Celebrate Agriculture Awards
Past Award Winners
2021 Family Farm Award – Lockie Farms
For Lockie Farms – Daryl & Kim Rush & family, farming has been their family’s way of life since the late 1800’s. Their involvement in the community goes above and beyond their busy schedules in running their cash crop farm and business. They volunteer at their local church and community hall and sponsor Durham Farm and Rural Family Resources On-Farm Child Care and local hockey and baseball teams. They support Uxbridge Fall Fair and the Uxbridge Advisory Board. After a family tragedy, they recognized the need for training and support for First Responders and organized a Grain Safety Day for their community and customers and later invited Fire Departments in the surrounding area to attend a hands-on training and education day. Over many years and three generations, they have grown to be a large presence in the grain market, servicing over 150 producers from Durham Region and beyond. They truly believe in their motto: “Your success is our success”
2021 Leadership Award – Ryan Cullen
Ryan Cullen’s resume includes titles of Online Learning Coordinator, Content Writer, Teacher, Market Gardener and Field Supervisor. His sense of community and responsibility is striking. His experiences locally and internationally have shaped his worldview, work ethic and perspective that urban agriculture and food security are vital. He shares what he has learned readily with others. He is a member of the Agricultural Advisory Committee of Clarington and has been on the Board of Governors of Durham College and a member of the board of the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance. He owns a farm/homestead in Clarington, a ¼-acre market garden on 10 acres of land that he and his partners plan to develop into a multi-enterprise – a small-scale farm, growing vegetables, fruits, flowers and mushrooms along with a number of perennial crops and animals. The farm’s mission is to grow high-quality, fresh local produce, so you can eat healthily, feed your family and know your farmer.
2021 Spirit of Agriculture Award – Ken Lamb
Ken Lamb has worn many hats in supporting agriculture and his community. He works hard to grow the family business and pave the way for his children and future generations to be successful. He takes the time to help others through local organizations like Durham Farm Fresh, Farm Connections and the Durham Region Federation of Agriculture and has held many leadership roles. His wealth of knowledge and his easy-going nature, and his personable approach make him a voice that is invaluable around the table. His dedication to these organizations has made him a true leader in all he does. Along with his family, they are now proud sheep farmers and one of the founders of the Trillium Lamb marketing group, also selling lamb at a local farm market. He is a tireless leader in the community and a champion of the local food movement, always willing to step up to the plate and help others. He knows how to navigate everything from payroll deductions to the inner workings of a combine, Robert’s Rules of Order to CFIA rules and almost everything in between, all with a sense of humour that can lighten the mood and put a smile on others’ faces.
2020 Family Farm Award – Ashton Family
The Ashton Family is a 3-generation farm family that operates a 60-cow dairy and 450-acre crop farm along with a commercial maple syrup operation tapping 600 trees. The entire family are active volunteers, incredibly kind people and very community-minded. Their dairy enterprise includes several breeds of cattle, including Holsteins, Jerseys and Milking Shorthorns, of which they were proud to exhibit the National Grand Champion Milking Shorthorn in 2019. Their maple syrup products are sold through local venues and direct from their farm as members of Durham Farm Fresh and the Haliburton Kawartha Lakes Maple Syrup Producers Association (HKLMSP). Their farm has been the host of this Association’s annual 1st Tap Ceremony and regularly acts as a spokesperson for media on the maple syrup season. The Durham West 4-H program has been a grateful recipient of the volunteer efforts and mentoring of the whole family. Family members have participated as volunteer leaders of a variety of clubs; participated at the regional and provincial level of 4-H programs, many times taking on leadership or organization roles. The youngest generation has been active 4-H members but also, along with their grandparents, assist at many of the 4-H-related events. It is important to this family that other families are provided with the opportunity to experience the benefits of participating in the 4-H program. This family’s community involvement is broad and extensive beyond the 4-H program and reaches into the Port Perry Scouts program, Epsom United Church, Canada Foodgrains Bank – Epsom Utica, Uxbridge Fall Fair, Durham Farm and Rural Family Resources, Durham Farm Connections, Dairy Educator program, Epsom & Prince Albert School Community Councils and Port Perry High School Band.
