The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) has named this year’s sustainable agriculture award recipients. The awards were announced Nov. 15 and 16 at the 28th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Durham, NC, a gathering of over 1,300 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:
The Farmer of the Year Award was presented to Stanley Hughes and Linda Leach of Pine Knot Farm located in Hurdle Mills, NC. Stanley and Linda’s 100 year old African-American owned farm is certified organic and has a long history of growing quality products for local markets. Stanley and Linda have an active program supporting youth as they prepare to become farmers and have given back to the community in numerous ways. This award is given to a farmer to honor a career of outstanding contributions to sustainable agriculture and is CFSA’s most prestigious award.
The Young Farmer of the Year Award was presented to Tucker and Mackenzie Withington of Lily Den Farm in Goldston, NC. This award honors farmers under 35 who are successfully growing and marketing, as well as contributing to the success of the local food movement. Tucker and Mackenzie grow a diverse set of livestock and are known for the excellent quality of their meats.
The Career Achievement Award was presented to Will Hooker, landscape designer and Professor in the Department of Horticultural Science at NCSU. The award is given to recognize a professional or educator who has contributed to the local/organic food movement over many years. Will is known as a knowledgeable, passionate and approachable teacher and mentor in the areas of permaculture, gardening and food production. He is retiring this school year.
The Institution of the Year Award was presented to the Land Loss Prevention Project based in Durham, NC. Over many years, Land Loss has made major contributions to furthering social justice as it affects access to farmland. The organization has been instrumental in the fight to gain restitution for discrimination against Black farmers that led to the loss of their farms. The organization also provides training and counseling to farmers to improve their business operations. Land Loss is currently working with reduced funding, but despite that, continues to provide outstanding programming.
The Business of the Year Award was presented to Leading Green Distributing and Kathryn Beattie, owner. Leading Green, based in Black Mountain, NC, has become an outstanding partner with farmers and consumers, getting fresh produce, meats and specialty products from farm to table with their trucking and wholesaling operation. Known for their integrity, fairness and hard work, the company contributes greatly to the goal of a functioning local food system.
The Activist of the Year Award was presented to Santos Flores of Durham, NC. Santos has worked tirelessly to bring inner city youth into the conversation about local, healthy, organic food. As a staff member of the SEEDS Garden in Durham, he has mentored youth and gotten them excited about gardening and food issues. This year he organized a Youth Summit in conjunction with the Sustainable Agriculture Conference, bringing inner city youth into the event as participants.
The S.C. Extension Agent / Educator of the Year Award, selected by peers, was presented to J. Powell Smith of Lexington County, SC. Powell, who holds a PhD in Entomology from Clemson, is an Extension Associate and has been a champion of integrated pest management. He has helped many farmers to reduce their chemical use. Powell has been particularly engaged with small fruits and leafy green vegetables, two areas of special concern for ecological pest management. His outstanding work has inspired many.
The N.C. Extension Agent / Educator of the Year Award was presented to Martha Mobley of Franklin County, NC. Martha is a passionate and forward-thinking extension agent who has helped to spread the word about sustainable and direct market agriculture in her region of the state. She has hosted numerous trainings, farm tours and events to educate about sustainable practices. In addition, she owns and operates Meadow Lane Farm where organic practices are used and sells her products at the Durham Farmers Market.