This year the Vidalia Onion Committee (VOC) announced the Grower of the Year and the first-time Ambassador Award during their annual banquet in February. Approximately 275 people attended preparing to set sail with the interactive pirate’s theme of “Protecting our Treasure” at the Hawks Point Golf Club in Vidalia, Georgia.
The 2013 Grower of the Year was awarded to Dry Branch Farms, in Collins, Ga. Dry Branch Farms is a 4th-generation family farm, owned and operated by Wallace and David Jarriel. They started growing, packing and shipping their first sweet onions in April 1990. In 1995 they built a new packing house with controlled atmosphere rooms and Wallace and David Jarriel were recognized as “Conservationist of the Year” for Tattnall County, Georgia. Dry Branch Farms has continued to grow and expand its facility which grows approximately 350 to 400 acres of onions.
Barbara Braddy from Braddy Farms was recognized with the newly created Vidalia Ambassador Award. This award was established to recognize dedication and diligence to the Vidalia Onion Industry. A retired school teacher and now office manager at Braddy Farms, she oversees all generation family farm, owned and operated by Wallace and David Jarriel. They sweet onion sales and has been an active VOC board member for many years. Established in 1966, Braddy Farms produces Vidalia onions, cotton, corn, soybeans and pecans on 5,000 acres in Mount Vernon, Georgia.
The awards were presented by Vidalia Onion Committee Chairman Kevin Hendrix. He said: “I was honored to present the Grower of the Year Award to Dry Branch Farms which recognizes excellence in quality, production and service to the Vidalia Onion Committee. And Barbara Braddy has contributed so much time and effort to our industry, the Ambassador Award was well deserved as it recognizes her passion, dedication and ongoing service.”
Each year, the Vidalia Onion Committee selects a grower of the year to recognize overall achievement and success as a producer of Vidalia Onions with an emphasis on quality production and compliance with the Marketing Order. The Grower of the Year must meet the following requirements:
- Registered Vidalia onion grower
- Cannot be currently serving on the Committee
- Has submitted reports and payments in a timely manner
- Has had no or few complaints to the Committee Office
- Conforms to the standards set forth in the Order
- Enhances and supports brand recognition