John Omstead and his family have been longtime supporters of conservation in this region. When he began his business, Family Tradition Foods in 1989, one of his key goals was to understand agriculture from an ecological perspective. In fact, first he was one of the first commercial grower/ processors to promote ecological sustainability in his farming practices. John recognized the benefits of and advocated for sustainable agriculture – striking a balance between meeting our present needs and conserving natural resources for healthy people and a healthy society, and he encouraged his fellow growers to do the same.
Additionally, the celebrated Shorebird Habitat at Hillman Marsh Conservation Area would not have been a reality today had it not been for John’s leadership and generousity. Because of his initial generous contribution of $100,000 to allow us to secure this significant piece of land, ERCA was able to approach other partners and funding sources to secure the $800,000 required to construct new wetland management cells, plant the grassland and meadow and reforest resting and feeding habitat for migrating shorebirds. This project was the first of its kind in North America, and continues to be renowned around the world for its environmental and tourism benefits.
As well, for more than a dozen years, John and his family have been helping to ensure that over eight-thousand students each year are able to experience nature through our outdoor education programs to learn about the importance of conserving our environment and preserving our heritage. As well, as past President of the Essex Region Conservation Foundation, John has been a staunch advocate for and supporter of conservation efforts in this region, and has challenged and inspired his business colleagues to do the same.
In 2002, John Omstead and Family Tradition Foods Incorporated were presented with the 2002 Conservation Award for Environmental Achievement, and last year, John and his wife Shannon were recognized with the Essex Region Conservation Foundation’s Clifford Hatch Award for outstanding contribution. John Omstead and his family are passionate about conservation in this region, and we are pleased to recognize him as a Conservation Champion.