The Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) celebrated the efforts of individuals who help to support and promote the industry during the 31st annual gala and awards ceremony.
More than two hundred people from across the industry gathered in person for the first time in two years at the Blue Mountain Village Conference Centre on November 18.
Gord Watson from Sobeys received the OPMA Fresh Award, presented to an individual who demonstrates a fervent determination to improve the quality, distribution or consumption of fruits and vegetables marketed within or outside of Ontario during 2022. He was recognized for his dedication to innovation and sustainability.
Jane Ryno from Nature Fresh Farms was recognized with the Cory Clack-Streef Produce Person of the Year Award, which recognizes individuals who work tirelessly to improve the consumption of fruits and vegetables through innovation and hard work. The 2022 award went to Ryno for her dedication to mentoring the next generation and spearheading marketing initiatives at the organizations with whom she has worked.
The Berry Growers of Ontario received the OPMA Outstanding Achievement Award, presented to an individual or organization 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. The organization has worked tirelessly to improve the growing and marketing of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries in Ontario. BGO has an active online presence to ensure that consumers are aware of the year-long availability of Ontario berries.
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Lisa Thompson, who spoke virtually, extended her thanks and congratulations to the winners. “Congratulations to all of the award recipients this year. I appreciate your hard work and dedication in marketing nutritious Ontario produce. Ontarians are looking for and choosing fresh fruits and vegetables grown right here at home. Your marketing efforts are making a difference in creating a greater awareness of Ontario produce and are also driving a sense of pride in our provincial agri-food industry.”
The Produce Hero award is presented to a group of individuals who embody the passion of the produce industry in their everyday work. It was awarded to seven individuals and companies: Vince Filangeri from Mastronardi Produce; Chris Veillon from Pure Flavor; Jody Mott from the Holland Marsh Grower’s Association; Madison Hopper from Equifruit; Michael Wexler from Oppy; Stephanie Myles from Nature Fresh Farms; and the Asparagus Farmers of Ontario.
Paul Mastronardi from Mastronardi Produce was honoured with the OPMA Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to an individual who has dedicated many years of their life to improving the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. He was recognized for his lifelong commitment to shaping and innovating the produce industry. His company celebrated their 13th year in a row as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies.