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Farming and Farm Families Celebrated in Durham Region

Posted on Tuesday November 14, 2017
Clarington Farm Families attend the Celebrate Agriculture Gala
Clarington Farm Families attend the Celebrate Agriculture Gala

(SCUGOG, DURHAM REGION) - Farming and farm families celebrated their rural roots in Durham Region on October 26th with close to 350 people in attendance at the 4th annual Celebrate Agriculture Gala held at the Scugog Community Centre in Port Perry. The evening recognized three Durham Farm Connections award winners and one hundred and thirty three Canada 150 Farm families.

The presentation of Canada Farm Family gate signs and certificates to Durham Region’s Canada 150 farm families was a highlight of the Gala. Recognition was given to a farm family that has been continually farming in Canada since 1867 and are still farming in Durham Region today. Marilyn Pearce, chair of the Durham Farm Connections Heritage project, shared pictures of each farm family farm along with the year the family started farming in Durham Region. “Enjoy seeing what agriculture looks like today in Durham Region,” said Pearce. Farm families were called up by municipality and recognized. Each farm family received a Canada Farm Family gate sign and a certificate from the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance and Ontario Federation of Agriculture. There were 22 farm families from Uxbridge, 36 from Scugog, 40 from Clarington, 20 from Brock, and 15 from Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax and Pickering. The list continues to grow as more families submit their information. An evening celebration will be held at a later date for all farm families - especially those unable to attend the Gala.

Each year an individual farm family is awarded to acknowledge an intergenerational farm family with a history of progressive achievements and community service. The 2017 Durham Farm Connections Family Farm Award recognized the Herrema’s of Uxbridge, a multi-generational farm family with a history of progressive achievements and community service through public services and rural leadership. The Herrema’s have an open door policy at their farm and have hosted several public tours at their farm property to highlight the diversity and value of agriculture. Involvement in public service has been a commitment of many years by two generations of this family and helped to ensure a valuable perspective on agriculture was always present when decisions were made at municipal and regional government. Rural and agriculture organizations benefit from the Herrema family’s involvement in leadership positions. 4-H and Junior Farmers clubs, Plowmen’s Association and the Uxbridge Fair are some of the recipients of this family’s commitment to the betterment of their community. With a recent major expansion of dairy barn facilities, the youngest generation, who are recent agricultural graduates of the University of Guelph, are committed to continuing the farm operation. The Mayor of Uxbridge, Gerri Lynn O’Connor said in the letter of support, “the future of this farm is very bright indeed”. Steve Ritchie and Perri Reesor from CIBC presented the 2017 Farm Connections Farm Family Award to Herralea Farms - the Herrema Family - Helen, Howie, Liz, Brigitte and Gerrit.

Farm Connections Leadership Award recognized young farmer; Jenny Carnaghan of Blackstock, an outstanding leader, passionate about rural communities and one who commits her time to make her local community and Durham Region the best place to raise a family and operate a farm family business. Jenny holds leadership positions on her local co-operative nursery school as well as the school community council and has been recognized by the Durham District School Board with a “Volunteer of Distinction” award for her contributions. She is not content to merely promote agriculture, but has been instrumental in developing an award winning & innovative joint venture value-chain marketing group, Trillium Lamb. Her involvement in a variety of community and agricultural organizations allows her to support initiatives to maintain and build strong rural communities for current and future generations. TD Agriculture and Heather Potter, Branch Manager of TD Canada Trust, Port Perry sponsored the Leadership award and presented it to the 2017 Leadership award winner Jenny Carnaghan at the Gala.
Farm Connections Spirit of Agriculture Award celebrates the contributions of an organization who supports and champions the agriculture industry in Durham Region. This year’s recipient is the Epsom Utica Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a group that has been instrumental in helping to feed the hungry of the world for close to 35 years. Starting in the early 1980’s , inspired by the idea of two local men, the community would gather to bag grain to be shipped to Winnipeg, where it was further distributed to help with famine in the third world. By 1996, with continued strong community support and donations of time, equipment and crop inputs provided by farmers and agri-businesses, it was decided that they would grow their own crop for distribution. This project has grown to 73 acres with a rotation of wheat, corn and or soybeans. Now the harvested crop is sold and the proceeds are forwarded to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a national organization which is able to procure 3:1 matching funds from the Canadian government – giving more bang for their buck. This project is supported by a core group of farmers, people from the community, local church congregations and rural families as well as a Toronto church who provide monetary support in order to aid in fighting world hunger. Will Macarthur from Farm Credit Canada presented the 2017 Spirit of Agriculture award to Floyd Evans, one of the two original organizers and Rob Ashton grandson of the late Donald Asling on behalf of the Epsom Utica Canadian Foodgrains Bank project.

The Durham Farm Connections Celebrate Agriculture Gala benefits agricultural awareness efforts in Durham Region. Through the efforts of hundreds of volunteers, Durham Farm Connections delivers educational programs to improve the understanding, and awareness of agriculture in Durham Region.

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For more information please contact:

Brenda Metcalf, Chair of Celebrate Agriculture – 905-263-2250
Marilyn Pearce, Chair of Heritage Project - 905-985-9250
Karen Yellowlees – Awards Committee - 905-986-0657

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