Abel O’Brennan of Coastal Black Winery in Black Creek is a finalist for the 2015 BC and Yukon Outstanding Young Farmer Award.
O’Brennan, his wife Amanda, and their four children live on a multi-generational, multidimensional farm at the base of Mount Washington.
The 600-acre farm includes 80 acres of blackberries, making it Canada’s largest cultivated blackberry farm. Since opening Coastal Black fruit winery in 2010, O’Brennan has contributed to agri-tourism across Vancouver Island.
His support of Flavours, the North Island’s Gourmet Picnic and Toast Comox Valley, as well as his own Coastal Black Christmas and other seasonal events at the winery, have resulted in significant media attention on the Comox Valley.
O’Brennan also chairs Vancouver Island Farm Produce, a co-op business that sells Island produce to Island stores. Coastal Black has won two Agricultural Business of the Year awards and O’Brennan has been named one of the Top 40 Under 40 in the Comox Valley and one of the Top 20 Under 40 on Vancouver Island.
Abbotsford chicken grower Kelly Froese is the other finalist. Froese was a runner-up in 2013.
O’Brennan is the son-in-law of 1997 BC Outstanding Young Farmers Terry & Bonnie Ludwig.
To be eligible for the Outstanding Young Farmer award, farmers must be between 19 and 39 years and derive at least two-thirds of their income from farming.
Nominees are judged on conservation practices, production history, financial and management practices, and community contributions.
Judging will take place in Abbotsford, Jan. 15, 2015, with the winner announced that day. The winners will then be presented at the 13th annual BC Agriculture Industry Gala in Abbotsford, Jan. 28.
– BC & Yukon OYF Program