by SUSAN MANN
An award-winning Kitchener-area organic dairy farm, Sunholm Farms, is one of the four finalists from across Canada for a national sustainability prize.
Pam Martin of Sunholm says they found out a month ago they were among the finalists in the new Dairy Farm Sustainability Award sponsored by Lely Canada and organized by Dairy Farmers of Canada. “But we were asked to keep it quiet until the official announcement was made,” she says. Martin and her husband, Grant, farm near Ethel. They have four children: Todd, 10, Neil, 9, Adam, 7, and Graham, 3.
The other finalists are: Lakeside Dairy, Alberta; Ferme M. Grenier et fils ltd., Quebec; and Charles Hill and Son Ltd., Nova Scotia. The winner will be announced at the DFC annual general meeting in St. John’s, Newfoundland on July 18. The top prize is $2,000 and a trophy. The other three finalists will each receive $1,000.
In 2011, Sunholm received the Ontario Organic Award for Outstanding Dairy Producer. They have been certified with Local Food Plus since 2007.
Martin says they’re very excited and surprised to be named a finalist in the Dairy Farm Sustainability Award. They milk 70 cows and produce their milk for Harmony Organic. They pasture their livestock in the warmer months to use “the animal itself to harvest its own feed and to spread its own manure,” she explains, noting it reduces reliance on fossil fuels and manpower. Pasturing is also good exercise for their livestock.
They also have grass-fed beef, veal, pastured poultry, organic milk fed pork and organic pastured eggs, turkeys, ducks and custom-raised rabbits for reptile food. The boys all help look after those animals and all of the money from those enterprises goes to them, Martin says.
DFC received 14 nominations for the award. A selection committee made up of sustainability experts from academia, government and agricultural groups evaluated the entrants based on environmental sustainability, social benefits and the ability to reproduce their practices on other farms. The finalists have successful businesses and pay attention to details in caring for the land and contributing to strong local communities, DFC says in a press release. They are a reference for other farmers who want to continue improving their practices.
The award recognizes farms that employ innovative and best practices to reduce their environmental footprint, the release states. BF