The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has named the 2015 recipients for the Stewardship Award and Service Award.
Bill Dix and Stacy Hall of The Brick Dairy Farm received the Stewardship Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the sustainable agriculture community, and John Sowder received the Service Award, which recognizes outstanding service to OEFFA.
The announcements were made on Saturday, February 14 and Sunday, February 15 as part of OEFFA’s 36th annual conference, Sustainable Agriculture: Renewing Ohio’s Heart and Soil.
In 1992, Bill Dix and Stacy Hall started Big Rumen Farm, a 300-acre pasture-based dairy farm in Athens County with a small herd of Jersey heifers and a milking parlor. In the years that followed, they joined a regional network of dairy farmers known as “Prograsstinators,” which in conjunction with Cornell University, helps producers compare financial information to improve the management and profitability of grass-based dairy operations.
Bill and Stacy also purchased a second farm outside of Albany, called The Brick Dairy Farm, named for its red, clay soil which had been degraded. By focusing on grazing rather than confinement, the couple has been able to build topsoil and make the land productive.
Smart business people committed to creating change in their local community and in the dairy industry, they worked with Warren and Victoria Taylor to create Snowville Creamery in 2007, a small-scale dairy processing plant located on The Brick Dairy Farm. Fresh, grass-fed milk from Bill and Stacy’s 250 cross-bred dairy cows is minimally processed and packaged on-site. Today, Snowville’s milk, yogurt, and other products are available in more than 125 retail locations.
Early supporters of OEFFA, Bill and Stacy have been members for more than 25 years.
“The partnership between Bill and Stacy and Snowville Creamery is a great story that shows what’s possible when farmers, food processors, and the community team up to support sustainable agriculture and local producers. Bill and Stacy took a gamble, and made their vision a reality,” said OEFFA Executive Director Carol Goland.
Long-time OEFFA member John Sowder of Columbus served on OEFFA’s Board of Trustees from 1992 until 2015, including multiple terms as board treasurer. John helped to grow OEFFA, develop new administrative systems, and provided dependability and financial guidance during lean years in the organization’s history.
He regularly lends his catering and event management skills to OEFFA, helping to organize farm-to-table events and OEFFA’s conference meals, which are locally sourced and made from scratch. He can be found each year in the kitchen at the OEFFA conference, where he helps to serve more than 2,000 meals to attendees. He has also helped encourage his peers within Ohio’s catering and food industry to serve more local food from Ohio producers.
“John’s commitment to OEFFA and central Ohio’s local food movement is unquestionable. Always quick to smile and laugh, John has played a leading role in OEFFA’s growth and success, though, in John’s modest way, it’s often behind the scenes and out of sight to most people,” Goland said.