Three Alberta visionaries have been honoured by the Agriculture Hall of Fame in recognition of their contributions to the cattle-feeding, crop science, and greenhouse industries.
This year’s inductees — Garnet Altwasser, Ronald Howard, and Dietrich Kuhlmann — were honoured at a ceremony in Leduc on Oct. 26.
Garnet Altwasser became a leader in Canadian agribusiness during his 30-year term as the president and CEO of Lakeside Farm Industries. Seeing the potential of Alberta’s climate and agronomy to add value to the province’s large ranching base, he co-founded and grew Lakeside Farm Industries into the largest single-site feeding operation in Canada.
With the establishment of a beef-packing plant in Brooks, Altwasser also began the process of modernizing and growing Canada’s beef-processing industry. He devoted significant assets to research and development in agronomy and animal husbandry, which led to gains in efficiency in both feed grains and cattle, helping to advance the entire Alberta industry.
He was also one of the first commercial adopters of Temple Grandin’s cattle-handling designs, and was a founding director of the Alberta Cattle Feeders Association. Altwasser is insatiably curious and inquisitive about what works and what succeeds in industry, and he has quietly helped and mentored young people to enter and grow in the industry.
Ron Howard has spent more than four decades supporting the growth and development of high-value crop industries in Alberta, working with more than 50 different types of crops and plant species as a research, extension and diagnostic plant pathologist. He has developed many groundbreaking protocols; screened hundreds of horticultural, specialty and field crop varieties and breeding lines for disease resistance; and evaluated more than 200 chemical and biological control products for efficacy against pathogens in these crops.
Howard was integral to the expansion and development of the research facilities at the Crop Diversification Centre South, including the design and construction of the current state-of-the-art greenhouse research complex.
His greatest impact has been in his training of and influence on generations of farmers, agronomists, students, and professionals. He has also prepared and delivered more than 1,000 articles, presentations, and scientific publications during his career, including editing and contributing to the landmark resource book, Diseases and Pests of Vegetable Crops in Canada. A meticulous and ethical researcher, a skilled leader and a true ambassador for Alberta producers, his approachability and humility have made him a “go-to” person for help when it comes to plant disease diagnosis and management.
Dieter Kuhlmann has been a leader in growing Alberta’s horticulture industry for more than 50 years.
Three generations of the Kuhlmann family are now actively involved in running the greenhouse, garden, and market, originally founded by Kuhlmann and wife Elizabeth in 1962. They have maintained their focus on outstanding relationships and selling direct to the customer.
Kuhlmann is an ongoing champion for the horticulture industry and the success of other growers, demonstrating that industry benefits by learning and working together. He is past president and a founding member of the Alberta Greenhouse Growers Association, an organization set up to identify and collectively act on issues of critical importance to growers.
Recognizing the opportunity for Alberta growers to market co-operatively, he also worked to establish Sunfresh Farms, a grower-owned packing and distribution facility, bringing better revenues to member farms. A former director of the Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund, Kuhlmann continues to promote local horticultural projects, believing that research and development is essential to the continued growth of the horticultural industry in Alberta.
The Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame was created to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the agriculture and food industry and to the development and sustainability of rural life in Alberta.
Since 1951, more than 130 Albertans have been honoured for their leadership and accomplishments within the agriculture sector.