Church honored at 58th Farm City Banquet
by Anna Oakes
The memory of Charles Church was ever-present at the 58th annual Farm City Banquet. Church was the posthumous recipient of the L.E. Tuckwiller Award for Community Development and the Farm Bureau's Special Service Award, and a third award was renamed in his honor.
The banquet, which celebrates the ties between community and local agriculture, was held at the Boone United Methodist Church Nov. 7. Catered by Bandana's, the dinner featured local beef and local potatoes.
Church was a Valle Crucis farmer who passed away earlier this year. Described as a "champion of change and innovation" and a "selfless mentor," he was honored with the Tuckwiller Award for Community Development for his role in developing and growing the local organic farming community and local food network.
Church was also recognized for his longtime service on the Farm Bureau board. His wife, Betty, accepted the awards as banquet attendees honored her late husband with a standing ovation.
The Charles Church Food and Farm Stewardship Award was awarded to Matt Cooper. The award recognizes contributions to maintaining Southern Appalachia's tradition of food independence and to building a local food system through economic, environmental and socially sustainable agricultural practices. Cooper is the founder of the Leola Street Community Garden in Boone and operates farms in Valle Crucis and Matney. He was recently elected president of the Watauga County Farmers' Market.
The Fred Yates family received the Conservation Farm Family of the Year Award.
"The farm that Fred has -- we have done about every agricultural best practice that you can do," said Brian Chatham, conservation technician for the Watauga County Soil and Water Conservation office.
Lee Rankin of Apple Hill Farm received the Agri-tourism Award. The Matney farm, with its adorable alpacas, is a popular destination for school groups and visitors and a busy stop on the annual High Country Farm Tour.
Amy Galloway was the recipient of the Woman in Agriculture Award; Galloway is the president of Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, has been actively involved with the High Country Farm Tour and was instrumental in initiating a grant program that provides financial assistance to female producers.
The Community Volunteer Award went to Dick Hearn -- "someone who consistently works behind the scenes in numerous county organizations impacting and changing people's lives for the better, from youth to seniors," said presenter Jim Hamilton, executive director of the Watauga County Cooperative Extension.
Other award recipients included:
Christmas Tree Farmer of the Year - Gary Brown
Cattleman of the Year - Greg Miller
Beekeeper of the Year - Lyn Soeder
Agriculture in Arts Award - Marsha Holmes
Youth in Agriculture Award - Darius Jones