We’re pleased to tell you a bit more about the 2020 award winners, through the voices of those who know them well!
Said presenter Rebecca Kneen: “They have quietly, persistently and smilingly strengthened the organic community through their seed business, and strengthened the entire local community through their work with the Community Living Society. Jon and his family embody so many of the core values of organics. They promote biodiversity through breeding and cultivating heirloom organic seeds, building soil in their diverse mixed farm, teaching skills and passing on knowledge, encouraging local food production and consumption at all scales.
In addition to all of that, Sunshine Farm offers vocational development opportunities to adults in the community living sector. They offer hands on experience and skills training in everything from cooking classes to literacy to equipment operation, all in the context of an organic farm. They involve their students in all aspects of the farm, providing opportunities based on interest and choice, building self respect along with skills.
Over the years, Jon and his family have been mainstays of the Kelowna Farmers’ Market and of the many seed swaps and Seedy Saturdays in the Interior. And they’ve always kept things personal, choosing to deepen their farm’s work rather than just expand. Every customer will tell you about their passion to share all that knowledge. Sunshine Farm is an invaluable resource to the entire farming community.
Our seed growers and breeders are often our unsung heros in terms of organic agriculture and it’s about time we sang to them!”
DeLisa Lewis is co-owner and operator of Green Fire Farm in the Cowichan Valley, and a part-time Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at UBC. She has more than 20 years experience as a certified organic farmer, and holds a PhD in Soils and Agroecology. DeLisa is also a member of the COABC’s Accreditation Board.
Said Erin Bett (Fierce Love Farm): “As we grow our business and our farm employees, the question, “What would DeLisa do?” is the guiding principle at the forefront of my mind. Not just for crop management, but more importantly for people management—for the human side of our farm. Can I be the type of manager that empowers people? Particularly young female farmers, to develop their own skills, ideas and confidence? Can I motivate and inspire my staff to work hard, not because they’re intimidated or driven to compete, but because they’re happy and excited to be farming? As DeLisa inspires me.
Farming, as we all know, can be an exceptionally hard way to make a living. And I honestly don’t know if I would have gone into it as a career if my initial experience had not been so skillfully guided by DeLisa. And I know the biggest compliment someone could ever pay me, years into the future when I can consider myself a seasoned farmer, is that they see even the tiniest glimpse of her in me.”
Congratulations to this year’s winners! You can view a list of past winners here.