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Gerrit Loo Memorial Achievement Award

Beginning in 2001, the Gerrit Loo Memorial Achievement Award has been presented at ACORN’s annual conference to an outstanding organic advocate and/or farmer who has contributed to the organic community in Atlantic Canada. The award was established in memory of Gerrit Loo, an organic pioneer on PEI.

Brian MacKay of Crystal Green Farms, PEI and Wayne Edgar of North of Nuttby Farms, NS were the dual recipients of the Gerrit Loo Memorial Achievement Award at ACORN Conference 2024. The award was presented by ACORN Board member, Judy Loo, in memory of her late father. It will spend six months with each recipient over the coming year.

Brian MacKay

Brian MacKay and his life partner, Kathy, operate Crystal Green Farms in Bedeque, PEI. They grow certified organic vegetables and grains, milling their grain on-farm for organic flour and baking mixes. Brian was one of the early organic farmers on PEI having worked closely with pioneers like Raymond Loo and Reg Phelan. He served on the board of the PEI Certified Organic Producers Cooperative during its foundational years and returned as board president from 2020-2023. Brian’s leadership has been influential in developing policies around agricultural water use and soil carbon sequestration, as well as advancements in priority areas in the organic livestock sector, agroforestry and organic market discovery and development.  He was also instrumental in launching Growers Station, PEI's first local food distribution hub. 

Brian and Kathy have been strong advocates for organics through deep connections with their customers and others at the Summerside and Charlottetown Farmers’ Markets. Seeing the importance of these direct-to-consumer connections, Brian has served on the boards of directors for both market organizations. They also run a CSA. Through his advocacy and strong community connections, Brian has been influential in building collaborative relationships with many non-organic farmers and farmer organizations. Brian is generous with his time and his knowledge, with a passion for mentoring and encouraging young aspiring organic farmers. He and Kathy have welcomed visitors and workers to their farm from around the world.

Wayne Edgar

Wayne Edgar and his life partner, Pamela Swainson, operate North of Nuttby Farm in West Earltown, NS. Over the years, they built an organic market garden and later added certified organic wild blueberries to their operation. Wayne was influential in establishing Organic Nova Scotia (ONS), a non-profit providing leadership in promoting Nova Scotia’s certified organic producers and processors. He has also been active in advocating for organics with the provincial government. ONS was chartered in 2020 and Wayne has since served on the board. 

Wayne’s wholistic approach, tireless effort and deep commitment have been an inspiration to many. He leads with grace, wisdom and diplomacy and has been a generous and patient mentor, especially for young entrants to the organic sector.

Who inspires you with their passion and innovation for organics?
Nominations for February 2025 will open in December. 


Note, you must be an ACORN member in good standing to make a nomination; current ACORN Board members and past recipients are not eligible as nominees.

  • Past Recipients of the Gerrit Loo Memorial Achievement Award

    2023: Joey Pittoello, NS

    2018: Lester Craig, PE

    2017: Alan Stewart, NS

    2016: Claude Berthélémé, NB

    2015: Reg Phelan, PE

    2014: Herman Mentink, NS

    2013: Tim & Kirsten Livingstone, NB

    2012: Beth McMahon, NB

    2011: Judy & Jon Lien, NL and Ralph Martin, NS

    2010: Ted Wiggans, NB

    2009: Danny Bruce, NS

    2008: Karen Davidge, PE

    2007: Raymond Loo, PE

    2006: Neil Van Nostrand, NS

    2005: Susan Tyler and Clark Phillips, NB

    2004: Daphne Davey, PE

    2003: Sian Newman Smith, NS

    2002: David Cozac and Debbie Russell, NB

    2001: Stu Fleischhaker, NB

Gerrit Loo (January 28, 1928 – January 19, 2001)

Gerrit was born on a farm in Waggingen, Netherlands. After surviving World War II he was drafted by the Dutch army and sent to Indonesia to fight in their war of independence. In 1951 he immigrated to Canada and settled in Prince Edward Island where he bought a farm. Together with his wife, Joyce, they raised seven children.

Gerrit had an abiding love of living things. He was especially interested in heirloom varieties of vegetables and farm animals. Although he had no formal training in plant genetics, he understood the principles of plant breeding and collected his own seed, always carefully selecting for superior characteristics. 

In the 1970’s he and his twin brother, Evert, began to experiment with potato breeding and became interested in breeding for disease resistance. Eventually they developed the cultivar, Island Sunshine, and after a long process of field trials it was registered in 1995. This was a very proud moment for him. Island Sunshine has several characteristics that make it a good organic cultivar.

Like many farmers, Gerrit also worked off the farm at various times during his life. Experience with the production of frozen foods led him to be hired by Seaspray Farms Organic Cooperative in the early 1990’s to assist in the development of a line of frozen vegetables. He believed in the principles that Seaspray represented and eventually sought organic certification for his farm in the mid-1990’s. 

Gerrit and Evert continued the plant breeding program until both became ill. Evert passed away in April 1999. Gerrit passed away in January 2001.