Organic farmer wins Stewardship award


COLUMBUS — Rich Tomsu of Rich Gardens Organic Farm, a certified organic farm in Athens County, is the winner of the 2009 Stewardship Award from the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA).

This award is given in recognition of outstanding contributions to the sustainable agriculture community and was presented at the 30th annual OEFFA conference.


During his acceptance speech, Tomsu recognized Mick Luber, a previous OEFFA Stewardship award winner, for introducing him and other Athens area growers to the organic movement.

In 1975, he and his wife Ann Fugate made the “life-changing decision” to buy their farm near Shade, Ohio, in southern Athens County.

Tomsu has been a vendor at the Athens Farmers Market since the early 1980s and, along with his wife, who is the Athens Farmers Market Association President, has been instrumental in its growth and recognition as one of the top 10 farmers markets in the country.

The conference

The annual OEFFA conference is the largest gathering of organic farmers, gardeners, agriculture educators, retailers and consumers in the state. More than 700 people attended this year’s conference.

The event featured nationally recognized keynote speakers Melinda Hemmelgarn and Fred Kirschenmann, more than 50 workshops, a pre-conference workshop on soil fertility, a kids’ conference, on-site childcare, and Saturday entertainment.

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