WINCHSTER – The region’s farming community celebrated some of their best at this year’s Dundas Farmers Agricultural Hall of Fame Induction and Charity Gala, Sat., April 6.

Highlighting the evening was the honouring of Gordon Garlough, Dianne Harkin and Gordon Smith, the second crop of inductees to the hall.

Two years ago, at the inaugural Hall of Fame gala, the inductees were Alvin Runnalls, Martin Schneckenburger, and Gordon and Marilyn Johnson.

Jackie Pemberton, a director with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, introduced this year’s recipients.

For Garlough, Pemberton, quoted past president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture Ron Bonnet who said, “Some of the major initiatives and policies that were designed and implemented were a direct result of Gordon’s keen business acumen, knowledge and strategic approach to agriculture. Some specific initiatives, policies ranging from post-Walkerton concerns about agriculture and water quality issues, refinement and improvement of the Ontario Farm Planning initiative, nutrient management and source water protection policies and agricultural environmental responsibilities. And as a result of the tremendous impactful work that Mr. Garlough has created, many of the initiatives have provided a baseline for regulations and standards not only in Ontario but copied to other provinces as a result of their positive impact on agriculture.”

The 2019 inductees in the Dundas Farmers Hall of Fame: Gordon Garlough (left), Dianne Harkin and Gordon Smith. Morin Photo

After receiving his award, Garlough paid tribute to Martin Schneckenburger who he feels was instrumental in steering him toward agricultural politics in the 1970s.

“Martin encouraged me to get involved in the federation of agriculture when I started farming at home with my brother,” he said. “He took me to my first convention, which was at Hamilton at the time.”

Garlough added. “Martin was a new Canadian and new farmer in our area, and even at that time Martin was both a leader himself and showed leadership and support for the rest of the community.”

He said he always looked up to Schneckenburger.

Then Pemberton introduced the next inductee, Smith. She said, “Gordon is always ready and willing to support an event or committee in moving things forward. He continues this even today with attending events, helping setup, tear down, gives presentations whenever he is called upon from seed shows, ag in classroom, and breakfast on the farm. Whether talking about tractor safety or grain flow safety or participating in first aid courses, Gordon is a stellar example of dedication to an industry he is passionate about.”

Smith remembered that when he was told he was being considered for the award he had to sit down and provide some information. One of the questions that came up was where did he find the time to run his farm and help out in the community.

“I had time to farm because my wife Margaret would keep things going while I attended meetings,” he said.

He added that his two sons, Neil and Jeffrey, were there to hold the fort when they were old enough. Wilson said another crucial reason he had time to do other things was that he had great part-time help.

Smith remembered when people would ask him to join this or that committee. To laughter from the audience he said, “They would say it will only be a few meetings, surely you can squeeze that in. It will be just a few extra minutes or hours to help out.”

He said he never regretted the time he gave to his community.

Lastly Pemberton introduced the final 2019 inductee, Harkin.

Of Harkin she said, “Dianne was one of the first recipients of the Order of Ontario for her work with farm and rural women. She sat on the Canadian Advisory Council for two terms. She has received an honourary professional Agrologists degree from the university of Guelph along with many other awards. Dianne travelled to China as part of a Canadian delegation when China first opened its borders and reciprocated with a women delegation coming to Winchester.”

She added, “It is very clear that Dianne Harkin checked all of the boxes that define leadership and in her effort to establish equality for women in agriculture she has paved the way for many of us women farming today.”

With her chance to speak Harkin was clear, “Nothing of value is accomplished in isolation.”

She suggested that change takes place when many people become involved in an issue.

“I want to thank my family,” Harkin said, “They always were there when I needed them.”

She finished off her remarks by telling the audience at the gala that Dundas has some of the finest farmers in the country.

“Working with them has been a privilege and an education,” she said. “I am grateful for all of the experience and participation of all these farmers who worked with me. I think the farmers in our society do not get all the respect they deserve.”

With those final comments she received a standing ovation from the 300 plus people in attendance.

Following the link – http://www.dundasagriculture.com/ – for more on the Dundas Agricultural Hall of Fame.