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Organic HeroesCelebrating the Organic Sector on the Prairies

Honoured at Organic Connections 2016

McBride D and D 2 SMALLERDon and Donna Kizlyk operate D&D Market Garden, a small certified organic market garden located in the Wadena–Kelvington area, 220 km east of Saskatoon. After they married, they worked in Regina for several years and moved to the farm in April, 1989. They had been travelling back and forth every weekend and found they liked being on the farm far more than living in the city.

They started growing vegetables in 1995 and became certified with the OCIA Chapter 5 in 2001 and transferred to TCO Cert in 2015. They grow about 12 acres of vegetables while the rest of the 480 acres are in wild hay and wild life habitat.

Don and Donna have been very active in the organic community for many years. They have been board members of Chapter 5 since 1998, hosting a number of board meetings for chapter 5 and 3, as well as organizing crop tours for local chapters. Don and Donna are members of the North East Local Food Association, as well as the Saskatchewan Vegetable Growers Association. Don was involved with Dining with the Stars events in 2010 and 2011. He was the SOD Board Executive as both chapter representative and president. Don has spoken at various events, tradeshows and conferences over the years. He has held various positions on the local Chapter 5 board. Donna has sat on the board of OCIA Canada R&E, and she is currently on the board of The Farmers’ Table. Donna has volunteered at the Organic Connections Conference in the past, and still volunteers at Chapter 5 meetings. In addition, they both are continuously promoting local and organic food to grocery stores, restaurants, and the general population.

Don and Donna believe in a live and let live philosophy. Don plants things where they want to grow, as he doesn't believe in forcing things. Nothing goes into the garden but seeds, labour and his loving care. The plants grow to maturity in the soil, under Don's watchful eye. He knows each row of vegetables intimately. Don loves to grow plants, and consequently he is very hands-on and personal with his garden. Don is also extremely inventive and has made many small, automated pieces of machinery from unrelated pieces of equipment. These inventions take most of the back breaking labour out of looking after their gardens. Don and Donna are also very community minded, donating vegetables and their time to many local groups.

They have really enjoyed their time on the farm and plan to garden together full-time once they retire.

Honoured at Organic Connections 2016

IMG 4757Gaston and Nicole are the proud parents of four children, Marc, Adam, Daniel and Janine. In partnership with their sons Marc and Daniel, they run a certified-organic grain and beef farm on land that was bought by Gaston's grandfather after he moved to Canada from France in 1894. The original quarter section lies just north of the one-street town of Grande Clairiere, southwest of Souris, and is still home to Gaston and Nicole, where sits the old farmhouse where Gaston grew up.

The Boulanger family decided to certify their farm in 2000, a process that took two years to complete with the transition of grain first, and then in 2004 to what are referred to as organic breeding cows. The farm now consists of roughly 1700 acres of organic pasture and prairie hay, and 800 acres of organic crop and forage - mainly alfalfa, flax, gluten free oats, and millet.
The Boulangers are supporters of the co-operative movement, both as participants and as leaders wherever they go. Gaston just finished a term on the OPAM Board of Directors, working with fellow organic farmers to keep an organic certifying body co-op functioning in the industry. Gaston and Nicole are avid supporters of OPAM open houses and field days, re-connecting with old friends and always eager to meet new ones.

In considering the Boulangers as "Organic Heroes", it is important to acknowledge their keen understanding of good animal husbandry, field and pasture management, and livestock marketing. They have blended this basket of skills with their support of producer co-operation and working together to accomplish goals. Gaston identifies market opportunities for organic beef cattle and then willingly shares information and transportation opportunities so small organic producers can participate in the organic beef market. Nicole assists with paper management and final settlements when loads are processed.

It is this "bringing producers together” that makes Gaston and Nicole Boulanger true "Organic Heroes".

