Local farm-to-table food champion Wendy Banks is the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ms. Banks, owner of Wendy’s Country Market and Furnace Falls Farm, received the award at the International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration at the Brockville Memorial Centre tonight. She is the 10th recipient of the esteemed award presented by the Leeds Grenville Small Business Centre.
“This is an important annual award and event bringing dynamic women leaders together,” said Leeds Grenville Warden Nancy Peckford. More than 100 attended the sold-out celebration with the theme #EmbraceEquity.
“We are honoured to pay tribute to Wendy’s amazing entrepreneurial skills and the caring heart she has shown in her community for over 40 years,” said Jeanette Johnston, the Centre’s Small Business Development Officer.
The Leeds Grenville Small Business Centre’s Lifetime Achievement Award was created to recognize a woman who has been in business for more than 20 years and has demonstrated hard work, creativity and resilience.
“My favourite thing is I have been able to work with family all of these years,” Mrs. Banks said in accepting the award. She noted it has been their multi-generational “team heart” working together to create a lasting community hub focused on the importance of farming and bringing people together.
Ms. Banks opened her Country Market on Old Briar Hill Rd in Rideau Lakes Township as an outlet for local food. She is a 6th generation farmer, selling produce, meat, frozen entrees, artisan cheese, crafts and so much. Her shop features her own farm products along with those of 70 area producers. More recently, she launched Furnace Falls, a working farm, B&B retreat and barn rental venue next door to her market and in the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands.
Furnace Falls Farm is the setting for educational classes, teaching tourists and locals alike about sustainability and self-sufficiency. Ms. Banks also holds dinners and concerts to provide entertainment in a beautiful country setting. This master entrepreneur works with local Chambers of Commerce, agricultural organizations, restaurants and churches to build community and local food capacity. She is known as one of the region’s top agricultural ambassadors and for the “Harvesting Hope” initiative.
The local International Women’s Day event also featured a Brockville Women in Business (BWB) Business Showcase, an inspirational keynote address by entrepreneur Karla Briones, dinner, gifts and door prizes.