2020 Leadership Award – Gerrit Herrma
Gerrit Herrema is a passionate ag-advocate who is always open to conversations about agriculture and food. He masterfully uses his social media channels to promote the connection between agricultural producers and the dinner plate. He also utilizes local radio station spots to increase the visibility of the agriculture community. His active community involvement spans Durham West Junior Farmers, Durham. Region Ploughmen’s Association and the Uxbridge Fall Fair. He was instrumental in 2019 in bringing a screening of the “Before the Plate” documentary to a local movie theatre, organizing speakers and a networking event following at a local brewery where members of the public could meet local farmers. Gerrit’s passions extend to the 4th generation dairy & crop farm, which he operates alongside his parents. This farm family has an open-door policy at their farm and hosts several public tours at their farm property to highlight the diversity and value of agriculture. He is dedicated and involved in the decision-making on the farm, including the recent construction of their new dairy parlour and upgrades to their renovated bank barn, now serving as the calf housing.
2020 Spirit of Agriculture Award – Brenda Metcalf
These are just a few of the descriptive phrases from the nominators of the 2020 Spirit of Agriculture award winner Brenda Metcalf. Genuine. Never tiring interest in agriculture, youth, family and community. Relationship builder. Cultivates a wide network of contacts. The list is also extensive of the agriculture, rural & community organizations which have received the benefit of her volunteer & leadership involvement, including Durham East 4-H, Durham Farm Connections, Baseline Community Centre, Ebenezer United Church, Women’s Institute, Durham Junior Farmers, Dairy Farmers of Ontario – Dairy Educator program, Durham County Holstein Club, Newcastle BIA, Clarington Farmers’ Market, and the Agriculture Advisory Committee of Clarington. Brenda’s knowledge of the community and the issues confronting the agricultural sector allows her to ably champion and advocate on its behalf to a fuller understanding by the general public, municipal staff & elected officials and policymakers. Brenda has participated in media relations courses offered by Farm and Food Care Ontario and the Egg Farmers of Ontario to become a strong advocate for modern agriculture. Upon completion in 2020 of their new egg-laying operation, she and her family hosted an open house, working within COVID protocols, to connect with area residents. Her calm, confident, honest, trustworthy demeanour has served Durham Region agriculture — and beyond well.
2019 Farm Family Award – Jibb Family
The Jibb family is a true farm family with farming flowing through their veins. They run a successful dairy operation and cash crop up in the northern Durham Region where they also do custom farming. The Jibb family has been involved in the Durham Region agriculture community for quite a while and are vital members of various committees such as Durham Farm Connections, Durham Region Federation of Agriculture and many more
2019 Leadership Award – Joel Speers
Joel Speers, 2019’s winner of the Leadership Award, is the ultimate community leader and truly has a heart for service. He has been an active community member since age 9 and he shows no signs of backing down now. Joel has a long list of volunteer positions on his resume that include, but aren’t limited to, Uxbridge Fall Fair, 4-H, Junior Farmers, Durham Farm Connections’ Annual Open House and much, much more. He is a tried and true networker who is skilled at helping organizations grow, add to their ranks and extend their reaches. The Durham Region agriculture community wouldn’t be the same without Joel, and we look forward to his continued involvement
2019 Spirit of Agriculture Award – Tom and Sally Barrie
Tom and Sally Barrie own and operate a dairy/cash crop farm in Durham Region and are pioneers of the Environmental Farm Plan. They have been integral members of their community for years, serving on various agricultural and community advisory committees as well as being active volunteers with the 4H program. They are tirelessly generous and are respected for the wisdom, guidance and support they give the members of their community. Their passion and dedication to making Durham Region a better place truly sets them apart, and the agricultural community is better off for having them.
2018 Farm Family of the Year – Bowman Family – The Bowman Family
The Bowman Family is a multi-generation farm family that has deep roots in the local community and has a strong passion for the environment, agriculture and rural lifestyle. They are committed to maintaining a healthy environment for future generations with continued use of best practices of farming methods. They are involved in their community, volunteering with the local hall board, 4-H, Ag Advisory committees, the Soil & Crop Association, Women’s Institute and Farm Connections. Over the years, the Bowman’s have transitioned their farm business successfully, moving from dairy to organic beef. They eagerly educate all who come down their driveway about their business, their products and the care of their animals. In their on-farm boutique you will find their farm products, as well as Eric’s paintings and an array of products and creations made by local artisans. They continue to share their family farm and its many stories and have introduced a multitude of folks to their fabulous farm philosophy.
