Honoured at Organic Connections 2022
Will Oddie has been an organic champion since switching to organic production in 1989. With his total commitment to the organic movement, Will has worked tirelessly to increase the profile of organic production and lent his efforts to several organic organizations in Saskatchewan, Canada and internationally. A long-time proponent of the benefits of farmers sharing their knowledge, Will continues to support organic farmer education by organizing seminars, webinars, workshops, and field days. He is also strong supporter of dedicated and applied organic research.
Will’s understanding that strong organizations are the backbone of a strong community is reflected in his many decades of volunteerism in the organic industry. Even before becoming certified in 1991, Will became a founding member of the OCIA SK Chapter 4 (now TCO Cert Chapter 4), a commitment continuing to the present day. Will served in multiple executive and committee positions (President, Secretary and Treasurer) and currently serves as Secretary of the Chapter. Will is a firm believer that TCO meetings, with their educational component, give farmers a chance to share valuable information, critical to the improvement of the industry.
In the 1990s, Will served on the Executive of OCIA International and when it changed to a Board Structure, he served on the Board for two years (early 2000s), serving one year as Chair of the organization. Will is very grateful for the other organic heroes, and those yet to be named, who worked tirelessly with him on that Board.
In 1998, Will was involved in the creation of the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD) and served a two-year term as President. When Sask Organics was formed in 2015, Will served on the inaugural Board of Directors as Treasurer and later as President. Will is currently the Board Secretary and Chair of the Education & Research Committee. Will has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to strengthening organic organizations over the past three decades.
Will has been an organic farmer for over 30 years and his commitment to continuous learning and sharing his knowledge are reflected in willingness to undertake on farm research projects. This illustrates his understanding of the importance of farmer engagement in developing tools to meet the agronomic challenges and to help ensure the sustainability, resiliency, and profitability of their operations. Will and his wife Elaine have also hosted field days on their farm, where he not only shares the results from his own on farm research but puts together a full program including presentations from researchers, technicians, provincial government specialists and equipment demonstrations, providing an information-rich program with the best of hospitality.
Will is passionate about the need for good applied organic research and for the need to get research results out to organic producers, in a format easily applicable at the farm level. He has been instrumental in the early development of Sask Organics education program and is constantly looking for new and different ways to get the agronomic word out, especially to farmers who may not be attending the workshops, field days and conferences.
Will is driven by the notion that the organic industry cannot rest on its laurels - that organic production needs to move beyond mere elimination of prohibited products. Will believes that real progress for organics will involve a much greater emphasis on advancing soil health with its subsequent improvement in food nutrition and ongoing farm profitability.
Will is a natural mentor. A willingness to learn and to ‘have a go’ are important attributes for folks working with him on his farm – something his kids and grandkids will also attest to. Will is generous with his many skills – from wood working to farm machinery repairs – and patient with his mentees providing them with the support they need to successfully complete any task he asks of them, leaving them with a sense of accomplishment as well as a new skill set. A strong family man, Will is also a much-loved husband, father and a grandfather of nine.