About a month ago, at the PEI Certified Organic Producers Cooperative (COPC) annual meeting, Mark was presented with the Organic Farmer of the Year award. Technically it was to both of us, but everyone knows, or should know, that it's really Mark's award. Ironically however, I was the one who went to the meeting (in an attempt to drum up some more business for my organic certification consulting business), so I accepted it on behalf of both of us, feeling foolish for two reasons; the first, as mentioned, since Mark is really the deserving one and secondly because I was looking out on a group of our peers, but our mentors in the organic community. There were people at the AGM who have been organic farmers for decades and without whom we wouldn't certainly wouldn't be organic. It was a humbling experience, but a great one.
And it's the gift that keeps on giving. Part of our reward was an amazing getaway weekend at the most exclusive inn, in Charlottetown and a meal at a beautiful restaurant, Sims. (As a side-note, we were at the Inns on Great George and ate at Sims at the same time as Gellman, from Regis and Kelly-just call me the paparazzi!) Anyway, it was an absolutely spectacular weekend and such a perfect reward for a couple of tired, country bumpkin parents of two. (We even had sorbet at our meal! Sorbet!! I thought the waitress made a mistake and brought up someone else's dessert by accident...yes, I get out a lot...)
Anyway, so if that wasn't enough, this Saturday we had a front page spread in the weekend section of The Guardian, the Charlottetown newpaper. Complete with a number of colour photographs (sorry no pics on the website-just on hard copy) and a great article that spanned a full page and a half. If I can't sell lamb now.... hahaha. (Speaking of which, Barnyard Organics is on facebook now and has a section for placing orders for chicken and lamb! Of course, you can always contact us via email as well.)
So, needless to say, we're pretty excited about it all and not just sure what to do with our newfound 'fame'. I hope it brings some new chicken customers and helps to put a face to some local farmers in the area. It's just so good to see a good news story about agriculture.
I'm sure I'm not the only one seeing a bit of dichotomy about the fact that I was in the other PEI paper on Friday, spouting and pouting about the lack of future in Canadian agriculture, but I think there is a link to be made. While it's true that we are in a great industry right now and the organic community is growing and proving itself to be sustainable and profitable, in general, agriculture in Canada is headed for some very rough times. I was fortunate to get myself mixed up with the likes of this big islander boy with his head on straight in terms of seeing the future of farming, for now, but there are no guarantees for the next generation. Until EVERYONE begins to change their mentality about food and eating, we will continue to see an exodus from the industry and an increase in food imports that are bad for both our health and our farmers.
Whew, exhausted my soapbox again, even when this was intended to be an announcement of our big win! We are so excited and happy to receive it! May it help to grow the organic community and spread the good word of sustainable production, in every sense of the word!