A zero-till pioneer, the first provincial soil specialist, a farm leader and a Hutterite writer and researcher are the 2016 inductees to the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame.
The Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame was established in 1976, its objective is to acknowledge those who have made an outstanding contribution to Manitoba agriculture and to a better way of life for farm families.
Gordon McPhee, from Dauphin, is known as one of the pioneers of zero tillage in the province. Dubbed, “The Soil Hero,” McPhee played a major role in preserving one of our most precious resources, the soil, and working with the agricultural industry towards sustainable development. He also served on a variety of provincial and national agricultural boards and committees. McPhee won the 1997 L.B. Thomson Conservation Award for outstanding work in promoting soil conservation and pioneering zero tillage.
Jack Parker, from Winnipeg, began his working career in 1946 as the province’s first soil specialist with Manitoba Agriculture. In 1954, the minister of agriculture established the Soils and Crops Branch and commissioned Parker to direct and supervise soils, crops, forage horticulture and weed control services being delivered to Manitoba. He took it upon himself to organize “Save the Soils” clubs and engaged farmers in a variety of demonstrations ultimately resulting in today’s provincial conservation district programs. Parker served during the Second World War and after the war ended he toured throughout Germany and the Netherlands where he reported on the state of farmland in the aftermath.
After being raised on the family farm, Weldon Newton, from Neepawa, attended the University of Manitoba and obtained his degree in agriculture majoring in soil science. Weldon and his brother Murray took over the farm, a farrow-to-finish hog operation in 1984 when their parents retired. Weldon, along with his brother Murray and sister-in-law Donna, were named the 2002 Red River Exhibition Farm Family of the Year. Newton served for 20 years on Manitoba Hog Producers Marketing Board and 16 years as a Keystone Agriculture Producers board member, including four years as vice-president and two years as president, and was noted for demonstrating leadership, especially during the BSE crisis.
Selma Maendel, from Portage la Prairie, worked with a number of medical industry professionals to further understand the genetic basis for many of the disorders seen in Hutterite children and adults. In addition, her astute computer and organizational skills proved to be extremely beneficial. First, in the development of her Farm History Manager software program for recording and maintaining crop records. Secondly, during a schizophrenia research project conducted by the University of Pittsburgh, the results, of which, are co-authored by Maendel and appear in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Her inside look into the Hutterite community and its contribution to agriculture in Manitoba was a popular feature in the Farmers’ Independent Weekly newspaper, since merged with the Manitoba Co-operator.