CFSA Announces 2012 Sustainable Agriculture Awards for Outstanding Contributions to the Sustainable Local Food Movement\
Greenville, SC – The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) has named this year’s sustainable agriculture award recipients. The awards were announced Oct. 26 and 27 at the 27th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Greenville, SC, a gathering of over 800 sustainable farmers, agriculture advocates, foodies, educators, and experts. These institutions and individuals have made outstanding contributions to the sustainable food movement in North and South Carolina and have helped make the Carolinas one of the fastest growing sustainable agricultural sectors in the country.
The award recipients are:
Farmer of the Year Award: Evin Evans and Patricia Bell and Split Creek Farm (Anderson, SC)
Our farmers of the year hail from the Upstate of South Carolina, where they have been pioneers in sustainable agriculture for 25 years. They took worn out old cotton land, gave new life to the soil, and created a place where the community reconnects with agriculture. They have shown how taking care of animals results in top quality products, and they have the awards and championship medals to prove it. Their artisan cheeses are known across the state and around the world, their goat cheese fudge is to-die-for, and their farm is known as a place where the goats are cared for as family. It’s never been easy, there have been trials and tribulations again and again, and yet they have persevered, and made a successful farm. Through it all, they have generously mentored others in caring for livestock.
Young Farmers of the Year: Tradd and Olga Cotter of Mushroom Mountain (Liberty, SC)
Our recipients this year are sterling examples of applying creativity, innovation, and passion to change the world through sustainable farming. These young farmers started their farm in the Upstate in 2007, and they not only grow food that shows up on the menus of farm-to-table restaurants in this area, they are conducting research on crops that can cure disease, heal toxic contamination in soils, control insect pests, and more. Their farm is a showcase for experimentation and education, and they have been one of the most consistently popular presenters here at the Sustainable Agriculture Conference.
NC SARE Outstanding Sustainable Agriculture Extension Educator of the Year: Larry Kent from Onslow County Cooperative Extension (Jacksonville, NC)
Larry Kent was chosen to receive this award by his peers in recognition of his work on the Horticulture Entrepreneur Leadership Project (HELP). This successful 16-week class, presented by the NC Cooperative Extension and Onslow County Farmers’ Market, has already graduated 31 participants. The goal of HELP is to increase the number of full time produce vendors at Onslow County Farmers’ Market, provide fruit and vegetable production education for eastern NC, and strengthen the local food and farming systems in this region. In addition to this successful program, Larry has championed the Growing Minds Farm-to-School project and educated over 1,200 students about food and farming. Larry is also active on the county’s Incubator Farm and is a dedicated Farmers’ Market and Local Food Coordinator for Onslow County.
SC Cooperative Extension Agent of the Year: Greg Henderson, Regional Lead Agent in Edgefield County (Edgefield, SC)
Greg Henderson was recognized by his peers for this award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to peach research, which have reduced the usage of fungicides and increased water conservation practices by peach growers. Greg has championed the use of soil test kits to monitor fungus in peaches. Before, growers would routinely spray fungicides. Now, these simple tests allow them to hold off spraying. This results in more environmentally friendly growing practices and increases profitability for peach growers. In addition, Greg has lead a study to better understand water use in peach orchards in order to develop a comprehensive irrigation timing and management plan that will reduce water use.
Business of the Year: edible Upcountry
edible Upcountry, headed up by Samantha Wallace and Catherine Mecklenburg and edited by Ashley Warlick, was recognized for this award for telling the food and farming stories that bring the good food movement to life for consumers. Their publication, now in its third year, has fostered a dedicated following of local food fans who devour stories about seasonal, local ingredients and the farmers, chefs and artisans who produce and prepare them. They have educated consumers about local and organic foods in a way that inspires them to make the trip to the farmers’ market week after week and for this they have grown to become leaders in the local food community in the Upcountry.
Institution of the Year: Clemson Institute for Economic + Community Development
The Clemson Institute for Economic + Community Development (CIECD) has a wide variety of programs and workshops that help farmers and food business owners become more profitable, but CFSA recognizes the Institute for this award for two programs. The South Carolina New and Beginning Farmers program (SCNBFP) has enabled over 70 new and beginning farmers to get off to a great start. This program provides the tools, knowledge and skills necessary to be successful entrepreneurs, stewards of the land and successful marketers of the unique products they create. And, NxLevel for Agriculture Entrepreneurship, a step-by-step business planning program designed to help agricultural entrepreneurs begin, manage, and grow their business.
Activist of the Year: Rural Advancement Foundation International (Pittsboro, NC)
Each year, the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association honors an organization or person who has made a significant effort to address a pressing issue in the sustainable farming community.
In 2012, there was no issue more consequential than extraction of natural gas through the process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” This year, we recognize the organization that took the leading role educating farmers, landowners, elected officials, and the general public about fracking. The Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) continues to advocate for the landowners’ best interests in the development of rules that will govern fracking in North Carolina in the future.
A very special award was given this year for Lifetime Achievement to Keith Baldwin of NC A&T State University (Greensboro, NC).
From his work as an agricultural extension agent in Chatham County to his leading role developing the programs that would become the Small Farm Unit at NCSU’s Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) to his work at the Cooperative Extension Program at NC A&T and his influential leadership in CFSA, Keith has been a force in support of sustainable agriculture in North Carolina for over twenty years. He has also developed young people to work with small farm audiences and he has helped us all understand the importance of good soil management, of proper nutrient management for plants, the opportunities created for season extension by using high tunnels and more. Keith has dedicated his professional career to helping all small farmers be successful practitioners of sound sustainable agriculture practices.