The three newest members of the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame have more than a century of experience between them in the grain, greenhouse, and dairy sectors.
Gordon Hilton, Mohyuddin Mirza, and Curtis Clark (posthumously) were recognized earlier this month at an event in Edmonton.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to these three exceptional individuals who have devoted a lifetime to improving agricultural practices in our province,” said Verlyn Olson, minister of agriculture and rural development.
Gordon Hilton (Strathmore)
Gordon Hilton is a pioneer of conservation tillage and brought one of the first no-till drills to Western Canada in 1980. He worked tirelessly to educate and encourage other farmers to adopt conservation farming methods and, today, direct seeding is practised by the majority of Prairie farmers. From helping educate government to creating industry organizations and working with industry to modify and improve existing equipment, his legacy will be one where soil degradation and wind erosion have been greatly reduced throughout Alberta and beyond. Hilton’s achievements were recognized in 1990 when he became the first farmer ever inducted into the Soil Conservation Council of Canada’s Hall of Fame.
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Mohyuddin Mirza (Edmonton)
Mohyuddin Mirza’s visionary but practical research has greatly benefited Alberta’s greenhouse industry. He was a pioneer in introducing hydroponics production to greenhouse crops, and has won numerous awards and accolades during the past three decades. As a founding member of the Alberta Greenhouse Growers Association and adjunct professor at the University of Alberta, Mirza has been credited with inspiring new entrants into the industry. In the 1980s he helped introduce soil-less crop production, an innovation that helped further build the industry.
Mirza is best known as a friend to growers. Always reachable, he constantly provided time to teach and share with growers. According to one former student who was inspired by Mirza to start his own greenhouse business, “helping others succeed is his passion.”
Curtis Clark (Carstairs)
Curtis Clark’s passion for the dairy industry in Alberta spanned almost five decades. A winner of multiple awards throughout his career as a breeder, dairy judge and exhibitor, Clark helped to lay the groundwork to develop purebred breeders and superior cattle in Alberta.
With longtime partner Lloyd Pickard and son Jim, he grew Acme Holsteins of Carstairs into the most travelled and recognized Holstein herd in Western Canada.
Many say his legacy is best exemplified in the Curtis Clark Achievement Award, which is presented annually at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. Started in 1988, the award recognizes a winner who “exemplifies the all-around ability, sportsmanship, and dedication necessary to be respected by his fellow breeders and exhibitors.” In one of his last interviews before he passed away in 1997 at the age of 86, Clark said, “It’s great how the boys are working together in the Holstein breed. It is surprising how far you can pull a sled if you pull together.”