Bedford County farmers receive national recognition

Sam and Ashley Gardner of Bedford County recently were named runners-up for the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award. The competition took place at the 2016 AFBF Annual Convention, held Jan. 10-13 in Orlando, Fla.

The Achievement Award recognizes young producers who have excelled in farming or ranching operations and exhibited superior leadership abilities on and off the farm.

The Gardners, who were among three runners-up for the award, will receive a Case IH Farmall 50A tractor courtesy of Case IH, along with $3,000 in cash and merchandise from Stihl Inc.

“We are incredibly proud of Sam and Ashley,” said Grant Coffee, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Committee chairman. “They’ve worked hard for this—not just their presentation for the competition, but also the years of work they’ve put into building their farm operation.”

The Gardners are past Young Farmers Committee members. Sam Gardner is president of Gardner Heifers Inc. and grows forages and raises dairy heifers for farms in Virginia and Maryland. He also is the 2011 VFBF Young Farmers Environmental Stewardship Award winner. Ashley Gardner is a quality engineer and supervisor for a manufacturer of equipment for electric and tree service companies. She also chairs the Bedford County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee.

The Gardners were named winners of the 2015 Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Achievement Award at the 2015 VFBF Annual Convention in December in Norfolk.

As state-level winners, they received up to 200 hours’ use of a Kubota M-series tractor from Kubota Tractor Corp.; a new Stihl chain saw from Mid-Atlantic Stihl; $500 from Virginia’s Farm Credit associations; $500 from Chesterfield County Farm Bureau; and a John Deere Gator utility vehicle, courtesy of Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. They also received a travel package to the 2016 AFBF convention.

With 128,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, VFBF is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group. Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to supporting Virginia’s agriculture industry and preserving the Virginia way of life. 

Contact Greg Hicks, VFBF vice president of communications, at 804-290-1139, or Ron Saacke, VFBF vice president of young farmer and women’s programs, at 804-290-1032.

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