The 2006 Patrick Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture
With its Patrick Madden Award, SARE recognizes farmers and ranchers who raise food or fiber in ways that are profitable, environmentally sound, and good for people and communities. The award is named for SARE's first director, Patrick Madden, who was a pioneer in the movement toward a strong, independent agriculture.
North Central Region winner, 2006 Patrick Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture
Rex Spray has used progressive farming techniques for decades, receiving organic certification in the 1970s as Ohio’s first enrollee. Spray began farming with his brother, Glen, in the mid-1950s. Following popular farming dictates, the brothers used agri-chemicals to manage pests on their crops. Yet, it didn’t sit right with them, and the Sprays decided there had to be a better way to farm.
“One day, my brother and I got to talking and I said, ‘Let’s just quit using this stuff. We used to do it without it,’ ” Spray recalls. “So we did.”
Edwin & Marian Fry
Northeast Region winners, 2006 Patrick Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture
Combining crops and livestock has allowed the Frys to earn a comfortable income and practice good stewardship. At their farm on the rural Eastern Shore, they milk 250 cows and raise 225 replacement heifers annually. In a cyclical, symbiotic relationship, they feed their extra organic grain to their herd and spread dairy manure back on the crop fields as organic fertilizer.
“Dairy is a good business and it has been good to our family,” says Ed Fry, whose grandfather started the farm near Chestertown. “It’s challenging, but it provides us an opportunity to be diversified and blends well with other enterprises.”
Alex & Betsy Hitt
Southern Region winners, 2006 Patrick Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture
Since 1981, Alex and Betsy Hitt have committed to farming practices that protect natural resources and have turned a five-acre farm into an environmental gem and profit center. Tirelessly, the couple shares their tried-and-tested experiences with other farmers and participates in activities that benefit their community.
“Whenever I’m visiting with a farmer needing a practical solution to some problem, I find myself saying, ‘I know these farmers—the Hitts—in North Carolina, you should give them a call,’ ” says John Mayne, Southern Region SARE Assistant Director. “For me, there was no question about who should be the recipients of the Patrick Madden award in the South.”
Western Region winner, 2006 Patrick Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture
Growing up on the family dairy in rapidly urbanizing San Jose gave Paul Muller an understanding of farming’s many challenges. As he weighed his options, he concluded that organic farming had a tremendous upside.
“I wanted to create a different model than what I grew up with,” Muller says. He describes his 250-acre Full Belly Farm, which sells nearly 80 crops—vegetables, fruits, nuts, flowers—and animal products and employs 40 workers as “a wonderful adventure.”