Spotlight on Agriculture awards held at LEX grounds

By Lindsay Advocate

Excellence in Agriculture award winners. Photo courtesy of Sugar Bug Photography.

A successful celebration was held with over 450 guests at the Kawartha Lakes Spotlight on Agriculture Gala and Awards event held last week in the Commonwell Exhibition building at the LEX Grounds

The evening was a collaborative social event to celebrate the strength, stamina, and success of everything agriculture and food in Kawartha Lakes, according to a media release.  Bringing together local leaders, entrepreneurs, businesses and hard-working farmers for an evening of fun, food, and entertainment was a welcome change from chores, work, and virtual meetings. The building was transformed into a semi-formal room with a welcoming atmosphere, where a sold-out crowd enjoyed entertainment, a live auction with award-winning auctioneer Ab Carroll, and paused to recognize some bright lights in our agri-food community.

This year featured:

  • Guest Speaker – ‘Agvocating in the Senate’, the Honourable Rob Black
  • Farm Family Award – The deVos Family
  • Excellence in Agriculture Award – Simcoe Street Meat Packers
  • Milestone Recognition Program – The Batty Family recognizing 150 and 200 years farming
  • Agriculture Leadership Scholarship – Allison Brown

The deVos family have farmed northeast of Manilla in Kawartha Lakes since the mid-1950s as an ever growing dairy and cash crop farm now encompassing 1200 acres of corn, wheat, beans, and forages, plus 165 Holstein cows.  With over 10 family households within a two km radius of the home farm, there are upwards of 20 family members that are active in the farming operation when called upon. While Jack and Erkie deVos started the farm with their family of six boys, son number four, John and his wife Fern deVos currently lead the family farm business. Their operation also includes a 30 cow beef herd and some chickens, and most recently expanded to open Vosbrae Dairy, an on-farm cow, goat, and sheep milk cheese processing plant.  The farm is well known to many as they often host public events at the farm such at the Twilight Meeting, forage days, barn open houses, and Kawartha Farmfest.

Simcoe Street Meats Packers are a provincially inspected abattoir located just north of Manilla, Ontario in the City of Kawartha Lakes. Purchased by his father in 2003, Wahab Zamani has since taken over the operations. Simcoe Street provides custom slaughter and processing of beef, veal, and lamb as well as purchasing directly from local farms to supply a number of independent butchers as well as their own two retail outlets in North York and Newmarket, with local product. 

Simcoe Street Meat Packers are also partners in the ownership of Farmers Butcher Shop in Lindsay with Matt Devries, which they opened to complete the full local supply loop within the community. Wahab points to a key aspect of his success in that he has about 20 local farmers on speed-dial on his phone, whom he can call up to arrange for purchase of product. They have built these relationships over the years. The farmers know what he is looking for, and he knows where to get the right animals to meet a variety of different markets, each with their own preferences. Their slogan is reflected in the comments from their customers. They can “Trust the Processing”; they know it’s done locally and with knowledge of where the meats came from. Wahab appreciates that people are looking to support local, and he can directly provide that local product.

“Our committee of dedicated volunteers are extremely grateful for the generous support of our community to provide the means to offer a gathering to celebrate all that our CKL farmers, local agri-businesses, organizations and individuals do every day,” says Robin Brown, farmer and Spotlight on Agriculture Committee Chair. 

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