Each year at the OGS Spring Conference, we recognize a local leader for their dedication, steadfastness, civic commitment, and responsibility with regards to organic education. In the last few years we’ve given the Organic Educator Award to folks who have been at it for decades, but this year we wanted to also recognize those folks who may be just getting started, but are already making a deep impact.
This award honors the individuals in our midst who have made ongoing and important contributions to the sustainable agriculture community in Western NC and the Southern Appalachians.
The idea originated from Carl & Julie, from Mountain Harvest Organics, who in 2016 suggested the award and nominated our first recipient, Tom Elmore. They had this to say “For as long as we can remember, we have been so impressed with all the things Tom Elmore has done for the Organic Growers School and our farming community. We can remember him teaching us a class at AB Tech in Madison county when we first started farming, sharing his growing experiences with greenhouses, and those learning experiences were instrumental in the development of our farming career.”
2021 Organic Educator
Patryk Battle is a teacher, mentor, and farm and garden manager for Living Web Farms in Mills River, NC. He has developed agricultural systems including intensive cover cropping at Sparkling Earth Farm, Highland Lake Inn, and Mountain Air Community Organic Garden. He has written for local and national publications and has been featured on local and national radio and television.
Patryk is a dear friend of OGS having served on the steering committee that helped found OGS! He is certainly one of the more beloved presenters in the annals of OGS. Quirky and kind, he brings a new spice to a seasoned presentation each and every time. His audience leaves his sessions both educated and entertained.
2021 Emerging Organic Educator
Tamarya Sims is a current Farm Beginnings student and has launched their farm business this year, 2021, Soulfull Simone Farm, focusing on cut flowers. They graduated from UNC Asheville with a degree in Environmental Studies, and after college pursued environmental education and learning how to grow food. Tamarya is a dedicated grower, pivoting last spring in their role on the SAHC community farm to grow food to give away to those in need due to the pandemic.
They volunteered at numerous community gardens showing their commitment to food access and education, like the Burton Street Community Peace Gardens. Tamarya loves teaching, photography, gardening, herbalism, beekeeping, and raising chickens. They are passionate about food justice and making farm and garden education accessible to all people. Check out their Black History month project on @plantswitht, featuring Asheville’s African American led community gardens.
Dr. Jeanine Davis
2020 Organic Educator Awardee
Jeanine Davis, PhD. is an extension specialist and researcher in the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University. She is located at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center near Asheville in western North Carolina. The objective of her research and extension progras is to help farmers improve the sustainability and profitability of their farms. An emphasis is placed on exploring new crops, such as hops, truffles, hemp, medicinal herbs, and organic farming. Jeanine is the lead author of the book ‘Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and Other Woodland Medicinals”.
2019 Organic Educator Awardee
Ira Wallace is an organic grower, author, speaker, visionary, and worker/owner of the cooperatively managed Southern Exposure Seed Exchange which offers over 700 varieties of open-pollinated heirloom and organic seeds. Ira serves on the boards of the Organic Seed Alliance, the Open Source Seed Initiative and the Virginia Association for Biological Farming (VABF). She is an organizer of the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello in VA. Her book, The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast, is available online and at booksellers everywhere.
2018 Organic Educator Awardee
Chuck Marsh (1951–2017) was a permaculture educator, horticulturalist, consultant, popular speaker, ecovillage designer, and dedicated activist. He was the founder and operator of Useful Plants Nursery, is co-founder of Earthaven Ecovillage near Black Mountain, NC, and was steadfastly dedicated to restoring the sacred relationship between humans, plants and the whole of nature. He will be sorely missed.
2017 Organic Educator Awardee
Tom Elmore is co-owner and operator of Thatchmore Farm, a certified organic, mixed vegetable farm in Leicester NC. He has grown certified organic fruits and vegetables for 25 years and serves on the Boards of the NC Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association. He was a founder and long-time board member of Organic Growers School. He is dedicated to organic education, sustainable agriculture, and local community.