The 2021 Organic Leadership Awards Winners Revealed!

Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA

OTTAWA, May 05, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Organic Leadership awards. Each year, an outstanding group of honorees, nominated by their peers and confirmed unanimously by COTA, is presented the prestigious award according to the respective category. This year, awards were presented during the 5th annual Organic Leadership Awards Ceremony held virtually on Wednesday, May 5th.

With $6.9 billion in annual sales and 3.2% market share, Canada is regarded worldwide as an organic market leader. The advancements and unique accomplishments of the Canadian sector would not be possible without the significant efforts of these organic leaders who have cultivated and built the positive reputation of the Canada Organic brand. Each of these leaders has demonstrated exceptional work in advancing the organic industry and supporting organic education in Canada. The organic industry has benefited greatly from their personal commitment, leadership and vision.

Congratulations to this year’s award recipients:

Organic Champion of the Year – Ash Street Organics (Kelly Monaghan)

Leadership in Organic Science – Dr. Martine Dorais

Organic Retailer of the Year – Organic Grocer

Organic Supplier of the Year – Horizon Distributors

Organic Innovator of the Year – Manitoba Harvest

Organic Farmer of the Year – Pfenning’s Organic Vegetables   

Kelly Monaghan of Ash Street Organics was awarded the title of Organic Champion – indicative of her steadfast commitment to organic excellence. "I am very grateful for this recognition of my time in the organics industry,” says Monaghan. “Our work in advancing organics has never been more important. I feel fortunate to be able to work together towards that goal with so many wonderful people from around the world."

Award winner in the leadership in organic science category, Dr. Martine Dorais continues to be an outstanding leader and facilitator in organic horticultural research. Dr. Dorais is a driving force behind developments in the organic greenhouse industry, exploring advanced approaches to organic greenhouse production. “I deeply believe that organic farming is among one of the most important sustainable solutions of the coming years to improve soil health, the biodiversity of the diverse Canadian agroecosystems and the crop resilience to climate change,” says Dr. Dorais. “I will pursue my research with passion to provide Canadians with affordable organic fruits and vegetables, locally produced and available year-round, and to generate science-based knowledge promoting the adoption of new organic practices and the development of innovative organic food production systems that will contribute to food and nutrition security.”

Organic Grocer took home the title of organic retailer of the year. “We are entirely grateful and humbled by this recognition of our commitment to carry and share organic products within our community,” says owner Kristen Cavallari. “We have a deep appreciation for the organic industry, it aligns with our values on health and healing for ourselves and our customers. Cheers to many more years to come!”

Horizon Distributors was honoured by COTA as the Organic Supplier of the Year. With revenues well over $130 million per year and a distribution platform that includes 750 brands servicing 2,500 retailers across Western Canada and Yukon, Horizon’s contribution to the growth and accessibility of organic products has never been stronger. “We are honoured to be recognized by COTA as the recipient of the 2021 Organic Supplier Award,” says Terri Newell, vice president and general manager. We pledge to continue our work in amplifying the values and benefits of organic as part of the broader discussions that are still so urgently needed regarding issues of sustainable food systems and the challenges of climate change that lay ahead.”

Manitoba Harvest was awarded Innovator of the Year, highlighting a growing portfolio of hemp products with a dedication to quality, sustainability, and consumer wellness. “Manitoba Harvest’s mission is to transform consumer health through the power of hemp,” says global brand manager Caitlin Pulitzer. “We are deeply honored to be accepting the Organic Innovator Award 2021. We are a firm believer in the power of organic food and farming practices.”

Awarded the Organic Farmer of the Year, Pfenning’s Organic Vegetables continues to be a leader in organic farming. Recently, Jenn Pfenning has been working on a project with the government of Canada to facilitate the granting of permanent residence for foreign nationals in Canada with recent work experience in essential occupations. “The work that COTA does advocating for the organic sector is invaluable, and we are very proud of our long-standing involvement,” says Pfenning. “To be chosen as the recipient of the 2021 Organic Farmer Award is a great honour.”

The event was a celebratory occasion using a virtual format to deliver the awards followed by an online networking reception. “The quality of the nominations for this year’s Organic Leadership Awards were outstanding, which made the selection process very difficult,” says COTA executive director Tia Loftsgard. “We are pleased to be able to honour these outstanding industry members; and the strong field is a clear indication that innovation and strong leadership remain hallmarks for success across Canada’s organic sector.”

The Organic Leadership Awards are organized by the Canada Organic Trade Association, aided by the generous support of Barentz.

A list of past year’s honorees can be found here.

About the Canada Organic Trade Association
The Canada Organic Trade Association is a membership-based association for the organic industry in Canada: representing growers, processors, certifiers, provincial farmers’ associations, importers, exporters, retailers and others throughout the organic value chain. COTA’s mission is to envision organic products becoming a significant part of everyday life, enhancing people's lives and the environment. Through our leadership and collaboration, COTA provides a strong voice for organic in Canada. COTA brings together the diversity of Canada’s organic sector: from farmer and processor to retail, including food products, fibre and textiles, personal care, and emerging sectors such as organic aquaculture.

Media contacts:

Tia Loftsgard, Executive Director, Canada Organic Trade Association, cellular 613-852-4691,