2018 Spirit of Agriculture Award – Harvey Graham
Harvey Graham is the epitome of honesty, hard work and integrity. He goes above and beyond to help others and has the desire to make the world a little better for his actions. On the advice of the local Ag rep, Harvey headed to Kemptville College instead of law school and continues to advance rural issues and be a leading voice for farmers. He and his wife have travelled extensively throughout Europe, Canada and the United States and continue to travel as they take folks from the area on a yearly Farm Tour, educating as they go. Even into retirement, he continues to mentor others to be successful in farming and to unite urban and rural folks alike. His presence inspires and encourages others to strive to be better. He has a wonderful sense of humour and is always ready with a good story. His volunteer and committee work include Blackstock Fair, Blackstock United Church, Cartwright School Board, the local, provincial and Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. He also served a few stints as a Councillor for Scugog Township. In 2018 he was inducted into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame. He is a man with a plan and is optimistic about the future of farming.
2018 Leadership Award – Mitch Morawetz
Mitch Morawetz is passionate about agriculture, his community and the world in which he lives. He is open-minded and embraces new ideas while at the same time is dedicated and committed to preserving his heritage and striving to be a steward of God’s creation. He knows the value of hard work and community involvement. He has been involved in 4-H as a member and leader and active in Junior Farmers. He participated in the Ontario Young Farmers Forum, competed at the International Plowing Match and teaches Sunday School and assists with outreach programs at his church. Mitch grew up on his family’s farm and currently crops about 600 acres and manages a flock of about 50 ewes. His most recent project is to look at bringing the Emily Project to Durham Region. As a Municipal Land Use Planner, his understanding and knowledge of the agricultural community has been an asset to all of the planning service branches and his colleagues. His candor and communication skills are an asset when dealing with issues that face our fast growing urban areas while ensuring agricultural lands are protected for future generations.
2017 Farm Family of the Year – Herralea Farms – The Herrema Family
The Herrema family of Uxbridge, is 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 the 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”.
2017 Spirit of Agriculture Award – Epsom Utica Canadian Foodgrains Bank
The Epsom Utica Canadian Foodgrains Bank is 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 that 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 provides monetary support in order to aid in fighting world hunger.
2017 Leadership Award – Jenny Carnaghan
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.
2016 Farm Family of the Year – Willowtree Farm, The McKay Family
The McKays, a multi-generation farm family, have a strong passion for the environment, agriculture and rural lifestyle. They are committed to maintaining a healthy environment for future generations with crop protection plans and safe food practices.
All members of this family are involved in the community, volunteering with the Rotary Club, the local hall board, sports teams, UCW, Farm Connections, Utica United Church, Port Perry Fair, Eastview Boys and Girls Club and more.
Starting with a few strawberry plants in 1971, they sold berries out of a small shed on the farm. As they increased their acreage, they dispersed their Master Breeder dairy herd and devoted their time to growing healthy food for their customers. All the family have joined in the business, growing 35 different types of fruits and vegetables on 450 acres of land, growing and selling meat in their butcher shop and making their own maple syrup and selling their produce at over 11 Farmers Markets. They renovated their Farm Market into a year-round market, complete with a meat counter, fresh produce, homemade preserves, ready-to-eat meals, a bakery, a café and more!
2016 Spirit of Agriculture – Don Rickard
Don is a 5th generation farmer, who with his brother, Jim, owns and operates Ceresmore Farms which farms over 1300 acres of cash cropping. They are located east of Bowmanville on land where their family started farming in the 1840’s.
Don is an advocate for agriculture involved in several farm organizations serving as a director and president of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, the Canadian Seed Growers Association, the Ontario Seed Growers Association, as well as a director with the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association, the Northumberland and Durham Apple Growers Association, the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame, and served as a leader in the Durham 4-H Association. He currently is a member of the Clarington Agricultural Advisory Committee, and is a director at Country Heritage Park in Milton. Don and his wife Gail have a true sense of pride and dedication for farming. Their respected example of giving time and resources to committees and causes for the benefit of the farm community is significant. We all take pride in the support and championing of agricultural recognition this family has shared with the community.
