OEFFA Stewardship and Service Award Winners

The Stewardship Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the cultivation of sustainable agriculture and the Service Award recognizes outstanding service in support of sustainable agriculture. The awards are announced each year as part of OEFFA’s annual conference. The following award winners have all played a vital role in advancing sustainable agriculture in Ohio.

2014 Stewardship Award

Kip and Becky Rondy, Green Edge Organic Gardens, Athens Co.

Rondys 2014

Kip and Becky Rondy own and operate Green Edge Organic Gardens, a 120 acre certified organic farm in Amesville, Ohio. Migrogreens, salad mix, mushrooms, greens, and other produce are grown year-round using 10 high tunnels and sold at the Athens Farmers Market, two summer and winter community supported agriculture programs which serve more than 400 families, and at stores and restaurants in Athens and Columbus. The farm, primarily tended by hand, employs 13 people, in addition to interns. One of Ohio’s most successful year-round farms, Green Edge Organic Gardens has partnered with Rural Action to provide workshops on high tunnel operation and with the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Ohio University to develop designs for internal covering and venting systems in high tunnels.

2014 Service Award

Ed Perkins, Sassafras Farm, Athens Co.

Perkins 2014

Ed Perkins owns and operates Sassafras Farm in New Marshfield with his wife, Amy Abercrombie. They grow chemical-free vegetables, herbs, and berries on 2 acres, which are sold year-round at the Athens Farmers Market. A graduate of Ohio University with a Masters degree in botany, Perkins purchased his farm more than 40 years ago and has been an integral part of the Athens local foods community ever since. His regular Our Home column in The Athens Messenger has helped to educate thousands about environmental issues. As one of OEFFA’s most long-standing and active chapter presidents, Perkins hosted and organized local farm tours, potluck meals, and other chapter activities, helping to establish a strong link between OEFFA and the vibrant Athens local food movement.

2013 Stewardship Award

Mardy Townsend, Marshy Meadows Farm, Ashtabula Co.

Mardy Townsend raises grass-fed beef cattle at Marshy Meadows Farm in Ashtabula County, near Windsor, Ohio. Marshy Meadow Farm’s land has been certified organic through OEFFA since 1996 and the beef herd is in transition to organic. Townsend graduated from Wilmington College in 1978 with a degree in animal science and biology and received a master’s degree in agronomy from Ohio State University in 1997. She was a horticulture agent at the OSU Extension Geauga County office from 1994 to 1996. Townsend has served on the OEFFA Board, along with two stints on the North Central-Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program Technical Review Committee. She is a founding member of OEFFA’s Lake Effect Chapter and has hosted several OEFFA farm tours.

2013 Service Award

Rev. Charles Frye, Ashland Co.

Rev. Charles Frye served on the OEFFA Board for more than 30 years and has held both the President and Vice President offices. Frye is a retired United Methodist Church pastor who served local churches for 37 years. Frye began his involvement with OEFFA after spending seven years of his ministry life involved with the Rural-Urban Gardening Project, creating community gardens by encouraging collaborations between diverse communities. He and his wife, Rev. Nancy Hull live on 40 acres in Ashland County, which includes a garden and 40 heirloom fruit trees, blueberries, and asparagus plants. Frye and his wife are the parents of a blended family with nine living children and fourteen grandchildren. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Kent State University in 1955 and  a master’s in theological studies from Perkins School of Theology in 1958.

2012 Stewardship Award

Doug Seibert and Leslie Garcia, Peach Mountain Organics, Greene Co.

Cropped Seibert_Garcia_OEFFA_2012_Credit_George_Remmington Doug Seibert and Leslie Garcia of Greene County have farmed organically at Peach Mountain Organics since 1992, growing certified organic mixed vegetables, microgreens, fresh-cut flowers, mushrooms, hay, and greenhouse plants. They sell their products at the Yellow Springs Farmers’ Market, local restaurants, and grocery and health food stores. Peach Mountain Organics has two farm sites and one half acre greenhouse location in Spring Valley, Ohio. Altogether, the operation is 43 acres, more than 25 of which are certified organic. Doug and Leslie have helped organize group seed and potato orders for other farmers and grown organic bedding plants for other growers, hosted farm tours, presented OEFFA conference workshops, and were involved in the creation of both OEFFA and the Federation of Ohio River Cooperatives.

2011 Stewardship Award

Deborah Stinner, Wayne Co.
Edward Snavely, Curly Tail Organic Farm, Knox Co.

Deb Stinner croppedDr. Deborah Stinner is a retired research scientist and administrative coordinator for the Organic Food and Farming Education and Research (OFFER) program at The Ohio State University’s Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster, Ohio.  Stinner’s research specialty is organic farming systems, with a focus on specialty small grains for artisan bread and pasta products. She helped found the OFFER program in 1998 to provide science-based information to Ohio’s organic farmers. Today, OFFER is internationally recognized as a leader in organic farming research and maintains 50 acres of certified research land and 20 organic field experiments.

ed snavely cropped Ed Snavely owns and operates Curly Tail Organic Farm, a 114 acre farm in Fredericktown, Ohio. One of Ohio’s longest continuously certified farms, Snavely has been certified organic since 1989 and raises pastured pork and feed for livestock. Snavely has been a member of OEFFA since 1989 and currently serves on the Board of Directors as the Grain Growers Chapter Representative. He has served as President of the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) Ohio Chapter, and also as a former board member of OCIA. Snavely has hosted numerous farm tours; spoken as a featured presenter at OEFFA, OCIA, and American Livestock  Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) meetings; and has been an honored delegate at the first and second Slow Food Terra Madre conferences in Italy.

