Last week Bayer recognized their 2016 winners at the AgVocacy Forum in New Orleans. Tyler Wegmeyer of Wegmeyer Farms in Virginia was honored with the Young Famer Sustainability Award. The Produce Innovation Award was given to Amy Machamer and Hurd Orchards from New York.
“We are proud to recognize two farmers who are committed to modern, sustainable agriculture and focused on strengthening the public’s connection with agriculture,” said Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP. “It’s an honor to work alongside people who are so passionate about their profession and dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others.”
Wegmeyer Farms, owned and operated by Tyler and Harriet Wegmeyer, grows traditional foods like strawberries, pumpkins and approximately 30 other specialty crops in addition to corn, soybeans and wheat, but the path to making this a successful operation is anything but traditional. His story begins on a dairy farm in Michigan and takes a turn into Washington D.C. where he worked for both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, as well as the American Farm Bureau Federation. His background has proven to him how important “AgVocacy” can be in creating public policy.
“I don’t take for granted how fortunate I am to be able to engage people,” Wegmeyer said in his speech in New Orleans. “People come to our farm and have that exposure to agriculture once, maybe twice a year. I’m able to engage with them, we’re able to engage with them, on a personal level. I don’t have a lot of land, but my foot print to expose people to agriculture I think is quite large, and the same goes for the other 7 percent that are involved in [direct market] agriculture. I think its that type of agriculture we need to put more resources in and get an understanding of ‘that’s how we tell our story.’ Its through these types of farms.”
You can hear more about Tyler in his acceptance speech: [wpaudio url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/zimmcomm/bayer-award-wegmeyer.mp3″ text=”Tyler Wegmeyer, Young Farmer Sustainability Winner”]
Amy Machamer and her mother, Susan Hurd Machamer are sixth and seventh generation farmers on their fruit orchard in Holley, New York. You can find apples, sweet and sour cherries, peaches, nectarines, pears and other fruit on this 200-year-old farm. The demand for fresh fruit has risen as consumers become more health conscious, giving them access to a large number of people and making Hunt Orchards the kind of farm worthy of the Produce Innovation Award.
“We have a saying on our farm, that there are many versions of beautiful. And I would add, there are many versions of wonderful in agriculture. It is our privilege on our farm to continue to try to inspire people by sharing our version of agriculture in all its many colors and textures and rich fabric as authentically, as genuinely, as profoundly as we can,” Machamer says of her operation.
You can listen to Amy’s acceptance remarks here: [wpaudio url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/zimmcomm/bayer-award-machamer.mp3″ text=”Amy Machamer, Produce Innovation Winner”]