Connecticut Agriculture Day Recognizes 2021 Outstanding Young Farmer and Ag Journalism Award Winners
The Connecticut Agricultural Information Council (CAIC) and Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg) celebrated National Agriculture Day on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, with a virtual ceremony to announce the state’s 2021 Outstanding Young Farmer and Ag Journalism Award winners.
Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt welcomed attendees by highlighting the importance of agriculture, especially over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everyone in agriculture worked together over the past year to ensure we come out stronger in the end,” said Commissioner Hurlburt. “Our celebration of National Ag Week started on Monday with the reveal of the refreshed CT Grown brand and marketing campaign. Today, we acknowledge the next generation of farmers stepping up to lead the industry and recognize our media partners who helped shine a light on the essential work of our agricultural producers with their innovation and resilience.”
The 2021 Connecticut Outstanding Young Farmer award was presented to Suzie Flores, a former market development executive who owns and operates Stonington Kelp Co. with her husband Jay and three children. The vision for the farm began five years ago in 2016 and the following year was up and running through a partnership with GreenWave, a non-profit dedicated to supporting the next generation of ocean farmers. Today, the farm is one of the largest commercial seaweed farms in the state selling food grade sugar kelp to local restaurants and shops.
Sugar kelp is the only variety of seaweed that can be legally grown in Connecticut and has a slightly sweeter flavor. While the nutritional benefits of sugar kelp are well known, the positive role this native sea vegetable can have on the environment is what really drives Flores. Her farming methods highlight the importance of regenerative and sustainable farming for the ocean. Sugar kelp absorbs carbon and nitrogen from the water while it grows, directly addressing climate change and mitigating the impacts of ocean acidification.
The Agricultural Journalism awards recognize outstanding coverage of Connecticut agriculture by the news media for stories published in 2020. More than one dozen nominations were received and reviewed. Upon review the selection committee recognized the following four entries for their outstanding work:
- Cate Hewitt, CT Examiner, “The Future of Farming”
- Jim Altman & Sean McKeever, Fox 61, “COVID-19 won’t stop tradition at Pumpkintown”
- Ken Dixon, CT Post, “Scientists Doing Work with Duct Tape and Paper Clips”
- Brendan Crowley, CT Examiner, “Small Farms in Lyme and East Haddam are Building Barns and Moving Online”
Additionally, the program recognized the 2020 Outstanding Young Farmer, Jimmy Bloom of Norm Bloom & Son and the 2020 Century Farm of the Year, Fish & Kent Farm in Suffield, CT. Both were officially honored during the virtual 2020 Plant Science Day after the cancellation of the 2020 Ag Day at the Capitol at the start of the pandemic. The Century Farm award honors a farm that has been in family operation for at least 100 years and has great potential to be successful for another 100 years. Nominations are now being accepted for the 2021 Century Farm of the Year and due by May 1, 2021.
For more information about the CT Agricultural Information Council, or how to submit a nomination, please visit www.ctaginfocouncil.org.