Honoured at Organic Connections 2016

Upland Organics 2016Cody and Allison own Upland Organics, which is located two miles east of Wood Mountain, Sask. They envisioned and created a family orientated, environmentally and economically sustainable organic farming operation that contributes in a positive and significant way to both the local community and the greater organic agricultural community.

Cody was born and raised in the Wood Mountain area.  He grew up on a farm and completed an engineering degree at the University of Saskatchewan in Agricultural and BioResource Engineering.  After completing this degree he went on to work in the manufacturing sector for several years before returning back to farm in the Wood Mountain area.  One of Cody’s strengths is in machinery design and he enjoys working with and improving the equipment on the farm.   Cody serves as Vice President of SaskOrganics and also sits on the member education committee and is the chair of the research committee.  Cody also sits on two advisory boards for the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative.  Both Cody and Allison also sit on the organic advisory board for the Swift Current Research and Development Centre.

Allison was born in St. John’s, NFLD and grew up primarily in Southern Ontario.  After completing her BSc in Environmental Toxicology at the University of Guelph (Guelph, ON) she moved to Saskatoon, SK to pursue first her MSc and then PhD in Toxicology at the University of Saskatchewan.  Like Cody, Allison is very interested in promoting the organic industry; especially through on-farm research.  Allison supports involving organic producers at the individual farm level and believes that it will contribute to the overall applicability of organic research.  As such both her and Cody have implemented several on-farm research projects at Upland Organics.  Allison enjoys managing the research programs for Upland Organics and is always looking for new opportunities to collaborate with research scientists, agriculture industry professionals and other organic producers. 

Allison and Cody met while they were both attending the University of Saskatchewan and got married several years later in 2008.  After working in Saskatoon a few years more they decided to buy their farm in 2010.  Both Cody and Allison believe in being involved in the local community.  Allison serves as secretary on the Wood Mountain Regional Park board and as a member of the Wood Mountain Library board.  She also serves the surrounding region as a board member on the Old Wives Watershed Association. Cody works as a volunteer firefighter in the rural municipality.  They welcomed their first son in 2014 and welcomed another boy in 2015 as the newest addition to their family.


Rob Stafford photoHonoured at Organic Connections 2014

Rob Stafford comes from a long line of farmers. In 1909, his great grandfather homesteaded the Stafford farm. Rob’s father, Earle, began farming with his father and in 1964, purchased a farmstead 4 miles from the original homestead. Rob began farming with his father at the very young age of 12, raising hogs and helping with the various aspects of the farm. After graduating from high school Rob began his own farming career. In 1974, Rob and Debbie were married and made their home on the family farm. Rob was actively involved in the community, helping out with community events and serving on numerous committees and local boards, as well as farming full time. In 1975, Rob and Deb had their first child Jodie, followed by Kurtis, Christie and Rick. Community was always important to Rob, so when he made the transition to organic farmer in 1998, it was no surprise that Rob got involved with the organic community as well. He was certified with OCIA in 1998 and then in 2001 became certified with SOCA. Rob volunteered to be on the SOCA board, as well as a representative on the SOD board. He was very involved with the organic sector, you could always count on him to attend a meeting and help out when needed. Rob was an excellent organic farmer, he knew how to manage his land and what would grow well on his farm. In 2005, Rob decided to try his hand at growing hemp. It was a new crop in Saskatchewan but Rob was able to grow it with great success. He managed to find a way to grow hemp every year by making it part of his rotation. Buckwheat was also becoming part of the rotation and of much interest to Rob. Rob and Debbie started their own organic company called Stafford Organics Inc. in 2008. By 2011, their family had grown to include 11 precious grandchildren.
Rob Stafford passed away unexpectedly while working on a community project at Lower Fishing Lake in February of 2013. At his funeral it was said, "Rob's proudest farming accomplishment was when he became a certified organic farmer." Today Rob's farm land continues to be farmed organically. Rob is greatly missed by many people. He was a wonderful person, and always supportive of his community, family and friends.