OEFFA Announces 2017 Award Recipients: Mike Anderson, Holly Harman Fackler, and Alex Dragovich Recognized

For Immediate Release:
February 13, 2017
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Contact:
Carol Goland, OEFFA Executive Director—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 202, cgoland@oeffa.org
Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 208, amalie@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
   
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has named the 2017 recipients for the Stewardship Award and Service Award, as well as the first winner of the Advocate of the Year.
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Mike Anderson of Delaware County received the Stewardship Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the sustainable agriculture community, Holly Harman Fackler of Richland County received the Service Award, which recognizes extraordinary service in support of sustainable agriculture, and Alex Dragovich of Stark County was named Advocate of the Year, an award which recognizes exceptional contributions to sustainable agriculture policy advocacy.
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The announcements were made on Friday, February 10 and Saturday, February 11 in Dayton as part of OEFFA’s 38th annual conference, Growing Today, Transforming Tomorrow.

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2017 Stewardship Award Winner—Mike Anderson

From left: Mike Anderson, Sean McGovern
(Photo: Sara Graca, Palamedes Photography)
For 25 years, Mike Anderson of Delaware County has given his time and energy to Ohio’s organic farming community.
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He began his farming career at the Ohio State University demonstration farm, then housed at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, before managing vegetable production and field research for five years at the Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware. In 2001, he started Sundog Specialty Crops in Sunbury, a certified organic farm specializing in produce and cut flowers. Today, Anderson co-manages Whitebarn Organics, a certified organic farm in New Albany.
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“Patrons of many central Ohio farmers markets might have come for sunflowers, tomatoes or other produce, but they returned to hear his unmistakable and friendly laughter,” said Sean McGovern, outreach manager for the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) program and former OEFFA director, who presented the award to Anderson during the Friday ceremony.
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Throughout his entire career, Anderson has generously shared his time and expertise with other growers and with OEFFA. He served on OEFFA’s Board of Trustees in the 1990s, coordinating procurement of local food for the annual conference and planning farmer training workshops. Later, he served on the board of directors for the Pearl Alley Growers Association, on the administrative council of the NCR-SARE program, and on OEFFA’s staff as a Sustainable Agriculture Educator, helping organic and transitional farmers with their certification, production, and marketing questions.
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Anderson has hosted numerous farm tours and has led many workshops at the OEFFA conference and other events to share what he knows with other farmers and grow Ohio’s sustainable agriculture community.

“I’ve met many extraordinary farmers and sustainable agriculture advocates over the past 25 years and I know for certain that there are countless individuals much more deserving of this recognition then I am. I’m grateful for the people that I’ve met through OEFFA and inspired by their dedication to help us all become better stewards of our farms, families, and communities,” Anderson said.
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2017 Service Award Winner—Holly Harman Fackler
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From left: Holly Harman Fackler, Lauren Ketcham
(Photo: Sara Graca, Palamedes Photography)
Holly Harman Fackler, a Fairfield County native who lived for 30 years in Richland County, was an important influence and leader in the early days of OEFFA, acting as the organization’s first paid newsletter editor and employee.
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During the late 1980s and 1990s, she stepped up to do some of the heavy lifting required to build the then-fledgling organization into the state-wide, 4,325 member educational network it is today. For several years, Harman Fackler’s home in Plymouth, Ohio, was OEFFA’s office and her phone was OEFFA’s phone.
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She wrote, edited, designed, and distributed OEFFA’s newsletter, labeling and bundling newsletters at the dining room table, often with a young one on her knee. “We took pretty seriously the need to get information out, which now is much easier to get ahold of, but which, then, was not,” she said.
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In addition to her work on the newsletter, she built OEFFA’s first electronic membership database from paper files kept on index cards, responded to phone and mail inquiries, and networked with other OEFFA leaders. She served several terms on OEFFA’s Board of Trustees, helped organize OEFFA’s educational events, and took an active role in planning and preparing conference meals that reflected the values of the organization.
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“Holly’s giving and kind spirit infused her efforts to develop OEFFA’s early administrative and communications infrastructure and provided crucial energy and organizing skills at the time when they were needed most,” said McGovern.
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Harman Fackler found her way to OEFFA as a partner in a small diversified grain and livestock farm. “OEFFA was a lifesaver for us, really, and an important part of what we chose to do with farming… I feel like OEFFA really enriched my life, and I’m glad that it has been part of it.”

Harman Fackler worked as a reporter, blogger, editor and online editor, retiring in 2015 from Media Network of Central Ohio. Now she works, gardens, and volunteers in her hometown of Baltimore, Ohio.

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2017 Advocate of the Year Winner—Alex Dragovich
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From left: Alex Dragovich, Steve Maurer
(Photo: Sara Graca, Palamedes Photography)
Alex Dragovich of Mud Run Farm in Stark County has been a strong and guiding presence in OEFFA’s policy work since the program was formed in 2011, serving actively on OEFFA’s grassroots policy work groups and often speaking with the media and decision-makers about the impacts of fracking, climate change, food safety regulations, and genetic engineering on farmers.
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As a member of the fracking work group, which is focused on protecting farmers and our food system from the negative impacts of the oil and gas industry, Dragovich was literally the face of the issue when he agreed to work with a partner organization in representing farmers on a fracking billboard in southeast Ohio. He has experienced the issue first-hand; he has been approached by several companies with fracking lease offers, but has refused to sign a lease.
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“These are large industrial operations and history tells us that industrial accidents can occur, even when regulated,” Dragovich said. “I’m just not willing to sign away my land and water, and jeopardize the health of my chickens and those that I employ for the promise of some quick cash.”
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As a member of OEFFA’s genetic engineering (GE) work group, which works to secure clear and transparent labeling for GE foods and protect farmers from GE contamination, he organized and hosted a showing and discussion of the documentary, GMO OMG, and made calls to Senate candidates about their stance on GE labeling.
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Since 1980, he has owned and operated Mud Run Farm, where he raises free-range chickens and eggs and  grows vegetables, fruit, and small grains for local markets. His farm is powered mostly by horses, in part because he is concerned about climate change and wants to reduce his carbon emissions.

“Even with his tremendously busy schedule, Alex is actively involved in multiple issues, attending meetings and calls. He is known to pick up the phone and call the OEFFA office to ask what he can do help. He is truly dedicated and effective,” said Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA’s Policy Program Coordinator. “Without farmers like Alex engaging in the issues that affect farming and food systems, we will not achieve our goals of moving toward a more sustainable agriculture and ultimately, a more healthy and habitable world.”

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“The sustainable food and farm economy we have today is a reflection of the vision, commitment, and hard work of our thousands of OEFFA members over the course of almost four decades,” said OEFFA executive director Carol Goland. “We are grateful for all of their collective efforts in pioneering organic and sustainable farming in Ohio, but it is a special pleasure to be able to recognize three truly remarkable individuals for their contributions and accomplishments.”
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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.
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For high resolution photos of the award recipients, please contact Lauren Ketcham at lauren@oeffa.org. Please provide photo credit: Sara Graca, Palamedes Photography.