Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

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B.C. Outstanding Young Farmers take direct route


February 3, 2010
By Fruit & Vegetable

Topics

bc-outstandingFebruary
2, 2010, Abbotsford, BC – A focus on direct marketing organic and conventional
fruits, vegetables and wine earned Gene and Shelly Covert the 2010 Outstanding
Young Farmer award.



February
2, 2010, Abbotsford, BC – A focus on direct marketing organic and conventional
fruits, vegetables and wine earned Gene and Shelly Covert the 2010 Outstanding
Young Farmer
award.

More
than 400 people cheered as the Coverts of Covert Farms and Dunham and Froese
Estate Winery
in Oliver, B.C., received the prestigious award from B.C.
Minister of Agriculture and Lands
Steve Thomson and Canadian OYF program
vice-president and 2005 B.C. OYF winner Derek Janzen.

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Gene
and Shelly are the third generation of Coverts to operate the 660-acre farm
started in 1959 by Covert’s grandfather, a California tomato grower. The farm
originally grew only onions and tomatoes but now produces more than 60 crops.
After beginning a small organic section in 2005, the Coverts now have 138 acres
in certified organic production and look forward to operating the entire farm
under biodynamic principles.

“Biodynamics
is a very exciting aspect of agriculture,” said Gene, explaining that it
focuses on soil health and “developing sustainability through biodiversity” by
treating the farm as a living organism.

While
the Coverts market their products throughout Western Canada, most is sold
direct through their on-farm organic market and pick-your-own organic market
garden.

“Word
of mouth is our best asset,” said Shelly.

In
2005, the Coverts planted a 15-acre vineyard and added another 15 acres in
2009. Their estate winery produces about 2000 cases per year of red, white and
rose wines.

The
Coverts, who were also finalists for the 2009 award, will now represent the
province in the Canadian Outstanding Young Farmer finals to be held in
Victoria, B.C., in November 2010.

Runners-up
for the 2010 award were twin brothers Ricki and Newton Sahota of Twinberry
Farms
in Pitt Meadows.
The Sahota brothers have developed a unique direct-to-office marketing system
and are also creating a boutique processing plant and farmers’ market to sell
fresh and processed blueberries from their 163-acre farm. 

“It
is in the self-interest of all Canadians to encourage young people in
agriculture,” Janzen said, noting both the Coverts and the Sahotas represent
“positive role models for youth in agriculture.”

To be eligible for the
Outstanding Young Farmer award, farmers must be between 19 and 40 years of age,
derive at least two-thirds of their income from farming and demonstrate
progress in their agriculture careers. Nominees are judged on conservation
practices, production history, financial and management practices, and
community contributions. Judging the 2010 competition were agricultural
financial consultant Barry Remus, RBC account manager Lana Dueck and 1999 B.C.
OYF winner David Janssens.


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