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Durham couple wins Young Farmers award

Orillia Packet & Times
 
Taking a different approach to farming has paid off for Lisa and Steve Cooper.

The Durham Region residents were named Outstanding Young Farmers of the Year at a province-wide awards ceremony in Belleville.

 

They were chosen from a list of six nominees by the Ontario's Outstanding Young Farmer committee. The award is a recognition program organized by past winners and funded by industry.

"It was a complete surprise to us," Steve Cooper said Wednesday morning. "We feel really fortunate."

 

The Coopers received a trophy and gifts and will now compete this November in Victoria, B.C. for the Canadian title.

 

Cooper said they enjoyed being among the nominees and being able to discuss work with other like-minded people. He added they're looking forward to doing the same thing at the national level.

"That's a big, big thing when you can network with high-quality people."

 

The Coopers run an agritourism business in Zephyr, south of Lake Simcoe. Their farm started out as a beef cattle operation, but that changed in the late 1990s as they sought a more stable source of income.

 

They started to raise meat goats, created a store on the farm, added a corn maze and children's play area and launched a fall festival.

 

"We're in the people business and my wife has fantastic skills dealing with people," Cooper said. "People look at us like, 'You generate money how?'" he added with a laugh.

 

He explained their approach isn't always understood by older or more traditional farmers, but it works. This year, Lisa Cooper is planning to bring 2,000 children to the farm on school tours, and their service of providing weekly vegetable baskets to more than 235 Toronto-area clients has expanded to 23 weeks per year.

 







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