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In 2024, the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame (OAHF) will induct six leaders who have positively influenced Ontario agriculture and beyond.


The successful nominees for induction include:


-  Bert Andrews

-  Ron Bonnett

-  Bill Gray

-  Grant Howes

-  Verner Toews

-  Tina Widowski


All have all been selected by the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame Association as worthy candidates based on their life-long commitments to Ontario’s agriculture.


The inductees will be recognized in a ceremony on June 9, bringing the total number of inductees recognized since 1980 to 262. To qualify for this prestigious recognition, inductees must have shown visionary leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship and have demonstrated a lasting legacy to Ontario agriculture through their careers.


Inductees for 2024 include:


Bert Andrews (1943 - )


Bert Andrews has devoted his life to agriculture, education and community. As a board member of Fruit Wines of Ontario, he was successful in advocating for the sale of Ontario fruit wines at provincial farmers’ markets. He also led research and worked with the Halton Federation of Agriculture, Halton Agricultural Advisory Committee and MPAC to ensure farm values were based on farmer-to-farmer sales (and not at development-based values). This successful campaign raised significant awareness to farm values and brought fairness to the assessment process.


As the owner/operator of Andrews Scenic Acres, he was a leader in agriculture and food education. Annually, the business hosted more than 15,000 students and approximately 60,000 visitors. It also provided the University of Guelph with space for test plots for blueberries, strawberries and raspberries to advance varieties and pest control. His commitment to the farming community also resulted in him serving in leadership roles with the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association, Ontario Berry Growers, Farmers Markets Ontario and Country Heritage Park, among others.


Grant Howes (1956 – 2017)


Grant Howes was a visionary leader in apple growing and specifically cider production,

pioneering innovative practices and technologies in developing cider orchards that enhanced productivity and sustainability within the industry. Grant was a vocal advocate for Ontario apple growing at the local and provincial levels. As the craft cider sector grew in Ontario, Grant was a mentor to many always willing to share ideas and work with new cideries. His initiatives also helped Ontario cider apple farmers adopt more environmentally friendly farming techniques. His commitment to collaboration was also a driver for the establishment of the Ontario Craft Cider Association of which he was a founding member. Grant was also a founding member of Fruit Wines of Ontario, and Prince Edward County Winegrowers’ Association.


Verner Towes (1937 – 2023)


Verner Toews was a lifelong vegetable farmer who was involved in the initial efforts of crafting and participating in pricing negotiations with processors. Additionally, he was one of the first greenhouse growers in Ontario, paving the way for a sector which has grown and developed greatly over the past 60 years.


As chair of the Essex County Associated Growers, Vern travelled the province promoting the benefits of greenhouse-grown produce. The result of his efforts was the establishment of what is now called Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers. His tenure also included multi-term positions as director on the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association and with Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers.

Throughout the industry, Verner is recognized for his contributions made to negotiating fair prices with processors, developing Ontario’s greenhouse marketing board to protect pricing for producers, his work in advocating and developing federal initiatives such as the Temporary Foreign Worker program and tax incentives for donated foods. Verner Toews is nominated by the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers’ Association.


Source:  Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame February 5, 2024 news release


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Submitted by Karen Davidson on 5 February 2024