Norfolk Boasts two of Canada's BEST AGRI-ENTREPRENEURS
Two of the Canadian fruit and vegetable industry’s “next generation of trailblazers” have roots in Norfolk County.
Hayden Dooney and Susan Judd have been named among the Top 4 Under 40 competition by the national Fruit and Vegetable magazine. The competition is designed to identify young leaders and agri-entrepreneurs in the horticulture sector across Canada.
Dooney is the general manager of the Norfolk Fruit Growers Association and an owner of an apple orchard outside Simcoe. Judd grew up on a strawberry and dairy farm near Simcoe and now operates an orchard near London, as well as co-owning the agri-tourism business Ride the Bine"along with Dooney's wife Amanda.
Growing up on a farm, Judd obtained a business degree from the University of Western Ontario and worked in marketing for a local winery and the Norfolk County Fair. She also transitioned to being an instructor at Fanshawe College’s agri-business program. “I didn’t see myself in farming,” she con-fessed. “Instead, I got into the people side of the business.”
A couple of years ago Judd married orchard owner Tom Heeman of Thornhill and took over the management and marketing operations of his business which includes a garden centre, pick-your-own strawberries and a cidery.
About the same time, she met Amanda Dooney, Hayden’s wife, and they came up with Ride the Bine, an agri-tourism initiative which introduced the public to wineries and local craft breweries in southern Ontario.
Dooney is a native of New Zealand whose family operated orchards. He travelled the world marketing apples, including those of Norfolk Fruit Growers Association which he joined in 20
“I loved this area,” he said
In his nomination for the Top 4 Under 40 award, Dooney was cited for his leadership skills, eye for innovation and passion for the apple industry, combined with his farm experience.
Dooney is also an active member of Norfolk County’s Agriculture Advisory Board advocating for farmers and farm workers in the municipality.
Other winners are potato farmers Nicholas Ploeg and Philip Keddy.
Alex Barnard, associate editor for Fruit @ Vegetable magazine, said competition for the competition was intense.
“It was great to see so much passion and ambition from the under-40 crowd in the Canadian fruit and vegetable industry,” he said. “The future is in excellent hands.