Apple grower featured in Faces of Farming calendar

She was the winner of the Golden Apple Award for industry service and leadership at the 2011 OFVGA annual meeting. Now, in 2012, Cathy McKay will also be a calendar model.

She is the first-ever apple grower to be featured in the popular Faces of Farming calendar, produced annually to promote awareness of food and farming in Ontario. Thirteen Ontario farmers or farm families are featured in the calendar every year, nominated by the project’s sponsoring organizations.

The ultimate selection of models rests with project manager Kelly Daynard, who looks for diversity in geography and commodities, as well as fascinating stories that will resonate with Ontario’s consumers. That’s where McKay was a natural fit.

“Cathy’s is an inspiring story of an innovative farmer who started off with a part time job that turned into a life-long passion,” says Daynard, Communications Manager with AGCare and the Ontario Farm Animal Council (OFAC).

McKay, along with her husband, manages a 35-acre apple orchard near Port Perry. A summer job working in apple orchards after completing her undergraduate degree in Environmental Biology set McKay on her way in the apple industry. Thirty-two years later, her orchard business includes both wholesale and retail markets, and she also offers an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) scouting service to farmers in Durham and Northumberland.

McKay’s also actively involved in many industry organizations. This includes serving on the Ontario Apple Growers board, the Ontario Pesticide Advisory Committee, the Ontario Horticultural Council Food Safety Management Committee and the Okanagan Plant Improvement Board. She also writes a newsletter for apple growers in her area, which is published weekly during the growing season.

The Faces of Farming calendar was originally launched in 2002 by Ontario Pork and then expanded to include other livestock, crop and horticulture commodities when OFAC (now Farm & Food Care) assumed the project several years later. This year’s calendar is produced by the Farm Care Foundation, a newly launched charitable organization affiliated with OFAC and AGCare that is focused on building public trust and confidence in food and farming.

“The calendar keeps expanding to include new commodities and new sectors every year and we’re excited to have the OFVGA participate in the calendar this year for the first time,” says Daynard. “Horticulture is such a large part of Ontario agriculture that is great see it be part of this project.”

The hallmark of the award-winning calendar is its striking black and white photography, inspired by popular calendars featuring firefighters. The goal of the project is to tell the story of Ontario’s farmers and to shatter common misconceptions Ontarians may have about food and farming. Every year, the calendar garners widespread media coverage across the province, including radio, television and in newspapers such as the Toronto Star, the London Free Press and others.

Seven thousand calendars will be printed this year, with copies being distributed to politicians at all three Ontario levels of government as well as to thousands of media, grocery stores, restaurants and butcher shops. They’ll also be for sale at most TSC store locations across Ontario, through the AGCare/OFAC office in Guelph, and online at www.ofac.org.

Note: This article has also been published in the November 2011 issue of The Grower.

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