Congratulations to all the award winners at the November 11 Ontario Produce Marketing Association Gala. About 600 guests were on hand for the ceremonies at Vaughan’s Universal Event Space. The OPMA Fresh Award was presented to Nick Van Berlo, a second-generation farmer who has helped put sweet potatoes on the tables of 7.5 million consumers this past Thanksgiving. The OPMA Outstanding Achievement Award was won by Farm Boy, one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies with a string of 17 stores in eastern Ontario which carry artisanal products as well as local beer and wine.
The OPMA Cory-Clack Streef Produce Person of the Year was awarded to Jason Verkaik, currently chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association. The onion and carrot grower from the Holland Marsh has built bridges between country and city, with media interviews and lobbying efforts with provincial and federal politicians. He is a staunch supporter of the Northern School Fruit and Vegetable Program and the Fresh from the Farm fundraising program.
OPMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Seymour Weinstein who has spent 62 years at the Ontario Food Terminal. He started with apples in 1954 and turned to melons in 1969. He pioneered bins in the marketplace as well as lobbied for Ontario laws that allowed trucks with perishable produce to move on Sundays.