The Organic Trade Association (OTA) recently announced the honorees of the 2013 Organic Leadership Awards which include Kyle Mathison of Stemilt Growers. Mathison is recognized for advanced practices for growing organic tree fruit. The awards will be presented at OTA’s Annual Awards Celebration in September, held during Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, MD.
Awardees, nominated by their peers and chosen unanimously by OTA’s Board of Directors, are:
- Arran and Ratana Stephens, Nature’s Path Foods, The Growing Organic Industry Award
- Kyle Mathison, Stemilt Growers, The Organic Farmer of the Year Award
Karen and Colin Archipley, Archi’s Acres/VSAT, The Rising Star Award.
Organic Farmer of the Year, Mathison is a fourth-generation farmer and co-owner of Stemilt Growers LLC of Wenatchee, WA. He comes from a multi-generation tree fruit growing family. He began experimenting with organic production in the late 1980s. He subsequently became a certified organic grower, and currently farms with his two sons, growing apples, pears, and cherries.
Mathison was one of the first organic growers to use an integrated organic program in his orchards. He applied liquid fish oil on his trees, which increased predator insect populations. He was a leader in inserting large numbers of reared insect predators into his practices to reduce sprays. He developed his own compost facility, and now converts area waste from many sources into a certified organic compost product, available to other area organic growers.
He served for many years on the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, and has helped advanced solutions in the areas of orchard weed control, organic fertilizer, integrated pest control, organic chemical bloom thinning, fire blight organic control, and organic foliar nutrient applications.