DEPEYSTER -- A DePeyster man has been selected as the Northeast Organic Farming Association Organic Farmer of the Year for 2014.
Brian Bennett is the first St. Lawrence County farmer to be chosen for the award, according to a press release from the Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce.
Bennett farms full-time to produce a diverse crop of vegetables and livestock. He also works as a mentor to new farmers, and teaches hands on sustainability to area students and volunteers.
He has worked as the workshop coordinator for the Local Living Festival, and as the vegetable specialist for the North Country Grown Cooperative.
Bennett and his wife were instrumental in the establishment of the Ogdensburg Greenmarket, and both have served on the board of directors for the Canton Farmers’ Market.
Born in Warwick, Rhode Island in 1958, Bennett became interested in plants and gardens during his middle school years. His mother’s family had farming roots in Indiana, where Bennett spent some of his high school summers hoeing corn.
He also began planting a family garden. In college he studied plant science, but was not happy with the promotion of chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
He continued to study organic methods of production and in 1985 purchased his first farm with his wife Ann. They farmed part-time using all organic methods until their move in 1999 to the St. Lawrence River Valley.
Bittersweet Farm, their current home, is certified organic with NOFA NY.
Bennett is an advocate for small scale family farms and local food production.
Bennett will be presented the award at NOFA’s winter conference Jan. 24-26 in Saratoga Springs.