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Healthy Planet named organic retailer of the year at Canada Organic Trade Association awards gala

Healthy Planet has been named Organic Retailer of the Year by the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA).

The recognition was part of COTA’s annual 2024 Organic Leadership Awards and evening gala, which recognizes pioneers and visionaries of the organic industry.

“We are honoured and grateful to receive this esteemed recognition from the Canada Organic Trade Association,” said Monica Walker, head of food and grocery at Healthy Planet. “This award is a testament to the dedication of our team and our commitment to providing customers with high-quality organic options while championing innovation.”

Healthy Planet has rapidly expanded its footprint in Ontario, with 35 stores currently and plans to add six more locations in 2024, with the newest location opening in Etobicoke in March. In line with Healthy Planet’s dedication to supporting communities in Canada, the stores feature a curated selection of products, ranging from vitamins and supplements to organic foods and natural beauty essentials. Customers also have the opportunity to consult with in-store nutritionists, who offer personalized advice and guidance to help individuals achieve their wellness goals. Under Walker’s leadership, the company has transformed into a full-scale grocer, offering a wide range of organic and natural products, including fresh, frozen, and pantry items.

Attendees gathered to applaud achievements, indulge in local cuisine, and honour industry members driving innovation in the sector. It marks the ninth consecutive year that COTA has celebrated the awards.

“Every year, we eagerly anticipate the opportunity to pay tribute to the remarkable organic leaders who have significantly advanced the organic sector. We take immense pride in acknowledging these trailblazers and draw inspiration from their unwavering commitment to organic progress. Their achievements are truly worth celebrating,” said Tia Loftsgard, executive director of COTA.

Salt Spring Coffee was honoured with the Organic Champion of the Year award. The company was founded on Salt Spring Island in 1996 by Mickey McLeod and Robbyn Scott.

“I’m honoured to be recognized for the years we’ve dedicated to the organic movement at Salt Spring Coffee. Our commitment to maintaining organic and fairtrade partnerships with coffee producers is central to our business and our values,” said Mickey McLeod, CEO and founder at Salt Spring Coffee.

Barentz won the organic supplier of the year award. A leading global life science ingredients distributor, the company was recognized for its dedication to supporting the organic sector in Canada.

“Barentz is honoured to be recognized by the organic sector in Canada as a leading organic supplier. This recognition not only acknowledges Barentz’ efforts but showcases our commitment for continued support in education and research for organics in Canada,” said Mike Emrich, president of human nutrition in North America.

Derek Lynch, PhD, PAg was recognized for his outstanding leadership in organic science. Lynch, a professor of Agronomy and Agroecology at Dalhousie University, Faculty of Agriculture, received this award for his two-decade-long research tackling production challenges for organic producers.

“I am very honoured to have been nominated for and to receive this award from the Canada Organic Trade Association. It has been my privilege to undertake research, often directly on organic farms, to document the sustainability of this branded low-input farming system,” said Lynch.

“It was such an honour to attend COTA’s Organic Gala and Leadership Awards. I was so happy and honoured to receive the Organic Retailer of the Year Award on behalf of Healthy Planet,” said Monica Walker, head of food and grocery.

Greenhouse was named organic innovator of the year at Greenhouse for its work in the beverage sector.

“Greenhouse’s commitment to organic has been foundational to our values, rooted in the inextricable connection between the health of our customers and the planet,” said Emma Knight, Hana James and Anthony Green, Greenhouse co-founders.

Prairie Heritage Seeds Inc. – PHS Organics, a third-generation family-owned agricultural company, received the organic farming award for its dedication to sustainable and transparent organic farming practices.

“Receiving this award and joining the esteemed company of past recipients is truly an honor.” said Alex Galarneau, Prairie Heritage Seeds Inc.

Member of Parliament Alistair MacGregor was honored with the organic supporter of the year award for his strong support for the organic sector and his advocacy for a bold Canada Organic Action Plan.

“This award is an incredible honour for me, and I look forward to many more years of collaboration with Canada’s Organic Sector.” said Alistair MacGregor, MP in Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, British Columbia.

Margaret Coons, founder and CEO of Nuts For Cheese, received an Organic Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Leader of the Year Award for the company’s dedication to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the organic sector.

“I am honoured to receive the 2024 COTA Organic JEDI Award! Diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the heart of all that we do at Nuts For Cheese,” said Margaret Coons, CEO and founder of Nuts For Cheese.

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