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Paul and Pat Orsak to receive 2024 Canola Award of Excellence

February 14, 2024 (Winnipeg, Manitoba) – Tonight, at the CropConnect Conference banquet in Winnipeg, the Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) is set to honour Paul and Pat Orsak with the 2024 Canola Award of Excellence. 

“The Orsaks played an integral role in the success of Harvest Camp,” says Jennifer Dyck, Market Development Director at MCGA. “It’s the trust and respect the Orsaks have in their local community that allowed our group to learn and visit local farms in the Russell, Inglis and Binscarth area. Asking a farmer to take time out at harvest to allow urban Canadians to experience the beauty and wonder of farming firsthand, is a big request. The Orsaks’ care and commitment were instrumental to the success of Harvest Camp.”

Appreciative and overwhelmed, the Orsaks were genuinely touched to be recognized for their contributions to the organization, something they refer to as ‘just what we do’. 

“We certainly weren’t expecting this recognition,” says Paul. “Harvest Camp was a great experience for us. It was a time to pause and share our farm with people who hadn’t had the opportunity to see what we do. Overall, we found everyone was respectful and eager to learn about how and why we farm.”

Expressing surprise and gratitude for the recognition, Pat emphasises that it was a group effort. “It wouldn’t have flown without the families in the area that were so generous and willing to participate, the help and support of our family, and the trust that the Canola Growers put in us as the event evolved.”

Each September for eight years, a group of about ten campers including influential food writers, digital content creators, scientists, dietitians and chefs were invited to hop on a bus for three days and visit a variety of farms including a mixed grain and cattle farm (Jacksons), a bison operation (Millers), a family-owned grain storage facility (Derkachs), a honey operation (Wendell Estate Honey) as well as two grain and oilseed farms (Orsaks and Dalgarnos). As Camp evolved, more stops were added focusing on additional topics like soil health and science.

“In 2013 I attended Harvest Camp where Paul and Pat opened their home and farm to a group of farm newbies,” says Erin MacGregor, dietitian. “I thought I would be learning about canola production, but what I learned was so much more. I learned about the passion Canadian farmers have for their products, their land, the environment and the legacy they’re building for future farming generations. During my visit to the farm and ever since, my questions around farming and our food system have been welcomed without judgement by the Orsak family. They have become part of my ‘food community’ and have helped me become an advocate for truth and transparency in food communication.” 

It was the Orsaks’ unwavering dedication and connection to their community that built the relationships necessary to make the program happen and thrive. “Harvest Camp is still brought up more than five years after it wrapped,” adds Dyck.

The relationships formed and the lessons learned through this program created the necessary building blocks to embark on the new campaign brand, Hello Canola, which launched in fall 2023. 

MCGA is proud to celebrate the Orsak family with the 2024 Canola Award of Excellence and extends a heartfelt thank you to Paul and Pat for their unwavering contributions, leaving a lasting mark on the canola industry. For more information about the Orsaks or the Canola Award of Excellence, please visit canolagrowers.com/about-mcga/canola-award-of-excellence/

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About the Canola Award of Excellence: The Canola Award of Excellence is presented annually and recognizes the accomplishments of individuals and organizations for contributions to the sustained growth and prosperity of Manitoba’s canola industry. The award was first presented in 2008 to Dr. Baldur Stefansson for his work in creating a new edible oil seed which we know today as canola.

Media Contact:

Carrie Livingston

Manitoba Canola Growers Association

204-771-8650 | carrie@nullcanolagrowers.com