment of humble individuals-” says OCO Executive Director Jodi Koberinski, “farmers, businesses and volunteers, all of whom have made tremendous efforts to ensure that organic agriculture practices are recognized as credible in the marketplace.”

The organic food sector has been the fastest growing agriculture sector in Ontario and Canada for over a decade, which is the result of the commitment of the individuals and organizations within the organic sector. These quiet heroes of our food system will receive recognition from their peers for caring deeply about how food gets onto Ontario tables, and how our food system can positively impact our economy, health and ecosystems.

2013 Ontario Organic Awards Winners:

Outstanding Horticultural Producer – Cherryvale Organic Farm: Andrew Miller

Outstanding Grain Producer – Hack Farms: Uli Hack

Outstanding Dairy Producer – Yeandle Farms: Jeff Yeandle & Bob Gilroy

Outstanding Processor/Value-added – Frogpond Farm (Winery): Jens Gemmrich

Outstanding Direct Farm Marketing – Cedar Down Farm: Jeff Boesch & Leslie Moskovits

Outstanding Retailer – The Stone Store

Organic Innovation Award –  PineHedge Farms: Josef Heinzle

Education Award – Martha Gay Scroggins

Volunteer Award – Fran & Tony McQuail: Meeting Place Organic Farm

Lifetime Achievement Awards (2) – Dave Reibling & Lawrence Andres

The Organic Council of Ontario (OCO) is the voice for organics in Ontario. OCO unites those working within the organic sector as well as individuals who wish to support and encourage organic agriculture in Ontario. OCO advocates for organic agriculture in Ontario and informs the public on the full value of organic. OCO is the only association working in this capacity at the provincial level – where regulatory decisions relating to agriculture are made.


OCO Chair Matt LeBeau awards Josef Heinzle of Pinehedge Farms with the Organic Innovation Award.









Guest appreciate and clap for a heart-filled speech delivered by Dave Reibling, Lifetime Achievement Award winner.


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