2010 Stewardship Award

Mike Laughlin, Northridge Organic Farm, Licking Co.

Mike Laughlin cropped low resMike Laughlin and his family operate Northridge Organic Farm, a 20 acre certified organic farm, producing a variety of seasonal produce, specializing in heirloom tomatoes and Tunis sheep. Laughlin has been a part of OEFFA since the 1980s. He served as the certification committee chair for three years and helped write OEFFA’s first standards for organic certification. Laughlin founded OEFFA’s Heart of Ohio Chapter, and served as the chapter’s president twice. From 2005 to 2009, Laughlin served as President of OEFFA’s Board of Directors. Today, he serves on OEFFA’s Board as an At-Large Representative.

2009 Stewardship Award

Rich Tomsu, Rich Gardens Organic Farm, Athens Co.

rich tomsu croppedRich Tomsu, with wife Ann Fugate, own and operate Rich Gardens Organic Farm. Certified organic since 1989, Tomsu raises a variety of vegetables, including garlic, using biointensive farming practices. He has been a vendor at the Athens Farmers Market since the 1980s and has been instrumental to its growth. In 2002, Tomsu received the Ohio Small Farmer Award from the Athens Soil and Water Conservation District for the conservation practices on his farm.

2008 Stewardship Award

Stan Gregg, Gregg Farms, Knox Co.

gregg croppedStan Gregg’s agricultural heritage stems from deep roots in Knox County where he and his wife Wilma are the sixth consecutive generation to steward the family plot.  With the exception of three years during service in WWII as a Air Corps pilot, he spent his entire life on Gregg Road tending to diversified crop and livestock operations. Building and incorporating organic matter into the soil, and implementing corn, hay, soybean and small grain rotations with grazing lots for livestock, Gregg became certified organic in 1985. Gregg passed the farm to his son, Randy and wife Nancy, who maintain organic certification on one of Ohio’s first certified organic farms.

2007 Stewardship Award

Molly Bartlett, Silver Creek Farm, Portage Co.
Mick Luber, Bluebird Farm, Harrison Co.

Molly Bartlett croppedMolly Bartlett, and husband Ted, owned Silver Creek Farm, which was first certified organic in 1989. On this 75 acre farm, the Bartletts raised vegetables, blueberries, mushrooms, sheep, and poultry. Farm products were sold to restaurants and grocers, at farmers markets, and through a CSA Bartlett started in 1991. In 2007, the Bartletts retired to Florida and sold their farm to the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, ensuring the land will continue to be farmed sustainably. Bartlett has served as OEFFA’s Board President, helped create the OSU Sustainable Agriculture Team, and served on the advisory committee of USDA SARE’s Sustainable Agriculture Network.

Mick Luber croppedMick Luber of Bluebird Farm raises certified organic vegetables and flowers, specializing in lettuces and garlic. A long-time member of OEFFA, Luber served on OEFFA’s first Board of Directors and as President for two years. He purchased OEFFA’s first computer and published the organization’s first newsletter. He also helped write OEFFA’s first set of organic standards, years before state or federal standards were established. Luber continues to serve as an organic farm inspector.

2006 Stewardship Award

Harv and Pat Roehling, Locust Run Farm, Butler Co.

new harv roehling croppedHarv and Pat Roehling have raised certified organic vegetables on Locust Run Farm since 1987. The Roehlings have been actively involved in OEFFA for more than 20 years. During that time, Harv has served on OEFFA’s Board of Directors as Treasurer, President, and Vice President and Pat served as Secretary. The Roehlings were instrumental in forming OEFFA’s Miami/Oxford Organic Network (MOON) Chapter and Harv continues to serve as the chapter’s president. The Roehlings have led workshops at OEFFA’s conference and hosted farm tours. Additionally, the Roehlings were instrumental in forming the OSU Sustainable Agriculture Team, developing the Center for Small Farms at the Farm Science Review, and served as part of the farmer advisory group for the OFFER program at OSU.  Pat Roehling passed away in 2008.

2005 Stewardship Award

Rex Spray, Spray Farms, Knox Co.

rex spray croppedRex Spray was Ohio’s first certified organic farmer, and an early pioneer for sustainable agriculture, inspiring a whole movement of organic farmers in Ohio. Spray grew certified organic soybeans, corn, wheat, hay, and beef cattle on 680 acres. He also built a bean cleaner and grain cleaner, to prepare and bag beans for tofu, adding to the farm’s profitability. A tireless innovator and one of Ohio’s greatest examples of profitable, sustainable farmers, Rex Spray received the NCR-SARE 2006 Patrick Madden Award. He passed away in December 2011.

2001 Stewardship Award

John Hirzel, Hirzel Farms, Wood Co.

Organic and Non-GMO cleaning Facility at 20790 Bradner Rd.John Hirzel was a firm believer in organic and sustainable cropping systems. He was president of Hirzel Farms, part of Hirzel Canning Company and Farms, from 1963 until his death in 2000. Hirzel began doing organic trials in 1978 and in 1982 he certified 450 acres of the farm. His organic farming grew to 820 acres in 1996, pioneering large-scale organic vegetable production in the state. He was one of the founding farmer advisors of OFFER and an important early supporter of the Agroecosystems Management Program (AMP).