CFSA Announces 2014 Sustainable Agriculture Awards For Outstanding Contributions to the Sustainable Local Food Movement
The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) has named this year’s sustainable agriculture award recipients. The awards were announced Nov. 10 and 11 at the 29th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Greenville, SC, a gathering of over 700 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:
Career Achievement Award – Tom Trantham of Happy Cow Creamery in Pelzer, SC.
For a long time, Tom ran a conventional farm that was successful in conventional terms, and he was a leader in South Carolina agriculture. He followed all the best practices recommended by the traditional land-grant universities and consultants. And yet, all that wasn’t enough to survive a corporate-dominated system that treats farmers as commodities. His dairy was bankrupt, and one day the cows smashed through a fence and started grazing a weedy pasture that he hadn’t tended—or treated with chemicals—in years. Ready to throw in the towel, he didn’t even bother to try to drive the cows back into their proper field, and just went back inside to watch TV until milking time. And when did milk them that day, an amazing thing happened—he got more milk than he ever seen before.
From that moment, he became trailblazer in sustainable agriculture, pioneering 100% pastured dairying, launching an innovative milk processing system, and building a consumer brand. And he has remained a leader in agriculture, educating researchers, health officials and consumers alike about the benefits of sustainable agriculture and rich whole milk. Now he is transitioning the farm to his children, a far cry from that day when the farm teetered on the brink of bankruptcy.
Farmer of the Year – Walker Miller of the Happy Berry Farm in Six Mile, SC.
Sustainable producers have to be masters of adaption, responsive to nature, and constantly experimenting to find strategies to produce healthy crops, increase resiliency in the face of weather variations and climate change, and enhance the soil. Walker Miller exhibits all these traits and more. From constant experiments in organic management of pests and diseases, to on-farm renewable energy production, to experimenting with new crops better suited to our changing climate, Walker has been a model of innovation. Walker has built a beloved gathering place the Upstate, bringing families back year after year to harvest giant, juicy blackberries, blueberries and grapes. And, he has have been active in educating his neighbors and community leaders, always with a generous willingness to share his knowledge with others, be it new farmers, traditional farmers, consumers, academics or policy makers.
Institution of the Year – Lowcountry Local First
First launched eight years ago, Lowcountry Local First celebrates and supports what we love most: the local, independent businesses and farmers who reflect the unique character, flavor, and culture of the place we call home. This organization provides a vital service to the local and sustainable food movement in the Lowcountry by growing new farmers. They do this with three successful programs: A Sustainable Agriculture Certificate program and Apprenticeships, Farm Incubation, and a Farmland Match effort. Additionally, this organization has been instrumental in increasing demand for local foods through education and awareness-building with consumers, media and local leaders.
Activist of the Year – Lee Barnes
Lee is a well-known heirloom and medicinal seed saving advocate. Dr. Barnes holds a PhD in Environmental Horticulture and has written extensively about permaculture, seed saving, the Southeast, native plant varieties and medicinal plants. He has organized numerous seed saving workshops and presentations over the last 15 years. He founded and has organized the popular Seed Exchange at our Sustainable Agriculture Conference for over 20 years.
Business of the Year – Seven Springs Farm, Ron Juftes, Check, VA.
Seven Springs Farm is the backbone of the system for supplying organic inputs to farmers across a large portion of the southeastern US. They have set up a network of outlets and organized group orders for multiple regions to help farmers save on shipping costs. Their catalog offers solid information on their products and Ron does the research to ensure that those products are approved for use on organic farms. Organic agriculture would not be where it is today in this region if not for Seven Springs’s valuable service.
The S.C. Extension Agent / Educator of the Year – Mark Nettles
Mark Nettles is an Agricultural Extension Agent with South Carolina State University serving South Carolina counties in the Orangeburg Cluster. Over the years, Mark has been a strong supporter of the SC Sustainable Agriculture Program. Mark has also been a regular participant in Extension training workshops to enhance his knowledge of sustainable agriculture. Mark’s clients are predominantly limited resource, small-scale vegetable growers and his Extension program is focused on helping them to become more environmentally and economically sustainable. Mark also devotes time to community service and working closely with the Orangeburg County Young Farmers Association, assisting them with educational programming, and he is involved with several youth and school garden programs.
The N.C. Extension Agent / Educator of the Year Award
Amy-Lynn Albertson is an Extension Agent from Davidson County. She has established two farmers markets in the county and shown tremendous leadership in promoting sustainable agriculture throughout her service region. She played a leadership role in developing the successful Piedmont Farm School, an intensive seven month program that provides in-depth training to farmers in Davidson and six surrounding counties. This project has since expanded to three farm schools across the state with others in the planning stages. This program’s statewide impact on the agricultural community is significant and growing.