2016 Leadership Award – Brad Found
Brad Found is outstanding in the field of leadership, community involvement and has a passion for farming. His involvement is full-on. Over the years, he has held offices at local and provincial levels in Junior Farmers and 4-H, and has spent countless hours setting up, taking down, managing, organizing and more for Orono Fair and Farm Connections.
His strong leadership has given many organizations a sense of purpose and has provided sound advice and insight as he served as a member, director and president of most organizations he has been involved in. He has made a positive difference in the lives of the 4-H youth as he coached Durham East’s Go for the Gold teams and as leader of sheep and farm machinery clubs. He has been instrumental in getting the All About…Farming Farm Connections Trailer on the road and still finds time to farm with his parents and raise his own flock of 200 sheep.
2015 Farm Family of the Year – Teledale Farms, the Smith/Ferguson Family
The Smith/Ferguson farm family has deep roots in the local community and has a strong passion for the environment, agriculture and rural lifestyle. They have been 4-H members and leaders and have hosted countless events on their farm – 4-H meetings, Holstein Club tours, Twilight Meetings, Threshing Evenings, the list goes on!
They are environmental stewards, using no-till practices and have a water collection and purification system in their new robotic dairy barn. Between them, they crop over 500 acres of land. All members of this family are extremely involved in the community volunteering with numerous agricultural societies, Junior Farmers, Farm Connections, Durham Region Dairy Producers, 4-H, Music festivals, curling clubs, Sunderland Lions Club, Greenbank United Church, Region of Durham Plowmen Association and more.
2015 Spirit of Agriculture – Durham College
Durham College has raised the profile of Durham Region’s agriculture and food industry throughout the province. They support community initiatives, agriculture research projects and offer leading-edge technology to industry.
They have dedicated 25 acres of land for agricultural research purposes and have applied for an agricultural research chair position. At the Whitby Campus, the Centre for Food houses 950 students and has a full-service green-certified teaching restaurant – Bistro 67. They also have three public viewing kitchens, two greenhouses, vegetable plots, tender fruits and a 400 tree apple orchard. This Field to Table concept enables students to select their area of focus, be it primary production, food processing or food service.
Their Food and Farming program is recognized by Trent University and Sir Sanford Fleming College, enabling graduates to transfer to further studies there.
The main campus in Oshawa features a state-of-the-art robotics lab as well as a climatic wind tunnel, both having the potential for significant impact for agriculture applied research and development.
The college hosts numerous industry and public groups to tour the Field to Table facilities at Whitby – including their annual Harvest Dinner. They have taken a vision and turned it into a reality. With their foresight, they continue to find ways to bond agriculture with their research, culinary and education programs.
2015 Leadership Award – Andrew Frew
Andrew Frew is a person who exemplifies a level of commitment to his industry and to modern agriculture that can serve as a role model for others. He is an outstanding farmer but should be viewed also as an outstanding leader. He provides an exceptional example to others in the industry showing how to adapt for success and sustainability in a dramatically changing and challenging environment.
Andrew has been farming in Durham Region since his graduation from the University of Guelph in 1998.
He is a volunteer with Durham Region Federation of Agriculture, Farm Connections, Blackstock Fair, 4-H, Durham Region Pork Producers and is an agricultural ambassador for Ontario Pork on their Speak Up Team.
He has spent many hours away from home on a provincial livestock committee to work on improvement to the Risk Management Program because of his strong belief in the Pork Industry and the family farm.
A number of years ago he realized that local fairs and urban visitors needed to hear the farm story and was instrumental in arranging for the Durham Region Why Farming Matters Trailer to be developed. Today the Frew family has over 4000 hogs and 3000 acres in crops, including corn, soybeans and azuki beans.
In 2015 Andrew and his wife Tara helped their children start a vegetable stand at the end of their driveway. Many detailed conversations were had with their young son to determine what price he should be selling the corn for in order to make a profit. Andrew is a full-time farmer, a volunteer, a husband and a father, and anyone who meets him agrees that he is a thoughtful and outstanding member of the agriculture community in the Durham Region.
