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Organic growers named Saskatchewan Outstanding Young Farmers

Organic growers from Wood Mountain are the 2022 Saskatchewan Outstanding Young Farmers.

Cody Straza and Allison Squires own and operate a mixed cattle and certified organic grain farm along with their three boys, Declan, Gavin and Caden.

Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers Program (COYF) is a program that recognizes farmers and farm couples who exemplify excellence in their profession and promote their contribution to agriculture.

The program is open to farmers under the age of 40 who derive at least two-thirds of their income from farming operations.

Squires said they were shocked when their names were called.

“You saw the other nominees’ presentations. We’ve been very fortunate to spend the last couple of days with them and learn more about them,” she said. “They’re in a lot of ways much further ahead, especially in the cattle side.”

Upland Organics only recently added cattle to their operation. Straza said they felt it was a good fit with the grain farm.

“The two operations are very complementary in time and resources and by grazing the cattle on our cover crops, we’re getting a benefit for the cattle, but we’re also regenerating our land as well. It’s diversifying your revenue streams reducing risk. There’s lots of benefits,” he said.

The couple felt spending time with the other nominees and OYF alumni was also a benefit because of the diverse nature of each enterprise. It was also a very experienced group they could talk to and draw from.

Straza said they were nominated for OYF once before and said they discovered they needed to do a better job of promoting themselves.

“Last time we were maybe a little more humble in our application and our presentations. We kind of put ourselves out there a little bit more this time. We’ve got more experience for what we did with the cattle,” he said.

Straza and Squires will need to clear some shelf space for their recent awards. Upland Organics have also been recognized by provincial and national organics organizations.

Squires said organic growers are a very tight-knit group that is very supportive of one another.

“When we’re being nominated for the organic awards, receiving them, we really value that feedback from our particular sector in agriculture and it’s a huge honour,” Squires said. “Both awards were very unexpected for us.”

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