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Hall of Fame Honours Bette and Alex Scott
By John Hollinger, Organic Agriculture Specialist,
Members of Manitoba’s organic community were bursting with pride on July 23, 2004 as Bette and Alex Scott became the first organic farmers to be inducted into the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame. As pioneers of organic farming in Manitoba, Bette and Alex were formally honoured at the Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony at the William Glesby Centre in Portage la Prairie amid family and well-wishers from across the country.
Other members of the distinguished group inducted into the Hall of Fame on the same day were Charles Balmer (founder of Valmar Manufacturing), Bruce Campbell (Landmark Feeds and Elite Swine), Bob Douglas (Manitoba Federation of Agriculture, Camp Wannakumbac), Dr. Daryl Kraft (Agricultural Economics Professor at the University of Manitoba), Marie Salway (public health educator, advocate of rural community programs) and Dr. Leonard Shebeski (former Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Manitoba).
The Scotts were nominated to the Hall by Janine Gibson on behalf of the Organic Food Council of Manitoba, a chapter of the Canadian Organic Growers (of which Janine is President).
The elaborate dedication ceremony before a packed house of 400 onlookers at the Glesby Centre paid tribute to Bette and Alex and the others in recognition of their contributions to agriculture in Manitoba. An excerpt from the program of events explains that, “A common bond ties these individuals – their selflessness. They gave of themselves so that generations to follow would benefit from their accomplishments. These pioneers have created a character for our province and country. Through them, we have reached a maturity of which we, as a diverse culture, can be proud.”
Most of us know Bette and Alex as key members in the founding of the Organic Producers Association of Manitoba (OPAM) in 1988. As organic farmers since 1978, the Scotts recognized the need for an organization that would address the needs of organic producers by certifying products, providing education and developing markets. Bette and Alex have spent countless volunteer hours promoting organic farming through the media, teaching at seminars, serving on virtually every OPAM board position and committee (often more than once), attending conferences, hosting international delegations on their farm, helping to facilitate the training of organic farm inspectors and spending infinite hours on the phone explaining the benefits (and pitfalls) of organic farming to other producers.
There is no doubt that through the efforts of Bette and Alex, Manitoba has arguably the most vibrant organic farming sector in Canada. And despite more than 16 years of being advocates of organic farming, the Scotts continue to play a lead role in the organic community: Alex currently serves as President of OPAM and Bette is a long-serving member of OPAM’s Certification Committee.
Relaxing at an informal reception after the induction ceremony, Bette
and Alex savoured their well-deserved “place in the sun” among
family members and colleagues from the organic community. Alex recalled
the early days of OPAM: those long meetings in the dusty ol’ board
room of the now-defunct Kent Flour Mills; knitting brows with Glen Findlay,
the former Minister of Agriculture, at an OPAM board meeting in Don Heritage’s
machine shop in Virden; printing and sorting papers for hours to get out
the next issue of the “Organic Voice” newsletter.
Having worked with Bette and Alex on organic issues for many years now, I am proud and privileged to call them my friends, and I am certain beyond any doubt that Manitoba’s organic industry would not be on the solid, progressive footing that it is today without the tireless efforts of these fine people.
Congratulations to you both, Bette and Alex, and we all wish you many more organic crops!!!
© 2012, Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada (OACC)