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Canadian growers honoured at Organic Leadership Awards Gala

A cannabis grower, snack brand, cranberry and blueberry processor were just some of the Canadian organic industry members recognized at this year's awards.


February 26, 2020
By Fruit and Vegetable

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Canadian organic growers were honoured by the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) at this year’s Organic Leadership awards.

Awards are presented annually to acknowledge the Canadian producers who are advancing the Canadian organic industry. Awards were presented during the fourth annual Organic Leadership Awards Gala held in Vancouver, B.C. on February 19.

Canada is the sixth largest organic market in the world with $6.6 billion in annual sales.

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This year’s award recipients include:

  • Organic Champion of the Year – J. Wallace Hamm
  • Leadership in Organic Science – Dr. Ralph Martin
  • Organic Retailer of the Year – Whole Foods Market
  • Organic Supplier of the Year – Fruit d’Or
  • Organic Innovator of the Year – Riverside Natural Foods
  • Organic Farmer of the Year – The Green Organic Dutchman

J. Wallace Hamm of Pro-Cert Organic Systems Ltd. was awarded the title of Organic Champion. “Of my more than 50 years in agriculture, as both a producer and agriculture professional, these last 30 years of involvement with the organic movement have been the most fulfilling and enjoyable,” explains Hamm. “I am humbled that the movement has chosen to recognize my service in protecting the integrity of the organic claim.”

Ralph Martin, award winner in the leadership in organic science category, highlighted the importance of continued development in the organic sector. Martin has been a driving force in all things organic since his creation of the first organic science cluster in 2009. Martin stresses how “in the organic sector we do not have to accept either ‘science’ or ‘organic.’ There are plenty of scientific questions and subsequent research that can be applied to organic systems. We can have both ‘science’ and ‘organic’ and we do.”

“It’s an honour to be recognized as Canada Organic Trade Association’s Organic Retailer of the Year for bringing high-quality organic products to market for more than 40 years, and our leadership as the first U.S. ‘Certified Organic’ national retailer in North America – a designation we’ve held since 2003 – and now as a retailer certified to the Canadian Organic Standards with stores in both Ontario and British Columbia,” said Ann Marie Hourigan from Whole Foods Market in a released statement.

Fruit d’Or was honoured by COTA as Organic Supplier of the Year. They are the leading organic cranberry and blueberry processor and producer in Canada and recently launched their brand Patience Fruit & Co. “We are very proud to have won the title of Organic Supplier of the year and we feel it’s a good way to highlight Fruit d’Or’s 20th birthday!” says Marie-Michèle Le Moine of the company. “Fruit d’Or has practiced organic farming since its beginnings, and we look forward to continue developing this beautiful industry in a sustainable way.”

Riverside Natural Foods was awarded Innovator of the Year, highlighting that snacking can be healthy and full of vitamins with its snacking brand Made Good. “Expanding the market for organic products is a key part of our company’s mission,” explains Nima Fotovat, president and spokesperson of the company. “We are very happy to accept this award and further promote the growth of organics in Canada.”

The Green Organic Dutchman (TGOD), a producer of premium certified organic cannabis, has proven to be a sustainability champion, taking home the award for organic farming at last night’s awards. “Receiving this award validates the hard work and dedication of the team at TGOD and speaks to our promise of making life better for our customers and the communities where we do business. We would like to thank COTA for recognizing our efforts and commitment to sustainable organic cultivation,” commented Brian Athaide, chief executive officer of TGOD.

View full biographies of the winners here.

The Canada Organic Trade Association’s Annual Organic Leadership Awards were established in 2016. Awardees are nominated by their peers and chosen unanimously by the Organic Trade Association. A summary of past honourees can be found here.