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Organic HeroesCelebrating the Organic Sector on the Prairies

Pioneer Organic Educator & Pioneer Organic Publisher (Wilma not pictured)Gary S. & Wilma G.

Honoured at Organic Connections 2006

Gary and Wilma have been key resource people since the 1980’s, informing and educating both face to face and in their work as publishers and editors. From 1989 to 1995 Gary edited and Wilma published Synergy Magazine, as well as Agro-Alternatives: Alternate Farming Methods to Lower Input Costs. At a time when there were few formal sources of information for new organic producers these were valuable resources. Gary was also one of the first organic inspectors and a long time instructor with SIAST, developing the first actual course on organic production. In 2000 they edited SOD’s first Organic Farming on the Prairies, a production manual that has been used in classrooms as well as on many individual farms across the prairies.

Organic PioneerRay Bauml

Honoured at Organic Connections 2004

Ray converted to organic in 1987, and it became a passion for him. When he was joined by his nephew, the farm supported 5 families. He was an innovative producer, never afraid to try new crops. He was pivotal in establishing the organic producer/certifier group OCIA chapter 5, often referred to as the Marysburg chapter as well as an important marketing cooperative for organic grain. Ray was an example and a mentor to many, from local farmers to people who became leaders in the organic community. Although he would not accept the term “expert”, he embodied the very spirit of organic, sharing freely with the organic community. He was gentle and encouraging, wise and practical, and he always had a twinkle in his eye. 

Honoured at Organic Connections 2016

McBride D and D 2 SMALLERDon and Donna Kizlyk operate D&D Market Garden, a small certified organic market garden located in the Wadena–Kelvington area, 220 km east of Saskatoon. After they married, they worked in Regina for several years and moved to the farm in April, 1989. They had been travelling back and forth every weekend and found they liked being on the farm far more than living in the city.

They started growing vegetables in 1995 and became certified with the OCIA Chapter 5 in 2001 and transferred to TCO Cert in 2015. They grow about 12 acres of vegetables while the rest of the 480 acres are in wild hay and wild life habitat.

Don and Donna have been very active in the organic community for many years. They have been board members of Chapter 5 since 1998, hosting a number of board meetings for chapter 5 and 3, as well as organizing crop tours for local chapters. Don and Donna are members of the North East Local Food Association, as well as the Saskatchewan Vegetable Growers Association. Don was involved with Dining with the Stars events in 2010 and 2011. He was the SOD Board Executive as both chapter representative and president. Don has spoken at various events, tradeshows and conferences over the years. He has held various positions on the local Chapter 5 board. Donna has sat on the board of OCIA Canada R&E, and she is currently on the board of The Farmers’ Table. Donna has volunteered at the Organic Connections Conference in the past, and still volunteers at Chapter 5 meetings. In addition, they both are continuously promoting local and organic food to grocery stores, restaurants, and the general population.

Don and Donna believe in a live and let live philosophy. Don plants things where they want to grow, as he doesn't believe in forcing things. Nothing goes into the garden but seeds, labour and his loving care. The plants grow to maturity in the soil, under Don's watchful eye. He knows each row of vegetables intimately. Don loves to grow plants, and consequently he is very hands-on and personal with his garden. Don is also extremely inventive and has made many small, automated pieces of machinery from unrelated pieces of equipment. These inventions take most of the back breaking labour out of looking after their gardens. Don and Donna are also very community minded, donating vegetables and their time to many local groups.

They have really enjoyed their time on the farm and plan to garden together full-time once they retire.

Organic Pioneer

Honoured at Organic Connections 2004Neil Strayer

Neil began farming organically with 1,000 acres near Belle Plaine in 1978. He was an industry builder, travelling all over Saskatchewan to promote organic farming, and the benefits of sweet clover.  He formed Growers International in 1985, providing marketing, organic certification and agronomic advice to organic farmers. He negotiated the first farmer directed sale with the CWB, recognizing organic techniques as a distinct production methodology. Neil took an active role in establishing and maintaining domestic and international markets, connecting growers and adding value to their efforts by marketing high quality organic grain. Neil was also a founding member of Bioriginal, an industry leader in organic flax oil and other health products.