2014 Farm Family of the Year – Cedardale Farm – The Nesbitt Family
The Nesbitt family is a multi-generational farming family who has embraced new opportunities.
They have worked to build a business that gives the next generation the opportunity to pursue their desire to farm.
They have hosted countless 4-H meetings and have held producer workshops at their farm. They support local fairs where they show their cattle and attend countless agricultural events throughout the year.
They are environmental stewards, using minimum tillage practices, cover crops and rotational grazing. In 2010 they received the Ontario Pasture Award from the Ontario Forage Council. In addition to their purebred cattle they crop over 1500 acres, growing a variety of traditional and specialty crops.
With two sons and their families now home farming, they continue to develop their marketing strategy and in 2004 held their first annual on-farm bull sale, welcoming buyers from across Canada as well as opening their farm gate to neighbors looking for fellowship and a good lunch.
They are proud to be one of Ontario’s largest registered Charolais cow operations as well as hosts of one of the longest running Charolais bull sales in Ontario. They continue to develop new opportunities to grow their farm to support their families.
All members of this family are extremely involved in the community volunteering with Lindsay Exhibition, Durham Region Cattlemen’s Association, Ontario Charolais Association, 4-H Ontario and more.
2014 Spirit of Agriculture – Clarington Board of Trade
The Clarington Board of Trade has formed a truly amazing partnership with the local agricultural community. Recognizing the impact that the over 400 farms in Clarington have on the community, they have created an agriculture position on their Board of Directors. They work closely with the municipal and regional governments to promote agriculture and encourage growth.
They were instrumental in the formation of a Farmers’ Market in Clarington in 2005 – which runs every Sunday morning from May through October in Newcastle. They have hosted Agricultural Familiarization Tours – touring farms in Clarington – for Municipal Council and staff to learn about local agriculture. As well, they host an annual Agriculture Summit which features a small trade show and amazing speakers on topics relevant to the local agriculture industry.
Their Barn Door Directory is an online publication listing Clarington’s “Assets in Agriculture and the Food Processing Industry”. The Clarington Board of Trade embodies the Spirit of Agriculture through their knowledge, enthusiasm and promotion of agriculture in Clarington.
2014 Leadership Award – Nicole Swain
Nicole Swain is a person whose influence inspires people. She is committed to educating and inspiring Durham Region’s youth on the agricultural industry that surrounds them, sharing the important role agriculture plays in their lives.
She is innovative, energetic and passionate about science and agriculture and has presented workshops to her colleagues on Cultivating Ideas to Teach Agricultural Science and has conducted a workshop at the Science Teachers of Ontario Association Conference in Toronto, providing teachers with resources and a practical understanding of agricultural science that they can bring back to their classrooms.
Nicole was instrumental in the development of the Farm Connections High School program, serving as committee chair for a number of years. Because of her connection to the school system, and her passion for teaching others about agriculture, the program has continued to grow inspiring students to consider careers in the agriculture industry. She volunteers at her local fair, is a member of Durham Farm Fresh and has been a leader of Durham East 4-H Beef Club.
Nicole and her husband Scott and their children are beef farmers, and market their meat through their online store swainbeef.ca. They also grow corn, soybeans, wheat and edible beans. They pride themselves on being good stewards of the land, making environmentally conscious decisions as they run their farm.
Each year Durham Farm Connections recognizes excellence in our industry and within our community through our Celebrate Agriculture Awards. Individuals and groups are encouraged to nominate a worthy recipient(s) in one of the following categories. Winners are awarded at the annual Celebrate Agriculture Gala.
Family Farm Award – Designed to acknowledge an intergenerational farm family with a history of progressive achievements and community service.
Spirit of Agriculture Award – Celebrates the contributions of individuals, voluntary groups, organizations or businesses who exhibit the Spirit of Agriculture in supporting and championing agriculture in the Durham Region over the years.
Leadership Award – As a reward for leadership, community involvement, and a passion for agriculture, this award recognizes a young farmer aged 22-39 years. This award includes a monetary component for further leadership development opportunities.
If you would like to nominate an individual, group, or organization, please download the 2022 Nomination Form
Nominations may be sent to Nicole Swain at 3321 Regional Rd 19, Blackstock L0B 1B0 or by email to