The Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) held its 27th Annual Gala and Awards ceremony November 9-10 to honour industry members and their initiatives to promote the produce industry in the province.
Five hundred people from across Ontario gathered together to celebrate the achievements of five award winners.
The 2018 Cory Clack-Streef Produce Person of the Year Award went to Carl Mastronardi from Del Fresco Pure. The award recognizes individuals who improve the consumption of fruits and vegetables through innovation and hard work. Carl was recognized for his outstanding work developing and expanding the Ontario greenhouse strawberry industry The full lighting systems and large expansion led by Carl mean high quality, locally grown strawberries can be available in Ontario 10 months of the year.
The 2018 OPMA Fresh Award, presented to a young individual who demonstrates a fervent determination to improve the quality, distribution or consumption of fruits and vegetables marketed within or outside of Ontario, went to Phil Burkholder of Rouge River Farms.
“These two award winners represent the future of the Ontario produce industry,” said OPMA president Michelle Broom. “Their innovative approach and determination provide inspiration for the entire industry to strive for continuous improvement.”
The OPMA Outstanding Achievement award is presented to an individual or organization, individual retail stores, that has demonstrated an outstanding contribution to the produce industry through their efforts to improve the quality and distribution of fruits and vegetables marketed within or outside the province of Ontario. This year the award went to Ken Lyons from Blue Mountain Fruit Company for his foresight and dedication in establishing the Red Prince apple as a high value product for the Ontario produce industry.
The OPMA Lifetime Achievement Award went to Ron Webb, who previously worked at Dole, and Lewis Collins, who previously worked at Stronach and Sons before retiring. The award recognizes individuals who have dedicated many years to improving the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
“The OPMA Lifetime Achievement Award acknowledges individuals who have helped shape the world-class produce industry we have today in Ontario,” said OPMA chair Joe Dutchyn. “I congratulate both Ron and Lewis and thank them for their life-long contribution to our industry.”