SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Horizon Organic presented two prestigious awards to New York farmers during the Sept. 21 Farm Aid concert in Saratoga Springs.
Chuck and Julia Deichmann of Belmont, N.Y., received the 2013 HOPE Award for their advocacy of organic farming.
Also, Jeffrey and Sharon Sheen of Gouverneur, N.Y., won the National Quality Award for the second time. This award is presented to the farm that produces the best milk in the entire Horizon milk supply.
In addition, Andrew Batdorf of McVeytown, Pa., was recognized for a third time with a HOPE Award Honorable Mention, while Jim and Rick Davis of New Sharon, Maine, earned their first honorable mention.
Chuck Deichmann has done a great deal of work on behalf of organic farming at local, state and national levels, including presentations to U.S. policymakers in Washington.
He said Farm Aid is a great way to promote this type of agriculture.
“It’s exposure to the world,” Deichmann said. “This is a big, highly publicized event. Everybody coming here learns about what’s going on with family farms.”
A crowd of 25,000 people attended the event, which lasted nearly 12 hours at Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
The Deichmanns have shipped milk to Horizon since 2000. They are the first organic dairy farm in the country to install robotic milkers. The family also helped establish the organic dairy farming community in western New York.
During the year, they host field days, pasture walks and school tours on their 365-acre Willow Creek Farm to educate people about organic agriculture and sustainable practices. Chuck Deichmann regularly speaks at organic conferences and was on a planning committee for the Alfred State College Sustainable Agriculture Program from 2006-11.
Julia Deichmann is also an advocate for healthy eating habits for children as a first-grade teacher in her community and within the organic industry.
“It’s great to produce a product that we feel really good about and that consumers want,” Chuck Deichmann said.
The Sheen family also won the National Quality Award in 2011. They milk 45 Holsteins on their 343-acre farm.
Sharon Sheen grew up on a dairy farm, but neither she nor Jeff had milked a cow before starting their own St. Lawrence County farm 18 years ago, with 30 cows.
“We learned by trial and error and asked a lot of questions,” Jeff Sheen said.
Transitioning to organic in 2004 contributed greatly to their success, he said.
To be considered for the National Quality Award, farmers must ship to the company for one full year and the average test results must be among the best in their state.
Horizon, founded in 1991, works with a network of more than 600 active and transitioning family farmers throughout the U.S.