OEFFA Announces 2016 Stewardship and Service Award Recipients: Jim Croghan, Steve Sears, and Sylvia Upp

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 15, 2016

Contact:
Carol Goland, Executive Director—(614) 421-2022, cgoland@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator—(614) 421-2022, lauren@oeffa.org

GRANVILLE, OH—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has named the 2016 recipients for the Stewardship Award and Service Award.

Jim Croghan of Croghan’s Organic Farm in Clinton County received the Stewardship Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the sustainable agriculture community, and Steve Sears and Sylvia Upp of Pike County received the Service Award, which recognizes outstanding service to OEFFA.

The announcements were made on Saturday, February 13 as part of OEFFA’s 37th annual conference, Growing Right by Nature.

2016 Stewardship Award Winner—Jim Croghan
A pioneer in the organic movement, Jim Croghan (pictured left) was one of Ohio’s first certified organic farmers. At Croghan’s Organic Farm, Jim and his wife Joyce produced organic corn, beans, spelt, hay, and other grains for domestic and international markets. He retired in 2009 after more than three decades of farming, but continues to garden and maintain an orchard.

His quiet, behind-the-scenes leadership within OEFFA led to the creation of what is today the organization’s Grain Growers Chapter, which remains very active. Before the National Organic Program was established—which set federal standards for organic certification—Jim also served on OEFFA’s board and certification committee, including a term as chairman, helping to shape OEFFA’s organic standards.

A steward of both the organization and his land, one of Jim’s major accomplishments has been keeping his farm in continuous organic production since the late 1980s, according to 2011 Stewardship Award winner and organic farmer Ed Snavely (pictured right), who presented the award.
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In 2010, organic farmer and OEFFA Little Miami Chapter president Jeff Harris began farming the land, growing organic alfalfa, yellow corn, soybeans, wheat, red clover, triticale, and rye. According to Jeff, “He has been a very powerful influence on me… Jim is my neighbor, my friend, and has been my mentor in the organic world.”
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2016 Service Award Winner—Steve Sears and Sylvia Upp
Sylvia Upp operated the OEFFA Certification program from 1991 until 2007, joined by her husband Steve Sears in 2003. Together, they managed the complex and challenging transition from the standards and processes developed by OEFFA’s grassroots certification program to federal oversight once the National Organic Program became effective in 2002. Their home and farm in West Salem, Ohio served as the headquarters for OEFFA’s Certification program, until it moved to a Columbus office in 2007.

According to 2015 Service Award winner John Sowder, who served on OEFFA’s Board of Trustees from 1992 to 2015, “Sylvia was admired and respected for her dedication, her organizational skills, and her attention to detail. She was our leader as the program grew and we knew she was the right person for this position. I feel that OEFFA is where we are today because of the Certification program and Sylvia built that foundation.”

Prior to his certification role, Steve served on OEFFA’s board for many years, during a time when the organization was largely volunteer-run. John reflects, “He had a gentle disposition and good sense of humor with a keen eye for getting to the heart of a matter.” During this time, Steve also operated a business called Ohio Farm Direct, one of the state’s first wholesale distribution services that delivered products from farms to consumers.

“Jim, Steve, and Sylvia showed an unwavering commitment to sustainable agriculture and OEFFA during an important time in our history. These awards are a small way that we, as a community, can recognize their contributions and express our gratitude for their work, from which we all have benefited,” said Goland.

For a full list of past Stewardship and Service Award winners, click here.

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About OEFFA
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a statewide, grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters working together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org

Photo by Sara Graca, Palamedes Photography